Patterico's Pontifications

10/11/2007

Letter to the WSJ

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:50 am



Last night I sent the following e-mail to the general address for the features editor at the Wall Street Journal, Robert Pollock.

Mr. Pollock,

Saturday’s op-ed by Radley Balko omitted something that I think WSJ readers should have been told.

Mr Balko’s challenge to Dr. Steven Hayne raises serious issues that I agree should be investigated with care. But Mr. Balko may have set back both his own stated cause in the op-ed — seeing that the citizens of Mississippi have a solid and honest legal system — and the WSJ’s reputation for integrity as well.

Dow Jones’s Code of Conduct for employees states in part: “There are no hidden agendas in any of our journalistic undertakings.”

Here’s the problem.

Mr. Balko has famously championed the innocence of a Mississippi inmate named Cory Maye. Mr. Balko has been credited with getting Mr. Maye off of death row. However, Mr. Maye remains in prison. Mr. Balko has said he hopes that Mr. Maye will eventually be freed.

This is no small issue for Mr. Balko. His online resume cites his work on behalf of Mr. Maye. He is a passionate advocate for Mr. Maye in his personal and professional lives.

One of the main witnesses against Cory Maye was a medical examiner named . . . Dr. Steven Hayne.

Radley Balko has said that he hopes that Dr. Hayne will be discredited, so that the Mississippi courts will revisit Mr. Maye’s case. If they do, and if Mr. Maye is freed, it will significantly enhance Mr. Balko’s reputation and career.

Yet in his WSJ piece discrediting Dr. Hayne, Mr. Balko said absolutely nothing about Cory Maye — or about Mr. Balko’s own personal stake in attacking Dr. Hayne’s credibility.

I think that this issue matters to the story, matters to Mr. Balko, and certainly ought to matter to the WSJ.

I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this.

Patrick Frey

I sent a similar e-mail to Jim Romenesko.

If I receive any feedback from either, or if I find a media ethicist willing to go on the record with their opinion on this, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, I think this closes this chapter.

Meanwhile, at Balko’s blog, there are indications that his pieces are causing a stir in Mississippi.

That is altogether a good thing.

81 Responses to “Letter to the WSJ”

  1. I agree with Pat’s points here.

    I’d like to more significantly echo the point that Balko’s columns on this are almost surely a net good, and probably a substantial net good.

    The number and type of bad things with Hayne is very high. I’m certain there are some happy prosecutors in Mississippi that he’s being exposed, even if they are the minority.

    I’ve had cases where the pathologist turned out to have serious ethical problems. One of those problems (for one of the bad pathologists) was previously testifying to cause of death based on the police report rather than the autopsy. That’s not expert testimony, and…. well, we don’t use him any more.

    Another note in Balko’s columns that most might miss is the letter from a prosecutor appearing to call for the pathologists not to talk to defense counsel. Telling a witness – any witness – not to talk to defense counsel is unethical in California, and I’m surprised it’s allowed in Mississippi. It’s very poor form in any event.

    I’m confident that if this dude had been practicing in Pat’s jurisdiction, he’d’ve been chucked out at high speed fairly quickly. Prosecutors tend to scream very loudly about pathologist incompetence or corruption.

    All of this assumes that Balko’s factual representations are mostly true. It certainly appears that while there is slanting and there are likely some factual errors (I don’t think there are any deliberate misstatements), the piece is mostly accurate. Like KC Johnson on the Duke issue (and Professor Johnson made a great many factual and analytical errors while being fundamentally right on the major issues, and he also exposed a great deal of actual wrong-doing), there’s enough verifiable horror there to be extremely concerned about Hayne and give credit to Balko’s good work.

    –JRM

    JRM (355c21)

  2. Neither the Journal, Drudge, nor the LA Times will ever retract anything. Ever. They can never be wrong.

    Howard Veit (4ba8d4)

  3. Radley Balko has said that he hopes that Dr. Hayne will be discredited, so that the Mississippi courts will revisit Mr. Maye’s case. If they do, and if Mr. Maye is freed, it will significantly enhance Mr. Balko’s reputation and career.

