Journalist Linda Greenhouse writes about the evolution of political coverage post-Trump
For three decades, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Linda Greenhouse covered the U.S. Supreme Court for the New York Times. She currently freelances for the news agency and teaches at Yale Law School.
On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with Greenhouse about her career and the current state of the media and political affairs. Greenhouse is in St. Louis to speak at a local Planned Parenthood event on Feb. 2 about the present and future of abortion rights.
Listen to the full discussion:
Q: What are you doing in your time these days asides from teaching and writing?
A: I follow the movie business because I have a daughter who’s a filmmaker in Los Angeles. And I have a new book out that’s a kind of memoir or auto-biographical look at the practice of journalism today and it’s called “Just a Journalist.”
Q: Where are we in the newspaper business and media in general today?
A: The Trump presidency has been a great boon [to the New York Times.] So keep it going … What I really talk about in the book is the evolution of mainstream media and political coverage in the age of Trump. I just find it very fascinating that the journalistic norms of ‘two sides to every story; he said she said’, even if one of them was telling an obvious untruth or even if the story has only one side or 20 sides, these were practices that really determined the way news was covered.
In the 2016 election, the New York Times came to have the self-confidence and feel the need by September of 2016 to call a major party candidate in very big type, in a front page headline – a liar. That would not have been predicted and it’s just a fascinating turn of events.
Q: What do you think about Trump’s use of the word “fake news?”
A: There’s always been propaganda and rampant PR trying to spin stories. Fake news is a new label for an old practice and one that’s been enabled by social media, but it’s not a brand new creation.
Q: How do you respond to people who question your objectivity due to your outspoken views on issues, including abortion?
A: Nobody can show an instance of it. What I question is what the line should be between the role of a journalist and the role of a journalist as an ordinary American citizen. And the view that I take is that journalists should be judged by their work … what I do insist is that journalists are citizens who live in the world, who have the right to vote, who have the right to show up at a demonstration, not under a banner that says ‘New York Times reporter for [abortion] choice,’ but just as a person. That’s my belief and I’m happy to have discussions or even arguments about it.
Q: Should political reporters put political signs in their lawns?
A: No I don’t think so. But you get very prominent journalists that think journalists shouldn’t vote, that that’s a conflict of interest and I’m just not there, I just don’t get that.
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