Abortion, NYT and Neutrality

I've long admired the work of Linda Greenhouse, the New York Times Supreme Court reporter, although I am hardly an expert on the subject.

But her recent speech to Radcliffe alumnae -- Greenhouse is class of 1968 -- strikes me as sobering. (The public editor of the Times, Byron Calame, is also critical in today's paper, not yet on line.) It's not simply that Greenhouse casually assumes that her listeners join her in decrying the Bush administration's "assault on reproductive freedom." It's that the most powerful analyst of the Court's decisions -- at least for the vast public reached by the Times -- on perhaps the most divisive legal issue faced by the court and the country, assumes that she can publicly announce her views, views strongly tilted toward one side of an agonizing national debate.

Here's a thought experiment. I basically agree with Greenhouse's bleak (although hardly sophisticated) assessment of the current administration and Iraq. But would Greenhouse accept a Pentagon reporter giving a public address in support of Donald Rumsfeld, and then simply returning to work?

John T. McGreevy is the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

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