Bench Memos

Slowly Regaining Sobriety?

A reader calls my attention to a Slate blog, where Bazelon now says that her and Lithwick’s “basic point, which Whelan ignores, is that critics on the right go after Greenhouse with an overwrought vigor not visited upon any other Supreme Court reporter (and few other reporters in general).”  Gee, somehow I saw their essay as focused on me.  In any event, I can’t speak for other conservatives, and I don’t see why Bazelon should expect me to do so.  (Update:  On The Corner, Ramesh properly observes:  “Bazelon and Lithwick have already said that conservatives go after Greenhouse because ‘she’s the voice on the court that matters most in the national press.’ If Whelan and the rest of us are correct in saying that she regularly displays liberal bias, then of course we would criticize her more frequently than we would criticize other, less influential commentators.”)


As for the suggestion that my vigor is focused exclusively on Greenhouse, Bazelon contradicts herself in the very next paragraph where she cites examples where “he [yours truly] has gone after us, too.”  I certainly have—and with good cause—but the very different charge in her essay was that I’ve “slimed” them.  Once again, Bazelon seems not to recognize the relevance of the distinction between a meritorious criticism and a meritless one.


Meanwhile, Lithwick finds it notable that there weren’t “rants about deliberate bias and dishonesty” regarding Jan Crawford Greenburg’s and Jeff Toobin’s separate books on the Supreme Court.  I will note that I leveled vigorous and carefully explained criticisms about shortcomings in Toobin’s book (in a five-part series in late September:  Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  By contrast, I found Greenburg’s book to be quite commendable.


Lithwick’s broader point, if I’m following it, would seem to support more disclosure by reporters, along with less pretense of objectivity.  That seems sensible to me.  It’s Greenhouse’s lack of disclosure, and her pretense of objectivity, that triggered my original complaint.  So maybe Lithwick, now that she’s sobering up, will call on Greenhouse to disclose her conflicts? 

Ed Whelan — Ed Whelan is a leading commentator on nominations to the Supreme Court and the lower courts and on issues of constitutional law.

Most Popular


The Odds Are Slim to Nunes

When the history of the 2018 midterms is written, there will be a chapter on missed opportunities for Democrats. Some may wonder if they should have spent so much money supporting Beto O’Rourke in Texas, or whether Heidi Heitkamp was doomed from the start in North Dakota. One painful question for progressives ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Beatification of Beto

The media’s treatment of Texas Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke wasn’t the most egregiously unfair coverage of the past year -- that would be the treatment of Brett Kavanaugh -- but it ranks among 2018’s most annoying. The endless glowing profiles of O’Rourke in every publication from Vanity Fair to ... Read More