Tapper wonders if reporters who are ‘close’ to Justices are able to do their jobs

CNN’s Jake Tapper wondered Friday whether so-called “access” reporters are way too close to the Supreme Court justices whom they’re assigned to cover.

As an example, he pointed to Nina Totenberg, an NPR reporter who’d been assigned to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“Nina Totenberg, who is very well-respected, longtime Supreme Court reporter from NPR – she was criticized by NPR’s public editor in 2020 for not disclosing her decades-long relationship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” he said.


CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic appeared to concur with Tapper’s analysis.

“And this might suggest that one of the problems here is a lot of the journalists who have been covering the Supreme Court … have formed such close relationships, that you really have to wonder about their journalism sometimes,” he added.

“Yeah, it is a pretty intimate group of people. I always kid that justices are appointed for life. Journalists are appointed for life too. We come to this beat and we don’t leave it. But like anything else, you want to be friendly with the people you cover, but you don’t want to be deep friends,” CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic said.

“And if you have deep friendships, then you try to be careful with your coverage on that. And I do think that there has been an insularity that we fight against and it’s been important to always be able to scrutinize these justices in various ways, which frankly I think many of us have,” she added.

The remarks came during a wider discussion about Supreme Court ethics. The topic has been a hot one as of late thanks to investigative reporting from the legacy media about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

What’s interesting is that the reporting is coming from investigative reporters, not “access” reporters like Totenberg. That’s why Tapper was concerned because one would think such reporting would come from the “access” reporters, right?

The latest “bombshell” came Thursday via The Washington Post.

“Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work just over a decade ago, specifying that her name be left off billing paperwork,” the paper reported, citing certain documents.

According to the Post, in January of 2012, he (Leo) told then-GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a nonprofit he advises and use the bill to pay Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas.

The nonprofit was named the Judicial Education Project, and it’s relevant because later that same year the nonprofit filed a Supreme Court brief vis-a-vis a “landmark voting rights case.”

“Leo, a key figure in a network of nonprofits that has worked to support the nominations of conservative judges, told Conway that he wanted her to ‘give’ Ginni Thomas ‘another $25K,’ the documents show. He emphasized that the paperwork should have ‘No mention of Ginni, of course,'” the Post reported.

“Conway’s firm, the Polling Company, sent the Judicial Education Project a $25,000 bill that day. Per Leo’s instructions, it listed the purpose as ‘Supplement for Constitution Polling and Opinion Consulting,'” the Post added.

This is one of several alleged ethics violations by Thomas that the legacy media have reported on in recent days.

However, in response, conservative media have been running their own reports pointing out the ethics violations committed by the high court’s liberal justices, including Sonia Sotomayor.

“Liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to recuse herself from multiple copyright infringement cases involving book publisher Penguin Random House despite having been paid millions by the firm for her books, making it by far her largest source of income, records show,” Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire reported Wednesday.

Note how, in the tweet above, Shapiro accused the establishment press of not caring about Sotomayor’s own violation. This assertion was actually partly false. While it’s true they didn’t break the story — they were too busy going after Thomas — they have been covering it.

The only difference is that they’re convinced there’s a dramatic difference between what Thomas and Sotomayor allegedly did.

Case in point:


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Vivek Saxena


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