Katie Couric edited some of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 2016 ‘controversial’ comments

The Justices of the US Supreme Court sit for their Official Photo

In 2016, Ruth Bader Ginsberg gave an interview to Katie Couric to promote her book My Own Words. I covered it at the time, because it was somewhat rare for RBG – or any Supreme Court justice – to talk on camera about the issues of the day. Couric asked RBG about something that was just starting up at the time, which was Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem. Couric asked RBG what she thought about Kaepernick and other athletes using the anthem to protest or kneel. RBG said:

“I think it’s really dumb of them. Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. 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. Yes [they’re within their rights]. 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.”

Basically, RBG made a coherent argument for why the First Amendment protects speech she doesn’t agree with and large swaths of Americans don’t agree with. Well, in Katie Couric’s new book, Going There, she writes about this interview and how she (Couric) edited out some of RBG’s words.

Veteran journalist Katie Couric reveals in her new book she omitted portions of a quote from former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an attempt to “protect” the late justice from criticism of controversial remarks. In her book, titled “Going There,” Couric reportedly writes she was “conflicted” after Ginsburg, during a 2016 interview, had criticized Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who protested racial injustice that year, because, Couric wrote, she was a “big RBG fan.”

In her book, Couric wrote that Ginsburg also said the protests showed “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life. 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 reportedly writes that she “lost a lot of sleep” over the decision to edit Ginsburg’s comments but felt it was necessary to “protect” the liberal justice and cultural icon.

[From The Hill]

I’m seeing a lot of conservative whackjobs trying to make political hay of this. But… this story isn’t even about Ruth Bader Ginsburg doing or saying anything wrong. She knew her words were on the record. She would have been fine with being quoted in full, clearly. She didn’t ask Couric or anyone else to edit out certain comments. This was Katie Couric being an unprofessional “journalist” and professional Karen, and deciding to “protect” a woman who didn’t need or want protecting. As for RBG’s full comments… she, like Colin Kaepernick, was entitled to her opinion. I don’t get why the edited quote was so much harsher than the quotes Couric left in?

Katie Couric attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Celebrating the 92nd Annual Academy Awards hos...

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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52 Responses to “Katie Couric edited some of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 2016 ‘controversial’ comments”

  1. Wiglet Watcher says:

    How much money did she get for digging her own grave with this book?

    All top tv journalists do this. They edit to their liking. Like they know better. Like they are the gatekeepers.

    I thought maybe KC was getting a bad rep with the first story, but she’s beyond awful.

  2. Nina says:

    I don’t see a problem with RBG unedited version.

    • Duhaa says:

      Neither do I. You can disagree with the act of kneeing, but locking people up for it is asinine. Free speech is free speech. If anything, the kneeing would/should provoke the question of why you are kneeling in the first place. There the conversation starts…

      The Justice was from a different time, but sounds like it could have been a discussion. Couric is giving reasons why you shouldn’t read her book. We cancel people so quickly in the generation though…I get why she did this, but don’t agree with it and makes me question everything else she may say in her release.

      • Emma says:

        We don’t cancel people quickly. Most terrible people succeed and keep on succeeding. Look at the Trumps, they *barely* lost the election.

      • Emma says:

        We don’t cancel people quickly. Most terrible people succeed and keep on succeeding. Look at the Trumps, they *barely* lost the election.

    • Calypso says:

      You see no problem with a white woman telling a Black man that instead of protesting injustice he needs to just be grateful because of our great amazing government that enslaves and oppresses Black people..? It’s really gross. Edited and unedited.

      • Am says:

        Exactly Calypso. Smacks of be grateful for the scrapes.
        This just shows that everyone has blind spots

  3. Amy Bee says:

    Katie was wrong to edit out those comments. If Ruth said them in an interview it meant that she had no problem with them being aired. I think the main reason Katie edited them out is that she didn’t want her interview to be turned into a controversy. As for Ruth, her not stepping when during the Obama Administration was one of most selfish acts in her career. That she has negative things to say about Kapernick’s actions is not surprising because IMO she was a white feminist.

