The Volokh Conspiracy

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Washington Post Reports On More SCOTUS Leaks

I have ten general observations.

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Yesterday, the Washington Post published a thorough report about the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs. About halfway through the piece, we learn that the Post received several leaks from the Supreme Court.

The leaked draft of Alito's opinion is dated February 10 and is almost surely obsolete now, as justices have had time to offer critiques, dissents and revisions. But as of last week, the five-member majority to strike Roe remains intact, according to three conservatives close to the court who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

A person close to the court's most conservative members said Roberts told his fellow jurists in a private conference in early December that he planned to uphold the state law and write an opinion that left Roe and Casey in place for now. But the other conservatives were more interested in an opinion that overturned the precedents, the person said.

I have ten general observations.

First, the Post received confirmation from "three conservatives close to the court." This sourcing is significant. The Politico story was very opaque about how many sources it relied on. A general journalistic rule of thumb is to have two separate anonymous sources in order to provide confirmation. (People are more inclined to lie when their name is not attached to a story.) But here, the Post stresses there were three sources, which makes the reporting more reliable.

Second, the Post stresses that the sources are "conservative." The Politico story did not indicate the ideology of the source, leading to a never-ending debate about whether a liberal or conservative leaked the opinion. Here, conservatives are talking to the Post to stress that the majority "remains intact." This fact reaffirms that there was no reason for conservatives to leak the opinion last week. Again, if the majority was intact, or at least in flux, leaking the opinion would invariably backfire on the right.

Third, what does it mean to be "close to the court"? I mean, I'm close to the Court. I think and write about it all the time. Presumably, this phrase must mean "close to a Justice" or "close to a clerk who is talking to the press." (In my tenth point, I will revisit the fact that there are still leaks after the commencement of the so-called "investigation.")

Fourth, the Post cites three sources who maintain that the five-member majority remains intact, and also cites one "person close to the court's most conservative members." Woah! Not just a person close to the Court in some abstract sense, but a person close to the "most conservative" Justices. Presumably that would mean Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch. Here the Post makes clear that Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan are not the source of this leak. And ditto for Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Who is this one important person in touch with the right-tail of the 3-3-3 Court? (It is not me.) More importantly, this person has intimate details about what transpired at conference. (Though frankly, I could have guessed at this conference discussion based on oral argument.)  I do not know if the three people who are "close to the Court" include the one person close to the conservative members. The Post's sourcing is not entirely clear.

Fifth, the option Roberts floated at conference--upholding the Mississippi law without overruling Roe--would have been incoherent. Sherif Girgis has proven this point beyond cavil--there is no middle ground. And I am grateful that--at least at conference--the other members of the Court were unwilling to sign onto another blue plate Chief special. This issue is far too important to write yet another incoherent precedent that would confound the courts for generations to come.

Sixth, the Politico story published last week stated that the five-member majority was intact. Now, a week later, the Post states that the five-member majority is still intact. If we assume this information is reliable, then the leak did not affect the votes in the majority. Again, this fact reaffirms that the leak was not designed to shift votes. Instead, I still think the leak was designed to destroy the Court.

Seventh, the Post story suggests that Alito's draft opinion "is almost surely obsolete" which means "it is obsolete." And the majority opinion has now responded at some length to the dissents, and the Chief's partial dissent. Once again, given that there are so many more recent versions of the document, it is unclear why someone on the inside would leak an "obsolete" version of the opinion. I still think the person who leaked it was not a clerk or Justice, but instead obtained it through some improper means at some point in the past.

Eighth, the article was authored by Robert Barnes, Carol Leonnig, and Ann Marimow. Each of these reporters regularly write about the Court. It is unsurprising they would share the byline. There is no national security reporter, who may have been helpful to handling an expropriated document. This story is consistent with good old fashioned shoe leather reporting.