    Yet in his WSJ piece discrediting Dr. Hayne, Mr. Balko said absolutely nothing about Cory Maye — or about Mr. Balko’s own personal stake in attacking Dr. Hayne’s credibility.

    Every prosecutor and law enforcement officer has a personal stake in enhancing his reputation and career by getting convictions in any criminal prosecution, even the most wrongful (at least for a while, cf: Nifong’s campaign). We’ve all seen plenty of “I put criminals behind bars, so elect me” political advertisements for DAs, AGs and elected police and sheriff offices.

    Radley Balko wields no state powers and seeks none for himself. Why should we appraise his actions by a higher standard than we judge elected prosecutors and police officials?

    Occasional Reader (2f9493)

  4. Occasional Reader — and your evidence of your indictment of the criminal justice system is …. Mike Nifong?

    wls (fb8809)

  5. Once again, you are making mountains out of molehills.

    Your passionate hatred of all things Balko leads me to conclude that you must have some interest in keeping Dr. Hayne in his position and taking Balko out of his.

    Thus I demand that you declare the fact that by discrediting a famous advocate of civil liberties that you will enhance your reputation among ambitious prosecutors across the nation.

    Robert S. Porter (e483fd)

  6. WLS:

    Do you really need evidence that winning cases is good for a prosecutor’s career?

    If not, what are you asking for?

    CC (e22941)

  7. Wait a minute. You said the other day,

    “UPDATE x2: As Balko makes clear in his post, which I linked in the first update, he and I have had public disagreements in the past. The overwhelming majority of my readers already know about these disagreements, and they are referenced in comments on this and related posts on this site. If I were publishing this post in the Wall Street Journal, though, I would be sure to mention these past disagreements. I would also mention that I am a prosecutor who puts medical examiners on the stand at trial — another fact that regular readers already know.”

    Why don’t you disclose these disagreements in your letter to the WSJ. Why don’t you disclose you are a prosecutor?

    It’s one thing to assume readers of your blog know about your issues with Balko. Do you know that Pollock and Romenesko know? Do they know you are a prosecutor? This goes to the credibility of your complaints about Balko’s failure to disclose.

    Maybe you are right about Balko’s failure to disclose. Maybe you are wrong. But why are you any different here?

    Disclosurama (c6b6e3)

  8. Patterico has already alluded to the fact that his fellow prosecutors in his office read and give him advice on his blog. Being a “tough guy” against people like Balko who are often critical of police and prosecutors undoubtedly WILL enhance his standing amongst his peers.

    Of course, Patterico didn’t bother to mention he was a prosecutor in his letter, nor did he mention that attacking someone like Balko could conceivably advance his career.

    Hypocrisy, YET AGAIN.

    Dude (c53dc3)

  9. He gave his real name and I imagine his email address. And his email is not going to be printed in the WSJ. Just read by the recipient who, if he cares, can ask what he wants of “Patrick Frey” or just Google him. Morons. You’re not doing Radley a favor with this nonsense. You really are like some bimbo in a bar egging her boyfriend into a fistfight with another guy.

    nk (6e4f93)

  10. Disclosurama-

    Good point. Patterico ALSO did not disclose in his post that he has a history of an acrimonious relationship with Balko. The MAIN AND WHOLE reason for him not to disclose this was to present himself to the WSJ as just a neutral observer, merely concerned about a possible conflict of interest.

    Hypocrisy YET AGAIN.

    So, why did you neglect to mention this history? In attempt to excuse yourself previously you used your “It’s Just a Blog” Get Out of Jail Free Card by stating that everyone on your blog knew the history so disclosure wasn’t important. Does the WSJ know of your history?

    Dude (c53dc3)

  11. Hahaha.

    Now nk is apparently claiming that the standard for disclosure is merely to give one’s real namde so that a google search can be performed for all relevant disclosures. Pathetic. Shift your standards much?

