Not to step on DougJ’s shoes, and I’m sure he’ll have something to add to this later, but Jeffrey Rosen is back at it again with a defense of his Sotomayor hit job. Glenzilla has the response worth reading:
What really happened here is now manifest — and typical. A couple of Rosen’s secret friends don’t like Sonia Sotomayor and called him to encourage him to smear her in the pages of The New Republic. Rather than do the work to determine if these “questions” about her abilities had merit — by, say, conducting a thorough survey of her key judicial opinions the way a conscientious law professor might — he instead set out dutifully to undertake the mission assigned to him by these “eminent legal scholars” by calling the people they handpicked for him, who then eagerly attacked Sotomayor. Rosen then mindlessly wrote it all down — including facts that were either false (the footnote) or highly distorted (Judge Cabranes’ New York Times statement about Sotomayor, which was clearly a compliment, not a criticism), and then sent it to TNR, which slapped a provocative and (by Rosen’s account) misleading headline on it and then happily published it. That Rosen himself was a chief champion of John Roberts, and had already expressed concerns that Obama might take diversity into account when appointing someone to the Supreme Court, undoubtedly made Rosen more than happy to be chosen to carry out this dirty task against someone who is most assuredly not part of his circle.
In other words, Rosen did what the modern journalist of the Respectable Intellectual Center does by definition: he wrote down what Serious People told him to say, agreed to protect their identity, and then published their very purposeful chatter without doing any real work to verify, investigate or scrutinize it. As a result, a woman who spent the last four decades of her life using her talents and intellect and working extremely hard to reach amazing heights in the face of great obstacles is now widely viewed as an intellectually deficient, stunted, egotistical affirmative-action beneficiary who has no business being on the Supreme Court — all thanks to the slimy work of Jeffrey Rosen, his cowardly friends of the Respectable Intellectual Center, and The New Republic.
The thing that really stands out for me is that this was so urgent, so vital, so important, that the TNR and Jeffrey Rosen had to smear this woman BEFORE SHE WAS EVEN THE NOMINEE. It wasn’t just that the initial piece was riddled with errors, that it was based on the catty and cowardly chatter of anonymous law clerks, nor that it was such an obviously fact-free smear job that even the Powerline refused to give it any weight and dismissed it as a “gossipy report,” but what seems so particularly egregious to me is that all of this was done before she was even the nominee.
This has irreversibly changed her life, her workplace conditions, and her relationships with the people she works with right now, and she may never be nor was ever in line to be the nominee. Regardless, thanks to Rosen and the editiorial genius of Franklin Foer, a substantial portion of the country has been presented a portrayal of her as “an intellectually deficient, stunted, egotistical affirmative-action beneficiary.” Does anyone here think that if they were in Sonia Sotomayor’s shoes they would be re-thinking their relationship with all their past and current associates? Wouldn’t you be looking around at your co-workers wondering which one had said nasty things about you, knowing full well there was no way to clear your name or defend yourself? What Rosen and these anonymous sources did to her was not only unprofessional and inexcusable, it was cruel and it was a pre-emptive smearing. How would any of you like a whisper campaign published against you in the TNR for a position you aren’t even seeking or probably aren’t even in line to receive? How would Jeffrey Rosen like it?
And given a few days to think about what he has done, Rosen obliviously comes out and apologizes not for what he has done, but for a headline he claims he had nothing to do with. But don’t worry, Sonia. He and his anonymous sources just had the country’s best interests at heart, and he did say that he, personally, thinks you are “able.”