Ninth, let's take a step back. Even after Chief Justice Roberts excoriated the leak as an egregious breach of trust, people in his building--including the conservative Justices--are still blabbing. Apparently, only leaked opinions are investigated, but talking to the press is tacitly accepted. Such has been the practice for years. Roberts took no action in response to incessant leaks to CNN. These leaks need to stop. But the Chief Justice, once again, has proven himself to be utterly unable to manage this situation. As Roberts purports to clamp down on leaks, his precious institution remains a sieve. These leaks undermine the seriousness of the Marshal's investigation.

Tenth, I would put the odds at 50% that Roberts resigns after the last day of the term, and his successor is confirmed before the new term begins. What better way to virtue signal and promote bipartisanship then to vote to uphold Roe v. Wade, and let a Democratic president replace him with a 50-50 Senate. John Roberts, meet Cincinnatus. Will we get an actual Chief Justice Kagan?

NEXT: Overruling Roe Would Extinguish A Judicially Created Right, But Would Restore The People's "Precious Right To Govern Themselves"

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  1. I have ten general observations.

    Only 10? And you didn't even turn them into a blog post each?

    1. #7 will surprise you.

  2. Tenth, I would put the odds at 50% that Roberts resigns after the last day of the term, and his successor is confirmed before the new term begins.

    You’ve now proven you’re not “close” to the Court or anyone on it.

    1. Agreed, what an inane close to this article.

  3. 1. Why would anyone believe that some "conservative" would leak something to the Washington Post ? Is this some Lincoln Project sex hazing ritual whereby you gently place your testicles in your enemy's fist and pass him a razor?

    2. But more fundamentally, why would anyone believe anything in the Washington Post ? Including the date.

    1. A conservative would talk to the WaPo because they believe a prog leaked the draft.

      My #1 suspect is a clerk of Sotomayor.
      My #2 suspect is someone preparing KJB.
      My #3 is one of Roberts own clerks.

      1. Meanwhile said conservative would have placed their entire career in the hands of a WP reporter. They would have to be literally insane.

  4. " A general journalistic rule of thumb is to have two separate anonymous sources in order to provide confirmation."

    As long as the sources are anonymous there is no way for readers to verify that there are in fact two sources (or in this case, 3).

    1. How often do you find yourself verifying that named sources actually said what they're quoted saying in newspaper articles you read?

      1. Not often, though I will occasionally verify that the named source actually exists.

        It's not a question of did the source say what the article says it said. It's a question of does the source actually exist at all.

        I am always highly skeptical of stories based only on anonymous sources.

        1. " It's a question of does the source actually exist at all."

          And is the source actually in a position to have first hand knowledge of what it is claimed to have said.

  5. "I would put the odds at 50% that Roberts resigns after the last day of the term"
    The same old Blackman bullshit, obviously motivated by how close he is to SCOTUS.
    And yet he is still at a 5th tier law school.

    1. At least Professor Blackman made it out of his parent’s basement. And found a more fulfilling purpose to his life than being an anonymous social media troll.

      1. Prof. Blackman does indeed do his trolling under his real name (and then adds it to his 150 page CV).

    2. Without endorsing the completely unnecessary ad hominems, I would like to concur that I have no idea what "odds at 50%" mean in this context.

      First of all, odds are a *ratio* of the probability of one event to the other. Reading the plaintext suggests that the probability of Roberts resigning is half the probability of him not resigning ... is that what Blackman meant?

      Second, how on earth are these odds calculated? The experiment is not repeatable, so an empirical interpretation is out. The event is also unique, so a Bayesian interpretation seems made up out of whole cloth.

      Perhaps this is just a figure of speech indicating Blackman's qualitative feeling of how likely this is to happen ... but then why not say it qualitatively and leave out the objective-sounding math?

      1. AtR,
        "Reading the plaintext suggests that the probability of Roberts resigning is half the probability of him not resigning ... is that what Blackman meant?"
        No, it is not.
        It means the the chances of Roberts resigning and Roberts not resigning are equal. Moreover, that interpretation is the commonplace understanding of the sentence.

        1. "Moreover, that interpretation is the commonplace understanding of the sentence."

          No ... that may be the commonplace misunderstanding of the sentence, but it is simply wrong. More likely, he meant to say "probability at 50%" ... just because many people are mathematically illiterate, doesn't make the illiteracy "right" (I am not including Blackman in this - I think it was just a casual mistake).

