The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Our Mr. Ed Principle


A reader wrote this to me yesterday:

The Conspiracy is truly declining.

I can't believe there is NOTHING about Barr and Mueller. Barr is a legal genius, in my opinion. You think someone on your crew would be interested in writing about this. No. Facebook, foot voting, and other such drivel make the cut.

I thought this would be a good occasion to remind people about how we see our role. "All the news that's fit to print" is one noted publication's slogan, but ours is more this:

People yakkity yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.

Because of our special expertise, there are times when we can add special value beyond what others are already saying. Sometimes it's about foot voting (which Ilya has been studying for decades). Sometimes it's about free speech or Internet law, which many of us have likewise long researched. Sometimes it's about criminal procedure, gun policy, and more. Occasionally it's just something that we think is fun, or that resonates with us personally, though these tend to be an exception: a nice little bit of leavening, I think, but not the core substance.

It's almost never "This is important news, so we must cover it"—and I don't think you should want it to be. You doubtless read other news stories, and have access to many more; let them cover what they are expert in, or what they feel obligated to cover. They presumably have people who are paid to read the Mueller report and Barr's response, and to cover the complicated factual disputes about them. Pay attention to them when they cover what they know, and to us when we cover what we know.

I sent a version of this to my correspondent, and got back a gracious reply that suggests that he sees our point on this. But I wanted to note this for the benefit of other readers as well.