Do Bloggers Suck or Does TradMed Just Suck More?

Above the Law, reporting on a speech 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski gave at Fordham Law, summarized his argument as, “A New Argument in Favor of Cameras in the Courtroom: Bloggers Suck.”

Now, for the record, I’m all in favor of cameras in the courtroom and have long been, particularly once I discovered that TradMed journalists look for different things at hearings than I do. And particularly today, as I’m deciding whether I have time to get to the closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, drink some beers with bmaz, and be back here in time to drive to Syracuse for my mom’s 70th, I’d love the option of sitting at home and streaming the trial (though beers with bmaz might still win the day).

But I wanted to look more closely at the argument Kozinski seems to be making (assuming, of course, that the blogger at Above the Law competently replicated it, because there’s always the possibility he’s just being loud and biased).

Kozinski started his talk by going over some of the arguments he has made before [PDF] in support of cameras (e.g., studies show cameras don’t affect the proceedings, quoting his “old boss” Warren Burger — “People in an open society do not demand infallibility from their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing.”).

It wouldn’t be like the O.J. trial, which decidedly set the cameras-in-the-courtroom movement back. Kozinski advocates stationary cameras that would not zoom in, zoom out, or otherwise overly dramatize the courtroom events. Kozinski acknowledged that if you were to choose between a O.J. media circus or reports from informed journalists like Nina Totenberg or Linda Greenhouse, one might be happy to live without cameras.

But that’s not usually the choice one has. Kozinski pointed to the “long, slow decline of the newspaper industry” and the “rise of a much more diffuse style of coverage” as a major reason why cameras should be brought into courtrooms. Increasingly, the public is relying on “pseudo-journalists” (aka bloggers) for their instantaneous legal news.

“On the Internet, the loudest voice gets the most attention,” said Kozinski, who said that tends to lead to a distortion of the coverage of a case. He also raised the risks of relying on unknown bloggers, pointing to the case of “Dr. Flea.”

[snip]

“The days of obscurity for judges and reliable, informed journalists are gone and gone forever,” said Kozinski. “If courts don’t change with the times, change will be forced upon them.”

Kozinski’s arguing, apparently, that we need cameras in the courtroom because trials are no longer covered with the skill that Nina Totenberg and Linda Greenhouse bring to their work. Furthermore, Kozinski seems to be arguing, the public is fooled into following “loud” chroniclers of trials, rather than competent ones. And, it seems, Kozinski believes readers (the blogger here doesn’t specify what kind of reader) risk … something … if they rely on pseudonymous bloggers.

As some of you no doubt recall, a blog named “FireDogLake” actually once covered a trial–the Scooter Libby trial–also covered by Nina Totenberg. FDL’s coverage was undoubtedly biased and at times even delved into heavy snark (since then, in fact, one of the bloggers has developed a bit of a reputation for a potty mouth). Nevertheless, FDL’s liveblog–written under the pseudonyms “emptywheel,” “Swopa,” and “Pachacutec”– became the standard “instantaneous” news from the trial. Two of the TradMed journalists in the courtroom–including one whose beat was the Court–followed the stream, not to mention an unknown number of journalists who chose to stay away from the court house and follow along the thread. The General Counsel for the Washington Post chose to follow FDL’s liveblog, rather than the superb work of Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, because with five reporters testifying in the trial, he needed up-to-the-minute near transcription rather than twice-daily analysis of the events. When it was all said and done, Jay Rosen declared that in most categories of coverage “FDL was tops.” I assume Rosen even considered Nina Totenberg’s coverage of the trial when he said that.

Six months after the trial, at a conference on media coverage of trials, Judge Reggie Walton was asked what it was like having all those loud biased bloggers in his courtroom. Rather than saying they made the trial more unruly–which seemed to be the answer those present at the conference seemed to expect–Walton said that the bloggers were “more thorough” than the TradMed reporters.

Perhaps Judge Kozinski should ask Judge Walton whether bloggers suck?

