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Twenty eight year veteran Supreme Court reporter, Linda Greenhouse, is finding herself in hot water with editors at the Times for being so bold as to speak some simple, but apparently inconvenient, truths in a speech at Harvard on June 7th.

Unfortunately, as we all know, the truth is something the Times has been having some difficulty with for some time, as evidenced by the longstanding support they gave Judith Miller for misinforming the public on WMDs and nonexistent threats that helped take us to war.

Ms. Greenhouse delivered her speech as the 2006 Radcliffe Institute Medalist.  

 Ms. Greenhouse shared with the Radcliffe audience how a recent Simon and Garfunkel concert reminded her of the hopes of an earlier generation and the failures of this one.

I'm not a person who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat, and I was truly surprised. I cried throughout the entire second half of the concert. I couldn't stop. It was a puzzling and disconcerting experience, and I worked hard in the ensuing days to figure it out. Finally, it came to me. Thinking back to my college days in those troubled and tumultuous late 1960's, there were many things that divided my generation. For the men in particular, of course, it was what stance to take toward the draft--acquiescence, artful avoidance, or active resistance. For many of us, it was over how actively we should commit ourselves to the great causes of civil rights and the antiwar movement. (The women's movement was barely on the horizon at that point.) I remember that in the spring of 1968, the editors of the Harvard Crimson almost came to blows over whether the paper should support Eugene McCarthy or Robert Kennedy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Yet despite all these controversies, we were absolutely united in one conviction: the belief that in future decades, if the world lasted that long, when our turn came to run the country, we wouldn't make the same mistakes. Our generation would do a better job. I cried that night in the Simon and Garfunkel concert out of the realization that my faith had been misplaced. We were not doing a better job. We had not learned from the old mistakes. Our generation had not proved to be the solution. We were the problem.

And then Ms. Greenhouse spoke the dangerous words that the New York Times seems to find worse than lies about WMDs.

And of course my little crying jag occurred before we knew the worst of it, before it was clear the extent to which our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let's not forget the sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. To say that these last years have been dispiriting is an understatement. I hope that today's undergraduates are taking the same vow that we did then, and I hope for all our sakes that they get closer to fulfilling it than we did.

 Byron Calame, the New York Times so called Public Editor,  in his editorial titled "Hazarding Personal Opinions in Public Can Be Hazardous for Journalists" wrote:

The Times's ethical guideline states that news staffers appearing on radio or television "should avoid expressing views that go beyond what they would be allowed to say in the paper." It is obvious, I think, that the guideline also applies to other venues. And Bill Keller, the executive editor, made clear in an e-mail message to me that the standard applies to all Times journalists "when they speak in public."

But what if the journalist is simply telling an unpleasant truth?

If expressing opinions was really the editors' concern, why was Judith Miller a "hero" at the Times for such a long period of time after publishing Bush administration propaganda that turned out to be lies? The Times finally distanced themselves from Ms. Miller after it was too embarrassing to continue to call Ms. Miller a journalist.

Ms. Greenhouse words are apparently far more "dangerous" to Times' editors. For they are the truth. "(O)ur government had (INDEED) turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world." There is INDEED a "sustained assault on women's reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism".

Those are plain facts to any reasonable thinking person, except apparently to Bill Keller and Byron Calame.

Originally posted to eve on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 06:55 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  But if I she had been paid to shill (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eve, corvo, fairleft

    for wal-mart, NO PROBLEM.  

    Talk doesn't cook rice.

    by sophiebrown on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 06:58:00 AM PDT

  •  Oxymoron (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eve, corvo, fairleft

    Can't use "The New York Times" and the word "truth" in the same sentence.

    "You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else." -- Winston Churchill

    by bleeding heart on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 07:05:15 AM PDT

  •  I notice that Mr. Calame (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    does not criticize the person he should be upset with, if he's upset: the Executive Editor.

    "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

    by LithiumCola on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 07:29:33 AM PDT

  •  Stockholder value (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The paper's management right now is extremely skittish about being labeled "liberal." Everybody knows they lean left, but they like to do the "fair and balanced" thing, too. So that's why we get the occasional neocon editorial.

    It's still the paper of record, though. That is, if you work for them, going to work for any other paper (in the US) would be considered a step down.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 07:42:55 AM PDT

    •  The way the NYT is failing to stand up (0+ / 0-)

      for Ms. Greenhouse who the Public Editor himself refers to as a "much-honored Supreme Court reporter"
      is evidence that the Times does not have the character to live up to a standard of excellence that the "paper of record" should represent in a democracy.
      They are buckling to the shills and apologists for the Bush administration who are uncomfortable when someone dares to say the truth about Abu Ghraib or torture of innocents.

