Patterico's Pontifications

8/4/2005

Drudge Says New York Times is Investigating Roberts’s Adoption Records

Filed under: Judiciary,Media Bias,Scum — Patterico @ 6:41 pm

Matt Drudge is reporting that the New York Times is digging into the adoption records of John Roberts’s children:

The NEW YORK TIMES is looking into the adoption records of the children of Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The TIMES has investigative reporter Glen Justice hot on the case to investigate the status of adoption records of Judge Roberts’ two young children, Josie age 5 and Jack age 4, a top source reveals.

Judge Roberts and his wife Jane adopted the children when they each were infants.

Both children were adopted from Latin America.

A TIMES insider claims the look into the adoption papers are part of the paper’s “standard background check.”

Bill Borders, NYT senior editor, explains: “Our reporters made initial inquiries about the adoptions, as they did about many other aspects of his background. They did so with great care, understanding the sensitivity of the issue.”

(Via Confirm Them, which is newly blogrolled.)

Now, keep in mind: Drudge gets stuff wrong.

But, as we wait to see whether the story is confirmed by a more reliable source, let’s agree on the obvious: if the story is true, it is outrageous. There is no possible legitimate excuse for this.

To my leftist readers especially: can I get an “Amen”?

P.S. I think I know where The Times may be going with this: although they were adopted from Latin America, the skin of Roberts’s children appears to be white, not brown or black. My understanding is that, generally, parents seeking adoptions can specifically request children of a certain race — and generally do.

So, if Roberts’s children are white, perhaps he and his wife requested that. Is that the NYT‘s proposed “gotcha”? If so, my statement stands: it’s outrageous.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt quotes the response that the New York Times is giving to inquiries (thanks to commenter Andrew for the tip):

Dear Reader,

Thanks for writing to us.

While the public editor does not usually get involved in pre-publication matters, Bill Keller, the executive editor of the paper, told us that he would not stand for any gratuitous reporting about the Roberts’s children.

He said that as an adoptive parent he is particularly sensitive about this issue.

In addition, a senior editor at the paper wrote, “In the case of Judge Roberts’s family, our reporters made initial inquiries about the adoptions, as they did about many other aspects of his background. They did so with great care, understanding the sensitivity of the issue. We did not order up an investigation of the adoptions. We have not pursued the issue after the initial inquiries, which detected nothing irregular about the adoptions.”

Sincerely,
Joe Plambeck
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Hugh responds:

What is “gratuitous” as opposed to “appropriate reporting” on a nominee’s children. Who were the “initial inquiries” made to and for what purpose? What does with “great care” mean, and how did that “sensitivity” end up on Dr[u]dge.

Looks like some staff got ahead of Keller and way ahead of public opinion, and the cover up is under way. But there’s a lot of admission in the response –admission that the paper did indeed think it appropriate to dig into the adoption, and all the scurrying in the world won’t obscure that.

It certainly looks like we do have an admission, of sorts. But many questions remain. Hugh has articulated the main ones. I don’t think this story is going away. I am very interested to know more about what digging The Times did before Keller put a stop to it — and why they ever thought the subject was an appropriate avenue of inquiry to begin with.

UPDATE x2: A leftist named TBogg takes issue with Drudge. He says he thought the kids were from Ireland. They sure don’t look like they’re from Latin America.

This TBogg fellow also has this charming observation:

I’m waiting for an article that questions a man and his wife building high-powered careers, marrying late, and then, in their mid-forties, adopting infants to accessorize their public profiles. When these kids are graduating from high school, their parents will be in their sixties. I’m all for adoption, but I cringe when I see middle-aged successful couples adopt children to decorate their lives in an effort to “have it all”.

Nice.

I’m all for blogging, but I cringe when I see some cretin like this pretending to read the minds of people who must adopt to have children.

UPDATE x3: I like Jeff Goldstein’s take on TBogg (it’s Jeff Goldstein, so don’t be shocked if there’s profanity):

One wishes TBogg would have cringed first at the crass clairvoyance of his own petty suggestion and saved us all the trouble of having to read the fucking thing.

Yup.

UPDATE x4: Welcome to any readers visiting here from a Google search. If you like what you see here, please bookmark the main page and return often.

79 Responses to “Drudge Says New York Times is Investigating Roberts’s Adoption Records”

  1. Quote:

    A TIMES insider claims the look into the adoption papers are part of the paper’s “standard background check.”
    Bill Borders, NYT senior editor, explains: “Our reporters made initial inquiries about the adoptions, as they did about many other aspects of his background. They did so with great care, understanding the sensitivity of the issue.”

    I am not sure who and how this can be confirmed/clarified. I imagine some general information gathering is OK (like they were adopted when infants, not last year, from Central America, not Romania; not that any of this should mean anything, but it is general curiosity).
    BUT IF we are talking about trying to look at the confidential files and home evaluation, etc. for the adoption then indeed we are talking about off-limits stuff. For the moment I’m using my indignation in other areas, but reserving some for this if appropriate.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  2. Hey, thanks for the blogroll. :-)

    Hugh Hewitt says that the NY Times is sending out this response to inquiries:

    Dear Reader,

    Thanks for writing to us.

    While the public editor does not usually get involved in pre-publication matters, Bill Keller, the executive editor of the paper, told us that he
    would not stand for any gratuitous reporting about the Roberts’s children. He said that as an adoptive parent he is particularly sensitive about this issue.

    In addition, a senior editor at the paper wrote, “In the case of Judge Roberts’s family, our reporters made initial inquiries about the adoptions, as they did about many other aspects of his background. They did so with great care, understanding the sensitivity of the issue. We did not order up an investigation of the adoptions. We have not pursued the issue after the initial inquiries, which detected nothing irregular about the adoptions.”

    Sincerely,
    Joe Plambeck
    Office of the Public Editor
    The New York Times

    Looks like they made inappropriate inquiries base on nothing unusual whatsoever, and are dropping the investigation now that they’ve been caught.

