NPR and its wagon-circling allies continue to double, triple and quadruple down amid the fallout from the publicly funded publisher’s smear of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
As previously reported, an NPR “journalist” ran a story Tuesday claiming Justice John Roberts had asked Justice Gorsuch to mask up for the sake of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, but that Gorsuch had refused, forcing Sotomayor to participate in the high court’s hearings virtually.
The story was quickly debunked by all three justices, but especially so by Roberts, who issued a blunt statement asserting that “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.”
But instead of just “taking the L,” NPR’s Nina Totenberg — the same “reporter” who decades ago broke the dubious sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas — doubled down.
And as of late Thursday, it appeared all of NPR was doubling down with her. Around 5:30 pm that evening, the news organization’s public editor, Kelly McBride, published an update arguing that Totenberg’s report was technically correct save for one “unclear” verb choice that’s since been corrected.
The original story claimed that Roberts, “in some form or other asked the other justices to mask up.” The meaning was clear. The justice had “asked” either through a written or verbal request for the other justices to mask up.
Meanwhile: @NinaTotenberg reports that “according to court sources, Sotomayor did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up. They all did. Except Gorsuch”
— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) January 18, 2022
Totenberg has since changed “asked” to “suggested,” a seemingly far less clear term. With this change made, McBride wrote in her update Thursday that the piece is now completely valid, and Americans must decide “between believing the chief justice or believing Totenberg.”
Critics have found this to be an extraordinarily easy choice to make.
“Believing the Chief Justice or believing Tottenburg”.
Oh boy, you actually wrote that.
You know what would have been better? Nina asking Sotomayor and Gorsuch’s offices for comment before publishing an anecdote that, while juicy, has now been shown to be false.
— Anonymous Anonymizer (@JonathanLingo) January 21, 2022
“..news consumers must choose between believing the chief justice or believing Totenberg.”
Chief Justice: This did not happen
Totenberg & NPR: Trust me bro
— Trent Frank (@Trenton_Frank) January 21, 2022
Here’s what the two Supreme Court members said, and though it completely contradicts our story, we’re sticking behind it because NPR has a long history of biased reporting and the tradition must continue. Our readers demand it.
— l2atl3astard (@l2atl3astard) January 21, 2022
We have investigated ourselves and cleared ourselves of any wrongdoing
— Ron Bassilian (@Ron4California) January 21, 2022
Dude, just admit the “L” and move on, Jesus.
— Fear the Young (@Suburban_Dad) January 20, 2022
“I believe her reporting was solid, but her word choice was misleading.” pic.twitter.com/vHo0LPOuKN
— The USA Patrioteer (@USAPatrioteer) January 21, 2022
“No one has challenged the broader focus of Totenberg’s original story, which asserts that the justices in general are not getting along well,” McBride added.
Critics have pushed back on this argument as well, noting that the joint statement issued by Gorsuch and Sotomayor completely debunks this narrative:
“No one…challenged the broader focus of Totenberg’s original story…that the justices in general are not getting along well.”
“Sotomayor and Gorsuch issued a joint statement: ‘…While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends.’”
— John Atoms (@Iampersonhuman1) January 21, 2022
They’ve also questioned the idea that NPR’s only goal had been to convey the alleged drama unfolding behind the scenes in the high court.
The going theory is that the report was designed for one and only one purpose: To disparage conservative Justice Gorsuch and provoke outrage among the Twitterati. And indeed, that’s exactly what happened, as documented by “keeper of receipts” Drew Holden:
And, naturally, plenty of these folks immediately used this reporting – since refuted – as an opportunity to confirm their priors on Gorsuch, the Supreme Court & anyone who isn’t interested in forever masking. That included: @ElieNYC, @Travon, @clairecmc (sheesh) & @ananavarro pic.twitter.com/TZlxfHI2cV
— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) January 20, 2022
Though he missed one: Over at The Philadelphia Inquirer, a columnist used the bogus story to write a piece about Gorsuch’s so-called “white male entitlement.”
Critics say it’s the same pattern that plays out again and again and again and again. A reporter drops dubiously-sourced allegations that make a conservative look bad, the allegations spread far and wide, outrage erupts, and then when the actual truth emerges, barely anybody notices or acknowledges it (or at least not until the lawsuits appear).
This forever-repeating pattern is why, critics say, the public’s trust in the media has cratered to such an epic low.
In a tweet posted in response to McBride’s update, conservative commentator Megyn Kelly’s executive producer, Steve Krakauer, made the case late Thursday that the media’s trust/approval rating would likely recover if they “just took the L with humility every once in a while.”
The national media’s dismal approval rating would go up 10 points if journalists just took the L with humility every once in a while. https://t.co/BvQTW22KwY
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) January 21, 2022
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