Appearing as a guest on Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson blamed a Republican “rage machine” for the level of political polarization that currently exists, and complained about how congressional Republicans are conducting business. She also oddly claimed that Democrats were not partisan in their reaction to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch — even though Republicans had to change the filibuster rule to keep Democrats from blocking his confirmation to the Court. During the panel discussion, host Zakaria referred to a recent article she penned as he posed: “Jill, you’ve written that you think that, while all this is true, this is not a situation where both sides are equally at fault.”
Abramson put the blame on Republicans as she began: I do think that both sides are not equally at fault and that there’s been a bit of a false equivalency at work, especially in the discussion of the past couple of days. I think that, in terms of political leadership right now, that both President Trump and the congressional leadership on the Republican side are extremely divisive, and that they are really benefiting from a kind of rage machine that operates in this country. She continued: And, yes, let’s just think of two recent episodes — health care and repeal of Obamacare. You have when the Democrats were actually shaping that legislation originally and the Obama White House, they had open hearings, public hearings. Right now, the Republican-led Senate is having entirely secret process for formulating their bill — no hearings. They won’t even brief Democrats in the Senate about what’s in that legislation.
The former Times executive editor then brought up President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, and the Gorsuch nomination, for the Supreme Court and wrongly claimed Democrats were not partisan while Republicans were as she added: And then when President Obama nominated a moderate — Merrick Garland — to the Supreme Court, Republicans refused to take action and hold a hearing on his nomination. The Democrats didn’t do that with President Trump’s nominee. So it isn’t equivalent behavior on both sides.
A bit later, Zakaria picked up on her claims about Republicans being more extreme as he turned to another guest and posed: It’s not just what Jill Abramson said. There are people — the American Enterprise Institute, you know, and the Brookings Institute — who have kind of studied this and come to the conclusion that it is true that the Republicans have become more extreme than the Democrats, that while there is a polarization on both sides, the shift on the right is much more extreme than on the left. Do you buy that? David Blankenhorn of Better Angels began by agreeing that there was some truth to that claim before shifting to not wanting to focus on which side is more to blame: I’m familiar with that literature — I think there’s a lot of truth to it. But today I’m not that interested in figuring out who’s more to blame. I’m honestly not. I’m mainly interested in recovering what was called on the show the common public square.
NewsBusters: Ex-NYT Editor Abramson Blames Republican ‘Rage Machine’ for Political Division