    Andrew (d74598)

  3. Heard Brit Hume (Fox Special Report) say he had talked to one of the lawyers the NYTs reporter contacted. Brit said the lawyer refused to give out info.

    owl 1 (9b6ce4)

  4. “Both children were adopted from Latin America.”

    I didn’t know that. Where were they from?

    actus (a5f574)

  5. I don’t know. I don’t speak Latin.

    Xrlq (e2795d)

  6. Why should that even be a “gotcha?” I mean, some people who adopt kids really want them to be their kids… getting one or two who don’t look like anyone else in the family doesn’t really play into that at all.

    But then again, Roberts hates black people, because he’s a Republican… right???

    Angry Clam (5a6d74)

  7. They’re probably Argentine- that country is the “whitest” in South America, and is right up there with Canada for “whitest” in the Americas.

    Angry Clam (5a6d74)

  8. See the update: some leftist named TBogg says he thinks the kids actually came from Ireland. He may be right about that, but he’s also a complete asshole who says the Roberts adopted the kids to “accessorize their public profiles.”

    Patterico (756436)

  9. I don’t think him specifying same race kids will do any damage. I think if they did some illegal to get children (this happens sometimes) that would be a scandal and he would show lack of integrity needed for the job. Maybe that is what they are investigating.

    TCO (3c2924)

  10. TCO

    You don’t go after kids. Period. No excuse.

    There are only two possible reasons the NYTimes decided to go after the Roberts’ pre-schoolers

    1) To try and dig dirt, even intimating “scandal” on the scale of what TCO tries to imply. Even if fully untrue it won’t quiet the vicious whispers of those that suffer from BDS

    2) This is the NYTimes firing a shot across the Bush Admin bow… an attempt to intimidate Roberts into withdrawing rather than allow his children to be smeared with the Grey Lady(sic) leading the way

    Despicable.

    Darleen (f20213)

  11. I don’t see anything outrageous about this. Suppose the natural mother was paid $10000 for her child, would that be a legitimate story? Everybody knows there are a lot of shady adoptions so why shouldn’t the NYT look into this? The babies being white is relevant in that white babies are particularly difficult to obtain increasing the odds of irregularities. The pervasive corruption surrounding adoptions is why Richard Posner once famously suggested it might be better to just auction babies to the highest bidder.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  12. Can you say “dirty, filthy, disgusting, propaganda organ of the Soros wing of the Democratic Party”? The Democratic Party is dead unless it divorces itself from this filth.

    nk (06f5d0)

  13. “I don’t see anything outrageous about this. Suppose the natural mother was paid $10000 for her child, would that be a legitimate story?”

    It wouldn’t surprise me if some adoptions with latin america were done somewhat unethically. It would surprise me if the Roberts did that. That would make it kinda newsworthy.

    actus (a5f574)

  14. No, if the story is true then it is not necessarily outrageous. Suppose it turns out that Roberts engaged in some kind of wrongdoing to secure the adoption of his kids. That’s a real and important pre-confirmation story. I think it’s unlikely that Roberts did anything wrong—he seems like a play-by-the-rules kind of guy. But it’s simply absurd to assert that any research concerning the adoption of his kids is out of bounds.

    Lance McCord (09e203)

  15. I think it’s an effort to scare off prospective nominees. “You thought Borking was bad? How would you like your last name to become a verb?”

    Jan Bear (afb9f3)

  16. I don’t believe what I’m hearing.

    The lives of two preschoolers, brought up in a loving home since they were infants with the only parents means absolutely NOT A THING to you #$@$$% idiots actually trying to find excuses of how it would be peachy keen to RUIN these kids, if nothing else but by ennuendo?

    y’ll make me ill.

    Darleen (f20213)

  17. Lance,

    Aren’t you the guy who still doesn’t know (see your October 11, 2004 08:19 PM comment to this post) that the Bush I supermarket scanner story was bogus?

    Patterico (756436)

  18. I assume that if a leftist Supreme Court nominee (or, if a male, his spouse) might have had an abortion, you folks would all support the Washington Times digging up those abortion records — just to see if anything shady had happened.

    Right?

    Patterico (756436)

  19. I have known many people who have adopted from Romania, Guatamala, China, Haiti, Mexico (and even the US). Other than being evil Republicans who like to see children go to bed hungry they seemed like people who loved children, sometimes adding to their biological family, sometimes in the circumstance of not being able to have their own children (oops, one Democrat as well who is single and wanted to give love and nurture to a child- that child doesn’t go to bed hungry, I guess). Whether there is pervasive corruption in adoptions or not I think it would be pretty cynical to assume that there is likely an issue until you prove their is none. (BTW, I doubt that any of the families I know gross more than $100,000 a year. That certainly is not poverty level, but compared to the cost of adoption there isn’t a lot of money to be corrupted with.)

    Looking at the Roberts’ and their children, one could suppose
    1. Maybe they married late
    2. Maybe there were biological reasons why they couldn’t have children
    3. Maybe they decided to not have children until a certain point in their careers, and by the time they reached it she was pretty old and had increased risk of a child with Down’s syndrome or other, and chose to adopt
    4. Maybe they decided the reason he wasn’t getting confirmed to his appointments to the bench was because they didn’t have children, so they went and got some
    5. Maybe they heard there was an orphanage taking exceptionally good care of children, and they wanted to steal a few so they could make them go hungry at night.
    6. Maybe they personally knew a family who had a tragedy and took the kids in.

    We go from a President who used the Secret Service to assist in his infidelities and a press that simply adored “Camelot” to where a judicial nominee gets grilled for adopting children????

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  20. Patterico, regarding your comment #17:

    I appreciate the link, and that you took the time to research me. I’m not sure how this contributes to your argument that any story that involves researching the Roberts adoptions is out of bounds.

    Regarding your comment #18:

    I don’t think it’s a question of supporting a newspaper’s research. You made a categorical statement that I don’t think I would make under the circumstances you describe. Who can say though? Give me a lefty SC nominee and we’ll see.

