Anything connecting masks and Republicans is instant COVID clickbait and when NPR put out this story, lefties gobbled it up like hotcakes.
It was pretty jarring earlier this month when the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court took the bench for the first time since the omicron surge over the holidays. All were now wearing masks. All, that is, except Justice Neil Gorsuch. What’s more, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was not there at all, choosing instead to participate through a microphone setup in her chambers.
Sotomayor has diabetes, a condition that puts her at high risk for serious illness, or even death, from COVID-19. She has been the only justice to wear a mask on the bench since last fall when, amid a marked decline in COVID-19 cases, the justices resumed in-person arguments for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.
Now, though, the situation had changed with the omicron surge, and according to court sources, 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.
They all did. Except Gorsuch, who, as it happens, sits next to Sotomayor on the bench. His continued refusal since then has also meant that Sotomayor has not attended the justices’ weekly conference in person, joining instead by telephone.
Less discreet outlets like Rolling Stone spun it up into, “Report: Neil Gorsuch Stands Up for His Right to Endanger Sonia Sotomayor’s Health.”
Except that it was all a bunch of lies. According to Sotomayor in a joint statement with Gorsuch.
“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.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a statement Wednesday denying a National Public Radio report that claimed he had asked his colleagues to wear masks on the bench in deference to fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The media is going with the familiar, “fake but accurate” defense even after its story has fallen apart, but it might want to ask itself what motive Sotomayor could possibly have for pouring cold water on their report. It’s one thing for Roberts and Gorsuch to dismiss their claims, but why should Sotomayor care to do so… unless the story isn’t true.
Gorsuch doesn’t wear a mask and Sotomayor, like a number of people, has chosen to work remotely. If Sotomayor felt forced to work remotely because of Gorsuch’s actions, why in the world would she hesitate to say so? It’s not as if she developed some sort of shyness about asserting her own claims.
Is the media going to retract? Of course not. While it demands that conservative media outlets be censored over fake news, it has no problem trafficking in fake news.