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Rosen Responds:

Jeff Rosen responds to some of the criticisms of his profile of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Word is, his profile of Elena Kagan is up next.

Jason F:
Rosen doesn't do himself any favors with this attempt to defend himself. My favorite part was when he earnestly explained that his anonymous sources didn't have agendas, then describes their agendas.
5.7.2009 9:51pm
OrinKerr:
Jason F.,

I don't think I have a dog in this fight, but I assume Rosen meant "no agendas other than to help President Obama."
5.7.2009 10:00pm
Jason F:
Prof. Kerr, your point is well-taken, but I would say that "helping President Obama" is a different agenda from "getting President Obama to appoint a Justice who furthers the sources' visions of liberalism." The anonymous sources clearly have the latter agenda, per Prof. Rosen, and while that might overlap with the former agenda, it's not the same thing.
5.7.2009 10:11pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Greenwald responds to the response.

Cheers,
5.7.2009 11:11pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I guess Rosen would be the first to admit if he deserved criticism.
5.7.2009 11:12pm
Anon321:
Initially, I thought that the criticism of Rosen's first piece was overblown. Specifically, my view was that extremely valuable information could be gathered from current and former 2d Cir. clerks and from people who practice in front of that court frequently; and that those people would never disclose that information candidly unless granted anonymity. But I had assumed that Rosen had made some efforts to get a representative sample -- that is, had just called a bunch of randomly clerks and practitioners and asked their opinions. It turns out, though, that "eminent liberal scholars . . . [who] were concerned that Sotomayor might not meet that high standard . . . put [Rosen] in touch with others in the same situation."

In other words, everyone he spoke to was underwhelmed by Sotomayor because someone made a point to put him in touch with lots of people who were underwhelmed by Sotomayor. I suspect that you could find a group of people who have serious questions about any candidate's intelligence or temperament or judgment, and if you arranged for a journalist to speak to each of those people, that candidate would come out looking pretty bad. But that wouldn't mean that their perspective is anything other than idiosyncratic.

So Rosen's response actually made me feel worse about the original article.
5.7.2009 11:33pm
rosetta's stones:

"...Rosen's mentality illustrates the decay that lies at the core of modern journalism."


I don't have any opinion on the judge, but Glenn Greenwald sure won't make any friends with journalists here.
5.7.2009 11:38pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
someone made a point to put him in touch with lots of people who were underwhelmed by Sotomayor.


OMG it's totally cliquishness. What I can't figure out if Rosen talked to the popular kids ("Sotomayor has cooties. She eats paste, for Cripes sake.") or to the unpopular kids ("Sotomayor's a stuck-up bitch.").
5.7.2009 11:42pm
zuch (mail) (www):
rosetta's stones:
I don't have any opinion on the judge, but Glenn Greenwald sure won't make any friends with journalists here.
Do you think he cares a fig? I suspect that Stephen Colbert wasn't into sucking up too much either in the WHPCA dinner, nor Jon Stewart in his Crossfire appearance and later such bouts. And ... you know ... it's strangely refreshing to head someone brave enough and confident enough to be forthright with their thoughts ... right on TeeBee....

Cheers,
5.8.2009 12:00am
continuedfromtop:

Do you think he cares a fig?



no, he doesn't. that is part of the problem. the guy is a jerk. he can't just critique someone's position. he has to insult them too.
5.8.2009 12:26am
Harold Kovins:
Rosen is a total ass, but it strikes me as funny that for years his shoddy hit-pieces on Justice Kennedy have gone unremarked, and it takes an article about Judge Sotomayor to raise anyone's hackles. (Indeed, one presumes that Rosen's remark that Sotomayor is as good as some of the justices on the court is, presumably, an allusion to his disdain for Justice Kennedy.) I'm not sure why that is. Is it because Rosen's personal and unsupported assaults on Justice Kennedy accord with our impression of the man, while his assaults on Judge Sotomayor do not? Reasons of political correctness? A sense that Rosen, having already taken a half-step toward betraying liberalism for the sake of attention with his sloppy kisses to the Chief Justice might be entering full-on sabotage by going after Judge Sotomayor?
5.8.2009 12:31am
AlanfromOntario:
Rosen is a sad, pathetic hack. He's certainly not a journalist. He just vomits up musings from anonymous sources and, when he does dare venture into the world of fact, he gets it wrong as Greenwald correctly noted.
5.8.2009 1:10am
Tony Tutins (mail):

for years his shoddy hit-pieces on Justice Kennedy have gone unremarked, and it takes an article about Judge Sotomayor to raise anyone's hackles.

The difference is that Rosen's article serves as an introduction to Sotomayor for many people, while his opinion of Justice Kennedy is just one among many writers' over the two decades that Kennedy has been on the Court.

In fact, when Kennedy took office, Rosen was just a pisher of 24 -- although his bio is light on dates, according to the NYT he was 39 when he married in 2003.
5.8.2009 1:17am
zuch (mail) (www):
continuedfromtop:
Do you think he {Greenwald] cares a fig? no, he doesn't. that is part of the problem. the guy is a jerk. he can't just critique someone's position. he has to insult them too.
I think you're getting confused as to who's who. Glenn criticises people ... and then lays out the ground for criticism. OTOH, Rosen is more into the smear/insult type approach ... and that is pretty much the problem in this instance.

