Did Linda Greenhouse give Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. the parting shot he deserved?
Linda Greenhouse covered the United States Supreme Court for The New York Times for nearly three decades, until 2008, and then, in late 2009, was invited to write a column, "centered on the Supreme Court," every two weeks, for the paper. Ms. Greenhouse's December 31 column, last of her bi-monthly assignment, reflected the very sour-grapes of a senior citizen who never outgrew her adolescent progressivism: it was filled with the obligatory gibes of an angry leftist, hurled at Republicans, conservatives and Donald Trump. But were her targets limited only to conservatives?
In the early part of the column, Ms. Greenhouse suggested that a Republican nominee to the high court, these days, is "a handpicked spear carrier in the country's culture wars." Two paragraphs down, Ms. Greenhouse embellished that smack with this back-of-the-hand attack: "the current term finds the court in a danger zone as a willing -- and willful -- participant in a war for the soul of the country." A few lines down from that slap, Ms. Greenhouse pulled out all the stops, questioning "whether the court can be counted on to protect democracy from the Republican-led assault now taking place before our eyes. [Emphasis added.]
The title of Ms. Greenhouse's farewell is: "Do We Have the Supreme Court We Deserve?" "No," she explained, quickly insisting, "It's not that I think the country simply deserves a Supreme Court that happens to agree with me...." Come, now, Ms. Greenhouse, of course you think that. On what side of our culture wars would you place a Republican "spear carrier" -- the patriotic, traditional side, or the radical, woke side? What is the Biden-perceived struggle for "the soul of the country about" -- our legacy of liberty, or imposition of totalitarian government on a cowed people? Since when are rulings by the Supreme Court in defense of free and honest elections seen as a "Republican-led assault" on democracy.
The rabid, partisan observations from Linda Greenhouse in support of singularity of opinion come across like a screeching piece of chalk on a blackboard.
But, as indicated, we should expect no less from a leftist propagandist masquerading as observer of the Supreme Court. There is, I believe, a second theme in this final Greenhouse column for The Times -- a theme that informs her view of the paper on the eve of 2022.
Ms. Greenhouse began the column by recalling the days when the current "Sunday Review" section was known as "the Week in Review." (I thought "the" appeared as "The" -- perhaps I am wrong.)
The column concluded with a coda that noted that, after covering the Supreme Court, her column, every two weeks, appeared on "what was then called the Op-Ed page[.]"
This coda, then, included an eruption of nostalgia, an eruption leaving a hint of displeasure in the noted change. The coda mentioned that David Shipley, the Op-ed editor who gave her the column, left for Bloomberg News, within a year. Ms. Greenhouse added, "and we never actually met." But the pandemic, methinks, was years away! Curious stuff to put at the end of a Times farewell, no?
But then the final touch -- aimed, perhaps, in-house, not at Donald Trump. Herewith are the concluding paragraphs of the Greenhouse column. She indicated that she will continue to write for the Times, occasionally.
"This is the last of my regular columns, but not the last time my voice will appear here. I will venture an opinion from time to time. How could I not?
"In 1998, I was fortunate to win a Pulitzer Prize. I was the publisher's dinner partner at the celebratory dinner he threw for that year's Times winners. Midway through the meal, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. asked me what my long-term goal was at the paper, where I had been working by then for 30 years.
"'I would like to write a column,' I replied.
"The publisher looked at me. 'A column!' he explained with a surprised expression. 'What would you write about?'"
With a farewell anecdote like that, suggesting the former publisher's vacuity, is it unfair to wonder if The Times will even print a letter from Linda Greenhouse?