A blog that labels itself a “legal tabloid” has been soliciting juicy anecdotes about NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg’s on-the-job behavior, but Totenberg says she’s just doing her job.
In a post on Above the Law authored by the blog’s editor in chief, David Lat, one anecdote describes the correspondent entering the Supreme Court’s press section moments before a morning session begins — and asking someone sitting in the front row to surrender the seat.
Totenberg gets her way, it says, “because nobody says no to Nina.”
But not so fast: Totenberg says that since she happens to be the dean of the Supreme Court press corps, she actually has an assigned seat — that nice one, right up front.
Who knew the Supreme Court press gallery was just like a high school cafeteria? On first Mondays we wear pink!
Totenberg’s complete comment, and our reaction, after the jump.
Here’s what Nina Totenberg told the Post:
“I’m flattered that I have reached the stage in my career that my taking my assigned seat has become an event big enough to inspire such embellished storytelling,” Totenberg said in an interview yesterday. “If I had known asking someone to vacate my seat was such a big deal, I would have also asked him to bring me a Starbucks and a bagel.”
Fantabulous! We love the snarky grandiosity of Ms. Nina’s response, which only reinforces her reputation as alpha female of the SCOTUS press gaggle.
We also adore La Totenberg’s use of synecdoche, in referring to coffee as “a Starbucks.” This locution is a favorite of caffeinated divas everywhere.
For example, it’s employed by Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada. Miranda tells Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) that she’s stepping out for a meeting, but by the time she returns, she wants the unpublished Harry Potter manuscript on her desk — along with “my Starbucks.”
Anna Wintour Miranda Priestly ain’t got nothing on you. We’ll fetch you “a Starbucks and a bagel” — and bring it to you in the front row of the press section, Supreme Court marshals be damned — any day of the week!
Update: As a commenter reminds us, Thomas Goldstein — the young superstar of the Supreme Court bar and founder of SCOTUSblog — was Nina Totenberg’s intern, back in the day. So this legal genius was presumably tasked with fetching Ms. Nina “her Starbucks” (although maybe this was before the rise of Starbucks to coffee hegemony).
If Tom Goldstein was the Andy Sachs to Nina Totenberg’s Miranda Priestly, presumably he owes some of his current professional success to his powerful mentor. Is an internship with La Totenberg the legal-journalism version of working as Anna Wintour’s assistant: a
completely hellacious highly challenging experience, offering great rewards to those who survive it?
Names & Faces: Totenberg’s Courtside Seat [Washington Post]
Earlier: Why Is Nina Totenberg Like Judy Miller?
Prior ATL coverage of Nina Totenberg (scroll down)