It’s a little thing, really. NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported that Chief Justice John Roberts had asked the other justices to mask up, and Justice Neil Gorsuch did not, even though Justice Sonia Sotomayor was allegedly attending sessions virtually because of his refusal. It was “news” to NPR because it made Gorsuch, a conservative appointed by President Trump, look bad.

NPR said it stood by Totenberg’s reporting even though Roberts issued a rare statement saying, “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.” Gorsuch and Sotomayor also issued a joint statement saying “reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask … is false.” It seems odd that the justices would issue statements over a news story unless it were demonstrably false.

Now NPR’s public editor, Kelly McBride, is weighing in on the non-controversy.

McBride concludes that “an inaccurate verb choice made the reporting unclear.”

Later Tuesday on All Things Considered, [Totenberg] changed the word “asked” to “suggested,” saying, “So Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form or other, suggested that the other justices mask up.”

Exactly how did Roberts, in some form, ask or suggest that his colleagues cover up? Totenberg told me she hedged on this: “If I knew exactly how he communicated this I would say it. Instead I said ‘in some form.'”

So she didn’t know but ran with it anyway.

We get it, Gorsuch is a bad man and he doesn’t wear a mask at work which makes him even worse.


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