Most Americans weren’t watching PBS as they celebrated Thanksgiving, but the liberal network on November 24 aired an updated documentary with the loaded title Supreme Revenge: Battle for the Court. If you had watched it, you would have seen something so biased, so over-the-top, it was almost amusing. The Frontline show featured scary black and white pictures, spooky music and endless hyperventilating about Mitch McConnell’s decades-long quest to secure a conservative Supreme Court.
With an ominous black and white picture that made the Senate Majority Leader look like some PBS version of a Batman villain, narrator Will Lyman fretted, “With Kavanaugh’s confirmation, McConnell had moved the court to further to the right. But then, just over a month before the 2020 election, the death of the Court’s most prominent liberal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Once again, it was Mitch McConnell’s moment. He was ready.”
After liberal journalist Nina Totenberg explained, yet again, that it was Ginsburg’s dying wish for her seat “not to be filled,” Lyman made McConnell sound heartless: “But that was not what Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had in mind.”
Again and again, the documentary portrays McConnell as a cold, ruthless operator: “To McConnell, it didn’t matter that it was only weeks before the election and that he’d opposed filling a seat in the last year of the Obama presidency.” Later, the narrator outright lectured, “With election day fast approaching… the hearings for Amy Coney Barrett were a rush job…. The partisanship was on full display.”
As though he was narrating a trailer for a Halloween movie, yet another dark photo and scary music complimented the terrified discussion of McConnell’s ultimate victory: “Now, the Supreme Court that Mitch McConnell built… looms over the new president.”
Perhaps it didn’t occur to the liberals at PBS, but many Americans actually LIKE conservative victories and don’t find them scary at all.
(An earlier version of this documentary aired on PBS in August. It was updated to include the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the confirmation fight over Amy Coney Barrett.)
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Frontline : Supreme Revenge: Battle for the Court
NINA TOTENBERG: Her family had said to her, “Is there anything you would like to write?” She said, “My most fervent wish is that my seat not be filled until after a new president is elected.”
NARRATOR WILL LYMAN: But that was not what Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had in mind.
NARRATOR: With Kavanaugh’s confirmation, McConnell had moved the court to further to the right. But then, just over a month before the 2020 election, the death of the Court’s most prominent liberal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Once again, it was Mitch McConnell’s moment. He was ready.
JOSH HOLMES (Former McConnell chief of staff): This is a conversation that he has been having with his members at this point for a year or more. And McConnell made it very clear to his colleagues, that if there is a vacancy, whomever that vacancy is presented by, we will fill it.
NARRATOR: To McConnell, it didn’t matter that it was only weeks before the election and that he’d opposed filling a seat in the last year of the Obama presidency.
SENATOR DICK DURBIN: The fact that it was occurring while the presidential election was underway, unprecedented. It’s never happened in the history of the Senate, for all of their explanations and excuses. It’s never been done. And particularly in light of what happened four years ago, it really seemed to be hypocritical.
NARRATOR: But McConnell shrugged off the charges of hypocrisy.
TED OLSON: It wouldn’t phase Senator McConnell to be called “Ruthless” or “Determined” or whatever adjectives or labels people might put on his behavior. He did it because he could.
DONALD TRUMP: Today it is my honor to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
NARRATOR: With election day fast approaching…
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Do you solemnly swear the testimony you’re about to give this committee…
NARRATOR: The hearings for Amy Coney Barrett were a rush job.
GRAHAM: The hearing to confirm…
MARK LEIBOVICH: He said, “We’re here to confirm Justice Barrett.” “Confirm,” which basically gave away the whole deal right there. It’s like, “We’re not considering anything, we’re just here to vote.”
NARRATOR: The partisanship was on full display.
NARRATOR: Democrats complained… But in the minority, they were powerless to
CARRIE JOHNSON (NPR): Mitch McConnell had the votes from start to finish. He knew it and he behaved that way all along.
NARRATOR: Just a week before the presidential election, the new justice was sworn in.
JOHNSON: For Senator McConnell this would be the achievement of his life’s goal. With Justice Barrett on the Court now you have a solid 6-3 conservative split on the court.
NARRATOR: Three decades after Bork, it was now Mitch McConnell’s Supreme Court.
NARRATOR: Now, the Supreme Court that Mitch McConnell built… looms over the new president.