Topic: Media Research Center
As its decades of hating Anita Hill demonstrates, the Media Research Center is highly invested in the idea of ideological conservative Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice. So when the right-wing activism of his wife, Ginni, became more of an issue, the MRC was quick to rush to their defense. When the New Yorker profiled Ginni's activism, Kyle Drennen went into attack mode in a Jan. 22 item:
In the latest nasty, partisan media effort to undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, on Friday, MSNBC welcomed on The New Yorker’s left-wing hack Jane Mayer to trash conservative leader Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, as a “threat to the Supreme Court.” Mayer used her vile hit piece against Ginni Thomas to demand that Justice Thomas recuse himself from numerous cases before the high court.
“Now, a new New Yorker article is raising questions about Thomas’s wife’s conservative activism....Joining me now is Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker and author of the new article, ‘Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?,’ fill-in anchor Garrett Haake announced near the end of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports early Friday afternoon.
It's not "undermining the legitimacy of the Supreme Court" to point out Thomas' conflicts of interest regarding his wife -- if anything, it's Thomas whose legitimacy is being questioned. Rather than rebutting anything Mayer wrote, Drennen bashed the messenger for allegedly exposing her "true partisan intent, a lame attempt to sideline one of the members of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ahead of a series of potentially landmark cases."
Alex Christy devoted a Jan. 25 post to repeating an attack on Mayer from the right-wing website the Federalist, claiming her "smears" of Thomas in her "nasty hit piece" were "false" without citing any major examples and insisting that Mayer "made her true left-wing political motivation clear" by noting the simple fact that Thomas would have to recuse from cases due to his wife's activism if he sat on any other court.
In Feburary, when the New York Times Magazine reported that Ginni Thomas sits on the board of an organization that heavily agitated to overturn the election, Nicholas Fondacaro used a Feb. 22 post to lash out at co-hosts of "The View" -- at whom he again hurled the misogynist "cackling coven" smear -- for talking about it:
In late January, when the cackling coven of The View were attacking podcaster Joe Rogan with accusations of “misinformation,” co-host Sunny Hostin proclaimed they were better than him because they were held to “ the ABC News standard.” Well, on Tuesday, Hostin and the panel showed how low that standard was when they spewed debunked lies against Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, suggesting she was “part of the insurrection” on January 6.
“So, New York Times Magazine looks at concerns over the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who’s been a vocal supporter of the 2020 election fraud lie and the January 6 protesters,” Whoopi Goldberg sneered. “I kind of feel like this could be an issue.”
The claim that Ginni was “very involved in” the January 6 riot has been debunked for a while now. Even PolitiFact found the claims “false.” “There’s no evidence that Thomas was involved in organizing the events that unfolded on Jan. 6,” they wrote. “She has not been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the attack and rumors that she helped organize busing for Trump supporters that day have not been supported.”
But neither Fondacaro nor the PolitiFact article he cited addressed the claim about Ginni Thomas in the NYT Magazine article, so he had no factual basis upon which to call the claim a "debunked lie." Like his MRC co-workers, Fondacaro also smelled a conspiracy: "The real double standard was how they wanted Clarence to recuse himself because of the activist work of his wife when they were fine with liberal justices like the late Ruth Badge Ginsburg being activist justices from the bench."
But Fondacaro and the rest of the MRC were soon to be exposed as the ones who are lying about just how deep Ginni Thomas was involved in insurrectionist-adjacent activities. The right-wing Washington Free Beacon revealed in mid-March that she admitted attending the notorious "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the even more notorious Capitol riot but claimed she left before the riot started. Others have reported, however, that Thomas went from the rally to the nearby Willard Hotel, where the Trump campaign was running a "command center" aiming to overturn the election.
Then, a week or so later, the Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas sent texts to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows calling the election "the greatest Heist of our History" and urging Trump not to concede. Thomas also sent similar texts to other Republican members of Congress.
The MRC did not immediately rush to the defense of the Thomases after either revelation, perhaps a tacit admission that even they know this behavior was not defensible (or at least the situation required more time to invent a defense). The MRC alluded to the claims obliquely when they did so at all:
- A March 27 post by Kevin Tober referenced only "Ginni Thomas's text messages."
- A March 28 post by Curtis Houck played whataboutism, complaining that at a White House press briefing, CBS reporter Ed O'Keefe "turned to text messages from Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni about the 2020 election, but refused to do the same despite new revelations about his son Hunter’s life of corruption."
- Tim Graham similarly complained on March 30 that O'Keefe "asked the leftist question of the day about the January 6 Democrat Committee having texts of Ginni Thomas about the 2020 election.
- Fondacaro lashed out at "The View" again on April 1, ranting that the hosts "falsely claimed that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, “was actively participating” in the violent riot that stormed the Capitol on January 6" -- but didn't disprove the claim -- and cheered the show was forced to note that Ginni has denied the claims.
All these attacks are lackluster, shifting from defending the Thomases to trying to shoot the messenger. It seems even the MRC understands that defending Ginni Thomas at this point is a losing proposition.