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.
Here’s our analysis of the NPR-Supreme Court mask controversy. https://t.co/ozz9Z8jKLt
— NPR Public Editor (@NPRpubliceditor) January 20, 2022
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.
Just take the L and defund yourself
— Kelly D. McLemore (@kellydehn) January 21, 2022
YOU WORK IN COMMUNICATIONS, and this is your response?
God, it's worse than I thought.
— J.G. Petruna (@jgpetruna) January 21, 2022
Why do you receive my tax dollars to fund this kind of garbage?
— Horst De Wermer, DVM, MD, PhD, GED, DDS, MOUSE (@Crapplefratz) January 21, 2022
— Max Flordau (@MaxNordau) January 20, 2022
Amazing NPR keeps resurrecting this story.
— ⚔️Austere Nuclear (Peaceful) Scholar⚔️ (@commanderdata85) January 20, 2022
You’re doing great pic.twitter.com/mYvWLUveI0
— Jonathan Sluss (@jonathan_sluss) January 21, 2022
Just keep tweeting through it
— JB Patrick (@PAJBPATRICK) January 21, 2022
"In the absence of a clarification, NPR risks losing credibility…"
NARRATOR: Also, with it.
— J.G. Petruna (@jgpetruna) January 21, 2022
That credibility train left the station when they reported this way.
— BeReasonable People (@Beteasonablepe1) January 21, 2022
Depends on the meaning of what the word is is… This sounds really familiar .
— Softballfan🇺🇸🇩🇪🍱 (@Fman30) January 20, 2022
I think I’ll side with the Chief Justice on this one, guys. But good try.
— Owen Dougherty (@OwenrDougherty) January 21, 2022
Take the L
— Michael Schearer (@theprez98) January 21, 2022
My contribution to this ratio
— Meh (@woke_alt) January 21, 2022
Your own controversy. You don't get a take.
— Apparently "Cletus" McLovin (@blackdawn37) January 20, 2022
“Suggested in some form” great sources she used
— I (@randeal1010) January 20, 2022
So the big story is the justices don't like each other but the statement says they are friends. You missed on all of it.
— Jonny Wichita (@Wichita_Jon) January 21, 2022
This is embarrassing
— Mjolnir72 (@mjolnir72) January 21, 2022
— Goose 🇺🇲 (@gsebo17) January 20, 2022
The point of the story was to paint Justice Gorsuch as the bad guy. The denials of the purported details negate that point. Totenburg should just retract the whole thing.
— Profile 1776 🖍 (@bob32ski) January 21, 2022
Journalism is not this hard. It is not about twisting word choices until it fits the desired narrative. It’s either clearly, plainly true or not.
— Mz Matera (@MarianeMatera) January 20, 2022
A really sad but completely expected cop out. The story was wrong. Admit it.
— Scott Keys (@ascottkeys86) January 20, 2022
— Calmer than you are (@1100RS) January 21, 2022
Just say something happened because of some form of oppression that triggered something and the lived experience gave rise to trauma. That's good enough for NPR listeners, I promise.
— Harrison Bergeron (@MlleGuignol) January 21, 2022
"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
Keep going pic.twitter.com/L4jLT795WR
— RenéMiette, Daughter of Orwell (@MieteRene) January 21, 2022
Short version, your reporter lied, you back her because narrative.
And you wonder why no one trusts the media.
— Daigotsu Elenti (@ScarletElenti) January 21, 2022
— Donald (@donbtd) January 21, 2022
What do you have to lose from just taking the L on this? All the worst people on twitter have already tweeted and retweeted this story, thousands of people think it's true and will never hear a correction, and the rest of us will forget it in a week.
— Rowen Friend (@mffriendly1) January 21, 2022
You attempted a blatent partisan slam on Gorsuch, and got called out.
End of story.
— Marc Pear (@marc_pear) January 21, 2022
We get it, Gorsuch is a bad man and he doesn’t wear a mask at work which makes him even worse.
‘Game over, NPR’: Chief Justice John Roberts hammers what should be the final nail into Nina Totenberg’s Sotomayor-Gorsuch mask-erade coffin https://t.co/nkdXAQgpaO
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) January 19, 2022