    Dude (c53dc3)

  12. Note that the Dow Jones’s Code of Conduct for employees provides “There are no hidden agendas in any of our journalistic undertakings.” Balko, a journalist, wrote an op-ed for the WSJ. Patterico wrote a letter to the editor. The standards for a letter to an editor are different than the standards for an op-ed.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  13. I have enjoyed back & forth banter on these issues, now it is time for my two pennies:

    a). While the issue of disclosure can be debated, are you really saying that Balko’s Op-Ed Piece’s agenda was to free Maye? Are you saying that the only reason Balko wrote his article for Reason, investigated Hayne, was to affect the Maye case, that none of these other cases or Hayne’s conduct were important?

    b). While DRJ makes a valid point about the code of conduct policy from DOW (op-eds vs letters), this issue has been debated & discussed for while now, and that code of conduct was never part of this issue – it is irrelevent to point of this fued. Frey is accusing WSJ & Balko of undermining credibility by non-disclosures (and even said he would disclose his personal interest in this case), yet does not adhere to the same standard set forth.

    DontBurnTheDay (c870e6)

  14. DRJ – I am going to have to side with dude over you on this one. He used ALL CAPS !!!!!!!!!!!

    JD (55129f)

  15. Regardless whether the standards are different, Patterico is the one complaining about full disclosure and then not fully disclosing himself. Robert S. Porter got it perfectly right. I allude to similar in an earlier Patterico post about this topic. Patterico clearly has an agenda in attacking a defender of civil liberties and the Constitution. The Constitution and civil liberties get in the way of his job, which obviously is NOT justice.

    Sean (e1d31a)

  16. Now nk is apparently claiming that the standard for disclosure is merely to give one’s real namde so that a google search can be performed for all relevant disclosures.

    My comment #9 is there for everyone to read. Please compare it to Dude’s characterization of it in his comment #11.

    nk (6e4f93)

  17. Sean #15:

    As I told you on another thread, your comments show you don’t understand a prosecutor’s duty.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  18. Hey, I’m going to steal something out of Patterico’s Playbook of Online Debate:

    I predict with 100% certainty that Patterico is going to respond all defensively to the accusations of non-disclosure.

    Dude (c21689)

  19. Sean – What in the world do you mean that the Constitution and civil liberties get in the way of Patterico’s job, and that he is not concerned with justice? Such intemperate remarks would appear to be directed directly at his character. I cannot speak to your character, or apparent lack thereof, but Patterico likely has more character in his little toe than you could ever dream of having.

    JD (55129f)

  20. DUDE – YOU ARE LIKE CASSANDRA WITH YOUR ABILITY TO SEE INTO THE FUTURE.

    JD (55129f)

  21. Sorry, nk, my bad.

    I should have written, “Now nk is apparently claiming that the standard for disclosure FOR PATTERICO is merely to give one’s real name so that a google search can be performed for all relevant disclosures.”

    Dude (c21689)

  22. HE probably should have disclosed.

    The fact that Maye’s case was handled by extremely unethical prosecutors and their friends like Hayne should have been part of the story. Perhaps Balko felt he should be less rabid, but the disclosure should have been made.

    The US has an epidemic of unethical prosecutors. It is the single most important civil rights issue today. We need to send more bad prosecutors to jail, and any dishonest experts they rely on need to be in prison too.

    Patterico comes across as an ethical person, but his attitude in this matter is obnoxious and too charitable towards the obvious problem that innocent people are going to jail. Balko is not trying to free a guilty man, and I doubt he cares specifically about Maye so much as he is sick of the attitude and back scratching of prosecutors and law enforcement in general.

    We know that Hayne exaggerated. We know that he is unfair and partial and has probably sent innocent peopel to jail. Patterico cannot defend Hayne, so he attacks the messenger. Misquote here, a failure to disclose the obvious there, etc etc. It’s typical, and it’s part of the problem. If Hayne were not the lapdog of the police, PAtterico would not post once. Instead, he’s scratching Hayne’s back with tons of vicious posts.

    No perspective or balance, because Patterico isn’t tyring to communicate, he’s trying to destroy.

    Dustin (29d3e6)

  23. JD-

    I’m actually learning a lot out of Patterico’s Playbook of Online Debate. You should read it.

    For example, now if he doesn’t respond, I get to jump and down and yell HE’S IGNORING ME BECAUSE DEEP DOWN HE KNOWS I’M RIGHT!!!!!

