Opining Reporters

Steven Brill and Margaret Carlson

Opining Reporters

Steven Brill and Margaret Carlson

Opining Reporters
An email conversation about the news of the day.
April 27 1999 10:41 AM

Steven Brill and Margaret Carlson

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Dear Margaret:

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I'm curious about something. You're not getting paid to do this (right???), yet you are being more of an opinionated pundit than you are on television. How come?

Should a Time magazine reporter express opinions about Dick Armey, etc.? Does it undermine your reporting--kinda like Linda Greenhouse marching in a pro-choice rally--or does it simply mean that you're candid and not hiding anything? I find myself being real careful about expressing opinions (my gun rant is an exception), in part because I got nailed, as you know, last summer for having given money to Clinton in 1995, three years before I got into journalism that involved politics. I thought the critics were right, that it did undermine my credibility. It's kind of like a judge: There really shouldn't be an appearance of bias.

As for Littleton, the real test comes next week. That's when the real news or even appearance of real news will start to fade and MSNBC will be left trying to flog it for all it's worth by creating controversy. You can already see some of that today in the stuff about suspects. Sure, there are suspects. And, sure, there may be a case. But reporting from anonymous sources that someone flunked a lie detector test? Here it comes ...

Steven Brill is the founder and editor in chief of Brill's Content magazine. (To subscribe to Brill's Content, click here.) Margaret Carlson is a columnist for Time magazine.