          1. AtR,
            You are so egregiously wrong that you are also ignorant of the mean of statements about probabilities.
            Fes up when you're wrong? Nope, ignorant pride forbids that. And then you try so lawyerlike bullshit: "a plaintext reading."

            Tell us, what are your credentials with respect to probability and statistics. Then every one can judge for themselves.

            Of course, JB is also incorrect in his usage "put the odds at 50%.
            His presumption is that the odds re even and that the probability is 50%.

            1. What the heck are you talking about @Don? How do you define "odds" in your world? How on earth would my self-claimed credentials in probability (provided through an anonymous blog) support or refute a statement of mathematics?

              1. There you go again. You are so arrogant that you cannot ever admit to saying that you are mistaken.
                You refuse to answer a direct question about your credentials in mathematics of probability and statistics. If you want to know how to define odds, check Wikipedia.
                If you're complaining about JB stupid wording say so. But it seems that you do not fault Josh.
                He meant even odds, period.

                1. Could you please spell out what you feel is my mistake in a language that an unqualified troglodyte like me could understand? I really don't understand what it is you want me to apologize for!

                  Since you are aggressively forcing my hand, I have a strong background in probability and statistics, including undergrad and grad courses, and I have taught the subject (have you?). I don't know what you mean by "mean of statements about probabilities" ... is this some vague reference to the central limit theorem? If so, how on earth does it apply here?

      2. It's a coin toss, Roberts will either squishliy squish himself off into the sunset, or will stay. No matter what happens, Joshy-poo can claim his prognosticating was correct and pat himself on the back.

  6. Where are all of the George W Bush defenders in 2022?? Does anyone believe a Justice Miers would have overturned Roe/Casey?? What was the point of Bush’s 8 years other than to attempt to destroy America??

    1. SC,
      Give your hobby-horse a rest.

  7. Given your continued harping on Roberts resigning, how exactly do you expect him to stop any of this? Say it were conclusively proven that it were a non-Roberts clerk who performed the leak (with or without the approval of the justice) but the hiring justice chose for whatever reason to take no action, other than refusing to assign opinions to that justice when Roberts formed part of the majority, what other power do you think the CJ has?

    The only body I see having any power to discipline poorly behaving justices is Congress, and good luck there.

    1. Lee Moore beat me to it- this entire post starts with the premise that if the WP said it confirmed something with 3 sources, then it's true, as opposed to the WP making that part up out of whole cloth.

    2. Yeah the Chief Justice has zero ability to make members of the court behave if they don’t want to. Chief/presiding/administrative judges of any court at any level generally lack the ability to control other members even indirectly. But at least in lower courts they might be able to reassign cases or contact disciplinary authorities for misbehaving judges. Here…you can’t take a justice off a case entirely and there is no ethical code to enforce. I guess they could call the disciplinary authority if they’re still a member of the bar somewhere. But that would be silly and pointless since they’re not going to be practicing law once they’re off the bench.

    3. The Chief Justice may be able to cut off a rogue clerk’s salary, or even fire him or her, for violating the clerk’s oath. That may not mean that much with the Court’s term ending soon, and with it the clerk’s employment.

  8. very skeptical anyone in the know with conservative justices would say a word to the WaPo.

    It's probably some beltway RINOs that want to pretend like they have knowledge/clout to the reporters.

    It's all but certain who the leaker is. The reporter who received the leak attended the wedding of one of Breyer's clerks. Occam's razor says that is who leaked it.

  9. All of this speculation reminds me of Kremlinology in the bad old days of the Soviet Union. Lots of people were well-paid to spout off theories that mostly proved to be false. Yet the same people kept coming back with more theories.

    Give it a rest. The facts will come out, eventually. Until then, any talk is, to paraphrase the Bard, a tale, told by an idiot, signifying nothing.

    1. I've said the same thing, though with less assurance that the facts will come out any time soon. Imagine how quiet the internet would be if people could do that.

