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“the author of a blog read in the legal community”

“the author of a blog read in the legal community”

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.


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If they’re gonna quote you, you deserve the linky-love, Prof.!!!

Plus, implying your readers are dominantly legal types is a back-handed insult.

Your appeal is MUCH broader than just us law-types!

[…] Legal Insurrection: “the author of a blog read in the legal community“ […]

Politico only hires journOlisters, professor.
Glad you’re getting some notice.
And getting under somebody’s skin. heh heh.
Keep it up!

If there is no issue with the content, i.e. ‘facts are not in dispute’ what possible relevance does a person’s background or motivation have in publishing an article.

Such things really only come into play in Opinion where facts are not included or use of inference is made or someone is testifying about an observed event. It seems bizarre to wonder which side of the tracks provable facts are coming from.

I am guessing peeps on Politico’s enemies list don’t get linked.

    Estragon in reply to votermom. | May 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Yup. Politico is the creation of a group of liberal hacks, all of whom were charter members of the Journ-O-List effort to “manage” news and secretly control how it is reported. It was a blatant propaganda effort, exposed by Dave Weigel and subsequently disbanded – but you can bet your last dollar Ezra “Goebbels” Klein and company quickly reassembled a new list, probably more carefully screening the list to ensure they were all good little Pioneers who know how to keep their traps shut.

    Ace and others have stopped linking Politico, I believe. I stopped clicking on their links a long time ago – always hover the cursor over a link before clicking, and the connecting address appears at the bottom of your window.

9thDistrictNeighbor | May 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Breitbart is here.

We’ve got your back, Professor.

Frank Scarn | May 4, 2012 at 12:53 pm

The Granny Warren story s/b pushed hard here in cyberspace. Ain’t no where else where the truth can leak out. We can be certain that the MSM, water carrier & cabana boy for the Democrat Party, will do everything possible to bury this story, in the same manner that it tries to bury any negative story about the human foibles of anyone who is willing to push big and bigger yet government (principally Democrats).

    quiznilo in reply to Frank Scarn. | May 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Amen. The condescending “Thought Blog” author is merely forwarding another argument in the 15-yr battle between the legacy media and the new media of who gets to gate-keep information and ideas. Like another commenter pointed out, the facts are not in dispute, it’s our ideas that they view as incorrect.

    I actually give kudos to Poltico for not including the obligatory “right-wing” qualifier when referring to the prof’s writings (which are actually fairly mainstream).

    I take those kudos away when they refuse to link to him.

ShakesheadOften | May 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

“To be clear, I don’t have any issue with the content of what Jacobson said.”

Then, accordingly, Professor Jacobson’s background and “connections” should be irrelevant.

Oh, and for the record, I’m guessing I’m not the only avid follower of this blog who is not part of the “legal community.”

    Ragspierre in reply to ShakesheadOften. | May 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I take a slightly different tack, Shakes.

    More information is never bad. No harm in knowing stuff.

      quiznilo in reply to Ragspierre. | May 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Rags, I wouldn’t mind the poo-slinging at conservatives by these pundits if they wouldn’t exempt themselves and their liberal allies from the same level of skepticism.

      The profs background is irrelevant (and distracting) from the facts around warren’s activities. warren is the one asking for our trust and asking to be elected, to hold power over our lives.

        Ragspierre in reply to quiznilo. | May 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

        Again, respectful disagreement.

        I look for things that are true.

        I don’t use filters, unless someone is citing to Media Mutters or Thunk Progress or the like. Even then, I’ll sometimes read their crap just to see the arguments they use. I have found this very powerful in killing off trolls. (You read their “talking points” and skewer them…kinda takes all the starch out, doncha know.)

        IF someone reads Prof. Bill’s stuff…or doesn’t…because he is identified as being SANE, I have nothing to say. Their gain or loss, respectively. All good, to me.

      ShakesheadOften in reply to Ragspierre. | May 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Rags – Fair enough, more info is good, but the lack of source information when the content is not in dispute shouldn’t be the subject of a rant (the author above, not you, that is).

I’m another avid reader who is not part of the legal community. Great work Professor!

Oh this one is too rich. First he says Politico violated ethics by not disclosing you are conservative and anti-Warren, then says it would be ok to omit this if it was just about tenure and not a Senate race. Is he really that warped to say that because this affects an election, the person who’s character should be questioned is the critic, but not the candidate??

Second, it would appear he can’t make up his mind. First, you are “regularly attacking her”, and wrote no less than nine articles. But then he says “I don’t have any issue with the content”. Again, this little anon briny can’t make up his mind. If he doesn’t have a problem with the content, why does he rail against how many times you write?

