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Bench Memos

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More Greenhouse Contempt



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In today’s New York Times, Linda Greenhouse has another story involving the Boumediene case.  Once again, she fails to disclose to readers that (as I detail in point 3 here) her husband and his institutional alter ego have taken part in the case.

 

I have no intention of noting every article that Greenhouse writes on Boumediene.  As I discuss in the linked post above, the record is already sufficient to enable readers to form their own judgments about her conduct, and those judgments probably won’t be materially affected by yet more instances of her failing to disclose her conflict of interest.

 

What I do find notable about Greenhouse’s article today is that it has no significant news to report.  In her February 6 article (discussed here), Greenhouse stated that the Bush administration “said … that it would file an emergency appeal” of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling in the related case of Bismullah v. Gates by February 14, a day before the Court’s next conference.  Today’s article states the unremarkable fact that the Bush administration did, as expected, file such an appeal, and it is otherwise basically a rehash of the February 6 article.  (Yes, there’s a sentence setting forth the two options the administration presents the Court, but a news article reporting on the actual order the Court enters, perhaps as early as today, would seem the natural place to discuss that.)

 

My point is not to play newspaper editor.  Rather, it’s to highlight that the decision to write and publish stories that aren’t genuinely newsworthy often affords as much play for bias and for indulgence of conflict of interest as the manner in which the story is written.  As it happens, a lunchtime companion of mine yesterday passed along that a former New York Times reporter (and also, like Greenhouse, la-dee-dah, a Pulitzer Prize winner*), Fox Butterfield, regularly reported on controversies over gun control without disclosing to readers that he was an active member of a group promoting gun control—and that Butterfield routinely wrote prominent stories trumpeting trivial reports that advanced the pro-gun control cause. 

 

*Of course, the tradition of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters also includes the odious Walter Duranty.


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