  4. NCWoman says:

    The kneeling rubbed a lot of older people the wrong way. Her attitude was a very generational take. (Many of these people lived through and remembered World War II.) But it was only Trump and the Republicans who used it to attack the people who kneeled and to promote racist ideology.

    • Erica says:

      This must be it. My mom and dad (baby boomers) had a fit about it. I (millennial) still don’t see the big deal.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        As a boomer, I applaud Kaepernick’s courage to utilize a national platform to bring attention the injustices that POC have and are suffering every day. I think that the reason older people are offended by his actions are due to it being done during the national anthem. I think it’s a tragedy that no one has hired Kaepernick as well, solely based on his stance to start discussing the ongoing injustices.

        In regards to KC changing RBG’s comments, she continues to be awful, even with regard to thinking that she has a responsibility to protect RGB, who was unapologetic in her views, actions or comments.

    • Ry says:

      If she were born a man, I have a feeling she’d be a conservative.

  5. Lala11_7 says:

    RBG only hiring one Black law clerk during her 25 year tenure as SCOTUS and 0 during her 13 years as a Federal Judge…her close friendship with Scalia who was pretty fascist in my opinion…along with many of her votes…quantified me NEVA being a stan of her’s…

    • A says:

      She had a fairly…unfavorable track record on Native American issues as well, I think.

      Feet of clay, as the saying goes.

    • Aang says:

      I agree LaLa. I don’t get the reverence for her. I always got old fashioned don’t rock the boat too much white feminist vibes from her. And she should have stepped down when Obama asked.

    • NewKay_ says:

      Agree 100z clearly RBJ was problematic when it came to Black people whatever her contributions elsewhere. She couldn’t even say the word in her comments. SMH. Both women are problematic.

    • Betsy says:

      I appreciate how hard she worked in her career, but I do not now nor do have I ever “stanned” her. Her not stepping down at the start of Obama’s second term was the height of hubris and is just one of the reasons that we are where we are. Sadly I have family and friends who assume that because I’m liberal I must love her, so I keep getting gifted books and things about her (and I usually don’t get rid of unwanted gifts until the giver has seen it in my house once, so I’m having to hold on).

      • Sid says:

        Yup. Meanwhile Sandra Day O’Connor made sure to hand in her resignation as soon as Bush “won” his second term, which gave him plenty of time to get a nominee in. Spending more time with her husband was given as the official reason, but considering that he had already long been living in a care home the timing was a tad too convenient. I am hoping that Justice Breyer secretly has plans to retire soon, but that hope is waning. SMH.

    • MissMarirose says:

      THANK YOU.
      Take this quote from her about the protestors above: “which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.” The POC protestors are Americans. Period. They are fully American as much as the white folks are.
      People want to think the best of liberal folks like RBG, but just because she was pro-equality for women doesn’t mean she was an inter-sectional hero or was anti-racist in any way.
      It’s time to take off the Notorious RBG tshirts – and the blinders – and recognize her faults.
      P.S. This story is all about how white upper class women circle the wagons for each other.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ MissMarirose, that’s an excellent point!! We all came from somewhere else, except Native Americans. Her comment is harmful and ignorant on so many levels!!

  6. Miss Margo says:

    I’m not surprised that an old white lady doesnt quite grasp the concept of Colin kneeling. This is why we need more bipoc people in positions of authority, power, government and the judicial system.

  7. Maria says:

    “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life. 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.”

    The government did not instigate the Civil Rights Movement…

    • Sid says:

      That quote is just horrible when one considers the history of what the government has done to Black Americans and Black immigrants. I understand now why she apparently only had one Black clerk during her entire tenure on the SC.

  8. janey janey says:

    I will say this and stand by it. RBG is an example of the elite in the legal profession — they may disagree incrementally, but truthfully, are invested in the status quo system in which they came up on top.

    Look at the diversity in Supreme Court clerks. No, I don’t mean race. I mean diversity geographically, from law schools beyond Harvard and Yale and Chicago. It is not happening.

