Linda Greenhouse

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Linda Greenhouse

Linda Greenhouse in San Francisco in 2005
Born January 9, 1947 (1947-01-09) (age 75)
New York City
Occupation Journalist
Known for Pulitzer Prize winner

Linda Greenhouse (born January 9, 1947, New York City) is the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Senior Fellow at Yale Law School.[1] She is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who covered the United States Supreme Court for nearly three decades for The New York Times.[2]


Greenhouse received her BA degree in government from Radcliffe College in 1968 and a Master of Studies in Law[3] from Yale Law School in 1978.[4]


Greenhouse began her 40-year career at The New York Times covering state government in the paper's bureau in Albany.[2] After completing her Master's degree on a Ford Foundation fellowship, she returned to the Times and covered 29 sessions of the Supreme Court from 1978 to 2007,[5] with the exception of two years during the mid-1980s during which she covered Congress.[4] Since 1981, she has authored over 2,800 articles for The New York Times.[6] She has been a regular guest on the PBS program Washington Week.[7]

In 2008, Greenhouse accepted an offer from the Times for an early retirement at the end of the Supreme Court session in the summer of 2008.[8][9] Seven of the nine sitting Justices attended a goodbye party for Greenhouse on June 12, 2008.[9]

In 2010, Greenhouse and co-author Reva Siegel put out a book on the development of the abortion debate prior to the famous 1973 Supreme Court ruling on the subject: Before Roe v. Wade. This was largely a selection of primary documents, though with some commentary.

Awards and prizes

Greenhouse was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism (Beat Reporting) in 1998 "for her consistently illuminating coverage of the United States Supreme Court."[4] In 2004, she received the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism[10] and the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism.[11] She was a Radcliffe Institute Medal winner in 2006.[12]

When she was at Radcliffe, she said in a speech given in 2006, "I was the Harvard stringer for the Boston Herald, which regularly printed, and paid me for, my accounts of student unrest and other newsworthy events at Harvard. But when it came time during my senior year to look for a job in journalism, the Herald would not even give me an interview, and neither would the Boston Globe, because these newspapers had no interest in hiring women."[13]

Criticism of Greenhouse

Some critics, notably retired Appeals Court Judge Laurence H. Silberman, have complained of what they call the "Greenhouse Effect". They believe that some federal judges have changed their opinions to win favorable coverage, either in the New York Times or in the legal press in general, which they view as being part of the "Liberal Establishment." This criticism seems directed less at Greenhouse personally than at a general assumption of a liberal media bias.[14]

Greenhouse has also been criticized for her failure to maintain the appearance of objectivity.[15] Greenhouse expresses her personal views as an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and critic of conservative religious values.[15] In 1989, Greenhouse was rebuked by Times editors for participating in an abortion-rights rally in Washington. The New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent said that he has never received a single complaint of bias in Greenhouse's coverage.[15]

Harvard speech

She has also faced criticism for a June 2006 speech at Harvard University criticizing US policies and actions at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Haditha.[15] In the speech, Greenhouse said she started crying a few years back at a Simon & Garfunkel concert because her generation hadn't done a better job of running the country than previous generations:

And of course my little crying jag occurred before we knew the worst of it, before it was clear the extent to which our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. To say that these last years have been dispiriting is an understatement.|[13]

Media critic Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post commented, "Don't those remarks, publicized last week by National Public Radio, go too far for a beat reporter covering such issues at the high court?" Kurtz quoted Greenhouse defending her comments, calling them "statements of fact," not opinion.[16]

Daniel Okrent, the first public editor, or in-house journalism critic, of the New York Times, said of Greenhouse's remarks: "It's been a basic tenet of journalism ... that the reporter's ideology [has] to be suppressed and submerged, so the reader has absolute confidence that what he or she is reading is not colored by previous views."[15]

Greenhouse responded to the criticism saying, "The notion that someone cannot go and speak from the heart to a group of college classmates and fellow alums, without being accountable to self-appointed media watchdogs, means American journalism is in danger of strangling in its own sanctimony."[16]

She told National Public Radio: "I said what I said in a public place. Let the chips fall where they may."[15]

Greenhouse in the news

On August 9, 2007, a television crew from C-SPAN was forbidden to film a panel discussion at a meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Greenhouse had told organizers that she would not be able "answer [questions] as fully and frankly" as she would be if the session were not filmed.[17] The Vice-President of programming at C-SPAN, Terence Murphy questioned the decision, "If professors of journalism and working journalists taking part in a journalism education conference don’t stand up for open media access to public policy discussions, who will?”[18]

Suggestions of conflict of interest

Ed Whelan, writing in a blog associated with National Review, suggested that Greenhouse had an obligation to her readers to inform them when reporting on a Supreme Court case that her husband Eugene Fidell had submitted an amicus brief.[19] Fidell submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Hamdan case. Fidell also submitted an amicus brief in the Boumediene case when it was at the D.C. Circuit level before it went to the Supreme Court. The public editor of the New York Times opined that the paper "should have clued in readers" to Greenhouse's conflict.[20]

Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick, writing in Slate magazine, complained that the New York Times "had failed to stand up" for Greenhouse and defended Greenhouse from Whelan's criticism.[21] Whelan rebutted Bazelon's and Lithwick's defense.[22]



  1. Linda Greenhouse. Yale Law School. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Talk to the Newsroom: Supreme Court Reporter". The New York Times. 2008-07-14. 
  3. "Yale Law School : M.S.L. Program". Archived from the original on 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Pulitzer Prize Winners 1998: Beat Reporting - Biography". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  5. Greenhouse, Linda (2008-07-13). "2,691 Deciscions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  6. "Linda Greenhouse". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  7. "Washington Week. Linda Greenhouse". PBS. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  8. "NYT's Greenhouse Takes Buyout Offer". Houston Chronicle. 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2008-02-28. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tony Mauro (June 12, 2008). "A Goodbye for Greenhouse". Legal Times. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  10. "Goldsmith Career Award". The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  11. "John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism - Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  12. "Linda Greenhouse ’68 Wins 2006 Radcliffe Institute Medal". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. 2006-06-08. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "2006 Radcliffe Institute Medalist Linda Greenhouse ‘68". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  14. Dahlia Lithwick (3 August 2005). "The Souter Factor". Slate. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Folkenflik, David (26 September 2006). "Critics Question Reporter's Airing of Personal Views". All Things Considered. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Kurtz, Howard (2 October 2006). "The Right Man For Fox News: Roger Ailes Soldiers On For the Good of the Cause". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  17. John Eggerton (10 August 2007). "Journalism Educators Bar C-SPAN Cameras". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  18. Beckerman, Gal (10 August 2007). "The Greenhouse Effect (Updated):Hurricane Linda blows C-SPAN cameras away". Columbia Journalism Review (Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University). 
  19. Ed Whelan (13 December 2007). "Linda Greenhouse’s Ethical In-Fidell-ity". Bench Memos, National Review Online. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  20. Clark Hoyt (20 January 2008). "Public and Private Lives, Intersecting". New York Times. 
  21. Emily Bazelon, Dahlia Lithwick (January 22, 2008). "Lay Off Linda: Why doesn't the New York Times stand up for Linda Greenhouse?". Slate magazine. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  22. Ed Whelan (23 January 2008). "Far From Sober". Bench Memos, National Review Online. 

External links