And last, but probably the best….he writes, “the writer owes us, the readers context about speakers background and affiliations so we can better evaluate their motives and message”, yet, I see he writes nothing about his background or affiliation. So, I suppose his “outrage” allows him a free-pass from his own standard? Or maybe he just thinks since these are journalistic standards of his own making, he gets to decide who the apply to and who they don’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter.. His own arguments and failure to self apply demonstrate he wouldn’t understand if someone were to say “be careful, don’t look in the mirror.”

DocWahala, background-US Paratrooper, vet, father concerned about leaving a decayed society to his two boys, Affiliation- avid LI fan, addicted reader of DayByDay cartoon (thanks Prof for dialing me on that one!), charter member of the DIPP (deciding to Ignore Pompous Progs) and lifelong membership with ABO, chapter 1776.

Wouldn’t want to upset Anon’s sense of ethics by not disclosing who I am.

    Squires in reply to DocWahala. | May 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    I think most adults have, at some point or another, dealt with the kind of people* who accuse others of “attacking” them, their allies, their ideology, etc., or otherwise engaging in malfeasance and/or incivility in response the great injustice of calling them on their manifest bulls*t.

    *Were I a public figure, I believe this would be the cue for insinuations that I was racist against 1/32nd Cherokee people.

Actually, I didn’t get on this blog for quite sometime because I thought that I wouldn’t understand all the legal language. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally did a couple of years ago.

    LukeHandCool in reply to Rosalie. | May 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm


    That’s another thing. “… the author of a blog read in the legal community.”

    That is misleading and could be quite off-putting to potential readers. Sure the Professor has posts that are mostly geared to the legal community. But I dare say the vast majority of LI readers are not members of the comparatively small legal community.

    I come for the analysis and humor pertaining to politics, culture, society, and current events. The occasional legalese posts make my eyes glaze over (only because that isn’t my cup of tea … just as I’m not as interested in posts about individual election races as much as I am in analysis and critiques of societal and cultural happenings and trends. That’s what piques my interest and a blog strictly geared towards the legal community wouldn’t do that).

    This blog is much more varied and colorful than a reader of that Politico piece would be led to believe.

      LukeHandCool in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      Forgot to add …

      As I said, “This blog is much more varied and colorful than a reader of that Politico piece would be led to believe.”

      It’s really obvious that liberal journalists consciously write with ulterior motives (or ulterior motives banging loudly on the doors of their subconcious).

      Either that or the vast majority of them are really, really, crappy writers.

      SFC_Fuzzy in reply to LukeHandCool. | May 5, 2012 at 3:58 am

      I’m not in the legal community and actually like the legal post greatly, especially about Supreme Court and other decisions and cases. I like to check back and forth here and Patterico to see what their views are!

      Much what I like the most and is how he points out conservatives on the rise!

        Rosalie in reply to SFC_Fuzzy. | May 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

        I like the legal posts also because they’re written in a way that is fairly easy to understand. I appreciate that.

Dances with our taxmonies must be getting worried if politico going all out now for her.

LukeHandCool | May 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Professor, are you related to Rodney Dangerfield?

There is no excuse not to provide a link. None; however, I’m sure there is a reason.

I’m sure writers of political pieces on the internet who quote people with whom they disagree know that the average reader is not going to take the time to google that person’s name and find the site himself. Hyperlinking a name doesn’t take up any column space (as if that were even an issue in cyberspace).

I find it a bit aggravating when someone is quoted or paraphrased in an article on the internet and the source material is not available for me to see for myself with just a click. It’s inexcusable.

If I were you, I’d send a little note to Politico saying something along the lines of,

“Thanks for quoting me. May I be so bold as to ask that you hyperlink my name to Legal Insurrection so readers may judge for themselves? Thanks!”

Politico’s claim to journalism is as tenuous as Elizabeth Warren’s claim to Native American heritage.

Normally I would think Politico would be quick to include your conservative affiliation as that would serve to “discredit” your criticism with their oh-so-enlightened liberal readers. I don’t know … sounds like the liberal High Priestess of Hypocrisy is about to meet the rolling thunder of the underside of the bus.

radiofreeca | May 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I’m not in law either – I simply appreciate clear, logical argument, and waiting until the facts are in to form an opinion (vice doing it the other way around). Given the usual accuracy of the media, be happy that they spelled your name right, and didn’t attribute to you things you never said. Nor did they take you out of context.

Midwest Rhino | May 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

yes, it must be noted this blogger is a conservative criticizing the Democrat, even though this blogger is accurate.

So he is saying the account of Warren’s dishonesty is accurate, but please add the conservative label so voters will be led to question the truth.

