January 19, 2022

"Reporting that Justice Sotomayor asked Justice Gorsuch to wear a mask surprised us. It is false. While we may sometimes disagree about the law, we are warm colleagues and friends."

 A statement from Sotomayor and Gorsuch, tweeted by the NYT reporter Adam Liptak.

Also tweeted by Liptak, a statement from Chief Justice Roberts: “I did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other Justice to wear a mask on the bench.”

Here's Liptak's article at the NYT, giving the background: 

The justices’ statements seemed to be primarily directed at a report by Nina Totenberg of NPR on Tuesday attributed to “court sources.” In it, Ms. Totenberg said that Justice Sotomayor “did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked.” “Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked the other justices to mask up,” the report said.

I blogged Totenberg's article (yesterday, here), but not the part about the masks, even though Gorsuch's mask is forefronted. The headline is "Gorsuch didn't mask despite Sotomayor's COVID worries, leading her to telework." There's no correction there, and Liptak says NPR said it stands behind Totenberg's reporting. Liptak doesn't — and can't — say Totenberg (or her sources) were wrong. Roberts, Sotomayor, and Gorsuch could all be lying or stretching the truth. 

And what counts as asking Gorsuch to wear a mask? Maybe Roberts/Sotomayor said something more general and respectful, such as expressing the opinion that it's a good idea to wear masks to protect others and that they'll be wearing a mask or just saying that they'll be wearing a mask because they believe it's best. That's not directly asking, but could be construed by the sources as a way of obliquely asking. 

Anyway, I love the statement "we are warm colleagues and friends." I hope they are, and at least they show that they know they should be, that the legal disputes are not personal. It's not just a matter of displaying civility. It's foundational to their legitimacy.

UPDATE: "NPR reporting on Supreme Court mask controversy merits clarification/An inaccurate verb choice made the reporting unclear" (NPR).

Totenberg and her editors should have chosen a word other than "asked." And she could have been clear about how she knew there was subtle pressure to wear masks (the nature or even exact number of her anonymous sources) and what she didn't know (exactly how Roberts was communicating)....
The way NPR's story was originally worded, news consumers must choose between believing the chief justice or believing Totenberg. A clarification improving on the verb choice that describes the inner workings of the court would solve that dilemma.

70 comments:

Maynard said...

Nina Totenberg?

LOL!

rcocean said...

So she stands by her anonymous sources that could be completely made up. Well, that's brave of her. BTW, this is the problem with so much MSM, leftwing reporting. Totenberg says X happened and she has no named source. No one can verify she's telling the truth. We're all supposed to trust her, because she's Nina Totenberg, leftist girl reporter.

We found out with Trump that the MSM reporters had no compunction about lying, misrepresenting, and playing loose with the facts when it came to "Sources familiar with the situation" Or "White house officials". One MSM outlet would stated something based on "sources" and then others would chim in that they'd "Confirmed it". Except they were all talking to the same source. Nobody confirmed anything. And high-level Trump officials turned out to be some 4th level nobody that never met TRump.

Owen said...

Good to see Totenberg get slapped down here. What did she think she was doing, trafficking in back-alley gossip? What was the potential upside of this middle-school mean girls' pseudo-drama? Did she not imagine that her "sources" had burned her, just to see her burn?

Pass the popcorn.

Ann Althouse said...

It made good sense for Sotomayor to participate remotely and not rely on masking, even if they all were masking.

Howard said...

No ToteBag for You!

rcocean said...

OTher than being amusing or interesting gossip, what does it matter who wears a mask or who doesn't. Why is the SCOTUS meeting in person? They could all do ZOOM, all the time. Nothing would be lost. The Oral arguments are just theater. Nor does it really matter if Sotomayor and Goresuch are friends, lovers, or hate each others guts. Ginsberg and Scalia were supposedly "friends" and what did that matter?

rcocean said...

Sotomayor is diabetic. If she's so concerned about her health, maybe she should drop a few Lbs.

rcocean said...

