Moments after it was reported that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is retiring, Fox News began running wild with unfounded speculation about who President Joe Biden will nominate to replace the liberal justice.
According to Fox’s supposed “straight news” anchor Harris Faulkner and her colleague Kayleigh McEnany, one “credible” theory is that Biden will try to place Vice-President Kamala Harris on the bench in order to push her out of the White House.
Prior to even winning the Democratic presidential primary in 2020, Biden promised he would nominate the first-ever Black woman to the Supreme Court if the opportunity arose. His administration has repeated that promise since the election, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki reaffirming last year that Biden “remains by that commitment.”
Discussing the breaking news on midday panel show Outnumbered, the hosts first took issue with Biden’s pledge to fill the open spot with a Black woman.
“We know what Joe Biden does best is placate to the radical element and radical aggressive base of his party that he believes is the majority,” Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren huffed.
“Now again I’m sure it would be… a Black woman, he’s got a dedication to that,” the right-wing firebrand added. “We saw how well that worked out with Kamala Harris. but here’s to hoping he had a better choice in mind for this position.”
After Fox News legal analyst Jonathan Turley said Biden’s pledge to only consider a Black woman is ironic because the court itself “wouldn’t allow that kind of approach for college admission,” Faulkner added that Turley “was talking about discrimination.”
She then pondered that this could be a way for Biden to rid himself of Harris—who is potentially the tie-breaking vote in the Senate for a Supreme Court confirmation—amid her plunging poll numbers.
“So this person has to be a woman, she’s got to be Black and she has to be younger,” the so-called “straight news” anchor said. “Anyone thinking what I’m thinking? They don’t know what to do with Kamala Harris in the White House right now. I can’t be the only person seeing this!”
Adding that she’s “chatted about it” with McEnany, Faulkner said she’s “read” that “maybe something like this could happen” with Harris because Biden could run for re-election with someone else on the ticket.
“Look, I prefer to drink my tea rather than read the tea leaves, but when Jonathan Turley puts out the information of young, Black and female, it’s hard not to see,” Faulkner, shooting from the hip, continued. “At least she makes the list?”
McEnany, a former Trump White House spokesperson turned Fox News co-host, took the ball from Faulkner and ran with it.
“I think you’re right,” McEnany responded. “I’m glad you said that, Harris, because that was playing in my mind from the moment that we heard about this retirement.”
Noting that the people in the administration are reportedly unhappy with the vice-president, she insisted “it’s a possibility” that the veep “will readily consider or accept” given the “frustration she’s incurred” during her time in office.
“I think it’s a theory that could be credible,” McEnany added.
Faulkner wrapped up their theorizing by claiming the Supreme Court could provide a chance for Harris to “stand up” and find a job “she actually relishes and would love to be able to do” and “do something great.”
At the same time, the Fox host eventually admitted this was all just unfounded punditry not backed up by any reporting.
“We don’t know,” she added. “And the reporting we point to is just about the dissension and drama behind the scenes and her low poll numbers.”
Faulkner concluded: “Would she even be in the running? We don’t know. But would she then turn and embrace the job she has? It might be interesting to see as well.”
Not everyone was sold, though. Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier noted later in the program that he found it “a little tough to get to have Kamala Harris replaced as vice-president” to become a Supreme Court justice, adding that “it’s a stretch to get there.”
It didn’t take long, however, for the wild theory to jump from Twitter, right-wing media, and Fox airwaves to the White House press briefing room.
NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander first posed the question to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who had already said she wasn’t going to discuss any speculation about the Supreme Court as Breyer had not publicly announced his retirement.
“Any scenario the president would select his Vice-President Kamala Harris for the Supreme Court?” Alexander asked, prompting the press secretary to wave it off.
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, though, remained undeterred.
"When you are asked about the vice president possibly being selected as a Supreme Court nominee, you said you are not going to speak to any considerations. Does that mean she is being considered?” Doocy wondered, only for Psaki to reiterate that she wasn’t going to speak about the court.
Doocy then tried to “theoretically” ask her about a “hypothetical” nomination of Harris, namelessly referencing her as a former “attorney general of a large state” that could be “an attractive candidate” for an open Supreme Court slot.
“I see what you did there, Peter,” the press secretary responded before reaffirming Biden’s intention to run for re-election in 2024 with Harris as his running mate.
While Fox News anchor Sandra Smith quickly reacted to the briefing exchange by noting that Psaki “did not say no” to a possible Harris nomination, CNN host Abby Phillips poured cold water on the far-fetched notion on Wednesday afternoon.
“I like to call this Supreme Court fan-fiction in which a lot of people who have ideas about, you know, who could be on the court throw them out regardless of whether they are feasible,” she said on CNN Newsroom.
“It’s not to say that maybe she might even want to be on the court but the reality is, in Washington, there is a 50/50 split in the United States Senate,” Phillips continued. “She is the tie-breaking vote. There’s really no guarantee that someone who is very clearly a political figure would be able to get through that process. That’s just the reality.”
This article has been updated to correct and fully reflect Jonathan Turley's comments during the Fox News segment.