I would note that it may well be insulting to someone to be criticised ... but I don't think you're suggesting that we refrain in such a case ... particularly given your own post here ... right?

But if you think that Glenn's overly insulting and not sufficiently "constructive", please, out with your evidence and make your case.

Cheers,
5.8.2009 1:42am
Volokh Groupie:
The new found hatred directed towards anonymous sources is hilarious considering how many times reports or investigative pieces with only anonymous sources as reference have been held in high esteem.
5.8.2009 2:30am
Roger Schlafly (www):
Jason's right. Rosen says:
They did not have axes to grind or personal agendas; they are Democrats who want President Obama to appoint the most effective liberal Supreme Court justices possible and were concerned Sotomayor might not meet that high standard.
So I am supposed to believe Rosen's anonymous sources because Rosen says they have no agendas? Not likely.
5.8.2009 4:12am
Public_Defender (mail):

. . . mostly former Second Circuit clerks and prosecutors who have argued before her. . .

Ticks off prosecutors. I like her more already.

Too many prosecutors are used to automatically winning. Some get frustrated and angry with any judge who holds them to the same standard as any other lawyer presenting a case and making an argument.
5.8.2009 6:59am
footnote reading lawyer (mail):
Having read the (in)famous footnote through the eyes of a practicing lawyer, I find it fully consistent with a back-handed slap from one judge to another.

In fact, I have a hard time imagining that any practicing lawyer would consider that reading impossible, and I'd expect the large majority of practicing lawyers to consider that reading as reasonable.
5.8.2009 10:27am
Suzy (mail):
Anon, I agree. His effort to defend himself makes the original piece look even worse, because he makes it clear that 1) he had access to more objective evidence that he could have cited and pursued further, but he did not, and 2) the entire story was guided by his anonymous sources, rather than any objective effort on his part to find people able to comment on her. He thinks his sources can be trusted because they are "liberal". Wow, classic. I don't suppose any "liberal" in the world would stand to benefit if some other candidate was chosen, or has been displeased for some other personal reason with this Judge.
5.8.2009 10:56am
Bored Lawyer:

They did not have axes to grind or personal agendas; they are Democrats who want President Obama to appoint the most effective liberal Supreme Court justices possible and were concerned Sotomayor might not meet that high standard.


I think this is what has upset so many people. The left-wing diversity crowd is about to be hoisted on its own petard.

Let's stipulate that Sotamayor is a competent jurist and amply qualified to sit on the High Court. But she is certainly no intellectual superstar, and not the liberal foil to Scalia that the left is looking for. But that is about to be sacrificed in the name of diversity -- her gender and ethnicity gives her an edge over a white male liberal intellect (like, say, Laurence Tribe.)

Conservatives ought to enjoy the irony

For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar;
5.8.2009 12:25pm
MarkField (mail):

The new found hatred directed towards anonymous sources is hilarious considering how many times reports or investigative pieces with only anonymous sources as reference have been held in high esteem.


It seems to me that there are circumstances in which anonymity is justified and circumstances where it isn't. In fact, most newspapers have guidelines on the practice (which they routinely violate). Thus, there's no necessary hypocrisy in criticizing the use of anonymous sources, as long as you do so from a consistent perspective.
5.8.2009 12:55pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

her gender and ethnicity gives her an edge over a white male liberal intellect (like, say, Laurence Tribe

A lot of candidates have an edge over a white male liberal intellect like Laurence Tribe. Candidates who didn't propose a do-over election in Palm Beach County, with only Gore and Buchanan on the ballot. Guys whose loss at the Supreme Court didn't still rankle three years later. The Unbearable Wrongness of Bush v. Gore.
5.8.2009 1:25pm
Yinka Double Dare:
I still don't see what's wrong with using the Almanac. Sure, it's anonymous. But there are plenty of judges on there that don't get the same kind of comments Sotomayor did as far as temperment. And I would hope that the Almanac editors did try to have representative amounts of quotes that represent the approximate percentages of those who hold any given opinion of a judge.

Seems to me that when it comes to judges, you almost have to keep sources anonymous to get their true thoughts -- who in their right mind would trash a judge that they knew they would probably appear in front of in court?
5.8.2009 6:01pm
krs:
I think all of the commentary on Judge Sotomayor has been annoying. A pox on all of them, anonymous critics, proud sycophants, pedantic footnote lovers, and indignant bloggers alike. To hell with all of you.
5.8.2009 8:27pm
krs:
it strikes me as funny that for years his shoddy hit-pieces on Justice Kennedy have gone unremarked

If you know of any, please point me to them. The only Rosen article on Kennedy of which I'm aware is awesome and based on his own impressions rather than an accumulation of anonymous secret critics using unverifiable information. I view Justice Kennedy as the intellectual heir to Justice Douglas, and I can't for the life of me understand why so many of his former clerks seem to be nothing at all like him.

Perhaps that paradox is one of the sweet mysteries of life of the sort that inspires so much of his worst writing.
5.8.2009 8:31pm

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