    If he does make a post defending himself I get to yell, SEE JUST LIKE I PREDICTING HE’S ALL DEFENSIVE. Instead of just accepting my correction at face value, he has the gall to actually try to defend himself. Poor widdle old me. He’s just jumping down my thorat.

    Dude (c21689)

  24. Hmm, let me get this straight. While investigating one matter he believes to be a prosecutorial injustice, Balko uncovers another matter that is an obvious, stranger-than-fiction, plain-as-day matter of ongoing injustice, corruption, and cover-up.

    But for some reason, he shouldn’t talk about the second matter? Or if he does, he should warn the poor reader that if he exposes matter two, it might quite reasonably prompt a review of matter one? And why? Because we might not want to halt a runaway train if the journalist who reports it just doesn’t like the railroad?

    I have to wonder if there is any logic at all to your stated concern. If it was anyone other than Balko, would you still see an issue? By this standard you must disclose your conflict with Balko before writing about him!

    Astonished (14b97e)

  25. JD-

    He’s a prosecutor supporting the Appeals court decision and not the overruling decision by the Supreme Court, which will make it more difficult on prosecutors in the future. Justice was served by the Supreme Court, not the trial or Appeals court.

    And as far as character, who was it that attacked Balko’s character that started this all off in the first place? Oh, right, it was Patterico.

    Sean (e1d31a)

  26. Sean,

    Patterico has not “supported the Appeals court decision” over the Supreme Court decision. He noted there are facts in the appeals court opinion that provide more details. Facts can come from the trial transcript and the appellate or Supreme Court decisions. The Supreme Court opinion only trumps lower courts on matters of law.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  27. He gave his real name and I imagine his email address. And his email is not going to be printed in the WSJ. Just read by the recipient who, if he cares, can ask what he wants of “Patrick Frey” or just Google him. Morons. You’re not doing Radley a favor with this nonsense. You really are like some bimbo in a bar egging her boyfriend into a fistfight with another guy.

    Sorry the “just google him” defense was raised for Balko and rejected, along with the “where he works” defense. Try again nk.

    Steve Verdon (4c0bd6)

  28. Steve-

    This is the standard we are talking about for Patterico here, not Balko. Duh.

    Dude (c21689)

  29. When did op-eds become “journalistic undertakings”? I thought that op-ed was a contraction of Opinion-Editorial? (Meaning, not reporting.)

    Phelps (0dcc4e)

  30. Phelps,

    I’m not a journalist so I’m not sure of the rules that apply here, but there must be some overlap because the WSJ doesn’t list Balko’s entry as an op-ed. It’s listed as an article. My guess is it’s a hybrid – an opinion piece that reports information typically found in articles.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  31. OK, I am officially not a fan of Balko anymore.

    http://www.theagitator.com/archives/028230.php#028230

    He just ruined the ending of Moby Dick without the requisite SPOILER ALERT.

    Dude (c21689)

  32. Sean – You slimed Patterico with your comment, unjustly. If you are fine with that, so be it. I would be embarassed.

    JD (55129f)

  33. Amazing. People will use any possible defense, including the idea that Balko’s piece wasn’t a journalistic undertaking.

    This comment thread isn’t really a debate about disclosure. This is simply a “my guy is right!” “no my guy is!” shouting match.

    There are, however, actual answers to the issue. You don’t have to take my word for the things in my letter. Unlike Balko’s piece, where we are relying heavily on his credibility to believe his reporting, my allegations are right there. Either you see the issue or you don’t.

    I don’t see Balko going to an objective media ethicist to ask about this. I have consulted more than one person in the media about it. (One refused to get involved, and another doesn’t want his name used but said that the disclosure was relevant.)

    All the arguments here follow the same gambit: take the principle of disclosure to ridiculous extremes and then show how ridiculous it would be. Of course someone who writes a letter to the editor blasting a Bush policy doesn’t have to disclose that they want to see Democrats elected. Of course Maureen Dowd doesn’t have to tell you she voted against Bush when *she* blasts him.

    So that means no agenda need ever be disclosed? Sorry, that’s not good logic.

    If the WSJ decides to do anything with my letter, they will first go to Balko. If Romenesko prints my letter, Balko will respond. In either case he’ll lay out all sorts of grievances against me, and will distort the facts in doing so, much as he did in his first post on this issue.

