Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Summary: NPR ran a story that was probably made-up, they got caught because they're lazy and shitty, and they tried to defend it with semantics.
Video (16 min): https://youtu.be/xfWGhyrjUqQ
Ok so this is an interesting story. Apparently, NPR, which is funded in part by taxpayer money, ran a story a few days ago where they said that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who apparently has diabetes, asked Justice Neil Gorsuch to put on a mask on the bench. According to the story, Gorsuch denied, and Sotomayor, who sits next to Gorsuch on the bench, was not in the courtroom while the court was in session (she zoomed in from her office). Several other outlets picked up on the story, such as CNN, Newsweek, CNBC, and the Washington Examiner, as well as what I consider to be tabloids such as Esquire, NY Magazine, and Rolling Stone. To be honest I don’t actually know what is in those publications because I do not wish to voluntarily lose braincells, so do with that what you will.
Right so anyway, NPR runs this story, and the reporter is Nina Totenberg. Now she is a veteran reporter, in fact I remember hearing her on Morning Edition every day in the car on my way to school back in seventh grade (I am proud to say that I no longer listen to NPR because they are very tiresome and boring, although every once in a while, I turn them on because it brings me fond memories. Ahh to be young again). So she’s, you know, been around the block a few times. You’d think that a veteran reporter working for a “widely respected” (i.e., respected only by liberals and squishy republicans) news organization which has government funding (so obviously, if it’s good enough for the government it’s good enough for me right? That is how this works isn’t it?) couldn’t really mess this up right?
Wellllllll… you thought wrong. She didn’t just miss a detail or assert something to be true that was actually in debate. No, the story was flat-out false. How do I know this? Well, if you’ve followed the supreme court for a while, you know that Sonia Sotomayor is probably the most political justice in the history of supreme court justices, and she is much more social activist than constitutional scholar. Of all the justices, she would not pass up the opportunity to cast shade on her conservative colleagues. She wouldn’t come out and straight-up say the story was true, if it was, she just would keep to herself and let the rumors fly.
However, and this is where NPR’s story takes a turn for the worse, no less than three justices came out and flat-out denied the story. Initially, NPR reported that Chief Justice John Roberts asked all the justices to put on a mask, in deference to Sotomayor. First, Gorsuch and Sotomayor released a joint statement in which they said that the statement was, well, “It is false.” Then, Roberts released a statement saying that “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.” Kaboom.
Now some may say this was an honest mistake. That’s a possibility, though a slim one considering how false the story actually was, viz. completely and utterly made-up. Maybe Totenberg was lied to. Also possible, and in fact plausible, considering how much the deep state and bureaucracy hates conservatives, i.e., anyone who is not an AOC radical. Totenberg never actually divines her sources to the beloved reader and/or listener (although she mentions “court sources” in the Morning Edition transcript).
In its “corrections” and “clarifications,” NPR repeatedly states that it “stands by its reporting” and instead chooses to play a semantic game to excuse its shitty reporting. Your tax dollars at work. NPR says that the statements by the three justices was “Further confusing things.” No, it was pretty fucking clear. Your story sucks. That’s really all there is to it. You can bend and twist words all you want, but what you actually did is you took a story which had zero basis to it and put it as your flagship piece of evidence in order to argue that the justices “were not getting along well.”
NPR says that “phrasing is at the core of the dispute.” No, you dumbass, what is at the core of the dispute is that YOU PROBABLY MADE UP A STORY AND LIED BECAUSE YOU ARE LAZY AND PARTISAN AND YOU GOT CAUGHT! That’s what’s at the core of this dispute. And, conveniently, that’s our third, and most likely, option: that Nina Totenberg simply invented the story cause she’s and asshole and she’s turned into a bad journalist. There, I said it. Just because you have a journalism degree from Ithaca doesn’t mean you’re a saint. You’re just a piece of shit.
(Side note: this rant is going on for a really long time and I love it. I literally just sat down at 11:00 pm and started writing, so you’re basically reading my sleep-drunk word vomit. Thanks.)
By the way, Totenberg still won’t be more specific about her sources, but she says that “her NPR editors were aware of who those sources are and stood by the reporting.” Oh great (sarcasm incoming). Her “editors are aware of who those sources are.” Fantastic. I have so much more confidence that you’ve definitely performed good, responsible journalism and that you and NPR totally aren’t trying to hide anything about the story because, of course, IT’S ALL PHRASING! Guys, it’s phrasing! Don’t you get it? God these people are so bad at their jobs.
Ok, my basic point is, if you’ve made it this far in my rant, you deserve a lollipop. No seriously. Ok but actually the bottom line is that you shouldn’t trust that any news source is unbiased and completely right. You should probably wait, like, a week before actually putting stock in any political reporting. I know it sucks but it’s the world we live in. Welcome to reality. (Wow did I really write nearly a thousand words about how dumb reporters are? If only history assignments were this easy.)