Or perhaps he should just review the coverage that came out of the trial that raised this whole issue, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, to see whether bloggers suck? FDL’s and Courage Campaign’s coverage of the trial was undoubtedly biased. Many of those live-blogging the trial stand to win a key civil right if the plaintiffs win this trial. But that also meant they knew the trial and the players better than some of the TradMed types covering the trial. And, as happened with the Scooter Libby trial, after cross-checking the FDL, Courage Campaign, and #Prop8 Twitter feeds with their own observation on the trial, a number of TradMed types figured they could stay away and just follow along the liveblogs and Twitter (and get some well-informed analysis along the way).

But the relatively greater quality from the sucky bloggers in these two trials is not, actually, a reflection on the decline of the newspaper industry (though the imperative to forgo live coverage for following our feeds may reflect cost considerations of the declining newspaper industry). Rather, we just came into trials and did something different, something that didn’t fit into the narrowly prescribed genres of the declining newspaper industry. And that different thing–“instantaneous” coverage of a trial, however rough–turned out to have great value to both other journalists and the general public (not to mention the lawyers involved in the trials). Yeah, maybe that entailed “forcing change” on the courts (though both seemed quite happy to have the transparency), but it was all in service of the same goals as Kozinski espouses.

But that’s why blogging should be regarded as a necessary interim step toward cameras in the courtroom, rather than one big reason for their urgent necessity. We already have excellent live coverage of big trials and, if anything, that coverage has served only to focus more attention on the actual arguments in the court room rather than the theatrics that tend to fail when exposed to a wider audience. And, along the way, a big number of citizens learned not only about the judicial process, but also about the arguments made inside that process. As it turned out, that live coverage didn’t bring down the entire judicial system.

The argument should be that bloggers prove that instantaneous coverage of trials won’t hurt the judicial process, not that we have to get cameras because bloggers hurt the process.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

66 replies
  1. Spencer Ackerman says:

    I am reading this from Guantanamo Bay — where your humble Online Journalist co-mingles with newspaper reporters and TV reporters and radio reporters — and clapping enthusiastically. The only difference between the old-timey types and us is that we write more, and Judge Kozinski should consider the institutional implications of writing more: in order to add value, and thereby justify our professional existence, we have to get wonkier; deeper in the weeds; and attempt to explain clearly the implications of each minute comparatively minute development we choose to highlight. As you prove several times a day every day, you do this job better than most beat reporters, not just because of how talented you are, but also because the format in which you work demands you amplify those prodigious talents.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Spencer, make sure you have a return ticket ! *g*

      Marcy, the TradMed are kidding themselves if they think that they are anywhere near your level of journalism.

      • emptywheel says:

        Like I said, I think it’s different. As I said, I think Carol Leonnig did a great job at the Libby trial. Carol Rosenberg owns the Gitmo beat (though Miami Herald, being a McClatchy rag, has done a superb job of embracing change). Different is just different.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, I was thinking of the Khadr hearing as I wrote this. But I gotta say, TradMed rock star Carol Rosenberg (don’t tell her how big a crush I have on her, huh?) is matching you Tweet for Tweet. So get to work!!

    • bmaz says:

      Kozinski is an odd duck, but a genuinely decent and very very bright one. My honest guess is if he knew about you and Marcy (and I am actually pretty sure he has at least heard about EW), he would not consider you to be “bloggers” within the ambit of what he was going off on. Understand, in several ways, Kozinski is probably on the leading edge of accepting the new paradigms; but others, he is old school and sees the wild and wooly nature of the open nets as scary because of wildcards like “Dr. Flea”. From a judicial standpoint, I can understand that. I have talked to the 9th Circuit about us participating in the next “new media” forum the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference holds, which will be in the next 12 months; and think it is very likely that will occur.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    In this country, you must accept the right decision even when made for the wrong reasons.

    The anonymous Emptywheel…how many national TV appearences has Marcy Wheeler had so far this year?

