Consider the blindfold you still see on the figure of Justice at many courthouses: it’s meant, of course, to suggest the impartiality of the process that unfolds within: a government of laws, not men. The scales justice holds weigh truly, without prejudice. Similarly, newspapers and other organs of public enlightenment: Are they not—at least, should they not be—monuments to impartiality and disinterested judgment?

It’s pretty to think so. But in “Neutralized,” a long threnody about “the demise of impartial institutions” in the April 7 issue of The New Republic, the journalist John Judis manages mostly to illustrate how interested, i.e., how partial, claims to disinterestedness can be. Not that we dispute the importance of the ideal of disinterestedness: indeed, we have often in this space lamented its loss in colleges and universities where politics has increasingly trumped scholars ...