    Lance McCord (09e203)

  21. #20, Lance McCord:

    If the New York Times investigating the kids of a Bush nominee is fair game, then so is digging up everything you’ve ever done, and that your family has ever done, in an attempt to disprove your credibility.

    It works both ways.

    Leigh (6ad34a)

  22. Lance,

    It didn’t take much “research.” I clicked on your name to see who you were, scrolled about three posts down to a post about “internets,” clicked on it, and read your comment about the supermarket scanner. I thought everyone knew that story was bogus; maybe only those of us on the right do.

    If you’re all in favor of researching Supreme Court nominees’ adoptions, how about TBogg’s asshole comment about the Roberts’ “decorating” their “public profiles” by adopting children? Do you agree with that too? Is there anything a leftist can do or say that is outrageous enough for you to denounce?

    Surely you can at least bring yourself to call him out for that cheap shot.

    Patterico (756436)

  23. I heard somebody belly-aching about the kind of clothes the Robert’s children were wearing at the announcement of his nomination, and yesterday I heard about a columnist from Pittsburgh who was worried because Roberts just looked too nice and smiling and friendly, he must be a real sinister character. (Confirms what Hewitt says about Pittsburgh Steeler fan’s, I guess ;-)

    I don’t know which is worse, that somebody says that kind of stuff, or that a press outlet is an accomplice is getting it to my ears.

    I was and am no fan of the Clintons, but I would have been just as irate if someone dragged Chelsea into something.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  24. Patterico,

    I can bring myself to call him out for that cheap shot—it’s fair for you to call it an asshole comment. I fully recognize that there are ape shit reactionaries on the left. By the same token, I recognize that there are bright and clear-thinking people on the right. Even though I often disagree with you, you’re on my regular blogroll because I believe you to be a smart guy who does his own thinking.

    Which brings us back to: You say I’m “all in favor of researching Supreme Court nominees’ adoptions” like I’m calling for a congressional inquiry. I’m “in favor” of the investigation only to the extent that it might lead to a substantive story bearing on the fitness of Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court. I’ve agreed with actus that the probability that there is such a story is small. But you wrote (and emphasized) “There is no possible legitimate excuse for this.” That’s just not true.

    Lance McCord (09e203)

  25. Well, when I say there is no legitimate excuse for this, you may think it’s “simply absurd” or “just not true” — but I disagree.

    Is there any point at which you’d draw the line and say: this avenue of inquiry is simply too private, or too much of a cheap shot?

    How did you feel about Robert Bork’s video rental records being released? Should the New York Times editors feel bad that they weren’t first with that story?

    Patterico (756436)

  26. You may know more about international adoption than I do, and if you can quickly put an end to this argument. But I imagine it to be an environment where desperate parents and an unscrupulous supply market create temptations to behave unethically. If a nominee’s actions in securing an adoption were illegal or unethical, wouldn’t you want to know it before putting him or her on the SC? If so, there’s your legitimate reason for researching the adoption.

    As to privacy, there definitely should be limits. I was eleven or twelve years old when Bork was nominated, and didn’t care much about the whole thing. But I think that the kind of movies a nominee watches doesn’t bear significantly on his or her fitness to do the job. I would prefer that this nominee’s Netflix queue not be dragged into the debate. (Bork wasn’t watching snuff films, right?)

    As for the other half of your question, a cheap shot has to be unfair. There are any number of unfair stories that could come out of the Times’s research, and I wouldn’t put it past them to run one or more of them. But when a paper is conducting research to see whether a SC nominee broke or seriously bent the law to get what he wanted, there is no inherent unfairness.

    Just to be clear: if the Times had run a story saying that they were looking into the Roberts adoptions, they would have done two things: (1) the research; (2) the story announcing the research. The first is the checking of facts; it’s what seems to be happening here, and it’s the business newspapers should be engaged in. The second is unfair—a cheap shot—because it would create a cloud of doubt in the absence of any facts to support the implication that Roberts did anything wrong.

    Lance McCord (09e203)

  27. “I assume that if a leftist Supreme Court nominee (or, if a male, his spouse) might have had an abortion, you folks would all support the Washington Times digging up those abortion records — just to see if anything shady had happened.”

    Ideologically, no. But I would have a hard time saying it wasn’t newsworthy. Check it out, see if there is anything irregular.

    Heck. Do a human interest story on all the hurdles the roberts had to go through to adopt. It could be done very positively.

    actus (a5f574)

  28. Re # 26 on international adoption – “But I imagine it to be an environment where desperate parents and an unscrupulous supply market create temptations to behave unethically.”

    I personally know many people who have adopted from other countries, usually at great personal and financial sacrifice. My impression is that adoptions are very strictly regulated both here and abroad. At least where I live, there seems to be a lot of oversight at the county, state, and federal level in the U.S., and usually also in the countries the children are from. It takes an incredible amount of work and time to wade through all the bureaucratic hoops in order to get approved to adopt here and there’s oversight after you adopt too. (The only thing with more oversight is adopting a pet from the local humane society… but don’t get me started :-) )

    Are there unethical people who commit crimes in adopting? Probably, but I hope you don’t think everyone is bad or view everyone with a cynical lens? I would guess the percentage is miniscule.

    When I look at the my friends who’ve adopted, I see good people who at great sacrifice have given precious and vulnerable children left on the street or left alone the chance for a loving and happy life. They’re not perfect people, but they represent something positive in our society, not something negative.

    If the Robert’s had had an abortion, people would criticise them for not bring pro-life or being consistent with their values. When they adopt, their motives are scrutinized for that. I thought we were supposed to buy into the “it takes a village” mentality? Seems as if they are in a no-win situation.

    Cathy Hartley (26f6c0)

  29. Adoption records are commonly sealed. They are so confidential that people who grow up adopted and then seek to find their birth parents as adults are often unable to get the most basic information.

    They are also incredibly intrusive. They contain the most microscopic information about both parents, their incomes, their history, medical records, investigation into the household, etc.

