Thursday’s New York Times featured some unseemly gushing over Democratic Judge Kimba Wood, whose decision outed Fox News host Sea Hannity as a client of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, under a headline showcasing extraneous praise for Wood: “On Bench for Cohen Case: ‘The Judicial Equivalent of Teddy Roosevelt." Reporters Alan Feuer and Benjamin Weiser opened by irresponsibly lumping in the conspiracist Alex Jones with responsible conservative outlets:
Judge Kimba M. Wood had barely finished a hearing this week that involved both Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s lawyer, and -- in a stunning revelation -- the Fox News host Sean Hannity, when the right-wing media machine started going after her.
Info Wars, the conspiracy theory website run by Alex Jones, posted an article that distilled Judge Wood’s 30-year career to a single Saturday five years ago when she performed the wedding of the left-wing billionaire George Soros. Keeping with the theme of a liberal cabal, the Washington Times mentioned that another progressive bigwig -- Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader -- was also at the festivities. Joining the attacks, Fox News and NRA TV also soon chimed in.
The Times reminded readers where they had heard Wood's name before -- President Clinton's second failed attorney general nominee. The reporters stood up for Wood, asked to withdraw her name after telling the White house she was sponsoring her own nanny for a green card.
Although she had done nothing illegal, Judge Wood, 74, was a casualty of politics and continued on the bench at Federal District Court in Manhattan, one of the country’s highest-profile judicial stages.
“She’s sort of the judicial equivalent of Teddy Roosevelt -- she speaks softly but carries a big stick,” said Judd Burstein, a lawyer who has known Judge Wood for more than 30 years. “She has a wonderful judicial temperament. She’s very soft-spoken, very courteous to people, but completely no-nonsense.”
But at least so far, Judge Wood has shown herself to be a firm jurist in the proceeding. On Monday, she compelled Mr. Cohen’s lawyers to reveal that Mr. Hannity had once been one of Mr. Cohen’s clients. Engaging her in a game of cat-and-mouse, the lawyers had at first described Mr. Hannity merely as a “prominent individual” who was embarrassed to be connected to the Cohen investigation.
But after another lawyer -- representing news media outlets -- stepped in to argue that embarrassment was not sufficient grounds to keep the name a secret, Judge Wood decided she agreed. When Mr. Cohen’s lawyers pushed back, Judge Wood was blunt.
“I’m directing you to disclose the name now,” she said.
And so the lawyer did.
Actually, that incident shows Wood as the opposite of a “firm jurist,” easily swayed by lawyers for the liberal press, including the Times. Feuer and Weiser were vague about the identity of the lawyer, but NewsBusters Tim Graham revealed his name as Robert Balin.
An anecdote about sentencing junk-bond king Michael Milken gave the Times more room to humanize the judge.
At that point, Judge Wood was working 12-to-14-hour days, such long stints that she gave up one of her hobbies, painting abstract canvases in oil. To relax, her family said, she played tennis and grew roses at a vacation home in Massachusetts....
But even if Judge Wood moves in rarefied circles, she still maintains an exacting demeanor in the courtroom, lawyers said.
Last year, co-writer Weiser wrote quite sympathetically about someone in legal trouble from the other side of the political fence: Anthony Weiner, the former Democratic congressman convicted for sexting a 15-year-old girl.