Supreme Court watchers often hang on every word uttered by justices in an effort to determine how they are likely to vote on a particular issue.
This week, the nation’s highest court made an important correction to the transcript from one recent hearing in which conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch offered data about the death rate associated with influenza.
Confusion over Gorsuch’s remarks
During oral arguments regarding a challenge to President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandates, Gorsuch pointed out that the flu kills “hundreds, thousands” of Americans each year without a requisite vaccine mandate from the federal government.
In the original transcript, however, it appeared as if Gorsuch erroneously stated that the flu kills “hundreds of thousands” of people annually.
The misquotation prompted a flurry of media criticism from journalists inaccurately accusing the justice of spreading “misinformation.”
Of course, those journalists could have checked the live recording to better determine what Gorsuch said, but at least those who initially got it wrong generally acknowledged their mistake.
Newsweek reporter Jason Lemon, for example, rewrote his article under the revised headline: “Neil Gorsuch Takes Unwarranted Heat as Transcription Flub Suggests He Overstated Flu Deaths.”
“That is completely false”
For his part, Lemon offered a direct apology to the justice, adding: “To those who have said I’m antagonistic toward Gorsuch because he is a conservative, that is completely false.”
Although many in the mainstream media seemed to jump at the chance to portray Gorsuch as a peddler of untruths, they did not seem to be equally interested in exploring the misleading statements from liberal justices attempting to defend Biden’s vaccine mandates.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for example, incorrectly claimed that 100,00 children are hospitalized with COVID-19. Similarly, Justice Stephen Breyer drastically inflated the number of new cases in the U.S. to a number more than twice that of the entire nation’s population.
Even when reviewing Gorsuch’s actual comments, many of his critics lambasted him for comparing COVID-19 and the flu on any level.
Nevertheless, some experts believe the early evidence shows that the omicron variant of COVID-19 could be significantly less deadly than the flu, which killed between 12,000 and 52,000 Americans each year between 2010 and 2020.