By Edward Le Claire of Portland, Oregon. Edward is a lawyer from Montana who is just getting started here in Portland. Edward moved to Portland after finishing a clerkship for Justice Leaphart of the Montana Supreme Court. Edward has been volunteering for the ACLU and is beginning a practice in the area of criminal defense. Previously, he contributed "Dean, Lakoff, and the Elephant."
Is David Reinhard so bad that he can't even come up with his own bad editorials anymore?
In Sunday's Oregonian, Reinhard basically regurgitates the allegations from Washington Post columnist Charles Hurt. Reinhard made enough changes and added enough content that maybe his article isn't actual plagiarism. But comparing Reinhard's article to Hurt's piece is sort of like listening to Vanilla Ice's 'Ice Ice Baby' and then thinking of Queen's 'Under Pressure.' You just can't help but wince at the similarities.
Both articles claim that Minority Senate leader Harry Reid's mentioning of a judicial nominees FBI file is horribly bad -- an unconscionable smear. The basic facts are that Sen. Reid made a brief reference to the FBI file of Bush's nominee to the 6th Circuit, Henry Saad. The Senate has a rule preventing disclosure of the contents of secret FBI files. Reinhard notes that 'maybe' Reid didn't violate the rule, but he characterizes the mere reference to an FBI file as a wicked stunt and equates it to character assassination.
That Hurt/Reinhard don't like Reid is fine. A little disagreement on the Op-Ed page is a great thing and usually makes for good reading. The problem I have with Reinhard's article is the information is selectively presented, which can only mislead the average reader. Reid didn't make this up and this isn't the first that anybody has heard of a problem in Saad's file. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a closed meeting specifically to discuss the contents of Saad's FBI file. That's public knowledge. A portion of that committee meeting was inadvertently made public because a staffer forgot to turn off the C-SPAN internet microphone.
The average reader of the Oregonian is likely to get most of his/her information on this topic from Reinhard's article and probably isn't going to know the back story, that people are talking about Saad having a problem in his FBI file. Because I already had some knowledge about the issue from the blogosphere, I immediately recognized the article as misleading partisan hackery.
If the Oregonian wants to publish misleading editorial pieces, why bother with Reinhard? Why not cut the middle man and just publish the original Hurt article? Wouldn't that be more honest?