Category Archives: The Media

Good Reads

Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News? is an interesting debate between the NYT’s Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald.

Myself, I thought Keller was losing, but just on points, until he first knocked himself down by defending the NYT’s failure to call torture “torture” when the US government does it. Then he finished the self-TKO by defending David Brooks…

I want my new media!

Here, by the way, is another take on how to read the debate: Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel), The Institutional Subjectivity of the White Affluent US Nation.

Bonus good read because I’m late posting the above: Kevin John Heller, Why Is Britain Intentionally Using Weapons of Mass Destruction?.

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Why Does Anyone Think Anyone Will Believe This Stuff?

Today’s NYT has an article with the (somewhat odd) headline Obama’s Edge Over G.O.P. Is Still Unclear After Victory in Standoff. In this article, Peter Baker thinks it worth our time to be treated to the following quote, which is presented without any commentary or context:

“For Republicans’ having been rolled, there is renewed pressure on them to stay tough and not lose the next time,” said former Representative Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, a Republican who has been highly critical of the Tea Party strategy.

Mr. Davis said Republicans over the last few weeks “underestimated Obama,” whose position, he said, has been strengthened. Going forward, he said, Mr. Obama has to be more flexible to win Republican support. “He’s got to learn to give Boehner some victories,” Mr. Davis said. “But you’d rather be where he is now than where Boehner is.”

Can you imagine anyone saying this of Ronald Reagan after he, say, killed the air traffic control union? That Reagan had to learn to give Tip O’Neill some victories? Everyone would have giggled, and the quote would never have made it into the paper.

I sort of get why a Republican tactician might say something like this, but not why the stenographer thought it was worth writing down, much less repeating and legitimating it.

I want my new media.

Posted in The Media | 1 Comment

The Herald Thinks a Taser Death a Week is the “Rarest” Case

I sent an email to two reporters yesterday (not a letter to the editor):

I was somewhat surprised to see it asserted (without attribution) in your otherwise fine article today (“Tasered Artist Laid to Rest”) that tasers result in deaths in the US only “rarely”. They are and have been sufficiently frequent for Amnesty International to have issued a report condemning the frequency of them as far back as 2004. A later report put the death rate at 350 over a seven year period. Is 50 utterly unnecessary deaths per year at the hands of police considered “rare”? I hope not. I’d call it shockingly frequent.

(Other private estimates come up with even larger numbers for more recent periods. See for example http://electronicvillage.blogspot.com/2009/05/taser-related-deaths-in-united-states.html)

The issue of the extent to which deaths depend on pre-existing condition is somewhat debated, but in any case it is also a distraction. Your article presents it as something of an excuse for taser deaths, but in fact if some part of the population is statistically likely to be killed by tasers, that is just another reason why they should not be used, not an excuse for taking lives.

I wonder if you would please consider running a correction, at least as regards the frequency of taser deaths in the US, and in particular if your future coverage could please be less dismissive of 50+ annual cases of what, if it happened elsewhere, we would call state-sponsored killings.

As for whoever told you taser deaths are rare: stop trusting them.

Incidentally, the online version of the article has a different text from the printed version, it says “Tasers result in death in only the rarest of cases.”

Personally, I don’t see how an average of a death a week can be called the “rarest of cases” but I’m not a hardened journalist.

Posted in Miami, The Media | 1 Comment

Interviewed by Slate

I’m quoted a bit in Slate’s Florida almost certainly did not accidentally outlaw computers, which is the contrarian reaction to a bunch of stories yesterday. Katy Waldman sets the scene like this,

Back the truck up, compadres. Florida did not just inadvertently outlaw the 21st century. The Internet lit up Wednesday with reports of a new lawsuit claiming that, in its efforts to crack down on illegal gambling, the state had banned all computers, smartphones, or other devices capable of connecting to the Web. What happened: In April, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill making illegal slot machines, which the bill defined (in admittedly billowy terms) as “any machine or device or system or network of devices” that requires “an account number, code, or other object or information” to play “games of chance or skill.”

I’m quoted accurately, and I stand by what I said about why two different canons of construction suggest the courts would read the statute narrowly… but Ms. Waldman did leave out the bit where I also said that “the statute is in fact drafted broadly and sloppily, so the suit is not frivolous.”

Update: a fuller version of what I said is at Suit: Internet cafe law also bans computers in the Tampa Bay Tribune.

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Mary Anne Franks Profiled in Ocean Drive

Mary Anne FranksMy colleague Mary Anne Franks is the subject of an unusual (for a law professor) profile in the current issue of Ocean Drive magazine. For those unfamiliar with Ocean Drive, it is a big thick glossy thing aimed squarely at the handmaidens of the plutocracy. The magazine celebrates Miami’s (and especially Miami Beach’s) moneyed party-goers, and is stuffed with ads for wildly expensive clothing and jewelery. In between the ads there are little articles about photogenic local celebutantes and charity party-goers. As far as I know, in 20 years in Miami I have never attended an event covered by Ocean Drive, but then again I’m hardly a regular reader. The thing does appear in the mail at my house — I’m guessing I got on their mailing list by subscribing to the Economist, which says something about either the Economist or Ocean Drive‘s demographic assumptions.

Anyway, Mary Anne is not Ocean Drive‘s covergirl — that’s a Bond girl — but she is the background for the table of contents, which must be the next best thing, and the subject of a writeup that begins, “Mary Anne Franks could shatter your kneecap if she wanted to” and goes on to discuss her expertise in Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art; it also touches on her expertise as a feminist legal thinker.

Before joining the Miami Law faculty, Mary Anne Franks was a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2007. She received her D.Phil in 2004 and her M.Phil in 2001 from Oxford University, where she studied on a Rhodes Scholarship. Mary Anne’s latest article is How to Feel Like a Woman, or, Why Punishment Is a Drag, which is forthcoming in the UCLA Law Review.

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Couldn’t Resist

A request for a correction in The New York Times:

Article Headline: Rewinding History, Bush Museum Lets You Decide

Date Published: 4/21/13, Print (National Edition, p. A1)

Phrase in Question: “As president, he rarely had a chance to rest….”

Your Concern (please limit to 300 words):

In the page A10 continuation of the front-page article in today’s paper by Peter Baker, “Rewinding History, Bush Museum Lets You Decide”, Mr. Baker writes,

“As president, he [Bush] rarely had a chance to rest….”

In fact, George W. Bush spent 32 months at his ranch (490 days) or Camp David (487 days) — an average of four months away every year, according the the Washington Post’s POTUS tracker (as cited at http://theweek.com/bullpen/column/235844/deconstructing-the-5-most-ridiculous-myths-about-barack-obama).

I understand Presidents sometimes take their work with them when they travel, but I submit that there were plenty of chances to rest in those 977 days.

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Exxon Claims It Doesn’t Hate Children

Exxon hated this video by Exxon Hates Your Children so much that Exxon threatened “legal action” against TV stations in Arkansas who had planned to run it as a paid ad.

Even assuming that the ad is wrong, and Exxon doesn’t hate our children, what would the nature of the claim be? I thought almost no states permitted claims alleging a corporation was libeled?

Update: Crude censorship on Arkansas oil spill story

Posted in The Media | 3 Comments