TOtenberg -isn't that "Dead Head" in German?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

You mean to tell us the leftist press tells LIES?

No way!

Iman said...

Naughty Nina can now return to what she was always best at: fellating Bill “Roll of Quarters” Clinton.

Gospace said...

Is masking political? Perhaps we should ask Boris Johnson who is dropping masking requirements in England.

SeanF said...

Ann Althouse: It made good sense for Sotomayor to participate remotely and not rely on masking, even if they all were masking.

The story is that she went remote because he wouldn't mask, that she would've worked in person if he masked.

If "not rely on masking" is "good sense," then she was not making good sense.

Gem Quincyite said...

I thought I saw a picture of an unmasked Sotomayor a few days ago, in a restaurant with many other Democrat Congress people.

The Vault Dweller said...

Who's decision to participate in an hours long hearing, in an enclosed room with many other people, in the midst of a pandemic of an aerolyzed virus that is an order of magnitude smaller than the gaps in the standard mask, hinges on whether the person next to them is wearing one of those masks? The story smelled fishy form the beginning. I'm glad both Sotomayor and Gorsuch put out a statement refuting it. I wonder if this is something that Totenberg "Divined" based on her vast experience and supreme wisdom.

Big Mike said...

@Gem Quincyite, that was a mis-identification. Different woman with a similar hairdo.

stutefish said...

The justices’ statements seemed to be primarily directed at a report by Nina Totenberg of NPR on Tuesday attributed to “court sources.”

This is why I don't accept claims from "journalists" based entirely on anonymous sources without any on-the-record corroboration. If a reporter wants to use anonymous sources as background, or as a prompt to track down someone who's willing to say the same thing on the record, fine.

What's been normalized by the mainstream media, though, is gossip. Literally.

Scotty, beam me up... said...

It’s not a good sign when the justices immediately call out the reporter by saying the report the reporter posted about them is a lie. Nina Totenberg must think that whatever she wrote about regarding this alleged conflict, without asking the justices themselves if their “source” was correct about what she wrote about, is true. The days of journalists actually confirming a hot tip or alleged story without getting a confirmation from a second independent source must just be too much work for the journalist in this day and age. If I was Chief Roberts, I would immediately suspend the credentials of any journalists who reports stories without actual evidence about the court with the threat that a second occurrence would result in a permanent revocation of those credentials.

Big Mike said...

I does make one feel good when one’s low estimation of an individual — the smarmy Nina Totenberg, in this case — is publicly confirmed

What's emanating from your penumbra said...

"It made good sense for Sotomayor to participate remotely and not rely on masking, even if they all were masking."

Exactly.

Middle school melodrama created by Nina and her super serious secret 'anonymous source' who she probably met through her boyfriend from the Niagara Falls area (you wouldn't know him).

I'm shocked that the left has taken up this anti-SCOTUS story! /s

These people are total losers and continue to blow whatever credibility in theory they might still have. Keep it up. I love it.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

rcocean said...

TOtenberg -isn't that "Dead Head" in German?

No, that's "Totenkopf". Totenberg would be "Death Mountain" in German.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Howard said...

No ToteBag for You!

Anybody know if NPR ever gave Toteberg Bags to donors? If not, they should!

Lem said...

The story kinda smelled bad to me. That's why i portrayed it as gossip in a comment last night.

But, I see the chief scaped Althouse's 'civility bullshit' tag, and I think I know why.

Althouse: That's something I always do. That's what my tag "civility bullshit" means: Calls for civility are always bullshit, because the real motivation is political advantage. Usually, the civility-demander is trying to get opponents tone it down and not take advantage of whatever hot passion and energy they've got on their side.

The chief's statement is not asking anybody to be civil, he is merely stating his truth, "we are warm colleagues and friends." Link to meme

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

"Anonymous source" is journo-speak for "We're just making sh*t up to push our narrative." CNN/MSNBC will never issue a correction for Nina's stinking pile of sh*t.

