Critic Questions Opinion-Heavy Speech by Times Court Reporter


NPR media critic David Folkenflik has questioned an opinion-laden speech that Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covers the Supreme Court for the New York Times, gave in June at Harvard, her alma mater. Greenhouse charged that the U.S. 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 — [such as] the U.S. Congress.” She also observed a “sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. To say that these last few years have been dispiriting is an understatement.”

Greenhouse was taking a stand on some of the most contentious issues faced by the court this year. Such charged commentary can be found almost anywhere you turn these days — except from hard news reporters. Daniel Okrent, the Times’ first public editor, said, “It’s been a basic tenet of journalism … that the reporter’s ideology [has] to be suppressed and submerged, so the reader has absolute confidence that what he or she is reading is not colored by previous views.”


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