Linda Greenhouse’s buyout is worth about $300,000. According to her, she was planning to retire in three years, and they gave her two years’ salary to go now. She says that it was too attractive an option to pass up.
I believe that, but I also suspect that Ed Whelan’s dogged questioning about her undisclosed conflicts of interest may have played a role as well . . . but not in the way you probably think I mean.
I don’t believe for a second that the New York Times pushed Greenhouse out the door, as some of you suggested upon hearing the news of her buyout. Think about it. Bill Keller refused to require her to take even the laughably ineffective step of adding a line to her online bio about her husband, because it could be considered a “rebuke” in the face of criticism from a conservative. This is not an organization that was going to push Greenhouse out.
But I can easily imagine Greenhouse feeling like she wasn’t sufficiently backed up by her newspaper. After all, the public editor said in his column about Whelan’s criticism that Whelan had a point — there should have been more disclosure.
This isn’t the first time Greenhouse’s open expression of leftist viewpoints received quiet expressions of discomfort from the Gray Lady. When Greenhouse laid out a plethora of liberal views at Harvard University, then-public editor Byron Calame said: “It seems clear to me that Ms. Greenhouse stepped across that line during her speech,” and revealed that Bill Keller had spoken with Greenhouse privately about the remarks. And in 1989, Times editors rebuked Greenhouse for participating in an abortion rights rally, in a year when she reported on several abortion-related decisions.
I rather suspect that Dahlia Lithwick — who works with Greenhouse at the Supreme Court, shares her liberal ideology, and admires her enormously — was expressing Greenhouse’s own thoughts for her when Lithwick co-wrote a Slate article titled “Why Doesn’t the New York Times Stand Up for Linda Greenhouse?”
It’s not hard to imagine Greenhouse thinking: I’ve worked for this newspaper for three decades and this is the treatment I get? You’re not going to have Linda Greenhouse to kick around anymore!
Bazelon and Lithwick called Greenhouse a “sought-after scratching post for right-wing kitty cats.” Upon hearing the news of the buyout, commenter assistant devil’s advocate said: “right-wing kitty cats call for new litter!”
Well, we’ll always have Dahlia Lithwick.