Patterico's Pontifications

3/11/2004

Extra! Blogger Gets Results

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:28 am

On the one hand, I have to hand it to the Los Angeles Times. They have run a front-page story about Justice Ginsburg’s speech to the NOW Legal Defense Fund.

On the other hand, why did I have to be the one to tell them about it?

The other day, when the Times ran a story about Justice Scalia’s having spoken before an advocacy group, I told you here that Justice Ginsburg had done substantially the same thing in January. I explained that the experts’ criticisms of Justice Scalia’s speech applied equally to Justice Ginsburg’s speech. I noted the fact that the group before which she had spoken had filed an amicus brief in a case on which she had ruled just 15 days before the speech.

I also told you that I had sent an e-mail to the Times‘s “Reader’s Representative” about Justice Ginsburg’s speech. In a subsequent post, I explained that I didn’t really expect the Times to do anything about it.

I was wrong.

The next day, the Reader’s Representative sent me an e-mail saying that she would forward my e-mail to the national desk editors immediately. I will admit that I was skeptical that it would go anywhere. I then received an e-mail from Richard Serrano, one of the co-authors of the Scalia story and of today’s Ginsburg story, asking me for details. I sent Serrano links to the relevant Supreme Court decision, and to the NOW web page in which they boasted of having filed an amicus brief in the case.

Serrano said they would follow up on it, but I still didn’t think anything would happen. I believed that Serrano was looking into the story, but I just didn’t think the editors would print it. When I described the e-mails to my wife, she said to me: “Now you’re picking on poor Ruth.” I said: “Oh, come on, they’re not going to run anything on it.”

But, to its credit, the Times has run the story, quoting the same experts they quoted for the Scalia story.

I have mixed feelings. I don’t know that either speech was really a big deal, in my opinion. I don’t think the Times really should have picked on Ruth or Nino. But if they’re going to run one story, they have to run the other. That much seemed obvious.

I am pleased that the Times has recognized that fact.

But the obvious question still remains: why did the Times not independently look into whether other Justices had done this sort of thing? Wasn’t there someone on the paper who was eager to investigate the liberal Justices as well as the most conservative one? Why did they wait until the issue was stuck right in front of their nose?

Why did I have to be the one to tell them about it?

(Cross-posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.)

UPDATE: A commenter at “Oh, That Liberal Media” says that it was “bad form to critique them for any portion of their having run the story” and that I should simply have said “well done” and leave it at that.

I disagree, for the sake of accuracy, if nothing else. If I had simply praised them, without explaining that I had tipped them off, that would have left the impression that the paper’s reporters dug up this story on their own. The fact is, they didn’t. And the fact that they didn’t is troubling to me, for the reasons expressed above.

However, it may be worth re-emphasizing: I am impressed with the Times for running this story. It’s considerably more than I expected. I have to admit that I was shocked when I saw the story. The reporters called the same experts they had called for the Scalia story, and elicited the same opinions. The paper’s editors gave the story appropriate prominence: above the fold on the front page. I do think the reporters and editors deserve our respect for having been intellectually honest about this. If I didn’t make that clear before, I hope I am doing so now.

UPDATE x2: I hope new readers bookmark this site, and then pay a visit to Kevin Murphy’s site. If I recall correctly, I first heard about Justice Ginsburg’s speech several weeks ago, at Kevin’s site.

35 Responses to “Extra! Blogger Gets Results”

  1. I’m gobsmacked. But give the Times their due — there’s obviously someone in editorial management who has a glimmer about balance.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  2. I give the Dog Trainer minimal credit for running the Ginsburg story. You embarassed them into printing it. Let’s see if they print a critical story about a liberal without prompting before we praise them.

    Stu707 (b6fda7)

  3. I can’t wait until next week, when these letter writers write back demanding Ginsburg’s impeachment.

    Xrlq (6c76c4)

  4. You tha man!!

    Seriously, I’m impressed as all get-out; when I saw the article I was going to email you, but stopped in first.

    Also good the for Times for at least retroactively showing some balance…

    A.L.

    Armed Liberal (653cd1)

  5. All this and an instalance coming your way Patterico, not bad for a day’s work…If you can get it.

    Joel B. (ef9afd)

  6. Score one for the little (internet) guy. Good work!

    Scott Kirwin (bd2199)

  7. The reason you had to be the one to tell them about it is because A)the world’s an imperfect place and B) you live in a democracy.