    THAT’s why the NYTimes wanted to get those records. They would be a treasure trove of information on the Roberts family, virtually anything you want to know – in their own words, in documents they signed.

    Some things are just off limits. This sort of deeply personal information is of no value at all in evaluating what kind of justice Roberts would be. Its only value is as smear and gossip material – and whether anyone on the left wants to admit it or not digging up dirt on and attacking this man’s family this way is wrong. Criticizing the way the kids are dressed is wrong. Speculating that a 4 year old is gay is wrong. Going after his wife is wrong.

    Until the left learns there are limits beyond which the American people will not allow political parties to go the Dems are going to continue to be shunned.

    Here’s a clue; remember when the polls after the election had people saying morality and values was a concern for them in their votes Libs? They weren’t talking about religion. They were talking about this sort of thing right here.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  30. (Bork wasn’t watching snuff films, right?)

    We didn’t know that until his records became public. Would it have made a difference to you if he had been watching snuff films?

    If so, would you have taken issue with me if I had said: “It would be outrageous for a news organization to seek his video rental records”? Would you have responded: “That’s ‘simply absurd.’ Perhaps he has been watching snuff films!”

    Patterico (756436)

  31. Ideologically, no. But I would have a hard time saying it wasn’t newsworthy. Check it out, see if there is anything irregular.

    That’s a little mealy-mouthed, Actus. Let’s be clear: would you support a news organization seeking documents relating to a nominee’s (or his spouse’s) abortion? Yes or no?

    Patterico (756436)

  32. “Let’s be clear: would you support a news organization seeking documents relating to a nominee’s (or his spouse’s) abortion? Yes or no?”

    Its certainly newsworthy, even if I’m uncomfortable with it. I mean, can you imagine the relevance of a nominee had a back alley abortion? Or had to drive across state lines because they live an woman-unfriendly state? Or faced serious, as-applied, undue burdens on her abortion due to the backward laws of her state? Incredibly newsworthy, and incredibly capable of shaping one’s view of abortion. If we are to believe the anti-choice crowd that tells us how much psychological damage an abortion can do.

    I guess the impediment to “clarity” is the ambiguity in the word “support.” Do I think it should be banned? Do I think it should be legal? Do I think it should be commended? Do I think its a dirty job that someone has to do?

    actus (cd484e)

  33. Dwilkers is correct, if the Times reporters have any intelligence. The Times is after information about Roberts, not the children. The so-called “Home Study,” which is a part of all adoption investigations, would contain nearly everything you ever wanted to know about Roberts and his wife. It is part of the sealed record, and subject to release only pursuant to a court order.

    Mark D (777f5a)

  34. As I said before, and as was stated elsewhere above, I’ve known many people who have adopted children both from the US and internationally. We had the initial eval for adopting ourselves once, as a friend was quite ill and trying to make arrangements for her children in case she didn’t pull through (she did pull through). And again, there are probably more things dug up that would be an embarrassment but not substantial than getting a security clearance.

    If the NYT thinks it is their duty to inform the public about such details of a Supreme Court nominee because of the person’s impact on society, then I think the impact on society of the editors at the NYT and other such media stalwarts warrant similar exposure. After all, who knows what kind of conflicts of interest may be revealed that influence editorial decision making.

    Hopefully it can be documented that the NYT was not trying to get access to adoption eval records. If that indeed is what they have tried, you lawyer folks ought to be able to find a way of making it unpleasant for them.

    (Divorce proceedings that have been sealed at the request of the parties involved are usually off limits too, but that didn’t stop a Chicago paper from going after the Republican Senate candidate. I assume that every claim that gets made in a divorce proceeding or an adoption evaluation is not put through rigorous scrutiny before it gets admitted to the record, such as, “Neighbor x claims they were not very nice to the neighborhood children.” When neighbor x is mad because the folks reported to the SPCA that neighbor x lets his Doberman run around the neighborhood terrorizing everyone.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  35. I guess the impediment to “clarity” is the ambiguity in the word “support.” Do I think it should be banned? Do I think it should be legal? Do I think it should be commended? Do I think its a dirty job that someone has to do?

    You’re the editor. Do you order the investigation?

    Patterico (756436)

  36. “You’re the editor. Do you order the investigation?”

    I just said it could result in something highly newsworthy, so in terms of propriety, sure. In terms of likelihood of something interesting turning up, I don’t know enough.

    actus (cd484e)

  37. New phrase: Journalistic terrorism.

    What’s next? To those that say “well, we check this or that, why is this different?”, the answer is “how would you like it?” We need less of this, not more. If they are goniffs and a mere Top Secret clearance procedure doesn’t find it, there are ways to deal with it. See Fortas, Abe.

    But to belabor a point of irony, haven’t these folks read the Privacy Clause in the Constitution???

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  38. James Toranto got it right in the WSJ yesterday:

    “And it’s very important to investigate every aspect of a prospective Supreme Court justice’s life. After all, he may threaten the right to privacy!

    Black Jack (ee3eb6)

  39. Touche’ and touche’.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  40. Just as an aside, there are lots and lots of blondes in some parts of latin America, because there were many Germans, Poles, etc who emigrated there.

    And no, I’m not making a Boys from Brazil joke.

    Charlie (Colorado) (3fb82d)

  41. TBogg claims, in his banner, to be an ex-cowboy. If that isn’t just a comical reference to what I take to be a picture of himself, about age 8, dressed in a Sears Roebuck child’s cowboy suit – i.e., if he really IS claiming to be an ex-cowboy – the most charitable thing to assume is that he sustained some major head injuries during a stampede. I do some occasional slumming on the left side of the blogosphere, and his stuff is paranoia on stilts.

    D. Carter (385d49)

  42. Re: #30

    Yes, it would matter if a SC nominee were getting his jollies by watching people get killed. Given the scarcity (total absence?) of actual snuff films, I would guess that the chance that any video renter is actually consuming snuff films approaches zero.

