NPR’s infamously wrong Nina Totenberg: It ‘makes sense’ Supreme Court leaker a ‘conservative clerk’

(Video: ABC)

In a display of mudslinging disguised as journalism, one NPR reporter maintained her track record of laying unsubstantiated claims related to the Supreme Court when she dismissed any other possible origin for the SCOTUS leak other then a “conservative clerk who was afraid.”

NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg appeared on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday where she was asked to assess the situation surrounding the release of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion for the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Host Martha Raddatz brought her guest into the segment by commenting on the lengthy duration for which Totenberg has covered SCOTUS.

Raddatz then asked, based on Totenberg’s experience with the court, “How much has this leak rattled the institution and the way it’s viewed?”

“Well, the way it’s viewed, it’s an earthquake. And I think within the court itself it’s an earthquake. There has never been a leak like this. There have been minor little springs that have emerged from the court…reports of a tentative vote, or misbehavior by one Justice back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, there were lea- those kinds of leaks. But never an entire draft of a majority opinion,” the reporter began laying out the certain facts of the matter rather succinctly.

It was then that Totenberg reverted to her unscrupulous bias, opining under the guise of journalism by stating, “That has never ever occurred before and it can only, in all likelihood, have come from a Justice. That I think is less likely. Perhaps one of the clerks, and the leading theory is a conservative clerk, who was afraid that one of the conservatives might be persuaded by Chief Justice Roberts to join a much more moderate opinion.”

Her “leading theory” was presented without evidence and one need only look back to this January to find that Totenberg has a history of making claims that even the Justices have dismissed as nonsense. Earlier this year she reported that Justice Neil Gorsuch had allegedly refused to wear a mask during oral arguments and thus forced Justice Sonia Sotomayor to work remotely from her office out of concerns for her health.

After the story gained traction, with many other SCOTUS correspondents spreading the unfounded allegations and demonstrating the inherent problem with corporate media, the Justices discredited any veracity to the story and yet it persisted.

Even more famously, Totenberg was responsible for spreading Anita Hill’s sexual assault allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas when he had been nominated to the Supreme Court. Her history demonstrates her objective is to further the cause of a progressive judiciary, so naturally her baseless claims are promoted and perpetuated.

“And then there’s another theory that it was an outraged liberal clerk,” Totenberg went on and brushed that entirely aside. “But I think the only one that makes sense is that it came from somebody who was afraid that this majority might not hold, that Chief Justice Roberts might persuade one of the conservatives to come over to him in a much more moderate opinion.”

As to whether they’ll discover the responsible party, Totenberg said, “I think it’s very unlikely.”

Of course, that also dismisses the reality that the public knows Politico obtained the leak from someone. Furthermore, considering the warm reception that a liberal clerk would receive from corporate media and the Democrats, including the likelihood of book deals, it probably won’t take long for profit motive to override a future legal career and for the leaker to out themselves.


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Kevin Haggerty


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