Nicholas Confessore

Nicholas Confessore is a reporter for The New York Times. Previously he was an American Prospect senior correspondent and an editor of The Washington Monthly.

Recent Articles

Hacked to Death:

Generally speaking, newspaper column writing is today a moribund art form. Gone are the days when crusty reporters would ascend to the ranks of the thrice-weekly (or even daily) columnists only after years of dues paying, bringing with them the shoe-leather skills, wit, and wisdom of a career spent in the trenches. More and more often, a "columnist" is someone who never leaves his or her office, rarely actually picks up the phone, and ekes out 750 words a week. And if there is one particularly offensive category of modern columnist, it is the syndicated ideological hack -- the non-journalist, usually a political refugee of one kind or another, who spends his or her time lobbing propaganda grenades at the opposition. In almost every way, shape, and form, The Boston Globe 's Jeff Jacoby is the apotheosis of the ideological hack. A lawyer by training and an angry conservative by temperament, Jacoby began his career with stints on a congressional campaign, as an assistant...

The Times' Emission Omission

The greatest ideological bias of the mainstream media, as any serious person can tell you, is towards the center -- and especially towards politicians who conspicuously, and piously, claim the label "moderate." These are the virtuous pragmatists who, we're told, are cutting through the gridlock, getting things done, reaching across the partisan divide, etc. The politician who stakes a claim to the other side's turf, even for no obvious good reason, is the pundit's best friend. That, at any rate, is the only possible explanation for why the press swallowed Bush's campaign pledge last year, that he would seek a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Why, they pointed out, this was more than Al Gore -- he of Earth in the Balance -- had pledged. Maybe Bush really is a moderate, just like his advisors say. Actually, they continued to buy this line up until about three days ago. Many papers screwed the pooch on this one -- the Detroit News declared that Bush would be a "powerful ally" to...

What It Takes:

If there are standards of truth or honesty in journalistic commentary, The Wall Street Journal 's editorial page abandoned them long ago. Sadly, the board that administers the Pulitzer Prizes does not agree. Last year, a Pulitzer jury handed the prize for commentary to the Journal 's Paul Gigot, a man who, in his columns on the Florida brouhaha this winter, emerged as the nation's leading apologist for mob rule. (It wasn't a gang of Republican Hill staffers who stormed the Miami-Dade canvassing board's office last November. It was a " burgher rebellion .") This year, the winner for commentary was Dorothy Rabinowitz -- a member of the Journal 's editorial board and occasional columnist for the paper's op-ed page. To be sure, those of Rabinowitz' columns listed on the Journal site show that she is far from the worst offender among Robert Bartley's menagerie of lunatics. (For one thing, the most absurd things the Journal 's op-ed page prints -- Bill Clinton is a cocaine smuggler, Ronald...

Should Bush Shape the Bench?

There are about 93 vacancies in the federal court system today, and next month, George W. Bush is likely to announce his first batch of nominees to fill them. That there are so many vacancies is not, however, a matter of happenstance. For six years, Republicans in the Senate employed every trick in the book -- secret "holds," burying nominees in committee, refusing to hold hearings or schedule votes -- to stall, delay, and obstruct Bill Clinton's appointees to the bench. That these appointees were "liberal judicial activists," as Republican senators liked to say, was a claim almost no one besides them took seriously -- by 1997, even Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a Republican and conservative, was complaining about the Republican-inspired slowdown. (Indeed, appointing liberals to the bench was never a priority for Clinton, and most of his nominees were plain-vanilla moderates. A 1996 empirical study by three political scientists found that Bill Clinton's nominees tended to be...

Hillary Was Right

When Hillary Clinton went on the Today show in early 1998 to defend her husband against the malefactions of a "vast right-wing conspiracy," she was pitied and disparaged in roughly equal measure. Rightly so: Her husband, it turned out, was dallying with an intern less than half his age. And while the president has garnered more than his share of conservative vitriol, the notion that he was the victim of a conspiracy--a "vast" one, no less--seemed paranoid, the stuff of an especially bad Oliver Stone movie. But perhaps Hillary's main mistake was her choice of words. Rupert Murdoch's varied holdings, for example, are vast and right wing, but far more concerned with profit as an ultimate end than with ideology. And though the fortune of Richard Mellon Scaife has helped underwrite such enduring conservative institutions as the Heritage Foundation and Kenneth Starr's Whitewater investigation, those relationships are either not very secret (Heritage's funding is a...

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