    Cathy Hartley, in comment #28, makes the same point anecdotally about international adoption. International adoption takes place in a very different market than video rentals, but if Cathy’s right then the Times should know to a reasonable certainty that there’s no story.

    Summing up: If wrongdoing in the context of international adoption is incredibly unlikely (statistically insignificant) if not impossible, then Roberts is being Borked and it ought to stop. And I doubt that’s the case, but I’ll have to be satisfied with doubting it, since I don’t have numbers an it’s time to go pack for a week of vacation.

    By the way, I’m flying in to San Diego and spending the week making a leisurely trip up the coast. Weather.com is calling for highs in the mid-to-high seventies: is that right? I’m just back from spending the summer in Atlanta, and that seems impossibly cool for the edge of Mexico.

    Lance McCord (09e203)

  43. “I’m all for adoption, but I cringe when I see middle-aged successful couples adopt children to decorate their lives in an effort to “have it all”.”

    What a jaw droppingly asinine statement. Where to begin?? Is he saying couples shouldn’t have kids in their middle years, or that they just shouldn’t be adopting at that age?

    Not every couple is fortunate enough to be ready for kids during the “ideal” years of their lives – does that mean they shouldn’t make the best of things when having kids does become a possibility for them?

    I met my wife 4 years ago; I am now 34 and she is 46. We discussed adoption but decided on having our own – the boys were delivered early in June, and my wife nearly died in the process. In hindsight I think I would have opted for adoption, knowing the risk of pregnancy in a woman my wife’s age. So I can definitely relate to the Roberts’ decision to adopt.

    And yes, it’s harder on the parents when they have to raise a child at that age (I’m lucky to still be relatively young), but if you want kids enough, that’s the burden you take on – a personal choice made out of love, not from desire for a “fashion accessory”.

    Something that should be obvious even to this FOOL.

    Scott (57c0cc)

  44. If a certain class of private information is to be kept from the public, it should not be subject to an ad-hoc decision of what is or is not fair game. Rather, there should be (and, in this case, are) consistent rules setting standards to strictly guard the confidentiality of certain records.

    If you read the line from Drudge closely, you see that NYT is investigating the STATUS of the records. NYT’s business is news, and should seek out relevant facts wherever it is permitted by law. These records could be relevant to Roberts’ fitness for the SC. Just because everything will PROBABLY come up roses is not a reason to excoriate a newspaper for doing its job. Nor does it show that NYT is on a headhunting mission.

    With standards in place, we don’t have a debate where everyone supports their own partisan interest, backed up by the particular ethical or public interests that support that stance, which is what I believe is mostly going on here. Even if I am wrong about this last point, such crucial privacy issues should be addressed by prescient and undiscriminating rules, not a wing-it or discretionary approach.

    This is, I believe, known as the rule of law.

    The next question, which is a hot one these days, is that of what NYT should do if the records turn out to be confidential by law (as opposed to by partisan consensus), but are leaked to them? That’s murkier water, but I doubt many would argue that the national interest would justify publishing the leaked information under these circumstances.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  45. #26-

    “But I imagine it to be an environment where desperate parents and an unscrupulous supply market create temptations to behave unethically. If a nominee’s actions in securing an adoption were illegal or unethical, wouldn’t you want to know it before putting him or her on the SC? If so, there’s your legitimate reason for researching the adoption.”

    One key element you omitted that is needed to make said research “legitimate” – there has to be grounds for suspicion of wrongdoing (beyond just the notion that Roberts is a white male republican), else the media’s investigation becomes nothing more than a desperate, blind, intrusive and unethical smear campaign.

    Congrats to Keller for bucking the establishment and putting the kibosh on this nonsense when he did – maybe there is (faint) hope for the Gray Lady yet.

    Scott (57c0cc)

  46. No, Scott, I think you’ve confused the newspapers with the Police. It is emphatically the province and duty of the press to poke around and see what’s going on. It sounds like you’d have reporters sit around waiting for someone to come tell them that there’s a story.

    Lance McCord (09e203)

  47. >You may know more about international adoption than
    >I do, and if you can quickly put an end to this
    >argument.

    I do, and I will.

    >But I imagine it to be an environment where
    >desperate parents and an unscrupulous supply market
    >create temptations to behave unethically.

    That is indeed only your imagination.

    I am an (international) adoptive parent of two (almost three!). And we know lots of other adoptive parents, both personally and via email discussion lists. Your ideas, while unfortunately widely held among those without personal knowledge, simply doesn’t describe the actual situation.

    International adoptions are *highly* regulated. While each country has their own system, all have heavy government oversight. Not to mention that US parents also need approval from their state and the INS (or BCIS, or whatever they are now).

    BTW, Patterico’s presumption that you can request race is off. I’ve never encountered an adoption agency that would let you specify such a thing (you can, sometimes, specify age range, boy/girl, special needs or no, etc.). I guess you could pick country by race, but the US government’s statistics on where kids are coming from looks more to me like a reverse index of difficulty/expense/other factors than any kind of race preference:

    http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/stats/stats_451.html

    holmegm (1435de)

  48. How does a high degree of regulation preclude any chance of bad or gray-area behavior by adoptive parents? With all the red tape involved in int’l adoption, the temptations to bypass certain requirements or hurdles must be high.

    Moreover, there have been some high-profile scandals regarding adoption agencies that have resulted in adoptions from certain countries being suspended.

    All any of this means is that it is worth a preliminary look, which is exactly what NYT is giving it.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  49. #46-

    “No, Scott, I think you’ve confused the newspapers with the Police. It is emphatically the province and duty of the press to poke around and see what’s going on. It sounds like you’d have reporters sit around waiting for someone to come tell them that there’s a story.”

    Sorry – when you said “legitimate investigation”, I thought you meant it in the moral sense as it’s used by the average person. I see instead that you meant “legitimate” as in “could potentially contain some heretofore unknown dirt”.

    Which is definitely “legitimate” to someone with an ax to grind and who otherwise has no concern for the repercussions of their blind digging.

