Patterico's Pontifications


Shorter New York Times Ombudsman

Filed under: Law,Media Bias — Patterico @ 1:31 pm

Shorter Clark Hoyt:

Ed Whelan is right, Linda Greenhouse should have disclosed her husband’s involvement in cases on which she reported. Also, Whelan is a bully for pointing it out, and we’re going to circle the wagons because Whelan is a conservative.

Whelan says he will have a comprehensive response later this week. But really, it’s not necessary. Hoyt’s column refutes itself.

12 Responses to “Shorter New York Times Ombudsman”

  1. Mr. Hoyt comes across as more of a reporter’s representative than a reader’s rep. After offering his three-part solution to this problem, the article concludes with this summary from Bill Keller and Clark Hoyt:

    “Bill Keller, the executive editor, said, “I happily endorse that approach.” But he said he does not want to single out Greenhouse for this treatment because it would appear to be a tacit rebuke in the face of a partisan assault.

    The point is not to punish Greenhouse, who does not deserve that. It is to make the newspaper less vulnerable to attacks like Whelan’s.”

    The Editor and the Readers’ rep apparently care more about protecting their reporters from “partisan assault” than they care about the quality of the NY Times’ articles.

    DRJ (517d26)

  2. I just now saw that column and was going to send it to you! The way Hoyt harps on Whelan as a conservative is a pretty obvious attempt to distract from the facts.

    There was a good suggestion – to discuss reporter biographies more fully on the Web site. Hoyt was right to say it was not enough to mention that her husband is “a lawyer”.

    Overall, very disappointing.

    Bradley J. Fikes (5f3053)

  3. Hoyt needs an editor. His article is too long and too defensive. He should have thanked Whelan for pointing out a flaw in the NYT editorial policies and crisply said the Times would immediately cure the flaw by being more transparent.

    It would have been much more effective.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  4. We know Greenhouse is biased. She’s not writing the way she does because of her husband, she does so because she is an angry liberal female, albeit one with writing privileges at the NYT.

    stevesturm (8caabf)

  5. That there are “angry liberal females” with “writing privileges at the NYT” is the rub – much more than Greenhouse failing to stipulate an amicus brief in Hamdan was joined by her husband.

    steve (66576e)

  6. Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news…said: Linda’s professionalism over the years is unquestioned here …

    Imagine that. The managers that frequently disclose national security secrets don’t question Linda’s professionalism.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  7. a tacit rebuke in the face of a partisan assault

    I think he stole that line from the joint opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

    Attila (Pillage Idiot) (bafbcb)

  8. Did he sign off with “and we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog!”

    Techie (ed20d9)

  9. Jill Abramson

    Isn’t that one of Bill and Hill’s buddies?

    JD (75f5c3)

  10. I just finished reading Hoyt’s snippy column. What a ________ (I’m on a company PC right now).

    Hoyt ought to be ashamed, but it seems like a prerequisite of getting a Times byline is checking shame at the front entrance.

    To wit:

    Whelan, formerly an official in the Bush administration Justice Department and a clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, made no specific claim that Greenhouse tilted her work to favor her husband’s point of view, saying “it would be impossible to separate any such bias from the broader political bias that pervades so much of Greenhouse’s reporting.”

    I read each of the dozen articles that Greenhouse has written on the two cases, and I see why Whelan chose a slippery innuendo rather than specifying instances of bias. There were not any. The articles were straightforward accounts, explaining all sides clearly…


    Whelan is president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. But his increasingly intemperate and personal attacks on Greenhouse indicate something other than a legitimate concern about ethics. They feel more like bullying. But even if he cannot convincingly fault Greenhouse’s coverage of the prisoner cases, and whatever his motives, Whelan has raised a real issue that has troubled newsrooms for as long as journalists have made friendships, fallen in love or otherwise had a life outside of work.

    Let’s review: According to Hoyt, Whelan is guilty of using “a slippery innuendo” regarding his opinion that Greenhouse is politically biased regardless of whether her husband is involved in SCOTUS cases, and he makes clear that this can be linked to the fact that he’s a former Bush DOJ guy, a former Scalia clerk, and is president of a conservative ethics organization.

    However, Hoyt imagines he is being perfectly equitable in his assessment that the conservative Bushie Whelan’s not REALLY concerned about ethics; he’s just a bully. Amazingly, Hoyt then turns right around and dedicates the remainder of his column to the legitimate ethical issue that Whelan raised, eventually saying that he would have done some things differently.

    IMHO, Hoyt knew he could not in all honesty blow Whelan’s points off. He knew he would have to concede that Times readers should have been made more aware of Greenhouse’s personal ties to some cases, and that the editors should have trusted its clientiele to make up their own minds, especially in light of how certain they all seem to be that Greenhouse is incapable of being anything but a veritable giant redwood smack dab in the center of a legal storm.

    So, what’s Times guy to do? What most biased MSMers do, of course — bury the lede. ‘Yeah, Whelan’s got a point. But first, let me tell you why I think he’s a vindictive S.O.B…’

    L.N. Smithee (d1de1b)

  11. The post has a block quote, but does not indicate who said or wrote it. Not Hoyt, clearly, so who?

    Linda Seebach (c24d22)

  12. Linda Seebach wrote: The post has a block quote, but does not indicate who said or wrote it. Not Hoyt, clearly, so who?

    The blockquote is a cut-and-paste from Hoyt’s column.

    L.N. Smithee (b048eb)

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