      The New York Times has been undermining their own credibility.
      Honesty is the brick and mortar of a newspaper.
      The Times' leadership suffers from self-deception, denial and a lack of courage.

      •  Truth, honesty and objectivity... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        Ms. Greenhouse knew the deal she made as a journalist when she took the job.  It's more than a bit ironic that we reporters are forced to give up our First Amendment rights when we take jobs, but it is what is required to maintain objectivity.   They do not call Ms. Greenhouse a "columnist"; they call her a reporter.  That means she should report facts without any injecting personal beliefs or politics.  When she publicly espouses them, she risks undermining her credibility with readers.  It's not a newspaper's duty to be conservative or liberal outside of its editorial pages.  It is its obligation to get the facts straight without a hint of bias.

        •  Quite (0+ / 0-)

          And the Times makes this explicitely clear in their guidelines for reporters, which are available to the public. In that enforcement of these may appear to be selective, it's always worth taking a close look when a reporter is chastised for breaching them.

          When this story broke a few weeks back, I found the explanation satisfactory.

          Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

          by The Raven on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 08:33:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, but the Times editors are correct... (0+ / 0-)

    I've been a member of this little community for a couple of years now. This is the first time I've chosen to comment.

    I am a journalist and as a journalist there are certain things that you agree to when doing the job. The first being that is that you do not share your opinions publicly unless you are a member of the editorial board.  And the reason is to maintain some semblance of objectivity.  That has stopped me from working on political campaigns and displaying the ubiquitous yard signs that sprout up this time of year.

    The only aspect of a newspaper that should offer any opinion is the editorial page.  Is it fair?  Not on its face, but when you think of the reasons why it makes sense.  Not many will likely remember Ms. Greenhouse's name, but they will remember the words "New York Times staff writer."

    •  I have read Ms Greenhouse's (0+ / 0-)

      columns and watched Ms. Greenhouse on public television. For years she has impressed me as a person who bent over backwards to articulate a non-biased summary of fact.

      In this current environment, the White House diseminates the talking points which the main stream media regurgitate as though it is the truth.

      Given where we are as a country....waging preventive wars, eliminating pension plans, gutting environmental laws, having political leaders who couldn't tell the truth if they thought they were lying, the notion of unbiased reporting has been turned on its head.

      The unvarnished truth will be easily spoken in 100 years if we survive that long. For now it's "opinion".

    •  I'm much less interested in objectivity (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      than I am in the truth.

      •  Apparently... (0+ / 0-)

        You are interested in the truth as you deem it to be so.  If reporters don't have the facts, they cannot report the truth.  Should they go off on tangents without facts and sources, they run the risk of libeling someone.  The major tenents of journalism are truth, accuracy and objectivity.  Without all three, the rest doesn't really work.  It's then you end up with rags like The Washington Times.

        •  Or the New York Times, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          which displays shockingly little regard for truth.  And their tenet, or, as you put it, "tenent" of objectivity is little more than: Give equal weight to every side's distortion of the truth, with the usual fairly strict exceptions (Communists, Nazis).

          Facts are notoriously one-sided, namely toward the truth.  It is the journalist's job to discover facts and report them, not to vitiate them by weighting them equally against the non-facts being broadcast by the side choosing to hide or distort the facts.

          •  Yes... and it's so easy to do (0+ / 0-)

            In this day of corporate ownership, layoffs and the like.  Conceptually, I do not disagree with you.  However, she knew the rules when she signed up to work as a reporter for the NYT.  As a reporter, especially one with a profile as prominent as hers, she was not allowed to speak publicly. THAT is what you are missing.  You may not like it, but that is the way it is and how it should be.

            •  Oh so now we're throwing any shred of (0+ / 0-)

              journalistic ethics out the window, and pleading job security and corporate power.

              Honestly, I didn't think that it would be this easy.

              •  We've had a horrible consolidation of media power (0+ / 0-)

                to the point where it has become an intimidating propaganda mill, where elite corporate interests dominate what is defined as the truth.
                It's so insidious that people know, I think, subliminally what they are permitted to say or write.

                The low hanging fruit of evidence on this is how courageous we all think Keith Olbermann is (which he indeed is).
                He hasn't been charged with slander or accused of lying. Yet he is unique in "daring" to "speak out".
                It is a very frightening time and has crept up slowly on us with lots of warning signals but a complicit and docile Congress.

                How many had skeletons in the closet that could be intimidated?

                I thought it was interesting that Mark Foley's friend said Foley had had enough of "serving" in Congress and wanted out as though it was very unpleasant. I wonder how the rest of these people feel about being on the inside of what we had thought was a respected institution.

        •  what precisely did Ms Greenhouse (0+ / 0-)

          say that was not a fact, please:))

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