Linda Greenhouse is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covers the United States Supreme Court for the New York Times. As we all know, the New York Times, along with the rest of the mainstream press, is adamant about their commitment to unbiased journalism. Reporters don't have opinions, at least not opinions that impact their journalism. It's nonsense, of course, but nonsense that's maintained by the likes of the Times.
Well, Linda Greenhouse, in a recent speech at her alma mater, Radcliffe, expressed some opinions. And if she really feels this way, there's absolutely no way that it could possibly not color her reporting. What she chooses to highlight, the way she expresses things, what she covers or doesn't cover, what she thinks is news and what isn't - that's all determined by her worldview.
And what is her worldview? Where is she coming from? Well, here's a small sample.
Thinking back to my college days in those troubled and tumultuous late 1960’s, there were many things that divided my generation...Yet despite all these controversies, we were absolutely united in one conviction: the belief that in future decades, if the world lasted that long, when our turn came to run the country, we wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Our generation would do a better job. I cried that night in the Simon and Garfunkel concert out of the realization that my faith had been misplaced. We were not doing a better job....And of course my little crying jag occurred before we knew the worst of it, before it was clear the extent to which our government had turned its energy and attention 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. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism.
Is a person who feels that way going to give us "fair and balanced" coverage of the Supreme Court when they decide Hamdan? When the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program gets there? How about if there's a challenge to Roe v. Wade?
If you were asked to choose one, two, or even three words to identify yourself, which would spring to mind? In my own case, I could choose from: woman, American, Caucasian, Jew, wife, mother, daughter, sister, straight, journalist, temporarily able-bodied, pushing 60, Democrat, Radcliffe graduate (as I call myself), Harvard graduate (as the post-Radcliffe College world would call me.) ... As I look toward the next chapter in my life, I feel a growing sense of obligation to reach across the absurd literal fence that some of our policy makers want to build on the Mexican border and to do what I can to help those whose only offense is to want to improve their lives.
How about issues related to illegal immigration. Is this an unbiased journalist who'll give equal time, space and consideration to both sides in the fence discussion? How could she? She's already publicly expressed that the idea of a fence is "absurd!" More than that, she feels a growing obligation to "do what [she] can to help" illegal immigrants. Might that, some of that, show in any "news" stories that she produces? If she's a human being, of course it will.
Now, Linda Greenhouse is absolutely entitled to her opinion. And she's absolutely entitled to report for the New York Times. And they absolutely have the right to run her stuff. But just remember, the next time that someone suggests that the mainstream press is unbiased, the expressed feelings of one of the people behind the story that you read when the New York Times reaches your doorstep...
Hat-tip to John Podhoretz...