NBC Gushes Over Jackson Being ‘Like An Olympic Athlete’

Moments before the second day of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearing began on Tuesday morning, the panel during NBC News special coverage eagerly touted comparisons between the left-wing Supreme Court nominee and an “Olympic athlete who has been training for this…her whole life.” In addition, expected tough questions from Republican lawmakers were preemptively dismissed as “performative” efforts about “playing to their base.”

“What we shouldn’t miss is history in the making here. The first black female Supreme Court justice to be nominated to the highest court,” Today co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed as she and Nightly News anchor Lister Holt hosted the special report. Guthrie then hoped “the temperature is a little lower than it might otherwise be” given that Jackson’s nomination “will not alter the ideological balance of the Court.”

Washington correspondent Yamiche Alcindor response: “It’s gonna be a little lower…but this is still history in the making and this is still a time where a lot of the Republicans on the committee are looking to 2024.” She then swooned over Jackson: “So we can imagine that as she leans into the history of being the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court and also double-downs on the idea that she loves this country, loves this Constitution.”

Moments later, Alcindor hyped: “I was texting with one of her closest friends today and they told me yesterday was very, very emotional, but that they believe that their friend is like an Olympic athlete who has been training for this their whole – her whole life.”

Guthrie happily seized on the analogy and cheered: “Well, that athlete is about to enter into the hearing room. And if that’s the athlete, she’s been to several prior Olympics, having and faced several confirmation hearings.”

She then turned to left-wing political analyst and columnist Eugene Robinson, who like Alcindor, warned of the GOP:

I think the Republican senators who frankly would like to run for president someday – Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton – I think you’ll hear them kind of ask performative questions, just to be blunt about it. You know, they’re playing to their base. I’m not sure how much serious inquiry we’ll get.

Just after Jackson concluded her opening statement at the first day of hearings Monday afternoon, NBC, CBS, and ABC all rushed to declare the nominee immune from Republican criticism. Holt went so far as to ask: “…how Republicans will go after her? Will they hold back and realize this is not the hill maybe they want to die on?”

After all, according to NBC, Jackson is the judicial equivalent of Michael Phelps or Simone Biles.

There were no commercial breaks during the NBC News special coverage.

Here is a transcript of the March 22 panel discussion:

9:05 AM ET

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SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I want to bring in our panel here. We’re joined now by NBC News Washington correspondent Yamiche Alcindor and NBC News political analyst Eugene Robinson. Welcome to you both as we watch.

What we shouldn’t miss is history in the making here. The first black female Supreme Court justice to be nominated to the highest court. And it’s interesting, Yamiche, I wonder what your reporting tells you because every Supreme Court hearing confirmation is high stakes by its nature. This will not alter the ideological balance of the Court and for some that means the temperature is a little lower than it might otherwise be.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It’s gonna be a little lower in that there’s not gonna be, as you said, this balance of the court at stake, but this is still history in the making and this is still a time where a lot of the Republicans on the committee are looking to 2024.

So we can imagine that as she leans into the history of being the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court and also double-downs on the idea that she loves this country, loves this Constitution. That’s what she said yesterday. She’s also going to be on the defense here. Yesterday was the easy day. Today, she’s going to be having to talk about whether or not she sees race as having a role to play in the law. She’s asked and answered that question before, she said that that’s – she doesn’t see race as being a place where she – where it impacts her decisions on the law.

But we can also expect the Republicans not only to go after her on those – as Pete Williams said – those child pornography issues and her defending them pretty clearly. We can also expect they will be talking about whether or not she believes in adding people to the Supreme Court, whether or not she might recuse herself when it comes to Affirmative Action cases because she’s on a board for Harvard.

I was texting with one of her closest friends today and they told me yesterday was very, very emotional, but that they believe that their friend is like an Olympic athlete who has been training for this their whole – her whole life.

GUTHRIE: Well, that athlete is about to enter into the hearing room. And if that’s the athlete, she’s been to several prior Olympics, having and faced several confirmation hearings.

Eugene, as I turn to you. The Court is about to hear some of the biggest hot-button issues of our time, a major case on abortion. She would not sit for that. That case is being litigated right now. There are affirmative action cases before the Court. All of these issues are very central right now.

ROBINSON: Right, they are. And so – however, the temperature will be lower this time just because it doesn’t change the ideological balance. I think the Republican senators who frankly would like to run for president someday – Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton – I think you’ll hear them kind of ask performative questions, just to be blunt about it. You know, they’re playing to their base. I’m not sure how much serious inquiry we’ll get. I hope we get some.

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