The sheer amount of media outrage being directed at Senators Manchin and Sinema this week is pretty astounding. At the NY Times Michelle Goldberg has a piece out today about their “nihilisitic bipartisanship.” The LA Times has a similar piece titled “What the matter with Kyrsten Sinema?” There’s one in the Arizona Republic too.
Over at CNN Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon went on a rant against both Senators Thursday evening. And on MSNBC, Joy Reid hosted former Sen. Al Franken for the same sort of segment attacking both Senators.
Even the reporters (as opposed to commentators) seem to be in on the act. In an interview yesterday, CNN’s Manu Raju suggested Sen. Manchin could support an exemption to the filibuster just for the Democrats’ voting rights bill. (Skip near the end of this clip.)
New from WV:
Ds say time has run out on talks with GOP on infrastructure and want to go-it alone. They want changes to filibuster rules and create a carveout to pass a voting overhaul bill without Rs
Manchin told me he's not ready to give up on GOP.
"These things take time." pic.twitter.com/dSrQAvhHc5
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 3, 2021
There was a similar interview with Sen. Sinema on Wednesday where a reporter asked the following question: “Some people are saying that you have a choice between the filibuster and democracy, your answer to that?” Some people do say that and many of them are progressives in the media. As Brian Riedl suggested, reporters are acting like anti-filibuster lobbyists:
Manchin and Sinema have repeatedly made clear their stance on the filibuster. These reporters are not questioning them so as much as browbeating and lobbying them to fall in line. https://t.co/bkAZgEDMWa
— Brian Riedl 🧀 (@Brian_Riedl) June 2, 2021
Meanwhile, President Biden has helped stoke the anger behind this two-minute hate. On Tuesday the president blamed Manchin and Sinema for his inability to get things done. “I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why didn’t Biden get this done?’ Well, because Biden only has a majority of, effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends,” Biden said.
As the Washington Post’s fact-checker notes, Biden didn’t name and names but that’s because it’s not necessary at this point. Democrats know who the villains are in this little drama. But in Biden’s case what he said about them wasn’t remotely accurate:
There’s no evidence that either Manchin or Sinema vote more with Republicans. They are certainly more moderate than other Democrats and in a 50-50 Senate, they have the power to block any part of Biden’s agenda they find objectionable. So, as in the case of Tanden, a vote does not even have to take place, making it difficult to rely on a scorecard. Both senators certainly have been firm in rejecting changes in the filibuster rules, which if eliminated would make it much easier for Biden to pass his program. So we can’t completely say his claim is off base. But it’s close.
Biden earns Three Pinocchios.
Both parties get frustrated with their moderates. Republicans get annoyed with Sen. Collins or, in the not so distant past, with Sen. John McCain. Democrats are doing the same thing with Manchin and Sinema. What’s different is that when Democrats decide they are upset with their moderates, that message gets amplified and repeated on CNN, MSNBC and by commentators and reporters at every major news outlet. Neither Senator can speak to the media right now without being lobbied on the filibuster. That’s a level of media pressure that doesn’t happen when Republicans are upset with one of their moderates.