    Yours is an excellent example of a good relationship between citizens and press; the press is an institution that has to be held accountable just like any other. Rather than bloviate mindlessly about “liberal bias,” you found a specific problem, posed a specific solution, and got a good result. So, kudos to you. Moves like yours are necessary.

    Why? Because reporters are human beings too – they work under tight deadlines that limit their access to data; they have limited manpower for particular stories; they have institutional constraints of all sorts. That’s why newspaper readers must ALWAYS be skeptical readers.

    And just as you have no reasonable expectation that your elected representatives should be able to work unsupervised, you should have no expectation that newspapers are going to get the whole story all the time. So pat yourself on the back for proving a useful source instead of a useless critic.

    Journalists are ONLY as good as their sources. And one of our responsibilities as citizens of a democracy is to pipe up when we see something wrong.

    beetroot (db2d6e)

  8. Hey, Brit Hume on FNC just told the story of Scalia and Ginsberg!

    Great work!

    Rob A. (d9a48a)

  9. Maybe they were spoon-fed the Scalia story just like you had to spoon-feed them this story. I’m not very impressed with reporter’s imagination these days.

    Clark Ghitis (010712)

  10. To quote Han Solo: Don’t get cocky, Kid.

    It was only the L. A. Times, after all!

    Seriously, the Times does deserve credit for such an acknowledgment. It would be nice if more papers paid attention to bloggers. They might realize that the real world is more complex than their limited subset of it.

    AST (cf1b9e)

  11. Amazing! We are “impressed” and “give credit” to the LA Times because THEY DID THEIR FREAKING JOBS FOR ONCE but only, as you have pointed out, because you HELD THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE.

    What amazes me is how pathetically low the standards have fallen for the liberal “establishment” media. We constantly smack them around for their blatant bias, and when they actually go back every hundredth time or so and sorta, kinda make an effort to be somewhat balanced, some people think we should give them a freakin’ standing ovation. I think your response was proper, and frankly, very generous.

    James (f5f06d)

  12. As noted, you pretty much led them by the hand. You told of them of the speech, the brief, and provided the links to verify your information. You pretty much did everything but write the story yourself. Knowing the power of the blogosphere, maybe it was fear of exposure and subsequent humiliation that was the driving power behind the LA Times printing the Ginsburg story.

    Wasn’t this same paper that got it’s butt roasted over it’s handling of news during the recall drive? I believe this was just an attempt to salvage some credibility and respect.

    I believe that any kudos or praise are more rightfully due you than the LA Times. I will be more impressed with them when they can show balanced reporting everyday – not just when they get ltheir noses rubbed in it

    Jim (dd5bbb)

  13. As noted, you pretty much led them by the hand. You told of them of the speech, the brief, and provided the links to verify your information. You pretty much did everything but write the story yourself. Knowing the power of the blogosphere, maybe it was fear of exposure and subsequent humiliation that was the driving power behind the LA Times printing the Ginsburg story.

    Wasn’t this same paper that got it’s butt roasted over it’s handling of news during the recall drive? I believe this was just an attempt to salvage some credibility and respect.

    I believe that any kudos or praise are more rightfully due you than the LA Times. I will be more impressed with them when they can show balanced reporting everyday – not just when they get ltheir noses rubbed in it

    Jim (dd5bbb)

  14. Well, kudos are also due to Kevin Murphy, who mentioned the Ginsburg speech early during the Scalia controversy. And, while I do wish the Times had assigned people to dig this up on their own, I still think they deserve kudos for taking this seriously and giving it equal (greater, actually) prominence than the most recent Scalia story.

    I am still waiting to hear what they have to say about the latest potential controversy I mentioned. It strikes me as not insignificant, compared to some of the accusations against Scalia. I have the feeling that, having run one story for “balance” and editorialized about it, they are putting this whole issue to bed — leaving 3 Scalia stories to 1 Ginsburg. But you never know. I was cynical about them before and I was wrong.

    Patterico (faf8f9)

  15. All stories come from tips. Nobody’s out “digging” — they aren’t wasting time investigating justices for no reason, they’re acting on tips that will lead to stories.

    They make storiea because there’s a newspaper to fill every day.

    d'oh (ed390d)

  16. Good show! You’re keepin’ ‘em honest.
    [or some semblance thereof, anyway . . . ]

    Claire (222d9a)

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