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Katie Couric Memoir Opens Up Can of Worms on RBG Interview

Journalist admits she edited out controversial remark on athletes who kneel to 'protect' Ginsburg
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2021 12:06 PM CDT
Katie Couric Memoir Opens Up Can of Worms on RBG Interview
In this Sept. 25, 2019, file photo, Katie Couric attends the Clio Awards at the Manhattan Center in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Katie Couric's memoir Going There is due out Oct. 26, though where she went within its pages has started a journalistic ethics firestorm. The controversy centers on a 2016 interview Couric had with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in which the Supreme Court justice, who died in September 2020, made some eyebrow-raising remarks about athletes like Colin Kaepernick who were kneeling during the national anthem at sports events. It's not the interview itself that's once more attracting headlines—instead, it's a revelation from Couric in her book that she edited one of Ginsburg's remarks out of the interview to "protect" her. More on this story:

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  • The comments that aired: What Ginsburg said that did air in the interview for Yahoo News, where Couric was an anchor at the time: that athletes who refused to stand for the anthem were being "dumb and disrespectful," but that "if they want to be stupid ... there's no law that prevents them from that."
  • The comment Couric slashed: The journalist writes in her memoir that Ginsburg also said the athletes were showing "contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life."
  • Why she cut it: Couric notes she felt "conflicted" about that remark after the interview, because she was a "big RBG fan," and so she edited the comment out of the interview to "protect" Ginsburg, as Couric felt racial justice may have been a "blind spot" for the justice, per excerpts published in the Daily Mail. Couric also writes that Ginsburg, then 83, was "elderly and probably didn't fully understand the question."
  • A 'major disservice': That's how Aaron Blake frames Couric's editorial decision for the Washington Post, calling her efforts to protect Ginsburg "self-defeating." "This kind of source protection is something plenty of the country will already suspect takes place in the media, and there's their confirmation of it," he writes. Also, on Ginsburg being too old to get the question: "This is someone whose job quite literally was to parse extremely complex things."
  • Other nuggets: Axios rounds up more reveals in Couric's book, including an unflattering description of Prince Harry when she met up with him at a 2012 polo match—"a strong aroma of alcohol and cigarettes seemed to ooze from [his] every pore," she writes—and a diss on Martha Stewart, with Couric noting it took a "few years in prison for [Stewart] to develop a sense of humor." During her media rounds to promote the memoir, Couric also tells People she was "shocked" to find out about sexual harassment allegations against former Today co-host Matt Lauer, noting his "grossly inappropriate" conduct was "not the Matt I knew." She says she no longer speaks with him.
  • 'Gray Lady' review: Alexandra Jacobs takes a deep dive into Couric's book for the New York Times, noting the "family skeletons" revealed—including that Couric's first husband, the late Jay Monahan, passionately enjoyed Confederate reenactments—and how Couric was forced to work her way through the "boys' club" of the media industry. "If there's one thing Going There conclusively proves, it's that [Couric] always had a lot going on," Jacobs writes.
(Read more Katie Couric stories.)

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