The Corner

RE: Bullying Whelan

Whelan’s column this morning and Ramesh’s assessment are both spot-on. But I want to make it absolutely clear who it is that is jumping to NYT Supreme Court Reporter Linda Greenhouse’s defense.

Long before Whelan’s criticism (that Greenhouse failed to disclose her husband’s involvement in a case about Guantanamo detainees she recently covered), Greenhouse came under fire for numerous public statements that clearly compromise her objectivity. In particular, she gave a speech in 2006 where she complained that the U.S. government turned “away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha and other places around the world.”

In that same speech, Greenhouse laid bare her feelings about another hot button issue she covers regularly, complaining about the “sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism,” adding, “To say that these last few years have been dispiriting is an understatement.”

So now we have Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon leaping to Greenhouse’s defense over at Slate. While there have been complaints about Lithwick’s reporting too numerous to name, I’ll just deal with Bazelon. All you really need to know is that Emily Bazelon has consistently used her perch as a journalist to advocate for abortion.

A year ago, she wrote a highly controversial cover story for the New York Times Sunday magazine called “Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?” As my wife noted at the time (Again — not that hard to disclose, Greenhouse!), the piece included such even-handed observations as this:

Abortion-recovery counselors like [Rhonda] Arias could focus on why women don’t have the material or social support they need to continue pregnancies they might not want to end. They could call for improving the circumstances of women’s lives in order to reduce the number of abortions. Instead they are working to change laws to restrict and ban abortion.

That’s right, pro-life activists hate women — all those crisis pregnancy centers operate year after year merely to keep up appearances. Naturally, Ginsburg cited Bazelon’s article in her dissent on the court’s decison to uphold the partial birth abortion ban. That was hardly Bazelon’s first time carrying water for pro-abortion forces. Bazelon had previously written a skeptical article about the group Feminists For Life for progressive magazine Mother Jones and her work at Slate discussing abortion reeks of issue advocacy. (In this context, it’s perhaps not surprising Bazelon is Betty Friedan’s cousin.)

So when Bazelon wants NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt and Ed Whelan to lay off attacking Greenhouse, her defense surely has far more to do with Bazelon’s desire to see a fellow abortion rights advocate keep slanting the issue for The New York Times. Because it’s impossible to mount a defense that Greenhouse is an objective journalist.

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