Former Today Show host Katie Couric’s has included a provocative passage in her new memoir Going There where she opens up about “protecting” (her words) the Ruth Bader Ginsburg by editing her criticism of Americans who take a knee during the National Anthem. Couric wrote that she felt printing the late Supreme Court Justice’s full thoughts would have led to too much public backlash.
In a 2016 interview Couric conducted for Yahoo!, Ginsburg told Couric that she felt refusing to stand for the anthem is “dumb and disrespectful.” Those comments made it into the published interview. But Couric censored other, harsher remarks. Apparently, Ginsburg also said that people like Colin Kaepernick who protest police brutality by kneeling during the anthem are showing “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,” Ginsburg continued. “As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly. And that’s why education is important.”
Ginsburg was 83 at the time, and Couric speculates that she may not have understood the question.
Couric says that the decision she faced was a “conundrum.” She writes that she’s a “big RGB fan” and felt that Ginsburg’s comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” So when the head of public affairs for the Supreme Court emailed her the day after the interview, saying Ginsburg had “misspoken” and asking for the comments to be struck from the record, she felt torn.
Couric says she reached out to her friend, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, to ask for advice. According to Going There, Brooks told Couric that Ginsburg — who, once again, was sitting on the Supreme Court — may not have understood what Couric asked.
But the then-head of ABC News, David Westin, advised Couric to leave the comments in.
Ultimately, Couric edited Ginsburg’s response, leaving in some of her dismissive comments about the movement Kaepernick started and other similar protests (which she called “stupid” and “ridiculous”) but striking the more inflammatory comments about “the places they came from.”
Ginsburg passed away last September at the age of 87. Couric says she “still loses sleep” about the decision she made.