    Sensible people will read his response and say: yeah, but what Frey is saying . . . is it true?

    And the answer to that question is yes — and you don’t have to rely on my credibility to make that determination.

    Which makes this situation notably different from his piece.

    Btw, I didn’t think I needed to make the disclosure in my earlier post. I did it to shut people up. But I didn’t think it necessary. The links were there, and (unlike Balko’s blog or the WSJ piece) comments were open.

    Patterico (2ba9dc)

  34. Seems a little out there, but I would love to see all WSJ opiners list their real reasons for writing what they do.

    This editorial was brought to you by Exxon, Blackwater and Boeing.

    alphie (99bc18)

  35. Although I am not making any promises, I’m disinclined to discuss this more than I have in my last comment. The simple fact is that what I say doesn’t matter; I can’t convince anyone who won’t be convinced, and I’ve already convinced the rest. So it’s a waste of time.

    If any of you want to do something actually useful, submit the issue, fairly presented, to a media ethicist. That’s what I hoped to do with Romenesko: get a discussion started among people who aren’t already rabid, and who know the rules that should apply.

    Patterico (2ba9dc)

  36. In interest of full disclosure, I should add that I am, in fact, a small yappy dog.

    Dude_ (b1f404)

  37. By the way, I’d like to echo JRM’s opinion in #1 that Balko’s piece is almost certainly a substantial net good.

    It’s hard to believe that *everything* in the long Reason article is slanted and distorted to the point where Hayne is really a good guy. The article will likely lead to investigation, and I’m guessing Hayne won’t emerged unscathed.

    Patterico (e0bc1b)

  38. Patterico, it seems like a whole lot of ifs need to occur for it to help Balko’s career. If this, if that, then…

    If I go to the store, if I buy a lottery ticket, then I might get rich.

    Considering how sane you seem to be on so many other topics, yet you seem obsessed to nitpick about small things Balko has written seems to discredit the overall quality of your writing. A pity I suppose.

    Thomas (7dffc6)

  39. “Anyone defending a bad persons actions cant exactly be called good in my book.”

    Ah, the “Hitler killed 600 million Jews” argument. I linked this in my first post on this issue.

    Let’s play the game. Hitler killed 600 million Jews and is therefore the worst person in history.

    Nobody can dare correct me on that. Because if they do, they’re defending Hitler.

    Patterico (e2982a)

  40. “If I were publishing this post in the Wall Street Journal, though, I would be sure to mention these past disagreements. I would also mention that I am a prosecutor who puts medical examiners on the stand at trial — another fact that regular readers already know.”

    If, as you suggest, we aren’t relying in part on your credibility in your attacks on Balko, I assume you would retract the above comment made by yourself? After all, as you say, the issue is right there. You either see it or you don’t. If your original post was published in the WSJ, what need for disclosure would there be?

    I guess the quote above was just self-aggrandizing bullshit (as was the non-hypothetical hypothetical post). Now that you’ve been called out as the hypocrite you are, you are back-pedaling.

    Dude (c21689)

  41. Correction, A hyperactive small yappy dog

    Dude_ (b1f404)

  42. By the way, Patterico seems a little pissed in his post. You know why? Because deep down, he knows I am right. That’s why he won’t be responding either. Because deep down, he knows I am right.

    Dude (c21689)

  43. In the words of Nelson, “Ah-ha.” You was totally pwned Patterico.

    Bryan (809506)

  44. These Balkobots are as bad as the morons from SadlyNo! Annoying ankle biters, the lot of them.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  45. A very mature and well written email, Patterico. The one thing I would have done in addition to that (that you were under no obligation to do; it’s just what I would have done) to maximize the chances your concerns are published and/or given attention to is write a similar email in a letter to the editor format to competitors of the WSJ.

    They have more of an incentive to publish on an ethical issue plaguing a competitor. Of course, to get them to touch it, you’d probably have to back up a bit and make it about journalistic disclosure ethics generally with this as a good example. I think you’d find some of WSJ’s competitors willing to entertain publishing your letter to the editor.