    Boxturtle (Do you have a costume and a mask when you’re Emptywheel? Just wonderin’…)

      • scribe says:

        No, the mainstreamers have a problem when someone says “blowjob” as a part of pointing out that the mainstreamers spent five years debating the angle and radius of the Clenis’ curve and that their obsession with the blowjob(s) in question, all the while overlooking real stories and covering up real crimes and improprieties, any of which would have been fodder for real reporters to win real przes for real reportng in an age when real journalism was put out there. The mainstreamers get bent out of shape over the mention of a “blowjob” because it’s a one-word shorthand and public reminder of what whores they’ve become and how willingly they, themselves, need and use those kneepads when swallowing whatever their corporate masters want them to, whenever. It’s a guilty conscience thing.

        • Leen says:

          “all the while overlooking real stories and covering up real crimes and improprieties, any of which would have been fodder for real reporters to win real przes for real reportng in an age when real journalism was put out there. The mainstreamers get bent out of shape over the mention of a “blowjob” because it’s a one-word shorthand and public reminder of what whores they’ve become and how willingly they, themselves, need and use those kneepads when swallowing whatever their corporate masters want them to, whenever. It’s a guilty conscience thing.”

          Bingo! All three of my daughters were young during the MSM’s blowjob obsession. I will never forget their faces when they would watch this endless coverage of the Clinton blowjobs. They would literally be horrified and ask “is this all they have to report about?”

          • qweryous says:

            Not being a pollster, not being a media consultant (that you know of- after all I’m posting under a pseudonym) I wonder…

            What the long term impact was of the Clinton sex coverage?

            It seems to me that based on some anecdotal evidence that persons of a certain age used the general ‘quality’ of this coverage in determining that following those providing it was not worth the time nor the brain cells.

            Similarly when someone too young to vote watched the presidential debates, and later asked me “Who is this Joe the plumber? Why are they wasting so much time with him?”. After I explained, I was asked “Why do they even bother to interview him- that’s stupid”. I explained that” They thought that you (collectively the viewers) wanted to know what Joe the plumber thought”.

            The reply was “Well they must think I’m stupid- I could care less what Joe the plumber says or thinks”. Someone who understands the use of fictional characters as a plot tool, didn’t appreciate this use of the same.

  3. Leen says:

    “And, along the way, a big number of citizens learned not only about the judicial process, but also about the arguments made inside that process. As it turned out, that live coverage didn’t bring down the entire judicial system.”

    And heavens to betsy Kozinski sure sounds like he would not want that. The peasants to be more well informed, to have access to documents that Ew and team supplied for all of us to read and try to understand. No no no those in control would not want that. Keep the peasants complacent and not asking questions about the process. Can’t have that.

    And by the way did Kozinski miss the horrific job that most in the MSM did in the run up to the bloody illegal and immoral run up to Iraq? Did he miss the “groupthink” the inaccurate reporting, the blatant lies? Did he miss Judy “I was fucking right” Miller’s hack job?

    Has he forgotten that MSNBC, CNN, and the rest had few on their news outlets who were questioning the validity of the Bush/Cheney/Feith/Wolfowitz pre war intelligence(pack of lies0?

    Hell the MSM screwed themselves by their faulty and irresponsible coverage. Well along with it they sentenced many American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s to death.

    There is a solid reason why millions of us do not trust the MSM. Thank goodness for this site and so many others.

    A big thanks to Ew, Spencer, Bmaz, Glenn Greenwald and so many others for helping turn on the lights for the peasants. We need your insights, perspectives and facts to be informed and responsive.

  4. scribe says:

    A couple short points, EW:

    1. I think that, if one were to take Kozinski aside and ask him about bloggers, he would likely say the question is not, as reported above “When bloggers suck” but rather “which bloggers suck”. Judge Kozinski has had his … difficulties with bloggers, particularly one guy who went after Kozinski personally using the internet and wound up getting him investigated by the Judicial Council (and resulting in a wrist-slap over porn or off-color jokes having found its way onto judicial computers from a Kozinski personal site).

