NPR Refuses to Correct Flawed Reporting on SCOTUS, Even After Justices Central to Story Issue Stark Denials


Despite statements from three Supreme Court justices that its report claiming dissension was stalking the Supreme Court chambers on the subject of masks was false, National Public Radio insists that it is right and the justices, therefore, wrong.

The initial report from NPR, which has since been edited, claimed that liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor was refusing to take part in public sessions because conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch was not wearing a mask and that Chief Justice John Roberts had “in some form asked other justices to mask up.”

Then, Sotomayor and Gorsuch issued a joint statement that tried to set the record straight.

“Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends,” the statement said.

A statement from Roberts followed.

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“I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench,” it said, according to The Washington Post.

Sotomayor, the Post noted, has a very personal reason to fear the coronavirus because she had been diagnosed with diabetes as a child.

Although all judges are vaccinated and have received boosters, Sotomayor has remained leery of any activity that could put her at risk, the Post reported.

Faced with the justices saying that what NPR reported was false, NPR’s Kelly McBride authored a discourse on why the report was “solid” in its reporting even if guilty of a misleading word choice by using the word “asked.”

NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg is taking refuge in wording that said Roberts “in some form” had asked the judges to wear masks. In a later interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered” admitted she would water that down further by revising the word “asked” to “suggested.”

Totenberg was asked how Roberts made that suggestion.

“If I knew exactly how he communicated this I would say it. Instead I said ‘in some form,'” she said.

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Totenberg said her sources, who were not named, were clear in their account that Roberts wanted the justices to wear masks for Sotomayor’s benefit.

“The disconnect between the story and Chief Justice Roberts’ statement is concerning to many NPR listeners and readers who wrote to us,” McBride wrote.

She then makes a large leap.

“No one has challenged the broader focus of Totenberg’s original story, which asserts that the justices, in general, are not getting along well. The controversy over the anecdotal lead, which was intended to be illustrative, has overwhelmed the uncontested premise of the story,” McBride wrote.

She then issued her verdict: “A clarification improving on the verb choice that describes the inner workings of the court would solve that dilemma.”

But the statement from Sotomayor and Gorsuch seemed to belie what McBride called an “uncontested premise.”

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“While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends,” the statement said.

That’s almost the opposite of “not getting along well.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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