Bench Memos

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Greenhouse Gases


Might New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse be envious of the widespread acclaim that ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg has received for her book Supreme Conflict?  Or resentful of Jan Greenburg’s exposition of Greenhouse’s biased reporting, especially concerning Justice Thomas?  (On this point, see also my This Week in Liberal Judicial Activism item for Feb. 25, 1992.)  Consider:


1.  Among the many nuggets that Jan Greenburg has received praise for is her fascinating account (available online here) of how Chief Justice Rehnquist’s decision to stay on the Court triggered Justice O’Connor’s retirement.  In response, Linda Greenhouse resorted to posting comments on two blogs claiming that she had initially reported the scoop (in the 21st paragraph of a September 5, 2005, article).  But Greenhouse’s three-sentence version gives little or no hint of the drama in Greenburg’s story:  that Rehnquist had emphasized to O’Connor the institutional interest in not having two vacancies at one and that he had then “stunned” her and “caught [her] off guard” with his decision to stay on the Court for another term. 


2.  Last week, in the last item (“Alarmism in the Blogosphere”) in this article, Linda Greenhouse faults Greenburg for a supposedly sensationalistic account that Justice Ginsburg might be ill.  But, in the words of this excellent and thorough post on the Stubborn Facts blog, Greenhouse’s use of a “few cherry-picked quotes is an abuse of the presumption of good faith” and her item appears to be “outright dishonesty” and a “petty and unprofessional attack.”  (Or, in the metaphors from Above The Law, Linda Greenhouse is playing “queen bee” and engaging in a “(cat)fight”.)

Tags: Whelan


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