In her new memoir, journalist Katie Couric admits that during a 2016 interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg she purposefully edited out comments the liberal icon made criticizing athlete protests during the National Anthem in order to protect her.
In journalism, objectivity and honesty are paramount, yet according to Katie Couric’s new book, “Going There,” she failed to honor these principles, as illustrated by Couric’s discussion of the 2016 interview she conducted with Justice Ginsburg, who passed away in September 2020.
At the time, Couric did report that Justice Ginsburg called anthem protests “dumb and disrespectful,” but she made it a point to leave out much of the then-83-year-old’s specific criticism of the athletes themselves. Ginsburg said that refusing to stand for the anthem shows,
“…contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life … 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. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
Couric notes that she is a “big RGB fan” and was “conflicted” on whether to include the entire quote. She claims that Ginsburg “was elderly and probably didn’t understand the question.”
The admission brought criticism of Couric from other journalists. Daily Mail columnist Meghan McCain wrote, “This is not the role of a journalist. You can’t complain about distrust in the media when one of the most famous interviewers admits to rigging interviews to make liberals look good. I now have even more questions about her ethics in regards to interviewing conservatives.”
Independent journalist Bari Weiss wrote, “You can learn a lot about where the left has moved by looking at how they choose to edit or rewrite RBG,”
Stephen Gutowski, a journalist who broke the scandalous story that Couric edited her a 2016 interview with gun rights proponents for the EPIX documentary “Under the Gun” in order to make them look foolish, joked: “I, for one, am shocked to hear Katie Couric would do something like this.”
Couric had asked those gun rights proponents, “If there are no background checks, how do you stop terrorists and felons from purchasing guns?” In the aired clip, the pro-gun people sat in silence looking befuddled and seemingly unable to come up with an answer. Audio of that interview, however, proved that the clip had been deceptively edited — and that the participants actually responded right away and had spent four minutes answering her question and discussing the issue of background checks.
The media has been caught numerous times this year using deceptive practices to convey the narrative and facts they want the public to believe. For example, USA Today edited a female high school track athlete’s op-ed that criticized the decision to allow biological males to compete in women’s sports, removing any use of the word “male” in favor of “transgender,” without informing her of the change. “This column has been updated to reflect USA TODAY’s standards and style guidelines. We regret that hurtful language was used,” an editor’s note read.
USA Today also allowed Democrat politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams to retroactively change her already published op-ed to make it seem as though she had always opposed economic boycotts of Georgia over the state’s new election integrity law.
Axios deleted a fact check of Vice President Kamala Harris’s claim during an interview with the news outlet that the administration had to “start from scratch” on the COVID vaccine rollout. Not only did Axios delete the fact check, but twice they posted her quote with no pushback.
The Washington Post revised an already published story featuring an unflattering joke made by Harris to edit out her awkward and somewhat disturbing analogy that likened the campaign trail to that of a prisoner denied food and water.
Asked about the revision, the Post explained, “We repurposed and updated some of our strong biographical pieces about both political figures,” as part of a series of articles coinciding with the inauguration. The paper has since admitted they should have left the previous article posted and has added it back to their website.
It isn’t just stories about liberal figures like Ginsburg, Harris, and Abrams that are being “repurposed and updated.” Newsweek went as far back as 2015 to revise an article in what appeared to be an effort to support attacks on Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
In 2015, female soldiers Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest graduated Army Ranger School, leading politicians and media outlets to praise them as the first female Army Rangers. Newsweek ran an article claiming that for “the first time in the Army Ranger School’s 64-year history, two women have completed the intense training and will become Rangers,” even though the article acknowledged that “the 75th Ranger Regiment does not allow female Rangers.”
However, when Salon ran an article earlier this year claiming that Cotton had fraudulently referred to himself as an Army Ranger, Newsweek picked up on the story, parroting its points that while the senator and combat veteran had, in fact, completed Army Ranger School, he did not actually serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment. When Cotton’s communications director reached out to Newsweek to point out the inconsistency between their 2015 and 2020 articles describing what constitutes a Ranger, Newsweek responded by going back and editing its 2015 story; the news magazine replaced its statement that the two women “will become Rangers” to instead read that “they will be allowed to wear the coveted Ranger tab on uniforms.”
This was done despite the view by many, including Army Rangers, who say that completing Ranger school makes one a Ranger and the fact that Cotton never claimed to have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Cotton, did, however, serve in the famed 101st Airborne Division, which is considered an elite unit.
This sort of media revisionism may be part of why Americans’ trust in the media is at the second lowest point on record. Couric’s admission with regard to Justice Ginsburg suggests that it’s been going on for a lot longer — and potentially more insidiously — than previously thought.
When the media are big fans of a political figure and edit their quotes to protect them, they are no longer an impartial observer but an advocate. The same is true when they report only certain facts or purposefully edit stories to make political figures they dislike appear to be dishonest or self-serving, as seen with the Cotton case.
Unfortunately, the illusion that the media is objective is long gone, and admissions like Couric’s make it increasingly clear that many mainstream journalists are partisan actors.
This reality doesn’t just serve to influence and potentially even sway the outcome of elections and legislative fights, but even more critically, it leaves our government without a much-needed check on its vast power. And that’s especially dangerous now that one party — the one that the mainstream media unapologetically favors — is in control of every single branch of government.