During the 9:00 a.m. ET hour of Monday’s Today show, the hosts of the NBC broadcast were beside themselves with glee as they celebrated the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG being nominated for two Academy Awards ahead of Sunday’s Oscars. The left-wing Supreme Court justice was hailed as a “pop culture phenomenon” while the propaganda film about her career was cheered as a “gift to the culture.”
At the top of the segment, co-host Craig Melvin gushed: “Most Supreme Court justices don’t get cool nicknames or t-shirts with their faces on them, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become nothing short of a pop culture phenomenon since taking her seat on the high court back in 1993.” Moments later, fellow co-host Sheinelle Jones excitedly added: “And this coming weekend, her story could win an Academy Award thanks to the new documentary RBG, that retraces her trail-blazing career.”
In the taped report that followed, complete with rock music in the background, Jones repeated Melvin’s assertion: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is often described as a pop culture phenomenon, complete with her own cult following.” At least by her adoring fans in the liberal media.
“She has a recurring role on Saturday Night Live,” Jone touted, adding: “And her life recently hit the big screen as the subject of the film, On The Basis of Sex.” Turning to the documentary, the reporter offered this promotion: “RBG gives viewers a look at the Justice’s private side. There’s her collection of robes....And it pokes fun at her lack of cooking skills.”
After the fawning report, the cast of the morning show welcomed on RBG directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen for a softball interview. Jones provided a glowing review: “This was a gift to the culture to me. It was one of those things where I’m so glad that it was out now.”
Co-host Dylan Dreyer announced: “Nominated for an Oscar – I mean two Oscars – Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song.” After a clip played of West and Cohen joyously reacting to the nominations two weeks earlier, Dreyer asked: “And did you call RBG to tell her?” Cohen proclaimed: “Yes, we called her right after....She said she felt the nomination was eminently well-deserved and obviously that felt great to hear.”
Melvin chimed in to tout Cohen’s connection to the network: “Julie, we like to take a bit of credit for this documentary here at NBC News. Full disclosure, Julie was a producer here at Dateline for a number of years.”
Jones eagerly asked: “Was there anything that inspired you most or you found surprising?” West fondly recalled: “Well, she is a very reserved and quiet person, very intellectual and studious, but she has a fabulous sense of humor. She loves to laugh, and we were very happy that we could make her laugh when we showed her the Saturday Night Live clip.”
Wrapping up the six-minute segment, all of the hosts wished West Cohen “good luck” at the Oscar’s, hoping that the pro-Ginsburg film would get further accolades.
Not once did any of the supposed “journalists” raise Ginsburg’s staunch liberal views and steadfast support for abortion as controversial or mention that millions of Americans fundamentally disagree with her legal decisions.
NBC has been eager to jump on the RBG bandwagon. In May of 2018, the network cheered the documentary about the “icon” and “rock star” as a “box office powerhouse.” Hosting the third hour of the Today show in August, Al Roker happily declared: “I don’t think there isn’t a person out there who doesn’t love Ruth Bader Ginsburg!”
Here is a full transcript of the February 18 segment:
9:33 AM ET
CRAIG MELVIN: And welcome back. Most Supreme Court justices don’t get cool nicknames or t-shirts with their faces on them, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become nothing short of a pop culture phenomenon since taking her seat on the high court back in 1993.
DYLAN DRYER: Lately, she’s been in the news because of her health. Justice Ginsburg underwent cancer surgery in December and just this past Friday returned to work for the first time.
SHEINELLE JONES: And this coming weekend, her story could win an Academy Award thanks to the new documentary RBG, that retraces her trail-blazing career.
JONES [TAPED REPORT WITH ROCK MUSIC]: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is often described as a pop culture phenomenon, complete with her own cult following. She has a recurring role on Saturday Night Live.
KATE MCKINNON [AS GINSBURG ON SNL]: RBG in the house!
JONES: And her life recently hit the big screen as the subject of the film, On The Basis of Sex.
KATHY BATES [ON THE BASIS OF SEX]: What did you say your name was?
FELICITY JONES [AS GINSBURG]: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
JONES: Outside of the courtroom, her grueling gym workouts are known to many. The documentary RBG gives viewers a look at the Justice’s private side. There’s her collection of robes.
GINSBURG: And this one is for dissenting opinions.
JONES: And it pokes fun at her lack of cooking skills.
JAMES GINSBURG [JUSTICE GINSBURG’S SON]: To this day, I still can’t eat sword fish after what she did to it.