  9. BABSORIG says:

    So why did she edit them out if she was gonna write and put them in her memoir anyway? Im not American so I have nothing to say about RBG, except she made it a point to refuse to stand down during Obama because she intended and wanted to for Hillary Clinton. She would not quit for a black person because she wanted a white person to be the one to make history. Go figure.

    • Betsy says:

      She wanted a woman to appoint her successor. And I understand that, but it was a ridiculous oversight. Well, she got her comeuppance in the form of the handmaiden taking her seat. The problem is that we have to live with her comeuppance, too.

  10. Erin says:

    Gee I wonder why trust in the media is so low in this country? Might have something to do with people like Couric carrying water for the rich and powerful when she was under no obligation to do so. If you aren’t going to report the facts, you’re just doing PR for her.

    • Betsy says:

      And who knows. Sometimes comments hit at just the right time to have a real effect. Maybe she would have been persuaded by a backlash to retire, which would mean we wouldn’t have the dimwitted, covid-spreading handmaiden on the Court. Couric can go hug herself. And I don’t mean “hug.”

  11. Shiba says:

    RBG was frequently the only woman, Jew or working mother in any given professional situation. She was an advocate for women – not because of racism, because that was her lane. Was MLK women-hating because he worked for black people, but not women specifically? Of course not.
    Establishment views?
    Duh. Supreme Court LAWYER born in 1933.
    RBG’s friendship with Justice Scalia exemplified her view that dissenting viewpoints did not preclude civility & respect and in fact, personal relationships amidst differing political outlooks often provide the space where viewpoints slowly, incrementally transform.
    Canceling advocates who don’t agree with you 100% is shortsighted, just divides us further and benefits MAGAs.

    • Maria says:

      Well, she did call Brett Kavanaugh a very decent man, and here we are with him part of the justices who preferred not to challenge Texas’s most recent abortion law. So it goes a little deeper than not cancelling others.
      Unfortunately, the concept that dissenting viewpoints create transformation doesn’t make a lot of sense when these particular dissenting viewpoints implement actual harm to the population of the United States.

    • Debbie says:

      Oh for God’s sake, Shiba, You clearly are a fan of R. B. Ginsburg and want to advocate for her. It’s clear when you advocate not “cancelling” her, even though nobody said that regardless of how arrogant and demeaning her words were (I wouldn’t arrest them, indeed. Big of her.). But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t use MLK (or any Black person) to cover for and excuse Ginsburg’s obvious short-comings on race. She was obviously proud of her parochial stance on race, of having to be be prompted to hire a Black clerk, etc. So, as a general rule, don’t try using Black bodies to give cover to Whites, especially Whites who misbehave, or are caught saying or doing something which shows their racial biases. For God’s sake.

    • Rara says:

      Shiba, thank you for your comment. Spot on and very well said. It’s obvious in our current climate that people who don’t conform to the mainstream media narratives are being silenced and dismissed. You’re comment is being twisted and manipulated to discredit you. RBG was an incredible woman who left an amazing legacy to inspire young women of many generations to come. I encourage people to be more open and less judgmental of our differences of opinions. It’s a beautiful thing to have that discourse where we challenge each other and engage in our differences rather than forcing a ridiculous ideology of conformity that if you deviate against you’re automatically canceled.

  12. Meredith says:

    If you read farther down, it says that she was called the day following the interview by the SC public relations people and asked not to publish the comments. RBG knew it didn’t look good. Anyway, this is the argument people make about King and other imperfect icons. MLK cheated on his wife repeatedly. Do we write him off for that? We have to be able to accept people as humans with flaws, even our heros.

    • Maria says:

      What someone does in their marital life is not really anyone else’s business.
      It is all of our business if a Supreme Court judge is condemning social movements meant to shine lights on inequality and brutality.
      I respect Ginsburg for a lot of her work but not for all of it. It’s perfectly possible to say that.

    • Goldie says:

      Agree with what Maria said. An affair is totally different.
      Plus, pretty much every biography of MlK mentions his extramarital affairs. It’s not as if it’s been whitewashed from his history.
      Nobody here has “cancelled” RBG. People are simply discussing her, both the good and the bad.