    Those of us who think there are numerous ethical reasons for keeping sealed adoption papers – you know, sealed – will of course have a different understanding of the word.

    Scott (57c0cc)

  50. >How does a high degree of regulation preclude any
    >chance of bad or gray-area behavior by adoptive
    >parents?

    Nothing “precludes any chance”, anywhere in life. I was simply responding to a comment that painted an inaccurate picture.

    holmegm (1435de)

  51. >Nothing “precludes any chance”, anywhere in life.

    While that’s certainly a sage observation, how does it back up your comment on the earlier post:

    >>But I imagine it to be an environment where
    >>desperate parents and an unscrupulous supply market
    >>create temptations to behave unethically.

    >That is indeed only your imagination.

    To wit: why does regulation militate against, as opposed to in favor of, unscrupulous behavior?

    What about Prohibition, Oxycontin prescriptions, SAT cheating, etc.?

    Tightening regulation often presents a Hobson’s choice – while I believe and respect your own experiences with international adoption, it’s a big world. Neither I nor my family & friends rob banks, but I hear it’s done.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  52. >Neither I nor my family & friends rob banks, but I
    >hear it’s done.

    However, I don’t recall implying that it’s quite likely that you and your friends would be tempted to rob banks, and that the difficulty of doing so would only make you want to do it more. :)

    Just correcting the inaccurate picture. No need to feel bad about it; I had many misconceptions about international adoption as well, before gaining personal experience. There but for the grace of God go I.

    holmegm (1435de)

  53. I have to agree with actus on this one.

    I mean, gee, what if the women who bore children Roberts and his wife adopted would have otherwise had abortions? That would show that Roberts and his PRO-LIFE WIFE have a history of interfering with a woman’s right to choose, and that he will not repsect Roe v. Wade.

    eddie haskell (8fd1a1)

  54. When will the ACLU and the National Librarians Association come to Robert’s defense and tell the NYT to stop??

    Really, if it is wrong to see if Judge Robert’s took a book on adoption out of the library, it should be a little more of an issue to actually look in the confidential records of one.

    Besides, maybe any info that gets dug up will simply cause trouble for the birth mother/s and the children themselves.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  55. 1. I’m 39…soon to hit the big 4.0. Unmarried, no children. Did some widgethead here just try to forbid me from having kids? Maggot.

    2. If Roberts committed an illegal action or even a lie to get the children, he is disqualified from the court. So the investigation is legit. We can discuss reasons in the global scope of things why an illegal action may be justifiable, but if so, fine. Roberts can have the kids. Since that is more important than a promotion.

    TCO (0acbb0)

  56. #44 biwah

    Did the NYTimes look into the STATUS of the birth records of John & Elizabeth Edwards two youngest? Did they look into the STATUS of the death records of their teenaged son? What if the Washington Times had tried something like that?

    If an editor specifically greenlighted a look into the STATUS of the Roberts preschoolers’ adoptions then that person needs to be busted in rank. A reporter taking up the “cause” on his/her own should be punished.

    The move was unconscionable. Period.

    Darleen (f20213)

  57. Darleen, your implication that the Left is getting away with something that the Right never could is exactly what I am saying should be made irrelevant by well-written rules/laws.

    I also disagree that the right, e.g. Rove, is somehow above seeking out negative information on political figures.

    But my main point remains: if they are specifically protected by law (i.e. sealed to the public), then so they should stay. If not, then NYT can go get them and make an TRUTHFUL report on any RELEVANT findings. And those who are outraged should exercise their rights and write their congressmen.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  58. TCO if you have ever sexually touched a girl under 18, or even have lied about such activities you are disqualified from holding your job

    Now, step aside and no whining while we legitimately conduct an investigation into your behavior over the past…5, 10 years? And please don’t mind if our allegations of your POSSIBLE ephebophilia gets out…if we don’t find anything, we’ll be sure to say our investigation didn’t find anything but, you know, you being a man and how men behave … ahem.

    All in the interest of making sure you are qualified for the job, you know.

    Darleen (f20213)

  59. biwah

    I haven’t made ANY declaration that some members of the Right might not themselves be capable of “digging dirt.”

    But this action of the NYTimes is lower than dirt. It’s a new level of hell they’ve sunk to to pursue the preschool children of a nominee and fling down the partisan gauntlet that GW nominees not only risk their own reputations, but that actual harm will come to their families, too.

    This is the raunchiest of tabloid sleeze…of screaming headlines on Day one, Page One:

    Roberts’ Adoption Scandal!!
    Birth Mother Located in squallor in Brazil!
    “I wanted my babies, but they threatened me!” she cries

    Correction on day 15, page 45, small print
    We apologize to our readers but we were duped by a woman who claimed to have been the birth mother of the Roberts’ adopted children. We do our best to follow every lead and the woman had papers that appeared official and she was supported by the testimony of neighbors identifying the Roberts in the area in the time in question. Be assured this matter is still under investigation.

    An adoption is not probable cause to enjoin a fishing expedition.

    And I think anyone still attempting to justify it needs some adjustment to their moral compass.

    Darleen (f20213)

  60. Again, just what are we talking about? Not the quasi-doomsday scenario you are painting, but a newspaper doing a cursory investigation into whether or not they can get access to records that pertain to a current potential appointee to a permanent federal position blah blah blah…you get the point.

    How far will they take it? Your guess differs from mine. I predict no waves unless something actually illegal surfaces. I could be wrong, but so, I think are you (with the tabloid fantasy)

    Look, this isn’t about the kids. They are not the target, and there is no reason why they will be harmed. Will they get their fifteen (or five) minutes of mild public exposure? Maybe. But kids are not made of china. If anyone goes after them in any way – in print, in person, whatever – I will join you in your outrage.