Remember the Atlantic's piece about Donald Trump and the WWI cemetery? Four anonymous sources which the other organs of the Lie-Stream Media said they verified. Eighteen on the record contradictions of this story. Never believe the Lie-Stream Media. If they aren't just outright lying, they're making up galactic-level smears (elect Republicans and democracy dies, etc.), or they're slanting the story by using loaded/misleading words or just leaving out significant details.

rhhardin said...

I believe the toaster.

rhhardin said...

Dying of covid is God's way of telling you to retire.

Amadeus 48 said...

Totenberg ought to burn her source now that the three justices has said her report was wrong. Totenberg doesn’t have any personal knowledge. Roberts, Gorsuch, and Sotomayor do, and they all say Totenberg is wrong. So who did she rely on?

These reporters don’t do that anymore, do they? That’s why no one trusts the “news” establishment, and no one believes them unless the reporter is saying something the reader already agrees with.

Why should anyone believe anything just because NPR or Totenberg reported it? Because they ha a record of being reliable? Not this time.

FullMoon said...

"It's not a lie if you believe it"
Additionally, beneath the dignity of the court to respond in person. Raises Totenburg seeming importance. Should have been done by staff.

Howard said...

The wise Latina backstabbed Gorsuch using Nina as her proxy. We're all Besties... really.

Joe Smith said...

Since Trump (but even before), reporters have been pushing 'anonymous sources' to smear conservatives.

And it worked so they keep doing it.

It's cheap and effective...why not?

Old and slow said...

Howard nails it... .

Narayanan said...

Sotomayor is diabetic. If she's so concerned about her health, maybe she should drop a few Lbs.
-----------
as judge she is expected to be able to listen to both sides and adjudicate.

as diabetic does she know the 2 sides of glucose in/tolerance >>>

JustSomeGuyToo said...

I fully expect to see the NPR account on Twitter suspended for spreading misinformation.

Mason G said...

"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Sotomayor pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious."

Michael K said...

Totenberg has been a liar for years and years. I don't know why anyone is surprised.

Martha said...

In 1972 Nina Totenberg was fired for plagiarism from the National Observer—a short lived weekend Dow Jones publication. She was known for making up quotes without attribution then. It was a big scandal at the time. Now it is routine journalistic practice.

boatbuilder said...

"Everyone is a conservative about what they know best."
What Sonia now knows best is that Nina Totenberg spread an untruth about something that she was involved in, in order to make her ostensible political "enemy" colleague look bad.
Any bets on whether a single liberal, including Sotomayor, will shake off Gell Mann amnesia here? (Not Althouse, who quickly posits all the possible twisted interpretations which might make the lefty press not look like lying hacks).





wendybar said...

Nina doesn't care. She is doubling down on her lie. And they wonder why Americans don't trust the media?? WHY are taxpayers still funding NPR anyways?? They only speak for Progressives like all the other media do.
Nina Totenberg
@NinaTotenberg
NPR stands by my reporting

wendybar said...

Gem Quincyite said...
I thought I saw a picture of an unmasked Sotomayor a few days ago, in a restaurant with many other Democrat Congress people.

1/19/22, 3:20 PM

That is Schumers wife who looks like Sotomayor from the back.

Václav Patrik Šulik said...

Nina Totenberg is a partisan hack - always has been. She was an active participant in the Anita Hill story and broke the news, pushing Hill into the spotlight - where Prof. Hill didn't want to be, solely because Totenberg wanted to kill Thomas.

Second, Politico did post an item identifying Sen. Schumer's wife, Iris Weinshall (maskless), as Justice Sotomayor at the D.C. restaurant Le Diplomate. It ran a retraction - story here:
https://sg.news.yahoo.com/politico-savaged-erroneously-putting-justice-011411095.html

Third, Martha is right - Totenberg was fired for plagiarism. It is mentioned in her wikipedia biography, as well as the reasons why it was okay (in the view of the wikiwriters).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nina_Totenberg#Early_career

Maynard said...

