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October 10, 2006

Reuters editor fired for criticizing Ann Coulter in new book


AnnCoulter, originally uploaded by kevinclark.

Yes, you read right, Reuters fired editor Joe Maguire after reading the galleys of his new book Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter.

The crazy part is that Maguire got his bosses' permission to write Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter.

What kind of book were they expecting?

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This reminds me of the recent dispute that arose when Linda Greenhouse -- the NYT's Supreme Court reporters -- gave a speech that revealed some of her personal political opinions. The NYT's "Public Editor," Byron Calame, writes about the incident and the proper response.
She opined that the government

“had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, other places around the world, the U.S. Congress, whatever. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism.” She later added, “I feel a growing obligation to reach out across the ridiculous actual barrier that we seem about to build on the Mexican border. ...” It seems clear to me that Ms. Greenhouse stepped across that line during her speech. Times news articles are not supposed to contain opinion. A news article containing the phrase “the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism” would get into the paper only as a direct quote from a source. The same would go for any news article reference to “the ridiculous actual barrier” on the Mexican border.

Calame notes the "muted" reaction from the management of the NYT and says that Greenhouse told him that "she considers her remarks at Harvard to be 'statements of fact' — not opinion — that would be allowed to appear in a Times news article."

The Times has its policy constraining the speech of journalists, and as Calame notes, an interest in avoiding "giving the paper’s critics fresh opportunities to snipe at its public policy coverage."

This is the reason for Reuters firing editor Joe Maguire, the more the mainstream media asserts its opinions in the public sphere, the more it ends up looking like a stealth version of the O’Reilly show and Fox News, claiming to be “fair & balanced”.

"It puts the lotion on its skin"

Wow. That had my jaw in the dropped position for a good 5 seconds.

This is the reason for Reuters firing editor Joe Maguire, the more the mainstream media asserts its opinions in the public sphere, the more it ends up looking like a stealth version of the O’Reilly show and Fox News, claiming to be “fair & balanced”.

He wrote a book, not a news article.

Ms. Greenhouse and Joe Maguire are bitter, unethical and untrustworthy. That’s not my opinion. It’s just a statement of fact.

Everyone has biases and opinions and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that.When reporters say their clear biases and opinions are statements of fact. That’s where personal opinions are dangerous.

Let’s consider what Greenhouse is saying. She believes that her views in support of abortion are not debatable. And yet she expects us to trust her when she writes up the next Supreme Court decision on abortion. And she’s so confident that she’s right and anyone who disagrees with her is irrational that taking her off the story would be “completely preposterous.”

Many consider Greenhouse a good reporter, and she has her Pulitzer and other awards. But this story just keeps getting worse. I think it points to the simple need for newsrooms to try to hire reporters with a variety of perspectives.

Shorter Fitz: I want affirmative action for people who share my views, in all areas of American life.

Fitz, it would seem to me that if abortion is illegal, women have less reproductive freedom. If you believe that abortion is murder, you would probably support limiting women's reproductive freedom in order to save the lives of pre-born humans. Greenhouse isn't saying her views on abotion are not debateable--she's saying those oppose legal abortion limit reproductive freedom, and she claims that much is a matter of fact, not opinion. The opinion comes when you say whether such limits are a good thing or not. It's pretty easy to guess her opinion by the rhetoric she uses to express the factual state of affairs--an "assault" on freedom, rather than just a limit on it--but I don't think the word choice goes far enough to move her assertion from the realm of fact to opinion.

Really, Fitz, your side has gotten Judith Miller, a free pass on unheard-of levels of corruption, and a culture of media sycophancy that would gladden the heart of the most fawning, bootlicking authoritarian. Members of your party are attempting, without media protest, to redefine the meaning of the word "bigot" to mean anyone who voices an opinion in contradiction to their own. The New York Times is even playing coy on creation "science"!! And yet you're still bitter*...

So: just what does the mainstream media have to do to win your love?


*I know, it seems presumptuous of me to speak so authoritatively on the emotions you're having. But that's not my opinion. Its just a statement of fact.

And I'm ashamed to say it, guys, but while I recognize a joke in the above picture, I just don't get it. What does it mean?

Let’s consider what Greenhouse is saying.

Let's not.

Fitz, the only reason this McGuire incident reminds you of Greenhouse is because you would prefer to talk about Greenhouse rather than the topic referenced by Lindsay.

Well... I actually was a bit presumptuous and unfair in my reply to Fitz, or possibly not, I'm too tired to figure it out at the moment.

Carry on, everyone.

Well Constantine

You must admit the similarities..

"There was a difference of opinion about the approval I received to write this book," said Maguire, as quoted in the Times. "I thought I had met the conditions, and proceeded accordingly. As a result, I no longer work there."
“Reuters confirmed that Maguire was granted conditional approval to write the Coulter book. When asked what changed, a company statement alluded to Reuters' principles of "integrity, independence, and freedom from bias."
It’s the same trouble Greenhouse got in at the times (and this weekends Public Editors comment was on it)
Showing off partisan/ideological bias – Both reporters work for ostensibly “straight” news organizations (their not) – this exposes the tilt of reporters in such organizations & that’s what makes it a news item.
There under more pressure then ever because of the long standing charge of bias made by the right.

This is why the ability to hold several differing ideas- e.g., "Saddam Hussein is an evil despot" and "America has no legal or ethical right to invade and occupy Iraq"; or, "male oppression of women is an evil" and "imperialism is wrong"- in the mind at once is so terribly important, if you want to have any kind of coherent political stance. Of course, that does make the world more complicated.

Sorry, wrong thread.

I did mention I was tired...

I don't know how you found that pic, Lindsay, but it gave me a good laugh. That's a keeper.

Cass:

The "lotion" line came from the character of "Buffalo Bill" in the movie "The Silence of the Lambs". That's Buffalo Bill's face that's been photoshopped over Ms. Coulter's.

You must admit the similarities..

I must? Now you're telling me what to do? You're the one more interested in talking about Greenhouse than the issue at hand, here. Even you can't defend Reuters here, and instead have to discuss a completely different case, I assume because you never bothered to start a blog of your own.

The only depressing thing about that joke is we have no idea when Coulter will get the hose, or if she's ever gotten it in the first place to get it again.

Ms. Greenhouse and Joe Maguire are bitter, unethical and untrustworthy.

Ms. Greenhouse's quoted comments are as dry and factual as any you're likely to see, verifiable by anyone who follows public affairs. This description of Greenhouse and Maguire lacks any supporting evidence, even stipulating that the quoted comments expressed mere opinions. What, you're claiming that Ann Coulter is *not* a fount of lies and lunacy? What color is the sky in your world?

Conservative/liberal what's the difference anymore? Ann is no more a conservative (or an educated one) than I am and I don't like our 'leader' (if that's what you want to call him). Anymore conservative means taking away one's rights. If that's what she's for, then I totally disagree with her. Maybe she should be more definitive about what she stands for. Firing someone for having that opinion is like firing the American people for having opinions - and that goes against the documents our forefathers signed.

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