    2. I beg to differ. Humans love to gossip. And for a lawyer Josh is splendidly human.

      1. This is not mainline normally socialized human behavior.

        It’s not like antisocial but splendidly human? Nah.

        1. And yet here you are gossiping away.

          1. It's an odd trick, claiming that posting how out of bounds Blackman's posting is must be in and of itself similarly out of bounds.

            There is no reason why it is so.

            For one thing, my wordcount is vastly lower.
            For another, I'm not tilting at the windmill of getting the Chief Justice to resign like an obsessive stalker.

            There is a reason my posts don't regularly garner dozens of replies telling me to please stop for the love of shame.

            1. Your claim to brevity is accepted. You have a laconic, gnomic style designed to present a small, low resolution target. It is designed to avoid direct engagement. You calculate. Blackman does not - he piles straight in, emotions at full blast, calculating not at all. Which makes him much more entertaining than you, though also much more tiresome.

              Both are human forms of gossiping, though yours could hardly be described as "splendidly" so - more in the parsimonious line. There would be no point at all ambling over to your garden fence to get the latest on who might be sleeping with Mrs Rodriguez at the moment.

              Whereas Blackman would be leaning on his fence with dozens of suspects on his list, all of them wrong. More fun, but the trouble is that when you've had enough, he might chase you down the road for half a mile before twigging that you'd had enough of that subject for the day.

              I had a colleague a bit like that once, delightful sweet natured guy, possibly even more so than Prof Blackman, but it was never wise to get him started, because he never stopped. Chased me along a long corridor and down two flights of stairs once without ever suspecting that my continuing to walk away from him could be taken as a hint.

              1. I think when you gather a large group of people imploring you to stop, and you continue to have no shame, that's not delightful, nor particularly full of humanity.

                I've never been called gnomic before, lol. I don't think of myself as very cryptic at all. Though I do spend my time more explaining why commenters are wrong than laying out my own positions. Contrarianism is why this is one of my haunts.
                I also don't hesitate to have them when they're called for. But I also don't think I need to immediately have an opinion on everything.

  10. Just when I wasn't sure if three was more than two, there was Professor Blackman with another blog post.

  11. Eleven: The sources are 'anonymous', and therefore may well be fictional, or somebody you'd place no reliance on if you did know their identity.

    Seriously, after the last few years, why even bother taking seriously anonymously sourced stories? How many times have they burned a source who turned out to be wrong, in the last few years? Once, I think, just once.

  12. What reason to retire does Chief Justice Roberts have? That Josh Blackman hates him is hardly sufficient.

    1. Josh does not understand that Roberts does not give a damn about he thinks or writes on endlessly about.

  13. >> "upholding the Mississippi law without overruling Roe--would have been incoherent."

    I was going to say that this sentence is sophomoric, but then I got to the end of the post ("I would put the odds at 50% that Roberts resigns after the last day of the term, and his successor is confirmed before the new term begins"), and I realized that the whole post must be intended in jest. Hope those whiskey shots were good.

    With respect to Roberts, the reality is that Roe has six different legal conclusions in it, and when people say "Roe" they are usually ambiguous about what they mean. In a casual, non-lawyer sense, they often mean "there is a constitutionally protected interest that precludes a state from banning abortion outright." In that sense, the comment about Roberts makes perfect sense, because the Mississippi law at issue does not attempt to do that. Thus, Roberts can easily say that it is unnecessary to determine (in this case) whether there is such a constitutional interest -- all that is required is to say whether the constitution compels states to permit abortion past the 15th week.

    1. It seems clear to me the Mississippi law is inconsistent with Casey's undue burden standard.

      1. I mean, "undue" to whom? Something like 95% of abortions take place within the first 15 weeks. So a ban after that time — with an exception for LOTM — could be held to not be an undue burden.

    2. Elective abortions after the 15th week. The Mississippi law actually does permit abortions after that point in cases of medical necessity or severe fetal deformity.

      I point this out because there's a push on to treat anything short of elective abortion right up to delivery as a flat "ban", to imply that medically necessary abortions are being rendered illegal. When what's really being cracked down on in these laws are elective abortions.

