Patterico's Pontifications


Lithwick: How Dare Scalia Call Legal Reporting Bad, Just Because Mine Is

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:05 am

Dahlia Lithwick is upset at Antonin Scalia and company for pointing out that legal reporting is often inaccurate. Whines Lithwick:

[I]f anything, the Supreme Court press corps is hypercautious in its attention to legal detail at the expense of sensationalism . . . [T]he claim that we are too careless to read opinions and too sloppy to report cases is gratuitous and wrong; it describes neither the reality of legal reporting nor the general legal readership.

Sorry, Ms. Lithwick, but that describes you to a “T.” To see why, browse through what I have said about you on this very blog.

Lithwick says:

And if they have specific suggestions for how legal journalists can do a better job, most of us are eager to hear them.

One word, Ms. Lithwick: honesty.

Give it a shot. For once.

17 Responses to “Lithwick: How Dare Scalia Call Legal Reporting Bad, Just Because Mine Is”

  1. Patrick,

    Check the link for “what I have said about you on this very blog.” It links back to this same article.


    ManlyDad (d62cf6)

  2. Oops. I see now that it only LOOKS like this same article. What follows is different. Tricky!

    ManlyDad (d62cf6)

  3. I have two words: legal training. Too often we have morons who don’t understand very important concepts like federal jurisdiction trying to expound on them.

    Angry Clam (132353)

  4. Patterico: i’m a layman with no formal legal training.

    I *loathe* supreme court reporting in all of the major newspapers; it’s far easier for me to understand what the court is saying if I read the decisions myself than if I read the news reporting. The reporting typically focuses on *outcomes* rather than *reasoning*.

    It’s infuriating.

    aphrael (12fba5)

  5. It’s made worse by the fact that the MSM almost never links to the case, nor even mentions it by name so readers can find it easily. When it’s a Supreme Court case that was handed down that day, it’s easy to pin down the case in question by elmination. But it can be pretty tricky when all they report is that an appellate court ruled that foos have no constitutional right to baz – and you can’t even safely assume that the case was about the Constitution at all.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  6. Angry Clam:

    What are you saying?!?

    You seem to be suggesting that writing about legal issues would require knowledge in addition to how to be a journalist. What kind of nonsense are you pushing?!?

    Next thing you know, you’ll be suggesting that folks who write about, say, military affairs might, perhaps, want to have some brief knowledge of what it means to be in the military (I’m not talking chickenhawk, I’m talking research). As though the Marines of the 1st Infantry Division, or the soldiers manning the battleship USS Nimitz aren’t all one and the same!

    After that, who knows where things might lead? Economic and general columnists who understand statistics?! Political writers who do more than look at polls?!

    Good lord, man, where would we wind up with that sort of expectation of journalists?!

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  7. I think you might have hurt her feelings…

    After all, it’s her place to define what “honest” is, and our place to accept it. Fairness, accuracy and factuality be damned!

    Didn’t you get the memo?

    heldmyw (a999cd)

  8. One of the traits of Narcissists is that they’re extremly sensitive to criticism. This is the flip side of their need for admiration, however insincere.

    Check the Diagnostic criteria for Narcissim, judge for your self how rampant it is amoung the Left/liberals in this country.

    larry (336e87)

  9. Yeah, I’m sure both Angry Clam and Lurking Observer are experts of their respective fields.

    That’s why they have time to sit down and debate with all the mental peasants, such as myself, who frequent this BLOG.

    After all… there is no medium more glamorous or highly scrutinized (for factual accuracy) than Internet posts. Makes peer-reviewed articles look pathetic, if you ask me.

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  10. I gave up on her when she equated putting panties on a prisoners head to actually removing a prisoners head… “Bow head in rememberance of our horrific treatment of terrorists… 2 apologies for every lash of the wet noodle ooohhhuuummm…”

    Bigdaddy (10ac10)

  11. Wapo’s Winding Web…

    So just as CNN has allowed itself to be used by the insurgents and terrorists, so has Wapo and all the left media and the Democrats. Great job doing the terorrists bidding guys. Outstanding….

    Wake up America (59ce3a)

  12. Legal training is considered a “plus” in journalism, but usually only at legal journals, websites, etc. It seems like they are the only places that recognize the importance of knowing that a legal decision is more about the process of reaching the ruling than about the ruling itself.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  13. I’m definitely qualified to talk about my field generally, and there are certain subfields where I am able to maintain an expert level discussion, so yes, I would say that.

    In any event, you’re misrepresenting what I said. I suggested “legal training” and “understanding.” I’m not saying that the person has to be a candidate for the Field Medal to write about mathematics, or a sitting Justice to write about the Supreme Court.

    I just want a basic competence. There’s a reason that I rarely, if ever, comment in depth in medical news, for example. I just wish the clueless would similarly stay away from the law.

    Angry Clam (132353)

  14. Reporters are just not that smart. Most of them couldn’t handle law school. Things get even worse when they try to cover science. It gets their little fluttery emotional non-quantitative hearts all aflutter. What they know how to do is write fast and on command and have a slant. They do ok at that. Good job pushing the copy.

    TCO (139e4c)

  15. Yale Law offers a masters degree (M.S.L.) designed for journalists and the like. It’s basically the first year, plus some seminars.

    I always thought that was a good idea.

    Angry Clam (132353)

  16. […] Dahlia Lithwick recently bristled at Justice Scalia’s suggestion that legal reporting brushes aside discussion of critical legal issues in favor of reportage on “which side wins.” We’ll see how her lot does with this story. […]

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