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SCOTUS

Scalia Slams Idea of Cameras in Supreme Court

In response to a question from a 12th grade student from Thomas Jefferson High School (VA) today, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke out against opening up the Supreme Court to cameras.

    If I thought that a large number of the American people would indeed watch our proceedings, it would probably be done by C-SPAN. My friend Brian Lamb is always after me to allow a vote to allow these proceedings to be televised. …

    But if you watched all of what we do, you’d realize that most of the time, 95 percent of the time, we are dealing with really dull lawyerly stuff like the Internal Revenue Code, the bankruptcy code … Stuff that only a lawyer could love or understand.

    So it really would be educational. But for every one citizen who watched C-SPAN, gavel-to-gavel, there would be 100,000 who would watch a 15-second take out from the C-SPAN feed and I guarantee you that that 15 second take out would not be characteristic of what we do. It would be man bites dog. So why should I participate in the miseducation of the American people?

Scalia also rejected the idea of cameras in civil and criminal courts.

    To make entertainment out of real people’s legal troubles seems to me to be really sick. If you want entertainment, hire actors. Put on Perry Mason or something. I don’t think it’s right to make enjoyment out of litigation, civil or criminal.

The event was carried live on C-SPAN as part of it’s series, “Students and Leaders.”

Greenhouse Leaving NYTimes

The National Review’s Ed Whelan reports that Linda Greenhouse is leaving the NYTimes, after accepting a buyout package. More from the AP

A Linda Greenhouse Update

(earlier on FishbowlDC)

Says Jack Shafer:

    Far from being C-SPAN averse, Greenhouse has appeared on the channel so many times you could launch C-SPAN 4 tomorrow and fill it with Greenhouse reruns. According to C-SPAN Vice President Terence Murphy, Greenhouse has appeared at 51 different events covered by the channel. (Green-SPAN, anyone?)

But she’s not the diva CJR made her out to be, says Shafer:

    Greenhouse can be stubborn, but I’ve never known her to lord it over others. Besides, what sort of diva agrees to appear gratis on a huge panel of colleagues to talk to a roomful of out-of-town academics about her profession? Case not proved.

And from Howie Kurtz:

    “There’s a big difference between talking to people in a room and having a nationally televised event,” Greenhouse recalls telling the organizer for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. “I won’t be able to speak with the same kind of candor that would make a good program if I have to watch every word.” The group asked the crew to leave.

    That stance prompted a scolding letter to the organization from C-SPAN Vice President Terence Murphy — saying it should “stand up for open media access to public policy discussions”– and the spanking of Greenhouse across the Web.

    Greenhouse says she did not threaten to walk out but did complain that she felt “blindsided” by the lack of notification, having failed to receive an e-mail from the group the previous night about C-SPAN’s plans.

A New Supreme Court Journo Rockstar?

Over at AboveTheLaw.com, David Lat asks:

    So here’s our question:

    If Linda Greenhouse is the Margo Channing of Supreme Court reporters, does that make Jan Crawford Greenburg into Eve Harrington?

    Just like Eve Harrington, Jan Crawford Greenburg is a talented and attractive young woman, whose star is on the rise. In the past three months, she has scored coveted in-person interviews with almost half of the Supreme Court:

      (1) Chief Justice John Roberts, in Miami;

      (2) Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer, here in Washington; and

      (3) earlier this week, Justice John Paul Stevens (his first network television interview ever).

    For all of you non-journalist types, please understand: these are MAJOR COUPS.

Read the rest here.

Wretchs Welcome — Sans Ink-Stains

The White House pool press got a healthy 15 minute warning this morning that they were supposed to show up for work half-an-hour early to cover the President’s Supreme Court nominee announcement. At least they were already dressed up–yesterday the White House made a rare attire demand for the poolers covering this morning’s SCOTUS investiture ceremony:

(CORRESPONDENTS attire is business–any member not in business attire will not be permitted to cover the Investiture Ceremony).

Hearings In A Television Age

Back in the stride of writing his daily column, Howard Kurtz today looks at the shear boring-ness of yesterday John Roberts confirmation hearings–and how he would have played it if he was a cable network executive:

“Senators bloviating for the cameras for more than three hours while the likely next chief justice sits there uncomfortably isn’t news. Senators cross-examining the judge is news. I’m usually a fan of cable television covering the events rather than engaging in punditry, but only when the event is real, not prepackaged and warmed-over rhetoric.

