The Chicago Way

…and journalism.

This is your country: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This is your country on fascism:

The Chicago Tribune weighed in with an editorial late last month accusing the prosecutors of “wielding this subpoena to send an unsubtle message to these students and other journalists: Back off. Don’t make waves. You’re embarrassing us.” And in an article in last week, American University law Prof. Darren Hutchinson called their behavior “shameful,” exemplifying “a deep contempt for the law, which makes the students’ efforts to uncover wrongful convictions even more compelling.”

The Cook County prosecutors’ actions are certainly shameful. But they may be excused for thinking that attacks on media critics are, in today’s political era, business as usual. Indeed, they need look no farther than the White House, whose occupant has sometimes styled himself the nation’s chief media critic.

It is, after all, the Obama administration that declared that its critics at Fox News Channel are not real journalists, and that Fox is not a “legitimate news organization.” In doing so—as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted with a reference to “brushback pitches” in baseball—the White House’s goal was just the same as that of the prosecutors in the president’s native city: To chill criticism, and to get journalists to think twice before stepping up to the plate.

Bert Gall and Robert Frommer of the Institute for Justice have made a compelling case that the Obama administration’s word choice is quite significant. They think that by branding Fox as something other than a “legitimate news organization,” the White House is actually setting up a more brutal attack using campaign finance laws. News media organizations are exempt from campaign-finance laws’ speech regulations. But if Fox is not a “legitimate news organization,” then federal election authorities might be able to argue that its political speech can be regulated like that of any other non-news corporation.

I hope that SCOTUS finally defangs McCain-Feingold this session.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s more on the Northwestern case.

[Update a few minutes after the previous one]

Here’s another story along the same lines:

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Web site “not to disclose the existence of this request” unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

<TONE=”sarcasm”>Why should they object? What do they hav to hide?</TONE>

Because I Didn’t Have Time

Clark Lindsey has done us all the favor of reviewing The Space Review today. Like him, I was struck by Tayylor Dinerman’s completely ignoring ULA in his discussion of the “burgeoning” commercial space industry. But even more, I agree that Dwayne Day’s broad conclusion about public interest in space and space settlement from a single stupid network program is absurd:

The paradigm that near-term space can only involve a small number of people in a small habitat doing technical and scientific tasks does not lend itself to great story telling. Conflicts are required for compelling stories and lots of different types of conflicts are needed to generate enough stories for a compelling TV series. I think the “nearest” near future space scenario that could generate an interesting diversity of plots with a diversity of characters would involve a couple of thousand people populating multiple LEO space stations and habitats at a Lagrange point and bases on the Moon. Commercial, government, and international activities of various kinds would inevitably lead to all sorts of conflicts.

Let’s ignore the fact that most television shows (and particularly Big (though becoming smaller) Three Network television programs) fail, often epically. Big media, like (apparently) Dwayne, remain stuck in the Apollo paradigm of space being about a few civil servants doing science and exploration, at great government expense. Here’s an idea. Try a show about real space pioneers and see how popular it is. IIRC, “Lost In Space” actually did pretty well back in the sixties, or at least a lot better than the schlock that Dwayne reviewed. It’s not the sixties any more, but let’s give it a try anyway. It’s not like LIS was based on the NASA paradigm, so that wouldn’t explain its sixties success, right?

Twenty Years After The Fall

Continued apologists for the communist monsters, particularly on the left and in academia. Imagine the uproar if Anita Dunn had said “…Hitler, one of my favorite personal philosophers.” And yet Mao murdered many more people, an order of magnitude more, than Hitler ever dreamed of killing.

And unfortunately, the old demon isn’t dead. It continues to insinuate itself into our political discourse, but in more subtle ways, via watermelon environmentalism, and demands that health care is a “right,” and that profits and those who earn them are evil.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!