    In any event, perhaps WSJ will reply. I wish you luck in having your views addressed.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  46. Yep, daleyrocks, they are. Ankles across the globe are cringing in terror.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  47. …yet you seem obsessed to nitpick about small things Balko has written seems to discredit the overall quality of your writing. A pity I suppose.

    Agreed. Patterico, buddy, find something worthwhile to obsess about.

    HTownTX (f7e945)

  48. Dow Jones’s Code of Conduct for employees…

    Um, when exactly did Radley Balko become a Dow Jones employee?

    Because I see nothing in the Code of Conduct that applies to outside op-ed contributors.

    Loren Collins (1bab0e)

  49. Loren, that is a good point. And one of the reasons I disagree with Patterico this was a violation of journalistic ethics.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  50. Off topic, but here’s an example of LA Times bias you may find laughable.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  51. Loren Collins,

    The Dow Jones Code of Conduct applies to the WSJ editors who decide what to publish, so they must make reasonable efforts to see the code’s standards have been met.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  52. You’re all confusing the issue.

    Patterico, as quoted in post #7, stated that if his original post attacking Balko was published in the WSJ, he would certainly post his relevant disclosures (his work as a prosecutor and his acrimonious history with Balko). He stated this in contrast to publishing said post on his own blog with the reason that most people on his blog are already aware of he and Balko’s history and Patterico’s work as a prosecutor.

    Now, he writes a letter to the editor which essentially rehashes all of the same points and in his original post. When challenged as to why he wouldn’t publish his disclosures, Patterico DOES NOT say “Oh it’s just a letter to the editor that may or may not be published in the WSJ so no biggy.” He DOES NOT say “Oh the editors are somehow already aware of my previous history of Balko.”

    INSTEAD, he states he didn’t disclose because of the substance of his letter. Namely, because he claims his letter doesn’t rely on his credibility, he has no need for disclosure. In contrast to his previous post, he is NOW claiming that his occupation and past history with Balko is irrelevant.

    However, in the update, when he was trumpeting himself at how ethical he would be, he clearly implies that the substance of his letter WOULD require him to list the disclosures he himself listed. Otherwise, why else would he need to disclose them?

    So which is it, Patterico?

    Oh that’s right. You’ve pussed out and have left the discussion. Good call on your part, I’d say.

    Dude (c21689)

  53. “Oh that’s right. You’ve pussed out and have left the discussion. Good call on your part, I’d say.”

    He’s at work, Dude. You know this so you’re a liar.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  54. And his last comment on this threat was made during his lunch hour within one minute proximity to a comment of yours so fuck you.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  55. “I’m disinclined to discuss this more than I have in my last comment”

    Learn to read, retard.

    And Dude_ isn’t me, moron.

    Dude (c21689)

  56. Dude, perhaps you should walk away from the keyboard…

    H2U (81b7bd)

  57. Oh, I’m not pissed. Christoph’s the one sipping on the Haterade. I’m just echoing the language he himself likes to use.

    Patterico needs to reconcile why the substance of his post would necessitate disclosure to the WSJ general audience (as he previously stated) but NOT to the WSJ editors (as he is now claiming).

    Dude (c21689)

  58. Patterico doesn’t *need* to do anything, Dude.

    You, however, need to take a chill pill.

    H2U (81b7bd)

  59. How many different ways can Dood find to repeat the same point over and over and over and over and over again. Obsession, it’s not just a perfume!

    daleyrocks (906622)

  60. Somebody’s pharmacy is out of quaaludes.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  61. Just like Kato Kaelin – DNAL

    Dood Needs A Life

    daleyrocks (906622)

  62. You know you’ve won when the Patterico fellators can’t even think of one rational explanation to defend their master’s hypocrisy.

    Dude (c21689)

  63. Actually you know you’ve won when people have to use obscene metaphors because non-obscene arguments don’t make any sense.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  64. dude is right because he used more curse words and used ALL CAPS more frequently.

    JD (a248f3)

  65. Ah, true, JD, ALL CAPS kung fu always defeats my Mixed Case Kung Fu.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  66. To me, the fundamental difference is that there should be, and are, differing standards for someone that is authoring an opinion piece or op-ed as compared to writing a letter to the editors. It seems quite simple to me.

