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May 28, 2009


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Uzair Kayani

This is an interesting note. I do not know how competent traditional media are at fact-checking but it is clear that we are living through an important transformation of "the press." Newspapers rely significantly on blogs and sources like Wikipedia. This isn't bad in itself: Wikipedia appears to correct itself more quickly than newspapers or radio reports ever did. An undergraduate at Dublin ran an amusing test recently to confirm this. See the link below:


The problem is really at the level of professional journalism rather than blogs and the like, and I am not sure it is worse than before. The result should be for these professional sources to lose their credibility over time. They do not have the sort of opacity, monopolistic power, or rating agency imprimatur etc that might allow them to maintain credibility when they engage in demonstrably bad reporting.

It would be interesting to see what happened to newspapers during the Great Depression. My guess is that many failed; however, newspapers back then probably catered to a narrower audience than today's media do. Their reporting may have been bad in other ways.

I wonder whether these transformations in the press will affect "free press" jurisprudence in any way, particularly in matters of press privilege, confidentiality and perhaps libel.

Christopher Greene

While I agree with much of what you wrote, I'd like to offer a minor qualification. His point, I think, was about her lack of experience with commercial transactional work. Of course, to make his argument work he has to first identify those qualities or areas of expertise that commercial litigators lack and transactional attorneys have and then explain why those factors are relevant to being a good Supreme Court justice. He gestures towards knowing the difference between secured and unsecured debt, but it seems to me that someone who has done high level commercial litigation (and has sat on the Second Circuit for some time) is probably familiar with such distinctions.

While Frum himself doesn't make any reference to actual advantages a transactional attorney would have over a commercial litigator for the job, does anyone think that the experience is especially meaningful for the position? I myself am agnostic as I know far too little about either field.

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