Forced to choose between publishing a juicy scoop that would be the talk of the political world and doing some quiet gatekeeping to make a powerful liberal look good, she did what any American journalist would do.
She suppressed information to protect that liberal’s public image. I wonder how Yahoo News is feeling today after having paid her handsomely, now knowing that Ginsburg’s reputation was more important to her than the company’s bottom line.
Couric did reveal after her 2016 interview with Ginsburg that the justice thought kneeling during the anthem was “dumb and disrespectful.” But she kept Ginsburg’s full remarks a secret until now, per her forthcoming memoir — not because she was looking to make a buck by monetizing the more controversial quotes but because she didn’t want to make political trouble for Ginsburg. Or for herself.
That’s the first thing they teach you in journalism school, you know. Don’t make trouble for the powerful. Not if they share your politics, at least.
Ginsburg went on to say that such protests show a ‘contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.’
She said: ‘Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from…as they became older they realize that this was youthful folly. And that’s why education is important.’
Couric claims in the book that she ‘lost a lot of sleep over this one’ and still wrestles with the decision she made.
According to Couric, she ‘wanted to protect’ Ginsburg and felt that the issue of racial justice was a ‘blind spot’ for her.
Put those words in the mouths of a Republican and the media would have no difficulty discerning a racist narrative about “ungrateful blacks” who have it a lot better here than people in the “sh*thole countries” their ancestors came from. Alas, we’ll never know what contortions the press would have endured to avoid accusing Ginsburg of that sentiment if these quotes had run five years ago. Now that she’s dead, they’ll gloss over it as being of no public import. If Couric had published her remarks in 2016, when RBG was still on the Court, they couldn’t have avoided it as easily.
In fact, Ginsburg — or the people around her — did issue a statement in 2016 after the “dumb and disrespectful” comments were published insisting that what she said was “inappropriately dismissive and harsh.” She probably would have said the same thing if Couric had published the full quote. And the press would have likely treated that as a license to look the other way, “protecting” Ginsburg just as Couric did.
Couric seems to be conflicted between frankly admitting that her motive here was political, as implied by her desire to “protect” Ginsburg, and concocting reasons why publishing the quote in full would have been unethical somehow. She speculates in the memoir that because Ginsburg was elderly she “probably didn’t fully understand the question.” Why would she bother interviewing a subject who’s so old and, in her view, feeble-minded that the responses to her questions couldn’t be assumed to be cogent and fully informed? And even if it were true that Ginsburg was too old to grasp basic questions, that’s news in itself. She was a sitting Supreme Court justice, after all.
Considering how Ginsburg ultimately left the Court and who ended up replacing her, I wonder how many lefties wish Couric *had* published the full quote in 2016. Maybe they could have pressured her to resign in disgrace, vacating the seat while Obama was president. Although, given how the Republican Senate handled Scalia’s vacancy, Ginsburg’s seat going empty wouldn’t have gained the left anything. (Except maybe goosing turnout for Hillary that fall, knowing that a Democratic seat would be filled by a Republican if Trump won. Hmmmm. Maybe RBG’s resignation would have gotten Hillary elected after all!)
Couric says the head of PR at the Supreme Court asked her to remove Ginsburg’s quotes following the interview, at which point she consulted with some colleagues in journalism. One told her to leave the quotes in. But David Brooks, the NYT columnist, advised her that Ginsburg probably didn’t understand the question. Uh, why assume that? And why is it a reporter’s duty to excise a quote on grounds that the subject might not have understood it rather than printing it as is and letting the subject herself clarify when asked?
There’s no way around the conclusion that Ginsburg was cut a break here because she was a liberal icon and Couric didn’t want the burden of publicizing information that could have complicated her iconic status. In fact, she may have feared that, because RBG was sacrosanct, the left would have taken its unhappiness out on Couric instead of Ginsburg for having been willing to publish what she said.
She choked, simple as that. And this isn’t the first time that she removed quotes from an interview because including them wouldn’t have supported the narrative she was trying to advance.
Exit question: Why didn’t Couric just do what the ACLU did and replace Ginsburg’s original words with bracketed phrases to make them more woke? E.g., the anthem protests show a “[respect] for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life”?