Saturday, September 25, 2004

Vanity Fair's Version of Journalistic Integrity

Here's the Vanity Fair Article:

On pg. 11 of part 1, the author takes a few shots at the Society!


The Vanity Fair article on Bush v. Gore is interesting for its SCOTUS gossip, but it is no doubt blantantly biased. The excerpt below is interesting. Its found at:

Happy reading!!


Vanity Fair considered
Will Baude at 01:14 PM
I've just finished the Vanity Fair article I mention/link to below. It's interesting, of course, in that slightly shameful way that I found Cosmopolitan interesting when I was in high school, but it's not terribly good. I highly recommend reading it to all who hunger for court gossip.

The intriguing lesson I take from the article, though, is how much more effective of an advocate one can be when one takes a gentler tone, is studiously precise, and avoids needlessly tossed-off unproven claims. (A lesson Eugene Volokh teaches (almost) every day.) The Vanity Fair article takes the opposite tactic, and the result is a flop, at least to this reader.

Bush v. Gore is the first Supreme Court opinion that I ever read, and at the time (and to this day) I wasn't quite sure what to think of it. A still-unpublished paper by Richard Posner had the most persuasive legal analysis I have yet read, but I was generally a cautious skeptic.

Reading the VF article pushed me more closely to thinking that the decision was reached legitimately, by justices honestly trying to sort out the right answers to a mess of legal issues. I don't think that's the effect the author of the piece intended (unless the author is very very clever), but it's partially the result of useless little jibes like:

"despite Clarence Thomas's public image of smoldering rage," ...


"the Rehnquist Court had always stingily construed the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment ... applying it only when discrimination was systematic, blatant, intentional, incontrovertible."

The authors attempt to defend their bias with the argument that it was mostly the liberal clerks who were willing to break their vows of confidentiality to speak to them: "...if this account may at times be lopsided, partisan, speculative, and incomplete, it's by far the best and most informative we have." But that apologia only justifies the bias in quotes and reported or guessed-at facts. It doesn't provide any explanation for the article's relentlessly partisan tone, bizarre mix of naivete and cynicism, and unconstructive and unsubstantiated jabs.

Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with relentlessly partisan tone, etc., etc., etc., but I do think it's worth remembering that it's often ineffective. You catch more flies (of this species, anyway) with precision than with ... this.

The following blog is worth visiting as well:

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Hey there are pro bush protestors!!!

From instapundit.

CBS "Documents"


The whole document issue with CBS is probably going to reach a conclusion one way or the other this week. The interesting aspect of the story to me is the new media vs. old media component. I believe CBS is so recalcitrant in admitting culpability because to do so would be a huge victory for the new media. However, if CBS continues to balk, then the discovery of the truth and CBS's reluctance to issue a mea culpa could be even more damaging to the institution. I am glad the development of the internet has fostered new outlets for information. However, I can only imagine the number of "stories" that have come and gone based on spurious sources.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Why I Don't Like Clarence Thomas

A dean at FCSL said this today in class concerning affirmative action: "I dont like Clarence Thomas and this is why." He went on the read an except from a case where Thomas stated: "I believe that there is a moral [and] constitutional equivalence between laws designed to subjugate a race and those that distribute benefits on the basis of race in order to foster some current notion of equality. Government cannot make us equal; it can only recognize, respect, and protect us as equal before the law." I almost had a heart attack. What a 1960's relict that sees all issues through the lens of race.