  14. Roberts won't resign. That makes no sense.

  15. Here, conservatives are talking to the Post to stress that the majority "remains intact." This fact reaffirms that there was no reason for conservatives to leak the opinion last week. Again, if the majority was intact, or at least in flux, leaking the opinion would invariably backfire on the right.

    That makes no sense. If the leaker was a conservative it didn't backfire, so you can't say it invariably would.

    Now, a week later, the Post states that the five-member majority is still intact. If we assume this information is reliable, then the leak did not affect the votes in the majority. Again, this fact reaffirms that the leak was not designed to shift votes.

    No, it doesn't reaffirm that. It only says that if it was designed to shift votes, it failed.

    Apparently, only leaked opinions are investigated, but talking to the press is tacitly accepted. Such has been the practice for years. Roberts took no action in response to incessant leaks to CNN. These leaks need to stop.

    Or what? You'll blog about it?

    (FWIW, I believe the leaks should stop. But your assertion of urgency is contradicted by your own claim that it's been going on forever.)

    Tenth, I would put the odds at 50% that Roberts resigns after the last day of the term, and his successor is confirmed before the new term begins.

    I wish you read your comment threads because I would so take that bet.

  16. Sixth, the Politico story published last week stated that the five-member majority was intact. Now, a week later, the Post states that the five-member majority is still intact. If we assume this information is reliable, then the leak did not affect the votes in the majority. Again, this fact reaffirms that the leak was not designed to shift votes.

    So, according to Josh, if the votes in the majority are not affected by the leak then the leak was not designed to affect the votes in the majority.

    That is some good rational choice analysis right there.

    1. Did you expect leftist activists to react with anything less than a pitchfork wielding mob and do you think being threatened by an angry mob is something people embrace and enjoy? So, knowing it was going to be painful and that pain can only dissuade, how could it be from the conservative side with any logic applied?

      1. It could be from the conservative side because no justice wants to be perceived as giving in to public pressure. If one of the conservatives was considering switching their vote, then the leaker (knowing that pitchforks would be the response) froze that vote in place.

  17. This assumes that you can believe anything the Post says any more. I'd be doubtful.

    1. People who consider The Washington Post unreliable but read and credit The Volokh Conspiracy are among my favorite culture war casualties.

      Carry on, inferior clingers. Your betters thank you for being such hapless fellow competitors.

  18. Professor Blackman asserts that he is close to the Court. Surely I can't be the only one who is eagerly waiting for him to define what being close to the Court means to him. I'm pretty sure he never clerked there, but maybe he's taken a tour or watched an oral argument. Or perhaps he hangs out in the cafeteria hoping to bump into one of his heroes. Does he have Alito and Thomas and Gorsuch on speed dial? Maybe he's purchased a souvenir coffee mug or tote bag from the gift shop. We can't wait to hear all about your life as Court insider, Professor.

    1. I have a souvenir coffee mug from the Court. I did not purchase it at the gift shop. It was a gift from a justice. It currently holds a half-cup of hot apricot tea.

      I'll sip to that!

      (Maybe the first bass guitar line I learned that had more than three (plodding) notes.)

    2. but maybe he's taken a tour or watched an oral argument.

      "Maybe"? You don't remember his 17 part series, "Standing in line for oral argument: John Roberts should resign."

  19. Blackman's prediction about Roberts retiring is incredibly embarrassing. His co-bloggers must be cringing. I wonder if one of them will speak with him. He sounds like a silly child.

    1. At this point, I am reluctantly forced to conclude that Prof. Volokh likes this sort of thing.

      What a shame.

      1. Prof. Volokh knew what he wanted and knew he would get it from Josh Blackman.

        Prof. Volokh probably could foresee that several Conspirators -- Kerr, Adler, Baude, etc. -- would distance themselves at least a bit from this shitstorm. He invited Blackman nonetheless. The Volokh Conspiracy preferred Blackman's contributions to those of Kerr, Adler, and Baude.