    JD (fd9a5b)

  67. “The Dow Jones Code of Conduct applies to the WSJ editors who decide what to publish, so they must make reasonable efforts to see the code’s standards have been met.”

    DRJ,

    So it was all about the editors? Despite the fact that the above letter never uses the word “editor”? Nor does it have any references to any other WSJ employees. Just multiple references to Mr. Balko himself.

    In addition, it makes the unsupported assumption that an outside op-ed contribution is a “[WSJ] journalistic undertaking.”

    Loren Collins (bbf054)

  68. The only thing I learned from this is that Patterico apparently thinks Balko is an employee of the WSJ.

    He appears to be the only person who thinks that.

    The fact Balko has previously criticized Dr. Haynes doesn’t appear in the OpEd is both true and at best barely relevant to any significant conflict of interest.

    If Balko wrote an OpEd in favor of, say, the First Amendment, would Patterico argue that, as somebody who sells books and articles, he has a conflict of interest in promoting freedom of the press?

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  69. That said, Patterico is keeping his eye on the ball: note his last paragraph. The issue of a de facto medical examiner at least arguably doing a lousy job that quite possibly has put people in prison inappropriately is far larger than whether or not Balko has some small undisclosed conflict of interest in exposing the de facto medical examiner as doing a bad job.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  70. So the gist of this is that any journalist writing an article on any subject is ethically bound to disclose everything he or she’s ever worked on that has the slightest connection to the subject of the article as a potential conflict of interest? If I wrote an op-ed arguing in favor of a candidate that would pull us out of Iraq, am I ethically obligated to disclose that my brother is in the military and I’d like to see him come home safely, even if that’s not a major factor in why I support that candidate?

    If you have actual evidence of a hidden agenda, by all means put it on the table. Bear in mind that correlation is not causation. It’s one thing to hope that his investigation into Hayne might have a positive effect regarding his efforts to help Cory Maye. It’s another thing entirely to assert that the only reason he investigated Hayne in the first place is to help Maye.

    I’d say any accusations of a hidden agenda are fairly dependent on arguing that Balko’s investigation of Hayne isn’t worthwhile in its own right, which is pretty obviously not the case. Showing that two cases show a connection – any connection – is not evidence of an ulterior motive.

    Shaffer (365676)

  71. You Balko supporters are like a broken record…Blegh.

    H2U (81b7bd)

  72. H2U,

    What a silly comment. Can not the same comment be directed to a “patterico” supporter? Being that your only contributions to this discussion is telling people to take chill pills & calling names, I would love to hear your views on this subject.

    I am also waiting for Patterico to address why he called Balko a DOW employee in his letter, and what is appropriate disclosure for conflict of interest.

    DontBurnTheDay (c870e6)

  73. “You Balko supporters are like a broken record…Blegh.”

    Yeah, we’re always doing horribly broken-recordy things, such as pointing out the gaping holes in other people’s arguments.

    Shaffer (365676)

  74. There is no gaping hole. Patterico wrote a letter to the editor[s] of the WSJ, he did not have an editorial/article *published* by the WSJ. The fact that you cannot comprehend this subtle difference is mind boggling.

    H2U (81b7bd)

  75. H2U,

    Why should it matter if it was an editorial/article or a letter? If the whole point of Petterico’s posts is proper disclosure, shouldn’t that matter, being that you admitted the differnece was subtle? Of course, when Petterico wrote that he would notify the WSJ about his so-called conflict of interest by disclosing the fact he is a prosecutor & he has had a past wil Balko, doesn’t that force him to live up to his own standard, for him to have any credibility at all? Personally, I don’t think he needed to disclose that fact in his letter, but I don’t think Balko needed to disclose what Patterico thinks he did either? Also, being that Patterico called Balko a WSJ employee, when he is not, mean something? I am not sure if you are a religious person, but there is saying that starts off with: Let he who has not sinned…

    DontBurnTheDay (c870e6)

  76. “being that Patterico called Balko a WSJ employee . . .”

    Being that I didn’t, you are not too careful a reader.

