Feb 1 2011


Judge’s Conflicts Stricken From Record Under U.S. law, a judge must disqualify himself “in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” or in which the judge “has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding.” But the conflicts of federal Judge Henry Hudson were little noted when he struck down as unconstitutional the healthcare law’s requirement that individuals buy private insurance. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post reported last July (7/30/10) that Hudson was a major shareholder in Campaign Solutions, a Republican political consulting firm counting healthcare reform opponents […]

Feb 1 2011

It’s the Politics, Stupid

Ask not what elections will do for climate change

Of all the issues at stake in the midterm congressional elections of 2010, the one that hung most in the balance may have been the fate of the world’s climate. It was clear from early in the election cycle that incoming Republicans were uniformly in agreement that no government action to control carbon emissions was desirable, or indeed necessary: Of Republican Senate candidates, “19 of the 20 who have taken a position say that global climate change is unproven or actually a hoax,” the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein said on ABC’s This Week (9/26/10). Several prominent GOP leaders had gone […]

Feb 1 2011

Scientific American Waffles on the Science of Global Warming

Is climate ‘THE issue of our time’ or a ‘doomsday obsession’?

“Climate is the issue of our time,” says Scientific American editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina (Observations, 10/28/10). So why does her magazine keep treating human-caused global warming as an open question? DiChristina was responding to criticism her magazine had received (Climate Progress, 10/26/10; FAIR Blog, 10/27/10) over a November 2010 article by Michael Lemonick about Judith Curry, a climate scientist whose critiques of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are often cited by climate denialists. The article—subheaded “Why Can’t We Have a Civil Conversation About Climate?”—left the impression that the truth on climate change is somewhere in the middle: Climate scientists […]

Feb 1 2011

Alex Jones and the Informational Vacuum

When corporate media fall short, fantasy fills the gap

Alex Jones

Alex Jones, radio and Internet talkshow host, documentarian, author and website producer, is the undisputed heavyweight king of conspiracy theory coverage, a niche he has successfully carved out in an enabling corporate media environment.

Feb 1 2011

Tangling the Net

Leading papers muddle ‘net neutrality’ debate

FCC logo

At a time dominated by headlines about the economy and ultra-partisan politics, a critical debate has been kept out of the spotlight—though its consequences could alter American social, political, economic and cultural life for decades. On December 21, the Federal Communications Commission voted to enact controversial “net neutrality” rules establishing new federal oversight of Internet service providers (ISPs). Net neutrality, the founding anti-discrimination principle of the Internet, asserts all online information should be treated equally by ISPs. As with most telecommunication policy debates, the one surrounding this vote is complicated, with many activists skeptical of the new regulations’ ability to […]

Feb 1 2011

Pundits Fuel the Right’s Latest Rage

‘Constitutional’ conservatives’ selective love for Bill of Rights

Right-leaning pundits play a key role in a growing fad of self-styled “constitutional conservatives” who say Barack Obama is subverting the U.S. Constitution—and brandish pocket-sized copies of the document to prove it. The pundits cite a potpourri of purportedly unconstitutional policies, including healthcare legislation, corporate bailouts and perhaps even a cover-up over where Obama was born. And they’re making an impact. A Nexis database search of U.S. newspapers and news wires using the terms “constitutional conservative/conservatism” gives some indication of the growing prominence of the trend. Rarely mentioned in the year 2000 (12 times) or even in 2009 (30), it […]

Feb 1 2011

The Planet Keeps Warming, But U.S. Media Interest Cools

Climate summit(s) in Cancún

After the anticlimax of the COP-15 climate-policy negotiations in Copenhagen last year (Extra!, 2/10)—in which the more than 190 UN-member nations walked away with a non-binding statement of intent cobbled together in secret by the U.S. and a few other wealthy nations—public and press expectations for this year’s COP-16 meeting (11/29-12/10/10) in Cancún, Mexico, were low. At least in part reflecting this pessimism, there has been a “steep slide” in climate reporting this year, Columbia Journalism Review’s science blog (Observatory, 11/24/10) noted. Few major corporate news media outlets even planned to send reporters to Cancún; as Washington Post lead environmental […]

Feb 1 2011

When Journalism Becomes ‘Terrorism’

The dangerous sport of calling WikiLeaks names

“Let me be very clear,” declared Sen. John Ensign (R.-Nev.), “WikiLeaks is not a whistleblower website and [Julian] Assange is not a journalist.” Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin concurred: “Assange is not a ‘journalist,’ any more than the ‘editor’ of Al-Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a ‘journalist,’” she wrote on her Facebook page, adding that the WikiLeaks founder was “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” who should be “pursued with the same urgency we pursue Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Meet the Press, 12/5/10) likewise dubbed Assange a “high-tech terrorist”—a designation endorsed by […]