Quote of the Day
“So did you see the AP fact-check of Bill Clinton’s long speech last night? It’s sort of amazing. Like, for example, while Bill Clinton claimed that the Romney/Ryan campaign is dishonest, the reality is ... MONICA LEWINSKY.
”CLINTON: 'Their campaign pollster said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Now that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself — I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.'
“THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,' Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were 'legally accurate' but also allowed that he 'misled people, including even my wife.'
”How is this a checking of a fact?“
--Alex Pareene, ”The AP's Amazing Clinton 'Fact Check,'" Salon.com
* * *
Not sure what's with AP these days. They often run extremely conservative and/or opinionated stuff under the guise of objectivity. I first noticed it--but have noticed it many times since--while working on a profile of Robert Rubin, litigation director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area:
Rubin, of course, is aware of the more famous Robert Rubin, the former treasury secretary, but there was a day last November when, if you were online, “You didn’t have to go through Robert E. Rubin to get to me,” he says.
It was the day an AP story came out critical of the fact that the only two lawyers to sue under a provision of the 2002 California Voting Rights Act were the two lawyers who helped write the provision: Joaquin Avila and Rubin. The law, according to the article, “makes it easier for lawyers to sue and win financial judgments in cases arising from claims that minorities effectively were shut out of local [at-large] elections.” The story, despite a passing reference to Rubin’s salaried position, also implied that the two lawyers were getting rich from it. Headlined “Jackpot: Lawyers earn fees from law they wrote,” it spread quickly on anti-lawyer blogs.
“It was very biased and one-sided,” Brown says of the article. “They didn’t ask for competing points of views, they didn’t discuss the purpose of public-interest impact litigation. It suggested that these lawyers were in it for the money; but a lawyer like Robert Rubin has dedicated his entire life to public interest work. He’s certainly not in this line of work for the money.”
“I’ll make two points,” adds Brad Seligman, a civil rights attorney with Impact Fund. “The first is voting rights litigation is extremely difficult. It’s often unsuccessful. And unlike many other areas of the law they don’t create any damage pot. The only way to get paid in those cases is if you actually win the case. Then it’s up to a judge to decide how much you get paid. That’s number one. It’s unlike almost every other area of law. There are no rich lawyers doing voting rights cases.
“The second is Robert is an employee of a nonprofit organization. He doesn’t make any money personally from these cases. And his salary level as an employee is way lower than what he could command in private practice. In fact, if he was in private practice, given his reputation and experience, he’d be making a million dollars a year. But he’s working in a nonprofit agency.”