    2. Above the Law needs to be read with a shaker of salt, particularly if the post’s author is David Lat. Mr. Lat used to blog as “Article III Groupie” (A3G) and, IIRC, had a really strange crush on Kozinski, all of this while working as an appellate attorney in Chris Christie’s US Attorney’s office in NJ. When A3G was unmasked and his on and off duty universes met (think Relationship George meeting Regular George), Lat had an embarrassing meeting with Christie and, soon thereafter, found greener the pastures at Wonkette and, later, Above the Law. That kind of strangeness (and others, too) are often what first comes to the judicial mind when the words blogging and blogger come up. Knowledgeable reporting and in-depth understanding – not so much. Maybe never, even.

    3. Don’t take it personally.

    4. The dying newspapers don’t cover the couthouse for the simple reason that not a lot goes on in public there anymore. Most cases are resolved without trial and with only minimal public notice. Walk around a federal courthouse sometime and try to find something – anything – going on in a courtroom to watch. Most of them most of the time are as quiet and empty as a church on a sunny Thursday afternoon in August.

    5. The video systems some courtrooms have (instead of live court reporters or audio-only tape systems) do an admirable job. They have multiple cameras and microphones – witness, judge, counsel tables – put it up in split screen and prioritize the mike where someone’s talking.

  5. Leen says:

    “But that’s not usually the choice one has. Kozinski pointed to the “long, slow decline of the newspaper industry” and the “rise of a much more diffuse style of coverage” as a major reason why cameras should be brought into courtrooms. Increasingly, the public is relying on “pseudo-journalists” (aka bloggers) for their instantaneous legal news.”

    Remember this?

    Internet Access to Federal Criminal Cases?
    http://firedoglake.com/2007/09/13/internet-access-to-federal-criminal-cases/
    Damn, damn and double damn. Somebody noticed that people, regular people (not just us lawyers and maybe some reporters–but goddamn dirty F****** hippies) were using the Internet to follow what is going on in criminal cases; and they are considering putting a stop to all that.

    Back in the old days, the only way to access a case file was to physically go into the courthouse, sign out the file from the court clerk’s office and sit there in the clerk’s office reading it. If you were lucky, there might be a largely un-usable photo copy machine that would eat most of your quarters and give you a couple of barely legible copies.
    —————————————————————–

    Hell I convinced my youngest daughter and some of her friends at Univ of Colorado to follow the Libby trial and to read documents at this site. We all learned a great deal about the process. Now we can not have that can we.

  6. qweryous says:

    Does the quality of the work done both in collecting facts not already known to be relevant, and in analysis point to a problem to be corrected?

    Perhaps the presence of the unwashed and anonymous (to varying extents) is because of the perceived or proven deficiencies in the coverage by the traditional media. Perhaps it is because of a failure of the traditional media and it’s journalists to properly utilize new technologies.

    The traditional media would have you believe that behind ‘anonymous’ hides bias and self interest unknown to those clueless innocents victimized by this coverage on the internet. ( If this ‘inaccurate coverage’ is then repeated by a clueless ‘mainstream media’ (with or without appropriate credit) does that make the problem worse?).

    Or perhaps the issue is that this blogger coverage has marginalized and practically bankrupted the traditional media ( despite all that wall street and the great media moguls have done to ‘save’ this precious industry).

    However the cases of such ‘independent’ analysts and commenters like
    Jonathan Gruber and Fran Luntz, to name just two, bring the first premise into question. (See also reporters as stenographers). Is there some tool that would allow those who might follow these bloggers online to evaluate what the interests of those participating in the coverage are? Does the fact that they may be anonymous and unpaid make their efforts any less ‘pure’ or ‘respectable’ than the retired generals?

    The failings of the traditional media both as a business model and as journalistic endeavor are likewise the fault of the media industry and those who run it.

