The Slate Legal Ladies make quick work of wingnut M. Edward Whelan’s bully-style critiques of NY Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, and of the Times’s seeming inability to fully stand up for her. Sure, ombudsman Clark Hoyt gives lip service to her lack of bias and calls Whelan a bully, but he then validates Whelan’s critique by going on to criticize Greenhouse for not disclosing in her columns that her husband is a lawyer who has filed amicus briefs with the court, sometimes in the cases she covered…even though she doesn’t talk about her husband’s briefs in her stories. Hoyt suggests that the Times should make stricter its disclosure policy–say, require Greenhouse to provide more information to the public than that her husband is a lawyer, even when it’s not relevant to the substance of her writing.
Lithwick and Bazelon make clear the ridiculousness of the chest-puffing stance:
(Disclosure: We have both worked with Greenhouse and admire her enormously. Fidell has never said anything about the Bush administration to us. We made that quote up. Also, our husbands like Thai food and the color blue, in case that precludes us from reporting on anything in the future. Also also, Whelan has slimed both of us, too—apparently there’s lots of us unfit reporters out there.)
NB, Whelan and other slate-watchers: they write about thai food or the color blue — you complain.
But seriously, Lithwick & Bazelon are right to lay bare the ridiculousness of Hoyt’s acceptance of Whelan’s pseudo criticisms. Especially because Hoyt bases his suggestions for a new Times disclosure policy on Whelan’s complaints. I’ve got a question for Hoyt: does so disingenuously defending your own reporter undermine your stance as the moral authority at the Times?