“Youthful Folly”: Katie Couric Under Fire For Deleting Ginsburg Quotes Against NFL Kneelers

We have been discussing the implications of the rising advocacy journalism movement where reporters actively frame or omit facts to achieve social or political agendas. This week there is an astonishing story about the suppression of newsworthy facts by a leading journalist, Katie Couric. Notably, Couric outed herself in her new memoir by recounting how she cut out a quote from the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a 2016 interview concerning the kneelers at NFL games. What is even more troubling is that journalists like New York Times columnist David Brooks allegedly encouraged her to do so.In the interview, Ginsburg seemed to surprise Couric by saying that the kneelers were “dumb and disrespectful.” Couric then pushes her to say that they still have a first amendment right to protest.  In reality, the right to protest as an employee of a private employer is limited.
Ginsburg then said that the players show a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.” She added that “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.”
That is a major news item coming from the “Notorious RBG,” a liberal icon. However, Couric claims she was trying to “protect” Ginsburg from herself by burying the quote. The fear was that Ginsburg would become the “Infamous RBG” if the quote came out. After all, at the time, President Donald Trump was slamming the demonstration and some Democrats even suggested impeaching him for his NFL remarks. This would be major news and Couric acknowledges that fact. Notably, in rationalizing a decision to bury a major news item, Brooks allegedly maintained that Ginsburg probably did not understand the question. It is a remarkable spin since, if she did not understand that question, how did she understand the other questions? The answers to the other questions were consistent with the expected news narrative. This controversy comes after the ACLU edited a famous quote from Ginsburg to remove references to women — deemed sexist by the ACLU.
The fact is that Couric was burying a major news story to protect Ginsburg. Imagine the response if Ginsburg was seen as exposing sentiments similar to those of Trump, who was being denounced as a racist for such criticism.  The solution by Couric was to run with a dishonest interview that deleted the most newsworthy element. It is also unlikely that Couric would not have shown the same consideration for another justice like Thomas or Alito. We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.”  Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”The Couric story arose in the same week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed reporters for “not doing a better job” in selling the $3.5 trillion spending bill. It was an embarrassing moment for the media as Pelosi said that they needed to push positive elements and aspects of the bill.

The Couric interview captures the essence of advocacy journalism. Couric chose the narrative over the news.  In doing so, she did a disservice to both journalism and the law. This was not “youthful folly” by Couric. It was advocacy masquerading as journalism.


52 thoughts on ““Youthful Folly”: Katie Couric Under Fire For Deleting Ginsburg Quotes Against NFL Kneelers”

  1. Couric considers herself so intellectually smarter than Ginsburg that she should edit the comments of the Supreme Court Justice. You see, these so called journalist really do believe that they are much smarter than you or I or a judge on the highest court in the land. Don’t you understand that an aristocratic such as Couric deserves to be in charge of what you hear? She is after all one of the chosen ones. Another leftist hero. Sorry, I left out dishonest in the previous sentence.

  2. Jonathan: Now it’s Katie Couric you take to task for practicing “advocacy journalism”. You accuse her of “the suppression of newsworthy facts by a leading journalist”. You complain that “reporters [like Couric] actively frame facts to achieve social or political agendas”. Couric is small fry. By far the worst offender in this regard is FOX News that spent the entire four years of Trump’s presidency and since then pushing their and his “agenda”. The ultimate practitioner of “advocacy journalism” is Tucker Carlson –although I wouldn’t call Carlson’s show “journalism”. But he definitely frames or omits facts inconvenient to his and Fox’s agenda. He also lies a lot, e.g., about Covid vaccines and his frequent racist, homophobic and misogynistic on-air comments. Take his comments about Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay Transportation Secretary. who took a paid parental leave in August to spend time with his husband and their newborn twins. Carlson commented last night: “Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child. Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went”. Carlson is notorious for his gay bashing. In his college yearbook Carlson wrote that he was part of the “Dan White Society”–a reference to the guy who killed SFO Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official. Carlson is openly aligned with the Jesse Helms Foundation noted for its racist and homophobic views.