    Please have some faith that even if things get heated up sometimes, we still live in a sane (usually) society. But if things are truly as wacked out as you suggest, then “raunchy tabloid sleaze” is the least of our troubles.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  61. holmegm:

    almost through another week, managed not to rob any banks. whew. hope i can keep this up.

    appreciate your levity. you’re drawing from real experience, and I’m analogizing pretty broadly – whatever the general rule actually is, there are bound to be exceptions to it.

    The scandals I was referring to were child-stealing and slavery in Haiti and, I believe, Guatemala, and others. I’ll concede without prompting that John Roberts would not knowingly have anything to do with this kind of situation…as well as that adoption from anywhere, for any of a variety of (decent) reasons, is a really good thing. My kid shares my DNA but someday I hope to adopt – and I probably will be something like middle-aged by then.

    However, to draw a line on the freedom of the press, unsupported by explicit standards, would be too arbitrary to be workable or fair.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  62. I think we need to be realistic. The NYT may drop this, but surely other news organizations will pick it up and run with it. If not them, various activist groups which will feed into the Times or WaPo or other news organizations.

    It’s a done deal and isn’t going to stop. Sometimes the extended public scrutiny is a plus (Kerik, etc) and sometimes a minus (Baird, Wood etc). Either Baird or Wood would have done a better job than Reno. But regardless it’s just not going to stop but escalate further and further in the competition for eyeballs, scoops, and gotchas.

    So anyone in any facet of public life better be prepared to get the full tabloid movie star treatment. The same techniques used to pull the scandals from branded publicity machines like Tom Cruise will be used on anyone in public life. It’s regrettable, I wish it wasn’t, we just have to accept it and understand that it will get worse. All of our media is basically the National Enquirer.

    We must demand this treatment for all people in all parties without any free passes such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s. Of course the media will pursue the Roberts adoption and their entire personal life in minutae. So too must we demand a thorough investigation into say, Hillary Clinton’s personal life, as well as Chelsea’s and Hillary’s associates (I think we already know far too much about Bill). With all the rumor, innuendo, half-truths, and personal secrets associated with them.

    The only way to level the playing field is to simply spread the gossip, lies, innuendo, and secrets around on everyone. It’s just not realistic IMHO to expect the media to stop doing what gives them eyeballs and prestige, or expect the NYT to be any different than “the Insider.” We won’t be any more successful than King Canute, so let’s just spread the dirt around on everyone.

    Sorry for this depressing view. I hate it but don’t see any other alternative.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  63. I’m waiting for an article that questions a man and his wife building high-powered careers, marrying late, and then, in their mid-forties, adopting infants to accessorize their public profiles. When these kids are graduating from high school, their parents will be in their sixties. I’m all for adoption, but I cringe when I see middle-aged successful couples adopt children to decorate their lives in an effort to “have it all”.

    Nice.

    I’m all for blogging, but I cringe when I see some cretin like this pretending to read the minds of people who must adopt to have children.

    AGREED. The writer has no children and so does not know what it entails to have a child bring up a child live with a child ….

    Yi-Ling (08add0)

  64. Darling Darleen,

    I haven’t f*cked any girls under 18, I’m not up for SC, I AM capable of arguing for disqualification of someone for a sin I’ve committed myself, and the age of consent in my state was 16 growing up.

    but if you have a hot 17 year old to offer, I might be tempted…

    [Profanity edited by, well, editor. Sure, I cuss sometimes; sure, I let commenters cuss sometimes. Just didn't feel like it here. Too much profanity and your site gets blocked -- I figured this might be a good place to prune it.]

    TCO (3c2924)

  65. Not the quasi-doomsday scenario you are painting, but a newspaper doing a cursory investigation into whether or not they can get access to records that pertain to a current potential appointee to a permanent federal position blah blah blah…you get the point.

    Yeah, I get the point: the NYT says this is part of their “standard background check,” yet, for all of the likely millions of these things they must have done over the years (it being “standard” and adoption not quite so exotic as, say, a secret plot to clone Hitler and place his spawn with families whose situations roughly match that of der Fuhrer’s own upbringing), it is QUITE CURIOUS that they didn’t know that getting into sealed records just isn’t done.

    Maybe they just forgot the first 999,999 times they asked this “standard” question.

    Jeff G (a3b682)

  66. A) how do you make a scandal out of adoption? It’s generally considered an act of compassion isn’t it?

    B) where is the outrage at wikipedia?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G._Roberts_Jr.

    Roberts lives in Bethesda, Maryland. Both he and his wife, Jane Marie Sullivan Roberts, are Catholics who attend the Little Flower Parish in Bethesda. Roberts has three sisters—Kathy, Peggy, and Barbara—and is the second oldest of his siblings. The Robertses have two children, Josephine (“Josie”), 5 years old, and Jack, 2, years old, both of whom were adopted from Latin America. Jack’s dancing during Bush’s White House introduction of his father brought the four-year-old international media attention. His wife, a lawyer with the firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pitman LLP, was previously the vice-president of Feminists for Life, a feminist pro-life organization that opposes abortion and the death penalty. She was educated at College Of The Holy Cross (A.B., Magna Cum Laude, 1976), Melbourne University (Dip. Ed., 1977), Brown University (M.S., 1981), and Georgetown University Law Center (J.D., cum laude, 1984). [17] [18]

    Fred Lewis (6e468f)

  67. Hey, don’t edit my f*cking profanity, LA boy. I’ll surf north on my longboard and take you out on the waves. Sheesh. and after I k*ssed y*our ass and all with the questions about Kinsley beer sessions…sigh. Anyway…that really wasn’t a curse. I used it as a verb in its normal meaning.

    [First asterisk added by Patterico; the rest are TCO's]

    TCO (3c2924)

  68. And you gotta admit that I have better points than darlene. Maybe I will get her hot for me…in that bad boy provacateur way. It works sometimes. Half slaps…half ****s.*

    *fill in the *s.

    TCO (3c2924)

  69. Don’t ban me. I’ve already been dumped by the swifties for drunk-posting during the Navy-AF game…joke em if they can’t take a f*ck…and Brad DeLong cut me off too.

