Bench Memos

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Greenhouse’s Contempt


In today’s New York Times, Linda Greenhouse has another article on the Boumediene case now pending in the Supreme Court—a case in which her husband Eugene Fidell and his nonprofit alter ego have participated.  The article provides an interesting discussion of the interaction between Boumediene and a D.C. Circuit ruling (in Bismullah v. Gates) that the Bush administration will be asking the Supreme Court to review.  The article is about both cases, which Greenhouse states are “inextricably entwined.”


Once again, Greenhouse and her editors have declined even to disclose to Times readers the fact and nature of Greenhouse’s conflict of interest in reporting on Boumediene.  Indeed, they haven’t even complied with NYT public editor Clark Hoyt’s patently inadequate recommendation (see point 5 here) that the conflict of interest be disclosed on Greenhouse’s website bio, where few readers would ever be likely to encounter it.


I repeat again the elementary point that it is not incumbent on those who expose a conflict of interest to establish, or even allege, that the conflict has yielded a biased result in a particular instance.  Rather, the very point of conflict-of-interest rules is to identify those situations in which partiality should be conclusively presumed, and situations involving spouses are routinely and understandably recognized to be leading examples.


In their continuing defiant refusal even to disclose Greenhouse’s conflict, Greenhouse and her editors manifest contempt not only for Hoyt’s judgment (a contempt that, on the evidence, may well be justified for very different reasons) but for all Times readers.

Tags: Whelan


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