JANE CAROL GINSBURG [JUSTICE GINSBURG’S DAUGHTER]: It wasn’t until I was 14 that I encountered a live vegetable.
JONES: Earlier in her career she worked as a lawyer who fought hard for gender equality. She won five cases before the Supreme Court during the 1970s, which she talks about in the film.
GINSBURG: Men and women are persons of equal dignity, and they should count equally before the law.
JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST: You won’t settle for putting Susan B. Anthony on the new dollar?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [INTERVIEWER, RBG]: When they would say things like this, how did you respond?
GINSBURG: Well, never in anger, as my mother told me. That would have been self-defeating. Always as an opportunity to teach. I did see myself as kind of a kindergarten teacher in those days because the judges didn’t think sex discrimination existed. Well, one of the things I tried to plant in their minds was think about how you would like the world to be for your daughters and granddaughters.
JONES: So good. Betsy West and Julie Cohen are the directors and producers of RBG. Thank you for coming in this morning.
BETSY WEST: Thank you, great to be here.
JONES: This was a gift to the culture to me. It was one of those things where I’m so glad that it was out now. Just talk to us about the fact – we were just saying, she was out for a month for lung cancer surgery. She was back to work last Friday. Have you talked to her?
WEST: We actually did talk to her two weeks ago when we received the news that we were nominated for an Oscar. We called her, we told her. She was very happy for us and quickly segued into talking about getting ready to go back to work, that she had been reading and writing and keeping up with the cases so she that can return to the court.
DREYER: Nominated for an Oscar – I mean two Oscars – Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song. I want to ask what the reaction was like, but we actually have it on video. Let’s take a look.
WEST: Oh, no.
JONES: I’m glad there was a couch there. I’m glad there was a couch there so you didn’t fall and hurt yourself.
WEST: Yeah, I know.
JULIE COHEN: So dignified.
WEST: I know, really.
DREYER: And did you call RBG to tell her?
COHEN: Yes, we called her right after.
WEST: Right afterward.
COHEN: She said she felt the nomination was eminently well-deserved and obviously that felt great to hear.
MELVIN: Julie, we like to take a bit of credit for this documentary here at NBC News. Full disclosure, Julie was a producer here at Dateline for a number of years. Why did you guys feel like it was important to have this story told right now?
COHEN: You know, Justice Ginsburg’s story is incredibly important. People know her for the stinging dissents she’s written in recent years, but we knew a larger story. You know, she was the architect of the legal women’s rights movement. She’s responsible for the idea that men and women, under the Constitution, need to be treated equally. That’s from a series of cases she argued in the 1970s and some big ones, including one huge one she decided in the ’90s. She made a big difference, and some of her biggest fans didn’t know about it. We wanted to tell the story.
MELVIN: She sort of was emblematic of the resistance before folks started calling it the resistance.
JONES: Right. Was there anything that inspired you most or you found surprising? Even though I know you knew so much about her going in.
WEST: Well, she is a very reserved and quiet person, very intellectual and studious, but she has a fabulous sense of humor. She loves to laugh, and we were very happy that we could make her laugh when we showed her the Saturday Night Live clip.
JONES: The SNL skit, yes.
WEST: You know, she just – there were a whole bunch of Supreme Court PR people standing there. They didn’t know what we were going to do and when we pressed the button, they all looked, “Oh, no.” She waited for a second and then she burst out laughing. It was so cute.
DREYER: What about her workouts? You got to experience those firsthand.
COHEN: Yeah, that was incredible. There had been a fair amount of legend about the RBG workout. Frankly, we were skeptical until we sat in that room watching her go through her paces with her incredible trainer, Brian Johnson. He does fitness training for military guys. He says RBG is tougher.
MELVIN: We know she had a unique relationship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. What about her dynamic with sitting justices now?
WEST: You know, Justice Ginsburg is someone who is extremely collegial. It’s very important for her to have good relationships with all the people that she works with, even those with whom she doesn’t agree. You know, maybe it’s kind of practical because how are you going to convince people to come over to your side? You want them to like you. And she’s someone who people really like.
JONES: In a time when we’re so divided I actually found it very timely. Because she even kind of talked about that, you can disagree with someone and still sit down and watch an opera, you know what I mean? And still just enjoy someone’s friendship. So I think it was timely. Thank you guys so much for coming in.
DREYER: Good luck.
MELVIN: Good luck.
COHEN: Thank you very much.
WEST: Thank you.
JONES: We’ll have another camera on you. [Laughter] The documentary is RBG. Again, good luck this weekend at the Oscar’s. We’ll be right back.