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News Busters
Newsbusters
29 Apr 2023
Alex Christy


NextImg:MSNBC Pans Alito On Assassination Threats: 'Some Kind Of Headline'

Responding to Justice Sam Alito’s Wall Street Journal interview, MSNBC’s Alex Wagner spent her Friday show mocking the headline that referenced assassination threats the Court has received, twisted Alito’s words, and ended up confirming his point as she hyped a bunch of recent non-scandals in an attempt to delegitimize the Court.

Before getting to all that, Wagner addressed the Court’s recent issue of a stay in a case involving the FDA and the abortion pill, mifepristone, “So sorry to interrupt your work flow, Justice Alito. It's just a decision about whether or not millions of people with uteruses across the country can access the most commonly used method of abortion, but sorry for bothering you.” 

“People with uteruses” somehow wasn’t the worst part of Wagner’s monologue, “The headline of his newly published interview in the Wall Street Journal is, “this made us targets of assassination.” Which is definitely some kind of headline.”

Wagner immediately sought to clarify, “It refers to threats Justice Alito says were caused by the leak of his own decision in the Dobbs case… to be crystal clear here, physical threats against anyone are reprehensible.”

Given the real assassination threats, one could understand how Alito is sensitive to attempts to delegitimize the Court, but Wagner pretended he’s simply appalled that anybody would dare to criticize the Court, “but the bulk of this interview is not actually about that, the bulk of this interview is Justice Alito describing his outrage that anyone is criticizing the Court at all.”

The quote Wagner proceeded to read from did not say what she claims it did. Alito was not against criticism, but the nature of the criticism, arguing the Court has been "quite unfairly" attacked.

Wagner proceeded to go through a list of "scandals." First, Clarence Thomas has a rich friend, “The Wall Street Journal says this interview took place on April 13th. And just that day, April 13th, ProPublica advanced its already extensive reporting on Justice Clarence Thomas and his ethics scandals, reporting that Thomas sold a house to a conservative billionaire while Thomas was on the Court, and Thomas did not disclose the sale.”

Secondly, Wagner recalled “Justice Neil Gorsuch sold property to the head of the major law firm that frequently has business before the Court, and Gorsuch didn’t not disclose who he sold that property to.”

Wagner conveniently left out the part that Gorsuch has never met the guy who just happens to be a big Democratic donor.  

Finally, Wagner was aghast that Chief Justice John Roberts’s wife has a legal job in her own right and has been quite successful, “And just today, we learned that a whistleblower claims that Chief Justice John Roberts's wife, who recruits lawyers for elite law firms, has made at least $10 million in commissions while her husband has been on the Court. Quote, ‘at least one of those firms argued a case before Chief Justice Roberts after paying his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars.’”

Again, Wagner left out the important part: there is no evidence any of these lawyers argued before the Court.

Nevertheless, Wagner claimed, “Justice Alito's assertion that it is the media criticism of the court that's undermining trust in the institution, is very much up for debate.”

These aren’t criticisms of Alito’s view of how abortion relates to the Ninth Amendment, they are phony controversies that are ginned up to delegitimize the Court and for some people, to justify Court packing.

This segment was sponsored by Verizon.

Here is a transcript for the April 28 show:

MSNBC Alex Wagner Tonight

4/29/2023

9:22 PM ET

ALEX WAGNER: So sorry to interrupt your work flow, Justice Alito. It's just a decision about whether or not millions of people with uteruses across the country can access the most commonly used method of abortion, but sorry for bothering you. Now, we got that little peek behind the curtain, because for some reason Justice Alito thought it was time to speak to the press. The headline of his newly published interview in the Wall Street Journal is, “this made us targets of assassination.” Which is definitely some kind of headline. 

It refers to threats Justice Alito says were caused by the leak of his own decision in the Dobbs case, the one that overturned Roe v. Wade and to be crystal clear here, physical threats against anyone are reprehensible, but the bulk of this interview is not actually about that, the bulk of this interview is justice Alito describing his outrage that anyone is criticizing the Court at all. 

Quote, “this kind of concerted attack on the Court and on individual justices is new during my lifetime. We are being hammered daily, and I think quite unfairly and a lot of instances. And nobody, practically nobody, is defending us.” Alito says this kind of criticism “undermines confidence in the government.” 

The Wall Street Journal says this interview took place on April 13th. And just that day, April 13th, ProPublica advanced its already extensive reporting on Justice Clarence Thomas and his ethics scandals, reporting that Thomas sold a house to a conservative billionaire while Thomas was on the Court, and Thomas did not disclose the sale. 

And despite the fact that -- no longer owns it, Thomas's mother still lives in that house. When the Wall Street Journal asked Alito about Thomas's scandals though, Alito's only reply was, “I’ll stay away from that.”

Yeah, why would anyone in the right mind criticize the Court? Anyway, since then, in just two weeks, we have got in the news that just days after being confirmed to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch sold property to the head of the major law firm that frequently has business before the Court, and Gorsuch didn’t not disclose who he sold that property to. And just today, we learned that a whistleblower claims that Chief Justice John Roberts's wife, who recruits lawyers for elite law firms, has made at least $10 million in commissions while her husband has been on the Court. Quote, "at least one of those firms argued a case before Chief Justice Roberts after paying his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars." So Justice Alito's assertion that it is the media criticism of the court that's undermining trust in the institution, is very much up for debate.