I’m quoted in a Poltico story today about Elizabeth Warren:
“If she is 1/32nd Native American … is it really appropriate to list yourself that way and knowing you will therefore be listed as a minority law professor?” asked William Jacobson, associate clinical professor of Cornell Law School, the author of a blog read in the legal community. “Why in the world would you list yourself when it is such a tenuous and distant relationship?”
“Why would she have done it, and why would she have stopped when she was at Harvard?” Jacobson said. “The whole thing makes no sense.”
My first reaction — what, no embedded link?
No mention of the blog name?
I appreciate being quoted, but “the author of a blog read in the legal community”? Could you be any more generic?
The anonymous author of Re: Thought Blog had a different reaction:
The segment that stood out to me as violating journalistic ethics was when they cited William Jacobson, the author of a conservative legal-focused blog Legal Insurrection, and law professor at Cornell Law. Even Cornell itself described it as “the conservative blog Legal Insurrection” in a story about Jacobson’s defense of the Tea Party.
Jacobson also is a fairly widely published conservative pundit, including at outlets like the Wall Street Journal, CBS Evening News, and Fox … oh and at Politico Arena….
In a normal question of law school tenures or something reasonably neutral, perhaps it would be okay to neglect to note Jacobson’s conservative background. But in a Senate race where Warren is the Democratic nominee? And when Jacobson has been regularly attacking Warren? Might be relevant.
In fact, Jacobson has been pushing the Warren Native American story HARD. He’s written no less than nine articles in the past week on the subject (more than one a day, for those watching at home), including favorites like “Elizabeth Warren’s claim of being 1/32 Cherokee in doubt” and Elizabeth Warren claims listed herself as minority to meet people, but story doesn’t hold up (Update: High cheekbones?). Check out the whole list here.
To be clear, I don’t have any issue with the content of what Jacobson said. In fact, I’d say there was no wrongdoing by him. And it’s true that Warren’s move seems rather stupid. But, if we’re supposed to take Politico as a legitimate news organization, its writers owe us, the readers, context about speakers’ backgrounds and affiliations so that we can better evaluate their motives and messages.
Hopefully, Politico will quickly update the story to disclose Jacobson’s conservative and anti-Warren background and his ties to Politico, and avoid similar issues in the future.
And may I add, update with an embedded link.