        The Volokh Conspiracy cultivates its audience along a similar line and gets the fans it wants and deserves.

  20. Usual conservative babble. Nothing to grasp to so focus on the leak. Josh, do yourself and your students a favor and grow the hell up

  21. I would put the odds at 50% that Roberts resigns after the last day of the term.

    I'll put up $1000 and give you 2-1 odds that Roberts does not resign.

  22. Why would Roberts resign after the end of the term?

    Is he confessing he's a total failure as Chief Justice? Blackman may see him as a total failure, but I doubt he sees himself that way which is what really matters.

    If Roberts has become a Souter clone then sure, this might be his last best chance to have a Democratic president nominate his successor, but at the cost of being called the worst chief justice in history. And I can't even see that as a motivation anyway, while the 3 Trump appointed justices are more conservative than he is, they are actually much more in a Roberts mold than they are Thomas or Alito clones. I doubt he's given up on them already. Although it is apparent that his incrementalist path left him all alone this time, I doubt that's enough for him to throw in the towel completely.

    The left will never embrace him, the right will hate him more than they ever have, and the middle isn't big enough anymore to make the difference. So what's the upside to quit now at a pretty young age for a justice?

    1. Josh is wishcasting.

      1. That's my conclusion, too.

        If Roberts resigned to give Biden a nomination, he'd become persona non grata on the right, but it likely wouldn't win him any love on the left. And as long as he remains on the Court he can hope to influence outcomes, and, in many cases, that hope will be realistic.

    2. The left will never embrace him,

      Not after Shelby County, it won't.

      1. Yeah it's pretty telling that the Ruth Sent Us brigade has targeted his house for protests despite the fact that he wasn't part of the leaked majority opinion.

        Well probably see him write separately concurring in part very narrowly on upholding the Mississippi law, and dissenting in part about striking Roe completely.

        1. It's smart - Roberts cares; he can be swayed by public opinion. Yelling at Alito only makes his opinions worse.

    3. "If Roberts has become a Souter clone then sure, this might be his last best chance to have a Democratic president nominate his successor,"

      First, that seems roughly as likely as a Rapture that installs Jesus, Trump, and QAnon as Earth's divine overlords (or, for those who do not like overkill and partisan pokes, just a regular Rapture).

      Second, Justice Roberts seems smart enough to recognize that he could serve in an important and perhaps even enjoyable role on an enlarged Court.

  23. " Here, conservatives are talking to the Post to stress that the majority "remains intact." This fact reaffirms that there was no reason for conservatives to leak the opinion last week. "

    I provide this quotation to promote a record. If someone explains the profoundly stupidity of this assertion to the author, and this blog makes another undisclosed revision, perhaps this comment (if not censored) might make that change less effective.

    Knowledge Is Good
    -- Emil Faber, founder

  24. Some colleague ought to suggest to Prof. Blackman that he take a deep breath and count to ten. Also gently remind him that stuff posted on the Internet is there forever.

  25. Why would you assume that anything written in the Post is a "fact"?

    Any of their reporting that cannot be externally corroborated (and anonymous sources are chief among these) should be treated with the utmost of skepticism, given their history.

    1. Lots of folks signaling their virtue with takes like this.

      It's crap, of course. The WaPo is a trusted source even by right-wing partisans for what's going on. How many Breitbart posts cite the WaPo before they start spinning off their take?

      For instance, how many questioned the provenance of the initial leak? Not many! They just like to be able to yell 'fake news!' and put their fingers in their ears when it's inconvenient to them. That, and show how anti-institutional they are.

      Which seems the latest high GOP virtue, as they continue down the purely populist road.

      1. Haven't you heard? The Washington Post is part of the MSM, and therefore by definition untrustworthy for ordinary, law-abiding, hard-working Americans like the people who have time during the day to post here.

      2. "The WaPo is a trusted source even by right-wing partisans for what's going on. "

        Within strict limits. If they're reporting on factual matters with identified sources, sure, they're fairly reliable. Not perfectly, as the Sandman episode demonstrates, but fairly.

