Friday, August 10, 2007

NYT's Linda Greenhouse Bans Cameras from Public Appearance

Notoriously left-wing New York Times court reporter Linda Greenhouse, famous for her 2006 rant against Republicans, "religious fundamentalism," and illegal immigration opponents has apparently learned from her mistake.

No, she hasn't decided that someone with such fervently liberal positions needs a conservative counterpart on the beat. Instead, she decided that television cameras need to be banned from her public appearances:

For Supreme Court buffs who watch C-SPAN, yesterday morning was one of disappointment. A promising panel discussion, “Covering the Court(s): Reporters on the Supreme Court Beat,” that included a bevy of court reporting superstars -- like Charles Lane from The Washington Post and Dahlia Lithwick from Slate -- was to be televised. But, at the last minute, the plug was pulled on the C-SPAN cameras because the queen bee of Supreme Court reporters, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times refused to join the panel if the event was going to be covered by the wonky news channel.

According to people who were there, Greenhouse walked in, took one look at the lights and the camera equipment, and, “became infuriated,” said one person who was standing near her. As Greenhouse herself told me yesterday following the event, she then gave the organizer of the panel an ultimatum. “I told her she had a choice, either she could have me on the panel speaking candidly or she could have C-SPAN there.”

Greenhouse said that she had come prepared to speak to a “room of academics.” She added, “I didn’t want to have to modulate my comments for a national audience.” [...]

Sending a C-SPAN crew is a big outlay for the low-budget network. The Vice-President of programming at C-SPAN, Terence Murphy, fired off an angry letter yesterday evening at the organization that put on the discussion, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. “I must say, it’s perplexing as to why Ms. Greenhouse didn’t want to permit C-SPAN to cover her remarks, since our program archive lists 51 different events where we’ve covered her over the years,” wrote Murphy. “But the larger concern is why AEJMC organizers allowed Ms. Greenhouse’s view to prevail. If professors of journalism and working journalists taking part in a journalism education conference don’t stand up for open media access to public policy discussions, who will?”

Perhaps the longtime Times reporter has grown wary of too much public attention because of the bad press she received last summer after a speech she gave at Radcliffe College. Critiquing the actions of the Bush administration, she seemed to declare herself anti-war and against the pro-life movement, lamenting, among other things, the “hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism.”

C-SPAN's Murphy is right on the money. As the self-appointed "fourth branch" of government ostensibly entrusted by the public with exposing the activities of the other branches, journalists should never ban others from covering their own activities. Then again, we should hardly expect professional behavior from a SCOTUS reporter who marched in a pro-choice protest while covering abortion for her paper.