Mar
01
2006

Not a Man, Not a Story

No coming out party for Swoopes

When women’s basketball star Sheryl Swoopes publicly came out of the closet on October 26, she became one of the first openly gay athletes in professional team sports, and by far the most famous. It was a groundbreaking step made all the more remarkable by Swoopes’ star power: The WNBA’s only three-time MVP and a three-time Olympic gold medalist, Swoopes even has a Nike shoe in her name. She’s also the first prominent African-American athlete ever to come out. But while Swoopes’ act may reflect—and produce—a slight lessening of the homophobia that has long afflicted professional sports, the media reaction […]

Feb
01
2006

Counting the Iraqi Cost

Why did it take a non-journalist to ask?

Throughout the Iraq War, the mainstream media have shown little interest in documenting or quantifying the suffering of Iraqis. But a recent comment by George W. Bush provoked an unexpected round of discussion on the topic. At the close of a public event on December 12, Bush took questions from the audience. The very first question was quite direct: “I’d like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis, I include civilians, military police, insurgents, translators.” Bush’s response: “How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, […]

Feb
01
2006

SoundBites

Polls Apart “Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks” was the Washington Post’s headline (12/7/05) over a report asserting that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement of a six-month withdrawal plan is “a position that polls show most Americans do not support.” While poll questions on Iraq withdrawal have not focused on Pelosi’s particular timetable, the Post’s own polling (10/30-11/2/05) found that 44 percent of the public believes the U.S. should “withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties.” The Gallup Poll (11/11-13/05) reported that 52 percent of the public would withdraw either […]

Feb
01
2006

A Scoop Delayed

Times sat on wiretap story for a year

By any standard, the New York Times’ story of December 16, 2005 was a blockbuster: Reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed that following the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration initiated warrantless wiretaps on hundreds of people within the U.S.—including U.S. citizens—even though a federal law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, expressly forbids the government from doing so. This program was legal only if one accepts the administration’s contention that the executive branch has essentially unlimited “wartime” powers. The Times story would be an outstanding example of how the First Amendment works to protect liberty—were it not […]