If I was Chief Roberts, I would immediately suspend the credentials of any journalists who reports stories without actual evidence about the court with the threat that a second occurrence would result in a permanent revocation of those credentials.

But, Nina Totenberg is as much of a SCOTUS institution as Linda Greenhouse. They are bigger than the Justices. They are media rock stars.

Achilles said...

If I was Sotomayor I would be pissed that someone thought I was stupid enough to believe strapping a kleenex to your face would save her from COVID.

She really is quite portly as well.

Browndog said...

She was told by the Supreme Court Press Office the story was false. She ran it anyway.

Jupiter said...

Anyway, I love the statement "we are warm colleagues and friends."

Sotomayor is dumber than a bag of hammers. It's a wonder she passed the bar exam, or any exam. I am sorry to hear that Gorsuch has a kind word to say about her. She's an incompetent AA hire.

ga6 said...

"Totenberg ought to burn her source "
Perhaps there is no source, the story appearedto Nina ins "penumbra".

Yancey Ward said...

Now ask yourself this- how full of shit has Totenberg been on everything else she has reported?

rcocean said...

when Someone like Totenberg says an anonymouse source "close to the Court" said something, there are several assumptions being made:

1) Totenberg isn't just making it up. There really is a source.
2) The source actually is "close to the Court"
3) The source isn't lying
4) the Source knows what they're talking about and not just expressing 2nd hand hearsay.
5) Totenberg isn't misquoting,exaggerating or just lying about what the source said.

It used to be that a reporter Needed TWO different sources to base a story. And this needed to be checked by an editor. Now, one source is OK. The editors don't care. And we can't verify anything.

But we ALL just assume Totenberg is saying the truth. But there's ZERO reason to assume that.

The Vault Dweller said...

Assuming that Nina Totenberg didn't make this up completely, I wonder if she had one single source who told her everything as she reported, or she had multiple separate sources and she took their accounts to synthesize a story as she believed it.

rehajm said...

@NinaTotenberg
NPR stands by my reporting


…and there’s a big steaming pile of shit here. Nina reporting what a source said could be the truth and when Nina reports it truthfully NPR stands by her reporting. Meanwhile, what the source said is a big steaming pile of shit

…and every party is happy.

madAsHell said...

In 1972 Nina Totenberg was fired for plagiarism from the National Observer—

I remember the National Observer!! I took all kinds of show-n-tell articles from that newspaper, and presented them to the 4th grade class.....in 1965!!

1972?? How old is that bitch??

Totenberg.....a mountain of dead.

Big Mike said...

So what’s the over-under on when the headlines are about how the Republicans are seizing and pouncing on poor, poor, Nina?

Gunner said...

Are these the same "unnamed sources" who said Trump hates soldiers? (Lefties have a huge respect for the rightness of WW1 or something)

Alexisa said...

"If I were Roberts..."

Seriously? If you were Chief Justice of the Supreme Court you would set a precedent that the 1st Ammendment does not apply to unsourced media reports?

Moondawggie said...

So what if Nina got the facts wrong? Her narrative is still correct:

Evil Republican illegitimately put on Supreme Court by a duplicitous, rule-breaking Republican Senate conspiring with an illegally elected fascist Republican President now recklessly endangers the very life of our first Wise Latina Justice, a distinguished woman of color.

Give Nina credit: she got the high points right. Victimhood. Misogyny. Racism. Biological warfare.

Nina is just the divine NPR Oracle the narrative speaks through.

iowan2 said...

I'm not done playing with the lie just yet.

So who is a bigger dick? Gorsuch for not wearing a mask? Or Sotomayor for demanding that all the rest of bench wear masks?

That's all Totenberg was doing. Evil conservative wont even consider a simple request. Totenberg can't go after bad decisions, so she invents conflict and goes personal destruction.

I made the comment over at Volokh that the story never claimed that Sotomayor would participate live if all wore masks. As our host points out, for a person with all that fear, there is no way she would be in person. That's what makes this such an obvious figment of Totenbergs imagination.

