By Tim Graham
The liberal website Vox published an interview with former New York Times legal reporter Linda Greenhouse, and the headline surely applauded her liberal take on journalism: “The most respected Supreme Court reporter of her generation slams media ‘objectivity’.”
Greenhouse oddly mocked my blog on NewsBusters for treating her revelation of monthly donations to Planned Parenthood as not new…when everyone knew about it inside The New York Times.
Even the Vox interviewer, Eric Allen Been, correctly notes this is a new public disclosure, despite her trash talk:
VOX: You disclose publicly for the first time in the book that you donated on a monthly basis to Planned Parenthood while still a reporter at the New York Times.Why did you think it was important to put that out there?
LINDA GREENHOUSE: I’ve never hidden anything. And as I say in the book, when I started donating to Planned Parenthood I informed the publisher of the Times and I put a letter up about it on the bulletin board in the office. So I’m very amused to read the right-wing blogs who say that I outed myself, or I boasted about it, or I disclosed it [in my new book]. It’s never been a secret. And I never got any pushback. It’s just that in the current climate, things that were perfectly ordinary have become something close to scandalous. The reaction to that one paragraph in my book really proves my point.
You have to laugh at the inside-the-bubble logic that Greenhouse employs. No one ever offered “pushback” inside the Times when she said she was donating to Planned Parenthood. Inside the Times, that was like saying you had a library card or a Lincoln Center membership. Yaaawwwwn.
Greenhouse decried what she sees as a “spasm of sanctimony” overtaking the media, that somehow the “most threatening insult” is saying you’re biased. But even Greenhouse knows that the Times and nearly every other national media outlet rages against Donald Trump. Being objective in covering Trump is seen by the Left as a heinous offense against decency and human rights.
VOX: You argue that the boundaries between a journalist and a private citizen are “too rigid.” Why do you think that’s the case?
GREENHOUSE: Well, I think it’s unduly rigid right now. There’s sort of a spasm of sanctimony that has overtaken the mainstream media in recent years. Why do I think that is? I think the worst thing that anybody can say — the worst, the most threatening insults that anybody can hurl at the mainstream media — are, “You’re biased. You’re not objective.” And so how do you show that you’re not biased? You have two sides to every story, whether the story really has two sides or not. You draw boundaries around what’s appropriate behavior for your staff. But as a journalist, I want to be judged by my journalistic work. That’s what I would live or die on.
At least this Vox question was interesting to the non-liberal reader. Gee, did you ever notice every “objective reporter” at the Times who gets a column — from Mo Dowd to Tom Friedman to Tim Egan to Linda Greenhouse — is a lefty? She says “Who cares?”
VOX: Almost every Times reporter who shifts to opinion writing, including yourself, has turned out to be a liberal. Does that prove conservative charges of bias at the paper?
GREENHOUSE: I haven’t conducted such a survey of reporters turned opinion writers, and I don’t think it proves anything. “Bias” is a very odd word in this context. Were these former reporters exhibiting “bias” in their straight reporting careers? If not, who cares?
In a Boston Globe interview Greenhouse indicts objectivity for the most obvious reason: If liberals have discovered that liberalism is true and conservatism is nonsense, it’s not noble to pretend otherwise: “if the reporter knows that one side of the argument is simply false, but yet is constrained by the norms of the profession to present it as if it’s just the other side of the story, that is not serving the noble purpose of journalism. In fact it’s disabling that purpose.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.