Did I accuse Greenhouse of Opportunism?

Stephen Wermiel lawsjw at MINDSPRING.COM
Sun Oct 7 19:38:18 PDT 2001

I continue to believe, apparently in a distinct minority, that Linda
Greenhouse's piece raised quite interesting questions about the future
direction of federalism and that it was not pushing an agenda or making a

I also believe that some criticism of her work begins to sound awfully
personal, whether intended or not. Suggesting that a conscientious news
reporter is pursuing a personal agenda (whether the original message so
suggested or not) is far more than to debate the merits of the issues
raised in a news story; it is to question the reporter's reputation,
credibility and integrity.

Colleagues on this list have every right to do that, of course, just as I
have a right to wonder about their motives in criticizing the reporter
rather than simply arguing about whether it is true or not that the events
of Sept. 11 may have an impact on federalism.

Having said that, I don't disagree with Mark Scarberry's point that the
list is better served by keeping discussion on issues, not individuals.
With that in mind, I apologize if my criticism of Ann Althouse crossed that
line. But I do hope the precept of debating the issue rather than the
people is not limited to law professors discussing the work of other law

At 11:57 AM 10/05/2001 -0700, Mark Scarberry wrote:
>It bothers me that a list member should have to defend herself against
personal >attacks for having criticized an influential journalist's
published writings. As someone >previously noted, LInda Greenhouse has a
position of tremendous influence as the >reporter covering the Supreme
Court for our nation's most prestigious newspaper. >No one need have a
hidden agenda to pay attention to and to criticize Greenhouse. >When Ann
first defended herself against a claim that Ann's supposed multiple
>criticisms of Greenhouse showed some sort of hidden agenda, Ann pointed
out that >Greenhouse's writing seemed more like opinion than like
reporting, and that >Greenhouse often left out information which would
provide a more balanced view. >Then several people pointed out that the
last Greenhouse piece criticized by Ann >was in fact an opinion piece. That
is nearly irrelevant. Most of Greenhouse's writing >appears in the news
sections of the Times, not in the opinion sections. A general >lack of
balance in Greenhouse's writing is fair game for criticism.

>Of course I'm not the list custodian, but courtesy on this list requires
that we not >accuse each other of hidden agendas or question each other's
motives without very >strong evidence. That evidence is lacking here. I
think Ann is owed an apology.
Steve Wermiel
Associate Director
Program on Law and Government
American University Washington College of Law
Office e-mail:  swermiel at wcl.american.edu

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