    As it has been a mere 60 years since the commercialization of the television as a media of journalism and communication, one can see that the pressure is on for the courts to ‘move quickly’ in determining how this is to be dealt with.

  7. orionATL says:

    objectivity is severely overrated in jornalism and in law.

    in fact it is a false god of the most
    misleading sort.

    what is needed is intelligence, skepticism, and intellectual honesty.

    the weblogs i read have those traits on constant display.

    the same cannot be said of the tradmed in my experience.

    “cautious careerist” and ” socially coopted” describe at least 90% of journalists in the big newspapers and in all teevee.

    • bobschacht says:

      objectivity is severely overrated in jornalism and in law.

      Oh, please. I am acquainted with PoMo insights on this question.
      The truth IMHO is that what passes for objectivity is a cheap imitation of the real thing: what passes for “objective” is having both a Republican and a Democratic talking heads commenting on the same question. Real intellectual objectivity is just too hard for the MSM to contemplate, and too intellectually challenging for journalists who are taught that news is a form of entertainment. Besides which, they’re all scared by PoMo into thinking that its not possible, so they use “fair and balanced” as a reasonable facsimile.

      Bob in AZ

    • Leen says:

      Damn straight. She must have been a big part of putting the fire for truth in Marcy’s belly. Thanks and Happy Birthday Marcy’s mom!

  8. Leen says:

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/04/28/risen-gets-subpoenaed-for-merlin-story-again/

    bmaz April 29th, 2010 at 10:36 am
    48
    In response to Leen @ 46 (show text)

    I think you are wildly mischaracterizing Kozinski, and I wonder how much the Above the Law blogger actually really knew or understood about Kozinski before he went off.

    Leen April 29th, 2010 at 11:18 am
    50
    In response to bmaz @ 48 (show text)

    I am an easy shot Bmaz. I am responding and asking questions. I would think your claim of “mischaracterizing” Kazinski would be directed towards Ew.

    • bmaz says:

      Fine. Consider Marcy scolded too if that makes you feel better. My guess is, however, she had a pretty decent idea I might come along and give the response I have, and might actually have even halfway been angling for it. I am nothing if not fairly predictable.

      • Leen says:

        I do not feel as though I was brushing broad strokes. More questions than broad strokes. Why not be more more specific about just where these broad strokes were. I was responding to what EW had written. I think you were diverting your anger and picked the easiest target. What the fuck did I say that was specifically such a “broad stroke” I still stand by that something in Marcy’s piece pissed you off and you just picked the easiest target. Why not be more specific about these “broad strokes”
        Telling.

        “As some of you no doubt recall, a blog named “FireDogLake” actually once covered a trial–the Scooter Libby trial–also covered by Nina Totenberg. FDL’s coverage was undoubtedly biased and at times even delved into heavy snark (since then, in fact, one of the bloggers has developed a bit of a reputation for a potty mouth). Nevertheless, FDL’s liveblog–written under the pseudonyms “emptywheel,” “Swopa,” and “Pachacutec”– became the standard “instantaneous” news from the trial. Two of the TradMed journalists in the courtroom–including one whose beat was the Court–followed the stream, not to mention an unknown number of journalists who chose to stay away from the court house and follow along the thread. The General Counsel for the Washington Post chose to follow FDL’s liveblog, rather than the superb work of Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig, because with five reporters testifying in the trial, he needed up-to-the-minute near transcription rather than twice-daily analysis of the events. When it was all said and done, Jay Rosen declared that in most categories of coverage “FDL was tops.” I assume Rosen even considered Nina Totenberg’s coverage of the trial when he said that.

        Six months after the trial, at a conference on media coverage of trials, Judge Reggie Walton was asked what it was like having all those loud biased bloggers in his courtroom. Rather than saying they made the trial more unruly–which seemed to be the answer those present at the conference seemed to expect–Walton said that the bloggers were “more thorough” than the TradMed reporters.”