A Politico link to this blogger would have no doubt generated 95% more traffic to this blogger’s site. Googling is too difficult for the tweeter generation.

Doug Wright | May 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Yep, somehow find this legal blog kind of interesting, in a non-legalistic manner, so to speak! What is it about the legal clan that some of the more popular blogs are by legal eagles: Insti, AA, the V Conspiracy thing, Powerline, etc… What’s the matter, too much free time on their hands?

Anon must be hiding out from the fuzz or maybe that’s just another way of saying that he’s, or she’s, not a publicity hound, otherwise why not full discolosure, eh?

By a former militaristic capitalist and defense monger who believes that the only strong defense is the one that’s never fully used. Now, that’s not a bridge too far, is it?

TO: The anonymous author:
who, what, when, where, why..?

This one is reserved for Elizabeth Warren:

alan markus | May 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I can think of a good reason why they would refrain from providing a link – wouldn’t want to take a chance on their readers learning something new. This line from a song from one of the World Wars comes to mind:

“How ya’ gonna keep ’em down on the farm, after they’ve see Paree?”

Substitute “farm” with the word “plantation” (or reservation) and you get the idea.

Judge him by the “color of his skin”, rather than the content of his character. When should first impressions establish perception? It can be assumed reasonable when dating, since we have to narrow the field of a billion candidates. Is it also a desirable tactic in philosophical and political exchange?

Midwest Rhino | May 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

The disciplined thinking of these lawyer people can be useful, when not used to lobby for Democrat causes, or to sue for race or gender based causes, or to bury facts of Corzine’s stolen billion, or Holder’s gun running. Considering the unfair assaults from the left (Palin, Rush, Boeing, Gibson Guitar, Arizona, etc.), a strongly rational blog is most effective.

And I sometimes even learn some things about how the legal process is supposed to work. With the likes of Holder in office, trained specialists are bolder about daring to speak the truth.

Apparently those conservative people need to be labeled though, with a scarlet letter “C”, when they comment (but don’t give them a link, or people might be seduced by their irresistible logic) 🙂

“… the author of a blog read in the legal community.”

I was a bit put off by that, too – until I realized that Thought Criminals are technically part of “the legal community,” too!

if we’re supposed to take Politico as a legitimate news organization…

I’ll be darned. A false antecedent.

Hmph! Politico is such a hack rag, I can’t believe that we’d expect much more from them than to A.) quote you out of context, B.) not properly cite you, and C.) not recognize your absolute relevance in the conservative blogosphere. This is a Politico fail and reflects not one iota on you and your most excellent blog.

But you know that. :p

Suddenly, I think about the Legal Insurrection blog and think “How sweet it is”!

Prof. William, you have so much power-nonpower, the flexability and importance of your blog is endless. They (the Progressive Left Dems), use your commentary to build up and diminish, all at the same time depending on their mistakes and miscalculations.

How sweet it is for you to be so subtle and accurate, about the most important and nonsensical events of our time.

1. Unless I overlooked something, the Politico piece also mentions, but does not link, the Boston Herald’s coverage of the controversy. It mentions, but does not link, the 1996 Harvard Crimson article in which the Law School describes Warren as Native American.

2. I’ve commented previously that oppo research should be done on Warren’s divorce. Did she view her engineer husband as an unsuitable accessory for her ambitions in legal academia?

3. Oppo researchers should investigate whether Warren’s writing is free of plagiarism.

4. The two previous conjectures should be pursued in a spirit of due diligence, especially in view of Warren’s demonstrated hypocrisy. However, I disavow and oppose attempts to use them to attack, undermine or smear Warren unless evidence comes to light.

Had to look at my MBA and MS just to make sure they didn’t magically turn into JD degrees. Another long-time reader here from the non-legal community.

I’m like a lot of readers, I’m not in the legal profession but enjoy reading the Professor’s thoughts. I think the same way he does, most of the time, but I don’t have the talent for logic like he does. It’s generally a case, “Yeah, yeah, that’s it!” His words help clarify issues for me.

I visit here more than Politico. In fact, if a link is to Politico I generally back out of it. I remember Politico = Journolist. Why give them the traffic?

Taxpayer1234 | May 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Politico’s non-mention mention of the Professor, translated:

“OMG, if we actually mention his blog, non-lawyers will read it and like it and…OMG!”

[…] Linky-Love For Professor Jacobson Posted on May 4, 2012 5:30 pm by Bill Quick » “the author of a blog read in the legal community” – Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion I’m quoted in a Poltico story today about Elizabeth Warren: “If she is 1/32nd Native American […]

I was once a paralegal… does it mean that I’m somehow “legal community”?