Patterico's Pontifications

2/29/2008

Was Linda Greenhouse’s Exit Hastened by Ed Whelan’s Questions?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 am

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.

4 Responses to “Was Linda Greenhouse’s Exit Hastened by Ed Whelan’s Questions?”

  1. Like most conservatives I know, and most of you here, I took the time to read Lithwick’s Slate article, where she pointed out that when Greenhouse got called out for her views by NPR.

    And, now, I have no doubt in my mind that Greenhouse is bias in her reporting, and her opinion, and that of her husband, clouds her writings. She could not possibly be more biased in her reportings, since she publically stated her views on the things she reported on in her Harvard speech.

    I fully understand that reporters will have opinions about the things they report on, but, keeping their biases private, or in lieu of that, openly reporting the possible conflicts would give readers a clear picture of that being reported. Greenhouse didn’t/couldn’t, and Lithwick seems to think that it is ok…

    No wonder I don’t read the Times, except when you guys/gals here make me do it….

    reff (bff229)

  2. Why presume that Greenhouse cares about what the Public Editor thinks? The guy has no power, is ignored by management, and the position is widely viewed as nothing more than a sop thrown to conservative critics.

    stevesturm (8caabf)

  3. Advocacy pieces belong on Op-Ed pages. Hard news items covering SCOTUS should have the appearance of fairness.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  4. Greenhouse gasses bad
    New York Times stops emissions
    World cool again

    rhodeymark (923596)


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