Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meaningless Arithmetic

Mark Tushnet

At today's press briefing by Jay Carney at the White House, one reporter stated, in a tone suggesting that he was making an important point, that "This administration has prosecuted twice as many leak cases as all previous presidents combined." (That's the version of the statement that I could find in quick search, but I don't vouch for its word-for-word accuracy.) Carney responded that some of the prosecutions were the culmination of investigations begun before the current administration took office, which could be true, for all I know.

The more important point is that the statistic is completely meaningless no matter what. After all, the premise is that prior administrations were conducting the "right" number of prosecutions. But, maybe they were failing to prosecute enough cases.