        “Kozinski’s arguing, apparently, that we need cameras in the courtroom because trials are no longer covered with the skill that Nina Totenberg and Linda Greenhouse bring to their work. Furthermore, Kozinski seems to be arguing, the public is fooled into following “loud” chroniclers of trials, rather than competent ones. And, it seems, Kozinski believes readers (the blogger here doesn’t specify what kind of reader) risk … something … if they rely on pseudonymous bloggers.

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    ew brought years of research to the liveblog debut in judge Reggie Walton*s courtroom; ew was faster than Patrick Fitzgerald. I forget what post the special counsel played in college sports. Especially the gaggle of million dollar defense attorneys in that trial were slo motion compared to a fast perusal of a few quatrains of ew liveblog that bleak winter. As one barrister commented, supra, much is occurring offstage. To meander in this comment, I would like to see some independence for judges return and replace determinate sentencing; and the plea deals and immunity guarantees seem equally dillutive of balanced judicial process. In that respect, I recall some of ew*s reviews of the character endorsement packet of letters entered on behalf of the defendant in that trial. Sometimes I wonder how the trial would have proceeded if begun 3-4 years later; relevant items still appear this long time later.

    I favor the video recording suggestion the IX judge suggests but there needs to be more than an obscure proscenium view. Even in congress at, for example, the senate judiciary committee, the SJC videography remains stilted and uninformative at times when the cameras could reveal more of the dynamics taking place.

    There is a unique strength to liveblogging, and to blogs, which I think Swopa around the time of the Libby trial, succinctly characterized as **open source journalism**; other writers have made similar observations about the impact of the blogs as corollary in the decline of hardcopy printmedia, and, for different reasons, of news videography.

  10. Leen says:

    Bmaz Kozinski directly attacks bloggers “a bunch of highly-subjective blogger-types…”

    I have pointed out that I as well as my youngest daughters and college friends learned a great deal about the judicial process during the Libby trial by being able to ask the lawyers and others here questions, and by being able to look at available documents.

    It is in fact Kozinski who is brushing all bloggers with a “broad stroke”. And again I stand by you took a shot at me because your pissed off that Marcy is taking a shot at Kozinski’s “broad stroke” comments about bloggers.

    “Kozinski is a fierce advocate of cameras in the courtroom. On Monday, he stopped by Fordham Law School to talk about why courts need to admit cameras (before Congress forces cameras on them). Beyond the public’s “right to know,” he focused on the fact that cameras are impartial observers that are becoming increasingly necessary as the media devolves into a bunch of highly-subjective blogger-types…

    Kozinski started his talk by going over some of the arguments he has made before [PDF] in support of cameras (e.g., studies show cameras don’t affect the proceedings, quoting his “old boss” Warren Burger — “People in an open society do not demand infallibility from their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing.”).”

    ———————————————————————–

    And while I am at it what is with Kozinski trying to convince people that camera’s are “impartial observers.” “focused on the fact that cameras are impartial observers.

    What a bunch of bull. Like camera men (mostly men) do not cover what their producers tell them to focus on or can skew the public’s view by what they focus their cameras on.

    How about cameras, credible journalist, credible bloggers in courtrooms. Although I met the artist at the Libby trial and spent quite a bit of time with her talking about her job. I found those court drawings intriguing and exposed quite a bit about the mood in the courtroom.

  11. person1597 says:

    You’ve got this debate raging through the geek-o-sphere as you speak. I’m listening to folks like John Markoff and Michael Godwin shouting down a “faithful reader of FDL” who insists that the new journalism model is direct payments to the authors… like a certain pottymouth who is handing the MSM their heads on a platter.

    OK Godwin wasn’t shouting, or invoking Hitler. And Markoff’s biggest lament was that he shouldn’t have given the up ownership of nyt.com.

    Bottom line, the internet wins. And Emptywheel is high amongst the best uses of the technology. After the fisticuffs, experts agree.

