Sep
01
2011

Whistling Past the Wreckage of Civil Liberties

Watchdogs slept through a decade of rollback

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Ben (Falcifer)

When the USA Patriot Act* was rushed into law after the September 11 attacks, the erosion of civil liberties the Act represented—the broad powers it gave law enforcement to spy on people, and the creation of the dangerously ill-defined crime of “domestic terrorism”—met with little detailed scrutiny or principled challenge from major media. Typical at the time was a Today show segment (NBC, 10/27/01) in which anchor Soledad O’Brien grilled a concerned legal advocate, “But, certainly, isn’t there a sense in wartime that you have to give up some of your privacies, especially when you’re talking about terrorists who exploited […]

Sep
01
2011

Economic Ideas, On and Off the Table

Fringe theories get a hearing as textbook solutions are shunned

Money--lots of it.

Economics has traditionally been the media's favorite academic discipline. In normal times, the "consensus" of the economics profession (or at least what passes for consensus) tends to weigh heavily in the way reporters and editors cover political subjects--assuming that less-regulated trade is always beneficial, for example. But since the onset of the economic crisis, journalists have increasingly abandoned their habit of deferring to the views of mainstream economics. As economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman often argues (e.g., 5/7/11), the answers to our economic problems that come from ordinary textbook economics have come to be seen as radical […]