    So many of us out here would like to know when you are going to call out Tucker Carlson for his “advocacy journalism”? When are you going to apply the same standards to Fox that you apply to Katie Couric, CBS, et al.? Probably not any time soon because that might jeopardize your paid gig at Fox. I guess you would call what Carlson practices just “youthful folly”. I call it duplicity”!

    1. Hey Mac. Tucker Carlson calls himself an opinion journalist right up front. Couric wants us to believe that she is a straight up journalist. You ask why doesn’t Turley talk about this or that. Why don’t you talk about Couric dishonestly changing a story by omission? We understand. It was more important to get your Turley dig in for the day than to be concerned with truth in reporting. Of course you must first have a relationship with the truth to consider it.

    2. I agree with Thinkitthrough. Your brain obviously didn’t…. There is a profound difference between Tucker opening himself up for criticism by expressing his opinion, and “small-fry” Couric concealing the opinion of RBG, i.e., the selective fact-reporting engaged in by so many left-wing journalists–precisely to promote their own agenda. You obviously missed the boat on this one…try a later flight after you look at yourself in the mirror and study your own true objectives

    3. Dennis,

      When Turkey goes on his book tour, someone will confront him with the questions you and I raise, and he will have no answer other than to deflect answering the question. I don’t fault his criticizing Fox’s media competitors for their journalist advocacy, but his ignoring worse at his employer and Newsmax and OAN is inexcusable.

      As an independent blogger on the law, Turley’s lack of objectivity and impartiality is indefensible, and the only way he gets away with his hypocrisy is not being held accountable.

      He will get his comeuppance; it’s just a matter of time.

  3. Advocacy journalism is just advocacy. It is not journalism.

    As I’ve often written, journalism must save its own profession by establishing professional standards before a writer, organization or story can be advertised as journalism. Like a lawyer, electrician or any other publicly important profession, a license to advertise, providing objectivity and the type of transparency that they want of their subjects before they’re able to be considered journalistic. This comes with clear methods of addressing errors and punishing false advertising or corruption.

    Don’t want restrictions on your writing? Then don’t advertise as being a journalist.

  4. Where is that Anonymous guy that always has something negative to say about every post of Professor Turley’s? Or Natasha or that Silverman guy? They usually have something to say and yet they are silent regarding this. Go figure.

    1. I am here. Couric was protecting what the leftist left of Couric – and no – it wasn’t right or even far right – nearly.

  5. I am glad that you addressed the Pelosi comment re: the media not doing an adequate job of selling her $3.5 trillion package. If all they are is her marketing arm, what constitutional protections are merited?

  6. The real disgrace is that so few journalists are outraged at the selective editing. I expect mediocrities like Couric and Brooks to think that sort of manipulation is fine, but the silence from the “principled” journalists, is deafening.

    1. Geraldo is on The Five this week. He tried to defend Couric’s editing. Saying it is standard for a “journalist”. Of course the other four would not let that silliness go unchallenged.

      1. Geraldo pretends to be a Republican, but he sounds just like one of those intolerant, hateful Progressives. He is pissed off at everybody who won’t get the vaccine calling them killers (even if they have had covid)…but he is fine with the same people killing babies. His teenage 15th wife (snark) has made an impression on him, and he has to make sure he tows the line so that she won’t leave him for a younger guy.

        1. Pretty much all that need be said about Geraldo is, ‘Al Capone’s Vault’. A whole lot of us remember his tabloid days, before the MSM was full on tabloid. Geraldo got rich through chicanery. I would say that by today’s standards, he fits right in, right where he is.

      2. “Saying it is standard for a ‘journalist’.”

        Tragically, he is right.

        It’s not just “advocacy journalism.” It’s much worse than that. It’s the destructive notion that a “fact” is whatever satisfies a journalist’s desires. And if something (e.g., a quote) thwarts those desires, then it’s not a “fact.”

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