“The speechifying started at noon, and at 12:45 CNN was the first to break away to Wolf Blitzer, Jeff Greenfield, Jeff Toobin and none other than John Ashcroft. Fox bailed at 1:03, with Chris Wallace and Brit Hume, and MSNBC around the same time, with Brian Williams and Tim Russert. Within moments, Fox and MSNBC were showing Bush in New Orleans, chiding the press for playing the ‘blame game.’”

He concludes that the Senate needs to change its procedures to adapt to the age of hearings in the television age….

Rehnquist Dies: Multi-tasking

CNNrehnquistdies.jpg

In a Friday Washingtonpost.com chat, Terry Neal, the website’s chief political correspondent, was asked how the Post would be able to cover both the Roberts nomination hearings this week and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath:

Question: So is this New Orleans disaster gonna trump the coverage of Roberts confirmation hearing? Or can The Post walk and chew gum at the same time?

Terry Neal: Haha…I think so.

Now, though, the media will be dealing with an even bigger story. Hence a more apt question: Can the D.C. media walk, chew gum, and juggle flaming torches–all while listening to Hilary Duff on its iPod at the same time?

(ABOVE: The first network to break the news, CNN’s Carol Lin reports the death of the death of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist last night at 11:05 p.m.)

‘Pimples of History’

The hottest lottery in town yesterday was the National Archives’ unveiling of thousands of pages of John G. Roberts memos, briefings, and briefs. Dana Milbank relates the color of the event, from Anne Kornblut‘s nearly futile attempt to get a box to New York Sun reporter Josh Gerstein disappointment. “The body was decent, but the finish left something to be desired,” he cracked.

Kurtz: Journalism Can Be Hard

supremecourt.jpgIn a multimedia package, Howard Kurtz this weekend examined how certain beats in journalism (say, for instance, the Supreme Court) can be hard to explain to the idiots who newspapers call “readers” and television news networks call “viewers.”

In his newspaper column today, Kurtz talks to legal experts (the same ones, mind you, who told us Michael Jackson was guilty and that Edith Clement was the President’s nominee) about how Court life is “hard work,” as some would say.

“The Supreme Court deals overwhelmingly with abstractions, and ideas and abstractions are not easy to convey on television,” CNN’s Jeff Toobin tells him. By way of excusing the media’s poor coverage, Toobin says, “The culture of the Supreme Court is so full of restraint and inaccessibility.”

[This is the point where Jon Stewart would make a face of shock and diasppointment and then shake his fists, shouting something about "growing" and "cojones" and "doing your job."]

Then yesterday on his CNN show, “Reliable Sources,” Kurtz talked with USA Today’s Joan Biskupic about how our “instant culture” responds to the plodding minutae that is Court life. She discussed how the life has changed in the age of television as it tries to respond to the nomination of Judge John Roberts: “Everybody expects to have the answer right away. How many people have had the time to read all of his opinions, to read what he’s testified to, and to go back through a lot of public files out at the Reagan Library that are available to sort of assess this man? It’s almost as if with TV and the blog now, both of which I completely support, there is an expectation that we’ll know right away what is he all about.”

Looking ahead to September, when the media might have both the Rove investigation and Supreme Court nomination hearings to cover, Kurtz observes, “Let’s see if the media can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

We’re gonna with “no” on that one, Howie.

An Anonymice Spin Cycle?

Howard Kurtz picks up yesterday’s question thrown out by NPR’s Don Gonyea‘s report on the Edith Clement rumors.

“Did the Bush team put out misinformation on that crazy Tuesday to steer reporters away from John Roberts? We can’t answer the question definitively because the journalists involved have a Matt Cooper problem — they promised their sources anonymity, regardless of motive. But I can tell you that some of them are ticked and feeling misled,” Kurtz writes.

Leftist bloggers are hopping mad over this, which they see as just the latest in the Rovian manipulations of the Washington press corps. Atrios writes, “I really missed the memo when we were told that journalists who promised confidentiality to their sources were obligated to maintain that confidentiality even after learning that they’d been lied to. This isn’t about keeping promises, it’s about maintaining access and shame on all of them for pretending otherwise.”

Like Atrios, we’ll make the same deal we’ve made in the past: Anyone who wishes to out an anonymice source, email us confidentially or use the tip box.

Who was the Edith Clement source?

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