Katie Couric has admitted that, in a 2016 interview, she withheld Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s harshest comments on kneeling during the national anthem.
The editing was done in an effort to “protect” the late Supreme Court justice, Couric wrote in her memoir, a copy of which was obtained by the New York Post. She revealed in “Going There,” which is out Oct. 26, that she felt that Ginsburg, who was 83 at the time of the interview, may not have totally comprehended what Couric was asking her, as first reported by the Daily Mail.
She “was elderly and probably didn’t understand the question,” Couric explained in the 500-page biography in which no colleague, ex-boyfriend or acquaintance appeared to have been spared from score settling by the former “Today” show host.
While the interview that was eventually published by Yahoo News did quote Ginsburg as saying she believed that not standing during the national anthem as an act of protest is “dumb and disrespectful,” it did not include her strongest condemnations of the act, according to Couric.
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Not standing for the anthem shows a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life … [w]hich 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,” Ginsburg told Couric at the time. “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, characterizing herself as a “big RBG fan,” protective of the longtime Supreme Court justice and cognizant of the controversy the comments would likely embroil her in, wrote in the book that she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt extremely “conflicted” over deciding whether she should report Ginsburg’s full thoughts on the matter.
The day after the interview, the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs reportedly emailed Couric to say Ginsburg had “misspoken” and requested that her comments on the matter be removed from the piece.
Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio, who has often spoken publicly of her friendship with Ginsburg, wrote in late 2016 of how Ginsburg admitted to having been inappropriately dismissive when asked about the kneeling protest.
Ginsburg died in September 2020 at the age of 87 after 27 years on the Supreme Court.
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