        As soon as they're reporting on implications or interpretations, or start in with the anonymous sources, they're birdcage lining.

        1. I'm sure you feel this to be true but actually you believe the vast majority of what they say, anonymous sourcing and all, just laundered through the dailymail or the Federalist or some such rot.

          The Papers of Record still drive the news left, right, and center. FOX News excerpts their reporting daily, albeit properly sanitized for it's audience.

          The right has made a virtue out of not trusting any institutions, but that, like much of what they do, is just eyewash that allows them to makes stuff up when they want to and get their followers to uncritically swallow it without checking other sources.

          1. Why not enjoy it, Sarcastr0? Conservatives' tendency to reject top-shelf journalism and mainstream sources while embracing wingnut bloggers, QAnon crumbs at 4chan, and Fox-NewsMax-One America reports is among the reasons better Americans have long stomped and are position to continue to defeat right-wingers in the culture war.

          2. Look, I used to read the WaPo at one time, regularly. The truth is, they've changed. They used to be a really reliable news source, but something broke in them in the last decade.

            I mean, take a look at their listing of Trump lies. They put a lot of work into that. Yeah, some of what they list are genuine lies. Other things? Perfectly true things they just didn't like the implications of.

            They've literally got Trump's promise to renegotiate NAFTA down as a lie. Even though he actually did it!

            1. I'd give this some credence but you have the exact same narrative about every other institution as well. And the same timeline. Seems more like you've changed, no?

              You can quibble about whether Trump saying his largely cosmetic changes to NAFTA were replacing NAFTA if you want, but that's besides my point.

              Whatever national media source you use, regardless of how much they dump on the NYT and WaPo, almost certainly read those papers, and read them like they're largely true (which they are)

              1. Is the quibbling momentous enough to declare that campaign promise a "lie"?

                No, the WaPo's list of lies is a steaming heap.

                No, Trump Hasn't Made 20,000 'False or Misleading' Claims

                "I’ve spent the better part of a decade offering occasionally exhaustive analyses of why the entire media fact-checking enterprise is flawed, never mind the outrageous political double standards fact checkers employed in the Obama years.

                However, I’ve also long said that if you must rely on a fact checker – and I don’t recommend it – The Washington Post is the best of the bunch. The Post fact-checking operation is more transparent and less biased than others, and head fact checker Glenn Kessler is responsive to complaints and is certainly capable of doing excellent journalism – see his recent deep dive into a GOP Senate candidate’s claims about his charitable work.

                Had Post fact checkers been more discerning, they could have nailed Trump on a much smaller, but still impressive number of claims that would be difficult to dispute. Instead, they buffaloed the public with the dubious claim Trump has made an astounding 20,000 false or misleading statements. The worry is now that the media’s habitual overreach in the Trump era will endure long after Trump leaves office. In the meantime, there’s an election in two months, and voters who are asked to choose between the media’s credibility and Trump’s are frantically looking to see what’s behind door No. 3. "

                It's not an accident they went with 20K dubious claims of lies, instead of a smaller honest list. They've changed.

                1. I will put aside your appeal to the unbiased authority of Mark Hemmingway, and return you to my thesis. Which is not about whether the media is lying, it's about who you trust.

                  The way the media works, unless your story is local, whatever you are reading is relying on one of the national papers of record. Unless you're reading like long form reporting like Rolling Stone.

                  So you may strut around thinking you've put the WaPo in it's place, but what you're reading is probably digested and regurgitated with bonus right-wing spin WaPo content.

                  1. Sarcastr0, lacking a practical alternative to the WaPo does not magically make the WaPo into a reliable source of information. You're essentially asking me to voluntarily contract a case of Gell-Mann amnesia, just because you'd find it convenient.

                    I've caught them in too many bad journalistic practices to pretend that they're reliable. I suppose on the shrinking list of topics that have no political implications they're still making an effort, but once politics enters the room, their journalistic ethics leave.

      3. "The WaPo is a trusted source"
        It used to be an newspaper of record up to a decade ago.
        Those days are long gone.