    I assumed the WSJ editors were smart enough to understand the argument I was making without wasting a bunch of words to spell it out. Balko, as a contributor to the opinion pages, should be held to the same standard as far as rules on hidden agendas.

    Patterico (3daf66)

  77. Patterico,

    My appologies if I was not a careful reader. I did go back and reread the letter that you wrote:

    Dow Jones’s Code of Conduct for employees states in part: “There are no hidden agendas in any of our journalistic undertakings.”

    Because your letter was complaining about Balko, and no one else, I assumed you were refering to Balko. Could you please let us know who you referring to? Because, despite what you said:

    Balko, as a contributor to the opinion pages, should be held to the same standard as far as rules on hidden agendas.

    Balko is not an employee, and as a well-respected attorney, you know better then I the importance of being precise. Of course this opens up another question, why should an op-ed contributor be held to the same standard as a jounralist? But, if we take your line of reasoning, why shouldn’t someone who is writing a letter complaining about so-called hidden agendas & someone who publically declared that he would in fact disclose his hidden agendas not be held to that same standard?

    DontBurnTheDay (c870e6)

  78. …and what is appropriate disclosure for conflict of interest.

    Actually, what we’re dealing with here is a congruence of interest, not a conflict. Balko’s attack on Hayne is consistent with his advocacy for Maye, not in conflict with it. Similarly, Patterico’s attack on Balko is consistent with their history online.

    It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find an outside op-ed contributor or letter-writer with a conflict of interest. The danger is an employed journalist who has personal interests that conflict with assigned stories. Such as a reporter assigned to do a story on the subprime mortgage crisis, when that same reporter has significant investments in the subprime mortgage industry.

    Loren (b3db8a)

  79. I am not sure if you are a religious person, but there is saying that starts off with: Let he who has not sinned…

    How about “Let he who is lacking reading comprehension skills not comment on the thoughts of others” instead?

    Patterico is not trying to reach the *public* with his letter to the editor. He is specifically reaching out to the editorial staff who allowed Balko to have a platform. He has no obligation to disclose *anything* aside from the point he is trying to get across.

    Contrast that with Balko, someone who refrained from divulging a very noteworthy bias when specifically targeting the public at large. And that is what an editorial is: some media outlet is giving you a public platform to shout from.

    If you cannot decipher the difference between these two methods of communication then perhaps you had best walk away from the keyboard now.

    H2U (81b7bd)

  80. “There is no gaping hole. Patterico wrote a letter to the editor[s] of the WSJ, he did not have an editorial/article *published* by the WSJ. The fact that you cannot comprehend this subtle difference is mind boggling.”

    There is a gaping hole, as I described. In alleging a “hidden agenda” Patterico is making the assumption that Balko wrote his piece on Hayne *for the purpose* of helping Cory Maye (merely because an investigation into Hayne could potentially provide that side-effect). There’s no evidence that this is the case. If Balko considered the Hayne story a worthwhile subject in its own right (which he has stated, and which there’s no obvious reason to question – it’s a big story), then allegations of a hidden agenda – in the spirit of, say, writing about the merits of a company that you own stock in – are completely baseless.

    I am quite capable of comprehending the difference between writing a letter to the editor vs. having an op-ed published, thank you very much (*cough* sanctimonious jackass *cough*). The fact that Patterico is an attorney that may potentially have a “hidden agenda” for his letter to the editor is not really the issue (although it’s undoubtedly an interesting observation when someone complains about something and, in the process of so doing, may be guilty of exactly what it is he’s complaining about).

    Only two things really matter, as I see it. The first is that Balko is not an employee of DOW and thus need not necessarily apply to the disclaimer that the WSJ provides. The second is that the accusation of a hidden agenda is purely speculative at best.

    Shaffer (d3f00c)

  81. The first is that Balko is not an employee of DOW and thus need not necessarily apply to the disclaimer that the WSJ provides. The second is that the accusation of a hidden agenda is purely speculative at best.

    Need not, but very well should! And speculation it may be, but there is no denying that the speculation is rooted in fact.

    That you continue to claim there exists some ‘gaping hole’ in Patterico’s claim is laughable. You sound *so* much like a RonPaulBot, recklessly beating a drum of sheer ignorance.

    H2U (81b7bd)


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