Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

#NBCFakeNews on Gorsuch

In this NBC News article from yesterday, reporter Corky Siemaszko claims that Neil Gorsuch, as an undergrad at Columbia, “opposed military recruiting on campus precisely because it discriminated against gays and lesbians.” Siemaszko purports to quote from an op-ed by Gorsuch in the school paper.

Siemaszko seems not to have noticed that Gorsuch’s supposed op-ed had a dramatic change of voice and a glaring grammatical glitch right at the carryover from one page to the next:

Truth is: Columbia does have a moral responsibility. It has a moral responsibility to overcome the tyrannical atmosphere of “ideas” that has so dominated life on Morningside for the last 20 years; it has a responsibility to make the political, philosophical, and ethical experience here as diverse and varied as the cultural and ethnic experience. The image of Columbia as a haven of post-radicals, holed up in their River and Jay cubicles poring over plans for the next RealityFest must give way to a broader, more inclusive ethic. Diversity does not automatically translate into non-conformity. Diversity means, [continuation to next page] workers. Should an institution that professes Freedom and Democracy take advantage of such a set-up?

Columbia’s tactics in dealing with its clerical workers demonstrated the same sort of hypocrisy. Rather than allow its workers their legal right to organize, Columbia pulled the Big Book of Union Busting down from the shelf and went to work. It took a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board and the threat of a strike to get the administration to bargain in good faith. Were this a truly democratic environment, heavy-handed pressure tactics by either side would be unnecessary….

The passages that Siemaszko attributes to Gorsuch are all on the carryover page.

As you might guess, and as the paper acknowledged the next day, the “continuations of opinion columns by Neil Gorsuch and Jason Myers were mislabeled.” In other words, the passages that Siemaszko attributes to Gorsuch were part of Myers’s op-ed.  

Siemaszko was notified of his error more than nine hours ago but still hasn’t corrected it. But, hey, he’s busy tweeting on other things.

Update (12:55 pm): Siemaszko has now changed his story (while still leaving weird remnants of the original) without acknowledging his error. The link to his article yesterday now leads to a very different article dated today.

Further update (1:05 pm): The article has been further revised to include a rather roundabout acknowledgment of error:

The campus newspaper ran a correction on Feb. 26, 1987.

NBC News was made aware of the correction after an earlier story about Gorsuch and his campus writings was published.

Gee, who wrote and published that “earlier story”? 

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