As the United States tumbles seemingly inexorably towards catastrophe and the deliberately designed failsafes in our political institutions kick into gear to preserve white supremacist minority rule, one of the supposed pillars of our democracy — our free press — is proving over and over that it is unwilling to do what needs to be done to keep our nation from falling entirely into the hands of right-wing extremists.
Excerpts from Katie Couric’s new memoir, Going There, reveal that the prominent anchor censored problematic comments from the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s anthem-kneeling protest.
Justice Ginsburg complained that “I think it’s really dumb of them,” and went on to say that the protest 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 was reportedly torn because she was a “big fan” of RBG, so she sought counsel from right-wing NYT columnist and — I cannot stress this enough — colossal moron David Brooks, who advised her that Ginsburg “probably didn’t understand the question, even though she was still serving on the Supreme Court at the time.”
Couric decided to take this approach to protect the public reputation of RBG, discarding the advice of former ABC news head David Bevin, who correctly argued that “she’s on the Supreme Court. People should hear what she thinks.’
Leaving aside the repulsive and condescending racism from RBG, it is an appalling dereliction of Couric’s duty to the public to conceal the possibility that one of the seven Supreme Court Justices, whose rulings affect the lives of 300 million of people, might be too old to understand questions when they are asked of her. People get old and the sharpest minds eventually dull; but it is horrendously irresponsible to leave a person of diminished mental faculties in such a position of tremendous power, especially when the seats are permanent and are decided by whoever wins the presidency.
Couric’s story was published in October 2016; if President Obama had pressured Ginsburg to resign and rammed through a replacement the way that McConnell did three weeks before the 2020 election in order to fill Ginsburg’s empty seat, we might not be in the predicament that we are today.
But no; Couric was more concerned with the superficiality of RBG’s reputation and with showing proper respect to a wildly undemocratic institution whose structure places the fate of the nation in an octogenarian death race that the Democratic Party has now lost thanks to the Obama administration’s naive confidence that a historically unpopular candidate like Hillary Clinton would be able to win the White House.
It’s the rigidly enforced hushed awe respect for the nOrMs that when combined with a for-profit business model and an ideological directive to legitimize conservatism makes modern corporate media uniquely unprepared to deal with the democratic crisis our nation is currently facing.
Whether it’s Katie Couric censoring and covering up senility and racial prejudice in the upper echelons of political power or Chuck Todd allowing his platform to be used to promote election fraud and vaccine misinformation, White House press reporters distracting the public with preposterously contrived fake crises about late Christmas presents, or the entire mainstream political media sphere working itself into a jingoistic fury over the end of the Afghan War, it’s obvious that the mainstream media is more invested in their bottom lines and their cozy relationships with the demented millionaires that run our government than they are in fulfilling their civic duties on behalf of our democracy and the people in it.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.