Not Your Brain

Let’s give credit where it’s due.  Linda Greenhouse, retired Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, is a brilliantly qualified journalist: hard-working, creative, dedicated to the needs of her profession as she understands them.

Which seems really to be the problem here; a problem large and grave, requiring critical analysis.  Greenhouse’s very personal sense of journalism’s necessities strikes me—her contemporary in the profession—as well-meant but grotesquely misguided.  She wants journalists to turn themselves into teachers and preachers.  I say, ixnay, lady.

I will tell in a moment why I say so.  Some preliminary stage-dressing is wanted in the meantime.

First, the nature of the present enterprise—a short account of the author’s life in journalism mingled with observations meant for an audience at Harvard’s William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in American Studies.  In the book compiled from her discourses, and expanded to account for the Trump phenomenon, “I explore,” the author says, “the relationship between journalist and citizen and question whether prevailing norms fix too rigid a boundary between the two roles.”

Yes (she concludes), they really do.  Linda Greenhouse doesn’t believe in “objective” journalism—just-the-facts-ma’am journalism,...

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