        1. No, it's still a paper of record. The right may pretend otherwise, but it drives their reactionaryism as well.

          The right used to bother with spin. Nowadays they just say 'fake news' and try and move on. But they never really do; they always return to complain about the MSM. Mostly by spinning and then playing victim. But sometimes when the press actually messes up to massively generalize and then overplay their hand.

          Same as with schools. Same as with social media. Same as with big business. Same as with government-released statistics. Vehemently insist they operate in bad faith, while you pick up what they lay down all the time, directly or indirectly.

          You can't check everything on your own. In the modern era, you need to trust the organs of your society. And you do! Just some of you don't think you do.
          Many of you prefer this reporting filtered through the organs of the GOP propaganda machine. Which is distorted and often wrong, but nevertheless driven by the actual real-life actual, good faith factual work these institutions put out.

          1. No, they're bird cage liner, the left just likes the garbage they spew.

            1. You may performatively declare you never read them, but the majority of your national news comes from them, whether you like it or not.

            2. The Washington Post is a bird cage liner.

              You're a disaffected, lying, delusional, autistic, antisocial, obsolete right-wing bigot.

              Everyone has problems.

          2. "No, it's still a paper of record."
            In a newspaper of record, one can EASILY distinguish factual reporting using value-neutral speech from opinion and analysis. I cancelled my WaPo subscription two years ago precisely because WaPo had systematically blurred that line.
            The NYT still make a effort to maintain the distinction between news stories and opinion. WaPo has failed at that, certainly since Bezos took over as the owner.
            But you are welcome to believe anything that you want. It's still a free country.

            1. In a newspaper of record, one can EASILY distinguish factual reporting using value-neutral speech from opinion and analysis.

              ...This sounds like the literary version of body language analysis. So subjective it says more about the observer than the observed.

              You're reading the WaPo, even if you haven't subscribed to it. This blog regularly posts from the WaPo. Twitter is full of comments on WaPo reporting...
              I'm not saying WaPo=fact. No human endeavor is purely objective. But WaPo does openly have procedures meant to minimize their biases and check their own factual reporting.

              That conservatives claim unemotional rationality as they soberly come to the conclusion that the media is once again too liberal to trust...that's not exactly news.

              1. S_0
                Wrong assumption. I subscribed for 3 years and read it every day during that period.
                I gradually became more and more disgusted that one could not distinguish fact from opinion and that even "news" articles used heavily value-laden terminology at a frequency as frequent as I recall Fox news did ten years ago.
                I am perfectly capable of comparing stories about the same topic in WaPo and the NYT. The Times is a vastly superior newspaper. WaPo has becomes Bezos' rag.

              2. "the literary version of body language analysis."
                horse hockey. If you can to make those distinction then so much worse for you.
                " So subjective it says more about the observer than the observed."
                Then you need a course in literary analysis. It is a bona fida academic discipline.
                I really am amazed how frequently you jump in the defend the indefensible.

        2. Please stick with Hannity, Volokh, Alex Jones, Ingraham, Instapundit, Carlson, Trump, the Examiner, the Daily Caller, and the rest of the clingerverse media, rejecting mainstream and top-quality journalism and sources.

          First, it suits you.

          Second, it makes the work of your betters that much easier.

      4. No, @Sarcastr0 ... I have had first-hand interactions with how the Washington Post covers science on hot-button issues (climate change and vaccine efficacy specifically), and I do not consider it a credible or unbiased source of information. Their coverage on political hot-button issues (Hunter Biden laptop comes to mind) betrays a similar bias.

        I also don't consider Breitbart a credible source of information.

        1. LOL yeah science reporting sucks, and is often wrong on the margins. As with any non-expert or dumbed-down reporting.

          But that's not what your OP talked about, is it? Your OP is about the broad strokes of their reporting. As though if the Post reports that we discovered neutron stars create heavy elements, that might be wrong.

  26. Hmmmm....what a day for a daydream.

    Blackman does well on the law, not so great on gossip.

  27. How much do you have to hate Roberts to blame him for the behavior of other Justices?

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