CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter recently shared an absurd op-ed on Twitter suggesting that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife should be forbidden from expressing her “nakedly partisan” opinion. The responses he received are priceless.
Stelter retweeted a Washington Post article detailing Ginni Thomas’s social media activities and conservative opinions. Quoting a passage from reporter Dan Zak’s column, Stelter tweeted:
“Does it matter that the spouse of a SCOTUS justice is sharing such nakedly partisan, erroneous propaganda? Or have we hit the point at which this kind of rhetoric has been so normalized that, well, why wouldn’t a prominent party activist be doing this?” https://t.co/X2tEp6nqi5
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 28, 2018
Before addressing the public haranguing Stelter received for trying to shame a private citizen into silence, it’s worth reviewing the Pecksniffian prattle which served as his inspiration. Zak’s seething disgust for a patriotic conservative woman can be easily discerned from the manner in which he caricatures Thomas in his article:
She looks and sounds like the Washington wife of yore, with the pearl earrings, the Reagan-red cocktail attire, the sunglasses tiara’d atop her blond bob. At the holidays, she lays wreaths at Arlington and sings carols around the piano with her be-sweatered husband, Clarence, who happens to be the longest-serving justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Memorial Day means a backyard barbecue with star-spangled tablecloths and a sheet cake that reads “God Bless America!”
Zak proceeded to characterize Mrs. Thomas as a tin-foil-hat-wearing Republican who regularly promotes ludicrous conspiracy theories rich in conservative tropes. “This month, Ginni Thomas shared a Facebook post that bizarrely described California as a war zone, with illegal immigrants scaling walls and carjacking U.S. citizens,” he wrote.
Contrary to Zak’s dismissive attitude, Thomas’s Facebook post hit the nail on the head. The day before she shared this meme, a Newsweek article documented how illegal immigrants from the Central American migrant caravan were “climbing over and digging under” the border wall which separates California from Mexico.
Zak further excoriated Thomas for posting another meme suggesting that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “wire-tapped Trump,” calling her post “a baseless accusation indulged in only by conspiracy theorists.”
Yet, Thomas’s assertion isn’t so far-fetched as Zak would have his readers believe. Even CNN was forced to admit in September 2017 that Trump campaign Chair Paul Manafort was electronically monitored by the FBI from his home in New York’s Trump Tower under “secret court orders before and after the election.” Add former National Security Council Chief Mike Flynn and Trump aide Carter Page to the list of campaign officials who were also surreptitiously wiretapped, and Thomas doesn’t seem so crazy, after all.
Paying the price
Stelter would ultimately pay a humiliating price for endorsing Zak’s unfounded views that Mrs. Thomas was posting “nakedly partisan, erroneous propaganda.” The consensus was clear among Twitter users: Zak’s article was tone-deaf and hypocritical, and Stelter was a fool for rubbing stamping it.
“How feminist,” Newsbuster’s Executive Editor Tim Graham tweeted, and he was right to go after The Post for displaying such blind hypocrisy. This is the same outlet to publish such progressive hits as “Why can’t we hate men?” and “Thanks for not raping us, all you ‘good men.’ But it’s not enough.”
The Washington Post strongly suggests the wives of conservative Supreme Court justices shouldn’t be politically active. How feminist. https://t.co/yrZK5o1SUL
— Tim Graham (@TimJGraham) December 28, 2018
Commentary editor John Podhoretz reminded Stelter that his outrage traversed a two-way street by asking if left-leaning Justice Stephen Breyer should be forced to recuse himself from religious liberty cases because his wife is a minister.
Stephen Breyer’s wife is a minister. Should he recuse himself from all religious liberty cases? No, of course not. He’s a liberal. https://t.co/pKgUusLrpU
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) December 28, 2018
Others, like podcaster Andrew Klaven, couldn’t help but bring up the irony that a CNN reporter was demanding complete impartiality from anyone.
— Andrew Klavan (@andrewklavan) December 28, 2018
The New Right author Michael Malice landed perhaps the most witty comment, however, when he tweeted: “next thing you know she’ll be running a secret cabal to socialize healthcare or heck even running for Senate in a state she has nothing to do with.”
Your move, Brian Stelter.