Former Today show host Katie Couric admitted to editing out negative comments made by Ruth Bader Ginsburg about people who kneel during the national anthem. In her new memoir, Going There, Couric writes that her political views influenced the edits made to her interview with the late Supreme Court justice in 2016.
Ginsburg supposedly said those who kneel show 'contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.' The story in question, published by Yahoo! News in 2016, saw Couric quote, Ginsburg, stating that refusing to stand for the anthem was 'dumb and disrespectful' but omitted more problematic remarks. The former host writes she thought the justice, who was 83 at the time, was 'elderly and probably didn't fully understand the question.'
Couric, 64, contends she always tried to remove her 'personal politics' from her reporting throughout her career, reported the Daily Mail. But she faced a 'conundrum' when Ginsburg commented about Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice.
Ginsburg said that people like Kaepernick were 'dumb and disrespectful.' Couric said the comments were 'unworthy of a crusader for equality' as a liberal Supreme Court justice. The day after the interview, the head of public affairs for the Supreme Court emailed Couric to say the late justice had 'misspoken' and asked her to remove it from the story.
Couric writes she was 'conflicted' because she was a 'big RBG fan,' but David Westin, the former head of ABC News, advised Couric to keep it in. 'She's on the Supreme Court. People should hear what she thinks,' he said, according to Couric.
The final version of the story, which meant to promote a compilation of Ginsburg's writings called, My Own Words, included her criticism of 'stupid' and 'arrogant' protesters. But what was left out was arguably more inflammatory.
Ginsburg went on to say that such protests show a 'contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.' She said: 'Which 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.'
Couric claims that she 'lost a lot of sleep over this one' and still wrestles with the decision she made. She 'wanted to protect' Ginsburg and felt that the issue of racial justice was a 'blind spot' for her.
Ginsburg, who died last September at age 87, was asked for her thoughts after former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick came under fire in 2016 for taking a knee at the start of NFL games in protest against racial injustice.
'Would I arrest them for doing it? No,' she told Couric. 'I think it's dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning.' She added: '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.'
When Couric pushed further, asking if she believes athletes are 'within their rights to exercise those actions,' Ginsburg replied: 'Yes. If they want to be stupid, there's no law that should be preventive.'
'If they want to be arrogant, there's no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that,' she added.