A fun little palate cleanser via Mediaite, which notes that there’s more to this than meets the eye. On Monday night, Kelly attacked the idea that Judge Curiel should recuse himself just because Trump had accused him of an ethnic bias. Coincidentally or maybe not coincidentally, O’Reilly had made that very point less than an hour before, arguing that Curiel had done nothing wrong but that he should step down from the case anyway to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Which is dumb, for reasons Kelly rightly explained in the following hour: If a litigant can disqualify a judge just by saying something provocative about him, on the theory that he can’t possibly give that litigant a fair trial afterward, then any plaintiff or defendant in any case can “judge-shop” at will. Has the judge in your civil suit been ruling against you? Does he happen to be black? Great! Just call a press conference and say that you’ve never trusted black people. The judge would have to step down per O’Reilly’s logic even though he’s done nothing wrong. As Kelly says, a litigant can’t be allowed to create the conditions for a judge’s recusal through his own actions or else you’d provide an incentive for people throughout the legal system to manufacture recusal circumstances. And that’s exactly what Trump, whose Trump University suit has been before Curiel since long before he started running for president and talking about the wall, is trying to do.
Like I say, maybe it was just a coincidence that Kelly rebutted that point so soon after the guy who precedes her in the Fox line-up made it. O’Reilly wasn’t the only Trump supporter urging Curiel to recuse himself, after all, and she never mentioned O’Reilly in her monologue. O’Reilly might not have taken it as a coincidence, though: Watch below as he calls out a certain unnamed host for failing to challenge an anti-Trump lefty guest who claimed that Trump is a racist. He never mentions Kelly either and the clip he runs of the lefty attacking Trump doesn’t show the interviewer, but if you watched “The Kelly File” the night before you know that that interview took place on MK’s show. Sure looks like he’s returning fire here. Although that raises the question: Why was it Kelly’s responsibility to challenge the lefty on Trump’s racism when Katrina Pierson, Trump’s spokesman, was the other guest in the same segment? Kelly probably expected that Pierson would do it. And it’s not like “Trump is a racist” is an out-of-left-field opinion, even within precincts of the GOP. If Pierson had said “Hillary is crooked,” should Kelly have piped up that no one’s charged her with anything yet or should she have let it pass as part of garden-variety partisan brawling between the two guests?
But there’s even more background here to note. Remember this?
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly blames her colleague Bill O’Reilly for not having her back against Donald Trump’s sexist attacks.
Kelly, a frequent target of the billionaire’s blustering Twitter rants, called her coworker’s conspicuous silence as Trump railed on her in a Jan. 27 “O’Reilly Factor” interview “a dark moment” — and said if the roles had been reversed, she would’ve stuck up for her pugnacious pundit pal.
“I think Bill did the best he’s capable of doing in those circumstances,” Kelly told Charlie Rose in a “CBS Sunday Morning” interview set to air this weekend.
Kelly accused O’Reilly of not challenging sexism — aimed at her, a network colleague, not at some random politician — so now O’Reilly’s accusing her of not challenging an unfair charge of racism. It’s payback — and it says something about how he views Trump. Should Kelly have defended Trump the way reporters at the same media outlet are expected to defend each other? Given that Fox seems to be mostly a network-wide surrogate operation for Trump these days (Bret and Megyn excluded), arguably … yeah. Gotta stick up for the boss!
If you missed it yesterday, read Jim Geraghty’s analysis of Curiel’s record. He doesn’t sound like a wild-eyed ideologue exacting “social justice” from the bench. Exit question via Erick Erickson: If Trump’s problem with the judge has to do with his affiliation with the “La Raza” Latino lawyers’ association, not with his ethnic identity, why did he tell an interviewer that having a Muslim judge on the case might also be problematic?