On Tuesday, NPR's Nina Totenberg issued a report claiming that conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to mask-up during oral arguments earlier this month despite a request from Chief Justice John Roberts to do so out of respect for Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The report stated:
They all did. Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench. His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices' weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.
Unsurprisingly, the NPR report gave the liberal media a welcomed opportunity to bash a conservative justice:
"Tragically, anti-mask insanity has now reached the highest court in the land," MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace dramatically declared on Tuesday.
MSNBC star Joy Reid told viewers that Gorsuch "loves COVID - which makes him the perfect Republican" and thinks "very little" of pandemic precautions, calling him a "rotten co-worker, dangerous to be near during the pandemic and tonight's absolute worst."
Mehdi Hasan, a host on NBC's Peacock streaming service, said Gorsuch was "priortizing his right to be a tool over protecting Sonia Sotomayor's life" and that his behavior was "pretty disgraceful." He then broadened his attacks to "conservatives in public life" who "claim to be such pious Christians and obsess over morals and decency are actually awful, awful people."
The report was challenged almost immediately by Fox News' Shannon Bream. Ultimately, the Supreme Court justices themselves confirmed that Bream's reporting was correct:
A few hours after NPR published the story on Tuesday, Fox News chief legal correspondent Shannon Bream disputed its allegations and reported that there was “no blanket admonition or request from Chief Justice Roberts that the other justices begin wearing masks to arguments." Her "source further stated Justice Sotomayor did not make any such request to Justice Gorsuch."
"I’m told, given that fact, there was also no refusal by Justice Gorsuch,” Bream said.
Bream’s reporting was confirmed on Wednesday by Sotomayor, Gorsuch, and Roberts themselves.
More developments on the mask spat -- SCOTUS issues ANOTHER statement, this one from the chief justice:— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) January 19, 2022
“I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.”
Unlike the earlier statement, this one directly disputes the original report from NPR. https://t.co/jASdJXJbaM
Despite the NPR report being debunked by the Justices Sotomayor, Gorsuch, and Roberts, NPR doubled and even tripled down on the original story:
NPR stood by the story, with Totenberg writing:
On Wednesday, Sotomayor and Gorsuch issued a statement saying that she did not ask him to wear a mask. NPR’s report did not say that she did. Then, the chief justice issued a statement saying he ‘did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench.’ The NPR report said the chief justice’s ask to the justices had come ‘in some form.’ NPR stands by its reporting.
Then on Thursday, McBride weighed in, asserting that “Totenberg’s story merits a clarification, but not a correction. After talking to Totenberg and reading all justices’ statements, I believe her reporting was solid, but her word choice was misleading.”
Quote: "Later Tuesday...[Totenberg] changed the word 'asked' to 'suggested.' Exactly how did Roberts, in some form, ask or suggest that his colleagues cover up? Totenberg ..:'If I knew exactly how he communicated this I would say it.'" https://t.co/daOR5ZXNvX— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 21, 2022
Kaylee McGhee White summed it up perfectly in the Washington Examiner:
Why did so many people fall for this fake news? The answer is obvious: They already disliked Gorsuch because of his views, so they gladly jumped on a story that, in their minds, confirmed they were right to dislike him.
Every single person who elevated NPR’s false reporting and used it to insult Gorsuch should admit the error and apologize. But they won’t — because as they proved this week, they’re not honest, nor are they interested in the truth. They’re partisans, and they deserve to be dismissed as such.
The liberal media should be ashamed of their shoddy reporting, but no doubt they will employ the same tactics the next time a controversy involving a conservative justice comes on the horizon. The Left will do whatever it takes, even to the point of dishonesty, to undermine the credibility of the conservative-leaning Court.