  12. fatster says:

    O/T. Obama promises vs actions, deceptions, people detained in unmarked locations, 100 rumored dead, no accountability, coziness with the media–it’s in an entirely different arena, but it’s a doozy.

    Leaked ICE memo details media strategy to counter citizen activist groups

    LINK.

  13. MikeD says:

    I don’t think it would cast aspersions on bloggers for this judge to simply point to the multiple admissions of bias in this very post as support for his argument for cameras. He’s not saying bloggers covering trials don’t provide a valuable service, or do a very good job at what they do. But I think it would be fair for him to simply say that the old-style MSM “objectivity” is something he values in courtroom coverage, and to say that the increasing number of of admittedly biased new-media correspondents and decreasing number of old-media types make him concerned for that value (however little use we may have for it), and to go on to say that he advocates cameras as a remedy. We can disagree with what he values in trial coverage, but I don’t think anywhere in there is a claim that you guys “suck.” But maybe he in fact thinks that anyway — I have no idea.

  14. oldoilfieldhand says:

    “since then, in fact, one of the bloggers has developed a bit of a reputation for a potty mouth”

    “Blow Job”

    Thank you Marcy! Why can’t the court reporter’s legal transcript be translated from circles and arrows to words and posted live? We could then refer to the proceedings as “The People’s Court”.

  15. orionATL says:

    bob schacht @44

    “…Oh, please. I am acquainted with PoMo insights on this question…”

    you may be, but i am not.

    what in the world is “pomo”?

  16. orionATL says:

    leen @41

    precisely my experience –

    on the libby matter and dozens more over the years with “emptywheel”.

    the stuff i can learn from one, just one, good post and thread is extraordinary in my experience.

    i could read a dozen books on such a subject. it would take me weeks and i still would not have the overall grasp i can get here in a day or so of reading back-and-forth from folks who know an area well.

    the free university of “Emptywheel”!!

  17. PJEvans says:

    But I think it would be fair for him to simply say that the old-style MSM “objectivity” is something he values in courtroom coverage, and to say that the increasing number of of admittedly biased new-media correspondents and decreasing number of old-media types make him concerned for that value (however little use we may have for it), and to go on to say that he advocates cameras as a remedy.

    It would be nice if those ‘old-media types’ actually were doing the job you seem to think that they do. They’re the reason why people come here – we don’t get news and reporting from them; we get opinions and fluff, if we get anything at all from them. (I can’t find out what’s going on in my own neighborhood from the MSM; I learned about one fire from the fire department’s blog.)

  18. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Cameras don’t give us instant transcripts and hundreds of comments focusing on sometimes just one word and providing analysis plus it shows judges and lawyers that yes people are interested in the law and informed about the issues.

  19. bgrothus says:

    I just want to thank EW and the team of insiders who comprise the “open source journalism” of FDL for all of the insights, parsing of multiple documents and time lines of all kinds. You have provided a great education at FDL for regular readers like me.

    I became a devotee to the sort of internet reporting that Can Be done, and I am so grateful for having been able to learn here.

    It would not surprise me to learn that GITMO lawyers use EW’s digging to help their clients.

    If only other bloggers were as capable as those we have here at FDL. I am sure most of these other bloggers are hardly better than the “reportage” that emerges from MSM.

  20. ondelette says:

    I haven’t read all the comments, so forgive if I’m repeating somebody.

    As somebody who does not favor cameras either in the courtroom or in the Congress, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the necessity of bloggers in courtrooms, and, for that matter, in Congress. I would think that, now that we have the opportunity, they would be welcome and desirable even if the old-style court reporters were still in their prime.

    I would also favor free and promptly available transcripts of all court proceedings and Congressional proceedings and debates. I believe the public has a right to know, and know quickly, but that cameras alter the proceedings that they are trained on. I’d much prefer written transcripts.