    Note…you should not curse. You need to be the adult temperate host that I react against. That is my role.

    [Actually, I'm just having fun going in and asterisking out all your profanity. It's not like I'm really against profanity -- look at the update to the post. Not planning on banning you -- but I will if you don't cut it the fuck out. -- P]

    TCO (3c2924)

  70. My two kids are adopted. My wife and I got a late start in adopting because there was several years of miscarriages and medical testing between the time we decided to start a family and the time we decided it would be by adoption.

    Richard (ee0005)

  71. Given the NYT’s record of giving passes to Democratic malfeasance while manufacturing outrage over every imagined Republican error, this episode looks like a fishing expedition, and a disgusting one at that.

    The NYT has taken it upon themselves to do “a background check”–yeah right. If they did the same to Democrats, maybe they’ve have a case.

    The NYT cannot go out of business fast enough for me.

    Bostonian (93bf7e)

  72. Please have some faith that even if things get heated up sometimes, we still live in a sane (usually) society.

    Faith in the NYT to be honest, fair, and decent?? Do I really need to refer you to look at the thread on the silence about Air America?

    My kid shares my DNA…

    Really? How do we know? Can we see the blood tests? If you are a man you may not be the father, if you are a woman you may have had an embryo implanted.

    However, to draw a line on the freedom of the press, unsupported by explicit standards, would be too arbitrary to be workable or fair.

    The standard should be one of self imposed decency. They have no problem witholding some things if it is to their liking.

    To get legal authority to look into something the DA needs to give adequate reason to get a seacrh warrant, right? Well, the reporter has no such check/balance. If questionable evidence is submitted, it may be refused, overruled, or subjected to cross-examination. Again, the NYT has no requirement to authenticate it’s information, nor to provide any retractions/corrections in a manner equal to the veracity of the original story.

    By the way, how many reporters at the NYT are still making bogus stories since what’s his name was fired?? Can I see the memos from the editor in chief to his legal counsel??

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  73. I’ve never read your blog before, but I came here trying to find out what the story is here.

    I don’t normally read Drudge, but I caught his accusations against the NYTimes and their allegedly trying to break into the sealed adoption records of Judge Roberts’s children.

    I subsequently noticed that the children have been variously reported as being from “Latin America” (Wikipedia and numerous sources) and “Ireland.” TIME had a “web exclusive” on the Robertses (7/24/05) and quoted a family friend as stating the kids were “born in Ireland 4 1/2 months apart.”

    This piqued my interest even more because my understanding is that only those who have resided in Ireland for at least one year (not sure whether or not they have to be Irish nationals) can adopt in Ireland. (I also believe that there is no such thing as private adoption in Ireland; the adoptive couple must use an approved agency. Not sure if that is relevant here or not.)

    Now maybe TIME got this wrong, but something doesn’t sound right here. You can read the article here: http://www.time.com/time/press_releases/article/0,8599,1086120,00.html.

    Just for the record, I am an adoptive parent myself. I adopted my son from an “ethnic republic” in Russia and jumped through some major hoops to do so legally–both here in the U.S. and in Russia. I am well aware of all the arguments about the “ethics” of not adopting from here in the U.S. and requesting race, sex, skin color, eye color, blah, blah, blah. Every parent has a legal right to request what he or she feels most comfortable with. I happened to choose an older boy (considered extremely high-risk by many) because that’s what I felt equipped to parent. It does not make me morally superior to anybody else.

    That being said, I have no problem answering questions about the adoption itself. My son’s birthfamily background is off-limits, however, unless of course the Russian government has reason to open those records.

    I don’t care about how “lily white” the Robertses children are; I’m just curious why no one has cleared up the Latin America/Ireland confusion. The Robertses shouldn’t have to talk about this if they don’t want to, but the man is being heavily scrutinized for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, and I don’t find these questions to be “crossing the line.” There would be no story if the Robertses or their spokespersons would just clarify for the public where their children were adopted or request that TIME make a correction.

    Trish (0ff7a3)

  74. I appreciate your thoughts, and your own experience with adoption. Do you have any experience being interviewed for a newspaper story? I have, and even when the reporter did what I thought was a fair job, the editorial work on the headline and photo captions was indeed “editorial” and in a direction different from the story.

    I would suggest that the news agencies with conflicting reports talk to each other first.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  75. MD, I absolutely agree with you on both points.

    I just don’t understand why nobody will clarify the facts! Newspapers carry corrections all the time, but usually they are made aware of their mistakes because someone calls it to their attention. If I were Mrs. Roberts’ law partner/friend, I would want the story corrected–if a mistake was made.

    BTW, I’ve read elsewhere that the children were adopted from Guatemala, which was what I kinda thought when I read they were adopted from “Latin America,” given that they appear to be of European descent. It was the Ireland story that threw me for a loop. I really don’t want to speculate as so many have done already. I just want the facts.

    Trish (0ff7a3)

  76. >BTW, I’ve read elsewhere that the children were
    >adopted from Guatemala, which was what I kinda
    >thought when I read they were adopted from “Latin
    >America,” given that they appear to be of European
    >descent.

    Now that would explain a lot. There’s practically a cottage industry of lefty NGOs who like to insinuate (or even just baldly claim) that *all* Guatemalan adoptions are “illegal” because they are “non-judicial” (which, while true in a narrow technical sense (the “non-judicial” part), is very misleading).

    It wouldn’t surprise me if someone steeped in that kind of thinking started salivating if they learned that Roberts’ kids were from Guatemala. A little common sense would tell them that thousands of adoptions a year blessed by the U.S. Embassy and USCIS aren’t “illegal”, but that crowd is a bit lacking in the common sense department …

    ‘Course we still don’t know for sure which country they are from. So here I am guilty of speculating too.

    holmegm (1435de)

  77. I really enjoyed reading your blog.

    Best Price Area Rugs (61d18d)

  78. Interesting thought on that one. I think I heard something similar the other day on another board. I can’t remember where though.

    Fishing (82f57f)


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