Alexisa said...

No, Soto was recently caught freaking out over 700 million Covid cases in America, so the possibility that Soto is irrational is in play.

FullMoon said...

I originally took the story at face value.

BUT, From AceofSpades:

"Everyone seems to believe the denials from court personnel. But... eh, don't institutions routinely organize denials like that?

I mean, when there are rumors of feuding between the stars of a TV show and they both deny it to the press, does everyone rush to believe them? Because I don't. I mean, I also don't care very much, but I don't rush to believe them.

Also, I just like the idea of Gorsuch telling this subliterate Disinformation Spreader and Panic-Addicted CNN Super-Viewer, "No, grow up Karen, I won't wear your filthy Fauci rag," so I'm going to continue believing, and I do realize this is weird, Nina Totenberg of the New York Times.

#IBelieveNina."

MadisonMan said...

we are warm colleagues and friends
Warm colleagues simply means that they have a normal body temperature. That is, they are not really reptilian.

walter said...

Appearing remotely is a helpful visual to to her hysteria.
Someone should fashion a Hazmat SCOTUS robe.

Drago said...

MadisonMan: "Warm colleagues simply means that they have a normal body temperature. That is, they are not really reptilian."

I'm going to need to see an independent medical evaluation to accept that one.

Bunkypotatohead said...

"NPR stands by my reporting"
She claims without evidence. "NPR" is just as much an anonymous source as the person she made up for her original piece. For the readers of her stuff there's no way to distinguish anonymous source from making shit up. She relies on credibility she doesn't have.

Tom T. said...

You all are thinking about this the wrong way. My guess is that Totenberg's source was Sotomayor, or one of her clerks. The Justice told her this without realizing that it would blow up so badly. When it did, she had to close ranks with the Court for the sake of the institution, and cut Nina loose. That's why NPR won't back down, but they also won't burn their source, because they'll need her in the future.

Martha said...

Tom T is on to something: “My guess is that Totenberg's source was Sotomayor, or one of her clerks.”

I am hearing the same thing from knowledgeable media insiders. Very embarrassing week for Justice Sotomayor. Sotomayor or one of her clerks is Nina Totenberg’s reliable source. Totenberg was known to be one of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confidants. She may have befriended Sotomayor as well and wrote the NPR story based on personal conversations with Sonia.

Amadeus 48 said...

For all those folks who believe that the justices’ denials are fake, did you feel the same way about the Trump team denials that President Trump had called American soldiers suckers and losers? The sourcing of that story seemed about the same as this.

Personally, I don’t believe—actually, I don’t care—about “news” sourced in this way. The agendas are too obvious.

Narayanan said...

Does the dais? In supreme court also allow for social distancing?
Shoo go away...

Narayanan said...

The agendas are too obvious....

Don't Sonia and Nina share an agenda??

tim in vermont said...

"Warm colleagues"

That's exactly what a scorpion *would* say.

Amadeus 48 said...

“Don’t Sonia and Nina share an agenda?”

I don’t know. Didn’t the “suckers and losers” tipster share an agenda with the MSM types who reported the story?

The point is that a story without attribution isn’t worth much. Sonia has gone on the record that it didn’t happen. She’s called Nina’s source a liar.

The whole thing is silly and makes Nina look shabby.

Amadeus 48 said...

“That’s what scorpions would say”

The same reasoning can be applied to Team Trump’s denial of the “suckers and losers” comment.

Amadeus 48 said...

“Don’t Sonia and Nina share an agenda?”

I don’t know. Didn’t the “suckers and losers” tipster share an agenda with the MSM types who reported the story?

The point is that a story without attribution isn’t worth much. Sonia has gone on the record that it didn’t happen. She’s called Nina’s source a liar.

The whole thing is silly and makes Nina look shabby.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Alexisa,
How so?
One presumes that SC press accreditations go to "professionals". Non-professional acts should be grounds for revocation.
No one is suggesting that Totenberg be prevented from speaking and publishing.