    Speaking of which, the necessity for live blogging or transcripts was brought home to me last fall, when I waded in and ordered a transcript from a “court reporting service” (spec. the service for the SDNY). I got my transcript for $180.00. I later found out from lawyer friends that I could have gotten what I needed much cheaper through services like PACER, but it was a shock that public oversight, in the event that one can’t physically be there, was so expensive. In a case like the one I got transcripts for, there are people interested in the proceedings that neither can be there, nor afford those kinds of prices (would have been even higher if I had needed the transcript on a journalist’s schedule).

    That being the case, there is absolutely no cause for coming down on live blogging, and every reason to praise it as a welcome addition to the concept of a public trial.

      • ondelette says:

        Because I think it alters the debate. That became the most conspicuous when the title of Senator Hairspray was conferred on the then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. I think it leads to investigative panelling that limits the congresspeople and senators to 5 minutes a piece with each person a separate player (like the way the White House Press Corps doesn’t do follow-ups anymore), it encourages people in Congress to only be present when something is going to be primetimed, and it makes people grandstand.

        I would be in favor of transcripts available within 24 hours, I don’t want anything held in secret. But even ordinary people have trouble not changing when you put a tape recorder or camera on them. Politicians who are more concerned with branding than the substance of the debate don’t seem to make good legislation, at least that’s how it seems. And the reporters don’t do as good a job either. It’s kind of like why baseball is always better on the radio. Some media just aren’t good for the event itself.

    • bmaz says:

      I did two televised trials on the old Court TV in the 90s and do not think the coverage affected anything. Are there cases (talking about you Judge Ito) where that does occur; sure. But there are also cases where the judges and litigators preen and alter because there are traditional reporters in the courtroom. I think the good out weighs the bad. The actions of courtroom protagonists is being changed much more dramatically by the fact that any person can, and often does, walk out of the courtroom and fire off stuff to the internet. Courts feel the increased scrutiny. Cameras are not the boogeyman, the hyper information age is; and that is unavoidable.

      As to court transcripts; until they are publicly posted on PACER, which they do not always do and it takes a good long while before they do normally, hard transcripts are the proprietary domain of the court reporter, not the court. You can have one, but you have to pay them. No comment if it should be that way, but that is the way it is.

      • ondelette says:

        I’m not saying that cameras always make the proceeding go bad, just that they do it too often for me to feel that I’m getting good service. I’ve had lawyers record me while we did patent interviews, and if the camera is someplace out of the way and the lawyer does a good job of not relying on it (like taking notes) sometimes it doesn’t matter. On the opposite side, I tried to record a language class I was in one time, and the teacher had to ask me to shut the recorder off because the class discussion froze up.

        On the transcripts, yes, I know that now. But in the mean time, I had to drop a society membership (and lose access to the journals that implies) to pay for the transcript I bought by agreeing to a price per page. The pages were tiny and half filled. I still haven’t seen any of it on cryptome or any other free site, and it was important, because certain testimony wasn’t published anywhere else, and had a huge effect on the subsequent public trial.

  21. ThingsComeUndone says:

    The great thing about live threads we focus on every word a judge or lawyer can’t focus and follow up research or speculate because the trial keeps going.
    I can grab a word leave the thread, google and come back in a few minutes with more information or even produce a Diary.
    In a sense a live blog with a transcript is better than cameras.

  22. Agent420 says:

    Why are you saying that it is ok to have some beers and then drive somewhere. Where did you leave your brain?

    • bmaz says:

      What?? First off, she did not say that in the least. Secondly, you know it is NOT illegal to drink and drive and it is a crock of shit to say it is. It IS illegal to drink and then drive with an alcohol concentration above the pertinent legal limit. Nobody is suggesting that. Jeebus.

  23. Bluetoe2 says:

    Bill Moyers aired his last PBS program last night but the American public should not despair for the corporate media gives us those intrepid, hard hitting journalists in the guise of Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer and the bubbly Katie Couric. The Republic will stand with these paragons of “journalism” shedding light in the darkest recesses of the government and business.

  24. masaccio says:

    I have sat through a number of trials, and I can safely say that the big problem is staying awake while participants drone on and on.

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