Bench Memos

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Another Worse Than Greenhouse


Life is too short for me to respond to every irrational lefty blogger, but sometimes the opportunity is too delicious to resist.  Take Mark Obbie, “director of the Carnegie Legal Reporting Program at the Newhouse School” of Public Communications at Syracuse University and “a legal journalist for more than 25 years.”   

The first time I ran across Obbie was when I posted my critique (“See Spot Run. See Joan Write.”) of Joan Biskupic’s embarrassingly obtuse “news analysis” of the Supreme Court—only to learn from the Point of Law blog that Obbie had lavished praise on Biskupic’s article (“Hail, Joan of McPaper”). 

Obbie has now applied his same critical faculties to the controversy over Linda Greenhouse’s conflict of interest, and the results are even more laughable.  Obbie’s first post on the matter on Sunday leads with this mistaken assertion:  “New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt sides with Linda Greenhouse and Times editors in a dispute over an alleged conflict of interest.”  In short, Obbie didn’t even understand that Hoyt had validated the heart of my complaint.  (Obbie also labeled my tone “paranoid”.) 

Yet on Tuesday Obbie embraced the Bazelon/Lithwick piece, whose central complaint was that Hoyt had “dragg[ed] [Greenhouse] out to the woodshed.”  Obbie doesn’t even recognize that he’s contradicted himself.  He’s too focused on celebrating his delusion that Bazelon and Lithwick have done a “much more thorough job of putting Ed Whelan in his place.”  Nor does he do his readers the courtesy of linking to my thorough refutation of Bazelon and Lithwick. 

Obbie epitomizes the broader problem:  Here you have a veteran legal journalist directing a legal reporting program at a university, yet he can’t understand what he reads and is more interested in indulging his political animus than in fairly presenting the controversy or offering intelligent commentary.

Tags: Whelan


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