Katie Couric, the veteran TV host and journalist who worked at CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes, admits in her new book that she edited the words of then-Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to soften the liberal justice’s criticism of Colin Kaepernick.
In an excerpt of Going There, obtained by the Daily Mail and published on Thursday, Ms Couric explains that Ms Ginsburg’s comments about Mr Kaepernick and other athletes across professional sports leagues who choose to kneel during the national anthem were even harsher than originally reported.
The journalist further went on to call herself a “big RBG fan”, referring to the popularised moniker for the liberal justice, and said that she was “conflicted” and “lost a lot of sleep” about what to do after a public affairs official for the Supreme Court asked Ms Couric the next day to remove that answer from the interview. The official claimed Ms Ginsburg “misspoke” about the protests.
She ultimately kept much of what Ms Ginsburg said in the published version of the interview on Yahoo News, but omitted the justice criticising Mr Kaepernick and other Black athletes who were protesting police brutality and racism for supposedly showing “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life”.
That “decent life” could not have been lived “in the places they came from”, the justice reportedly went on to say, according to Ms Couric. Ms Ginburg reportedly went on to say that the various participants in the protest would “realise that this was youthful folly” as they grow older.
The remarks are some of the most searing criticism of the protests led by Mr Kaepernick and others from any figure on the left; most in the Democratic Party and larger left-leaning political sphere have embraced the athletes’ calls for racial equality.
At the time, Ms Couric’s interview with Ms Ginsburg similarly drew attention for the remarks about the protests she did include from the justice, particularly her remark that Mr Kaepernick’s act was “dumb and disrespectful”.
“I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it,” she said in the interview, originally published in October of 2016, while comparing the act to flag-burning.
“I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act,” the justice added.
Ms Couric, a veteran journalist who also worked at CNN and NBC, went on to write that she wanted to “protect” Ms Ginsburg from criticism over the issue of racial inequality in America, which she wrote was likely a “blind spot” for her.
Ms Ginsburg became a cultural icon among some liberals before her death due to her fiery opinions from the bench in support of issues such as voting rights and abortion. She was portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Kate McKinnon, who depicted her as an energetic, trash-talking fireball who delivered “Gins-burns” aimed at various GOP figures.
The liberal justice died in mid-September of last year at the age of 87. Her passing resulted in former President Donald Trump making the third addition to the Supreme Court of his presidency, thereby further cementing the Court’s conservative majority; that fact led to much discussion regarding whether Ms Ginsburg should have relented to calls for her to step down during the Obama administration, when her seat would likely have been filled by a liberal nominee.
Going There, Ms Couric’s memoir, is set to publish on 26 October.