The Slatest

Today in Conservative Media: A Scarier “Nuclear Option”

Kim Jong-un.

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

As the GOP contemplated deploying the so-called nuclear option in response to Democratic obstruction of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination, some conservative media outlets contemplated the possibility of more literal war with North Korea.

For the most part, they were taking their cues from President Donald Trump, who said, in an interview published by the Financial Times over the weekend, “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.” While Trump was cagey about the details of his strategy, Breitbart zeroed in on the remark, claiming that he had “signaled his willingness to take on North Korea.” Breitbart went on to suggest that this marked a significant change of policy, writing, “North Korea routinely conducted weapons tests during the Obama administration, but officials took a policy of ‘strategic patience.’ ”

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The Daily Caller also attempted an interpretation of Trump’s remark in a story that was subsequently reprinted by conspiracy site Infowars. That post went into greater detail about military developments in North Korea, discussing the small nation’s preparations for future nuclear tests. The site also published two additional posts on the topic on Monday, including one titled “US Goes North Korean Sub Hunting With Key Asian Allies,” in which it described joint drills between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan.

Drudge Report also embraced the North Korea narrative on Monday, promoting a link that read “Defector: Kim Will Use Nukes” in its prime home page slot.

Drudge Report

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That link led readers to an NBC article based on an interview in which the defector in question told Lester Holt, “Once [Kim Jong-un] sees that there is any kind of sign of a tank or an imminent threat from America, then he would use his nuclear weapons with ICBM.

Not everyone seemed to think that Trump should focus on North Korea in the days ahead. In an editorial anticipating Trump’s coming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Fox News’ John Moody argued that the two leaders should instead discuss rare earth metals. “The U.S. has little leverage over China’s economic support of North Korea, whose madman leader Kim Jong Un could test a nuclear device to mar the Sino-U.S. summit,” Moody wrote.

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In other news:

The Democratic attempt to block Gorsuch was another prominent story in conservative media. An Independent Journal Review headline warned that politicians on the left were “Out of Touch With Voters.” The story cited one recent poll indicating that “a plurality of voters, 44 percent, think the Senate should confirm Gorsuch.” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh proposed that the Democrats’ plans were indicative of deeper problems in the party, telling his listeners:

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I think things are imploding on the Democrats, and I actually think this is one of the reasons why the media is so desperate, because despite all the minutiae and detail here, in the real world, the things the Democrat Party believes in are failing all over the world, not just here in the United States.

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Few conservative outlets seemed concerned about Democratic plans. In the Daily Caller, attorney Edward Lulie captured the general tone of the coverage, writing, “[A]ll of this posing and preaching about the sanctity of the filibuster is so much whistling past the graveyard.” Looking forward to the likely end of the filibuster, the Federalist half-jokingly suggested that had been the left’s plan all along in “The Democrats’ Crusade To End The Filibuster Finally Pays Off.” National Review got a little more specific, arguing that the whole thing was really “Ted Kennedy’s fault,” since Kennedy had helped drive opposition to Robert Bork “as part of a pure political power play.”

On Facebook, Melania Trump’s “first official portrait” as first lady spread widely:

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