SCOTUSBlog and Press Credentials

There is an ongoing controversy over whether SCOTUSBlog can get a press credential at the Supreme Court.  (For some background, here is Adam Liptak’s column.)  The Court defers on these matters to the Senate, and the Senate defers to a group of journalists on the “Standing Committee of Correspondents.”  The Committee has denied a new petition from SCOTUSBlog for a credential, and is now considering an appeal.

I want to say that I (and many other people) rely on SCOTUSBlog’s professional coverage of the Court’s work.  When the health care cases came down in 2012, SCOTUSBlog got it right while the so-called real journalists (I’m talking to you CNN) got the news wrong.  Moreover, I think that in a world of blogs, vesting credentialing in an obscure group of reporters (who are, of course, not from blogs) is highly problematic.

I thought that CoOp readers and others might want to make their views known to the Committee on this question, and thus I thought I’d list their names and affiliations.  After all, journalists love transparency.

Kate Hunter–Bloomberg News (Kate_HunterDC) on Twitter

Emily Ethridge–CQ Roll Call (emilyethridge@cqrollcall.com)

Siobhan Hughes–The Wall Street Journal (siobhanhughes1) on Twitter

Colby Itkowitz–Washington Post (ColbyItkowitz) on Twitter

Peter Urban–Stephens Media Group (purban@stephensmedia.com)

 

 

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6 Responses

  1. I get more useful Supreme Court news from SCOTUSBlog than from any of those other publications. In fact I get more useful news, period, from SCOTUSBlog than from any of the rest.

  2. Corey Yung says:

    Is there any person, constituency, or group outside of the Supreme Court (and maybe the Senate) that doesn’t want SCOTUSBlog to continue to be able to report on the Court as they have in the past? I imagine some media companies might not like the competition, but, based upon my experience, most (if not all) of them rely on SCOTUSBlog as do the rest of us. If there really is no external opposition, it seems all the more clear that SCOTUSBlog should be credentialed.

  3. mls says:

    A few observations. First, it does not appear that the Standing Committee’s decision will have any direct impact on SCOTUSblog’s ability to get credentialed at the Supreme Court (see Tom Goldstein’s comment on my post here http://www.pointoforder.com/2014/05/22/should-scotusblog-get-a-credential-or-everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-the-congressional-press-galleries-but-were-afraid-to-ask/) and there seems to be no reason why it should.

    Second, the question of whether SCOTUSblog (or more accurately Denniston) should be credentialed in the House and Senate galleries does not revolve around whether it provides better coverage of the Supreme Court than other publications. It does matter whether it can demonstrate a need for on-site access to Members and staff, which seemed to me to be the biggest weakness in the application.

    Third, I attended the hearing before the Standing Committee, and was apparent that the committee’s biggest problem with the application relates to editorial independence. Goldstein kept comparing himself to Jeff Bezos in relation to the Washington Post, but the committee noted that Bezos isn’t the publisher of the Post, and they seemed to think it would be a problem if he (Bezos) tried to dictate editorial policy as Goldstein does at SCOTUSblog. Maybe this is a journalist versus lawyer thing.

    Fourth, you can try to lobby the Standing Committee, but the chair made clear at the outset that the committee’s decision would not be based on political pressure.

    Finally, it may be unfair that the credentialing decisions are made by an “obscure” group of journalists, but it isn’t clear that there is a better alternative. Presumably you wouldn’t want the Speaker and Senate Rules Committee making these decisions (and I know they don’t). And is it any more unfair than obscure groups of lawyers and law professors making decisions about law school accreditation or bar admissions?

  4. Gerard Magliocca says:

    I wonder how the White House judges its press credentials.

  5. mls says:

    I believe they require congressional credentials as a prerequisite. http://openjurist.org/569/f2d/124/sherrill-v-h-knight

  6. Joe says:

    I don’t know how “weak” the “need” is — Tom Goldstein talked about Amy Howe’s reporting on the hearing and described the value of her being there just for that alone. I also think I’ll trust a 50 year court veteran on the value of the presence. Anyway, find it hard to believe that the prestige and value of SCOTUSBlog has no effect here, especially if it might be a close case in the end.

    SCOTUS justices probably claim not to be “pressured” by protest either. Their opinions are at least somewhat “influenced” by such things even if it won’t be “based” on that. That seems a dubious all/nothing implication of the value of the comments proposed.