    • Nope says:

      MLK Jr plagiarized in his doctoral dissertation. That’s a more accurate parallel for RBG’s feet of clay.

      • Debbie says:

        How many times do you people have to crucify the man? Wasn’t his murder enough for you? Now you use the memory of a man who isn’t there to speak for himself in order to cape for a White person who was maligning a Black man for standing up for his beliefs. And you do so behind an internet pseudonym. How noble.

      • Nope says:

        Debbie, chill. We are “discussing him, both good and bad” as a nuanced person.

        She was completely wrong about Kaepernick–breathtakingly, awfully wrong. I still like her. The plagiarism was contemptible and the womanizing didn’t compete with the Civil Rights activism, but it did compete with the fact that the man was a minister and womanizing was a completely hypocritical thing for him to be doing. He’s also, rightfully, a national hero.

        All these things can be true at once.

        I kind of doubt I’m saying this to you, Ruth–though if you surprise me I’ll be delighted to be wrong–because I’m not trying to dissuade you from using shaming tactics. I’m just interested in having a conversation about what the place between stanning and cancellation look like when it comes to a figure who’s done a lot of good and whose sin has some gray in it (i.e. they didn’t sexually assault anyone or cause anyone to die or be traumatized). I don’t know and I think culturally we’re probably figuring it out.

      • Maria says:

        MLK was never in the position of power RBG was. The comparison makes no sense.

  13. Brooklynite says:

    If you want to know who RBG was look at her own accomplishments and body of work. Not on a bottom gossip site, not on Twitter (would have loved to hear RBG’s thought on that cesspool of misguided people who think their every thought is worth expressing). That litte girl from Brooklyn mattered, she did the work, and she is an icon. End of story.

  14. tifzlan says:

    “…contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life. Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from”

    I’m… genuinely shocked that no one on this comment thread understands why the unedited version of what RBG said is worse so let me break it down to all of you pink hatters: because it’s blatantly f-in racist, that’s why. Which tracks with RBG’s overall “issues” and “blind spots” when it comes to race. Even Katie Couric knew how terrible of a take that was because she wouldn’t have edited it out of the piece otherwise.

    I get it, she’s been a hugely important figure for women’s right in the U.S. but softening the criticism against or making excuses for her doesn’t help. RBG was racist, point blank, period.

    • Lala11_7 says:

      @Tifzlan….

      THANK YOU! And that bias played out in her votes which impacted MY LIFE and the lives of other Black & Brown folks in this country! In the year 2021…we are going to FINALLY call a “thing” a “thing”!😡

    • souperkay says:

      Her unedited comments are maddening in their stupidity and total disregard for the impact of colonialism on indigenous people worldwide. “…Places they came from” displays a total disregard for what has happened to Black and Indigenous people in the US! Horribly racist, deeply ahistorical, extremely offensive.

      • Maria says:

        Yeah, that part is so much mess. Implying protestors aren’t American, implying countries with majority Black populations are backward and horrible…

    • Green Desert says:

      Yes, yes, yes @tifzlan. Let’s all sit with this for a while.

  15. J says:

    I, too was shocked that many people here didn’t have a problem with those comments. Yikes!

    I wouldn’t have had a problem with Couric keeping those comments in the broadcasted interview because she actually said those things and if they were broadcast, she would’ve had to listen to the backlash from them and hopefully/maybe would’ve seen how freaking awful they are.

  16. Eurydice says:

    Another article had more quotes from Couric – that Couric didn’t think RBG understood the question. So, is Couric saying RBG couldn’t understand a simple question? If she was trying to protect RBG, then why edit the answer? Why not delete that whole line of inquiry? Or is she saying that RBG didn’t give the expected answer, so Couric “fixed” it for her? Really, there’s no answer that makes Couric look good here.

  17. Izzy says:

    So a journalist got a Supreme Court justice to acknowledge that her personal opinions and beliefs do not prevent her from doing her job, and same journalist is now using this to dunk on a dead woman in order to promote her own book. That… is not the flex she thinks it is.

  18. Monica says:

    RBG was fine and I’m glad she was on the bench, but it’s never a good idea to put people on a pedestal.

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