Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Topic: The Media

Press Notes: The Art of Controlling the Interview, and the Craft of Selling Advertising Slots

It seems there is a good reason one really shouldn?t ask medical experts to appear on news interview shows. It seems they don?t like playing along with the standard narrative.

Media Matters reports that on the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough interviewed Dr. Ronald Cranford, one of the two neurologists selected by Michael Schiavo to examine Terri Schiavo pursuant to an October 2001 appellate court mandate. As part of that duty, Cranford "reviewed her medical records and personally conducted a neurological examination of Mrs. Schiavo," according to the June 2003 Florida appeals court review of that hearing.

It?s not often you hear a guest say to a news anchor, in this case NBC?s Lisa Daniels ? ?? this is all bogus. It's all just a bunch of crap that you are saying. It's totally wrong.?

And this, regarding the host? ?And Joe doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. And you don't have any idea what you're talking about.?

Cool.

And even better, this exchange ?
DANIELS: Doctor, was a CAT scan -- Doctor, your critics would ask you, was a CAT scan used? Was an MRI taken? Were any of these tests taken?

CRANFORD: You don't know the answer tothat? The CAT scan was done in 1996, 2002. We spent a lot of time in court showing the irreversible -- you don't have copies of those CAT scans? How can you say that?

The CAT scans are out there, distributed to other people. You have got to look at the facts. The CAT scan is out there. It shows severe atrophy of the brain. The autopsy is going to show severe atrophy of the brain. And you're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait a second.
Things were, at that point, clearly slipping out of control. And the host really wanted to control the interview.

And then there was this -
SCARBOROUGH: Why don't you go ahead and tell the rest of the story there? Why don't you tell us that the radiologist that looked at the two CAT scans said she showed improvement in 2002 over 1996? You know, you seem so sure of yourself. The Associated Press reported yesterday ?

CRANFORD: Joe, the judge didn't believe him.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. You're so sure of yourself -- respond to this. AP had a report yesterday. They said seven doctors have looked at her. Four said she was in persistent vegetative state. You were one of them, hired by Michael Schiavo to do that. There were three others that looked at her that disagreed. How can you be so absolutely sure that everybody that agrees with you is 100 percent accurate and everybody on the other side is a charlatan?

CRANFORD: Joe, Judge -- Judge [George W.] Greer disallowed, didn't believe what [Dr. William] Maxfield [a doctor selected by Terri Schiavo's parents] said. You got your numbers wrong. There were eight neurologists saw her. Seven of the eight said she was in a vegetative state. Only one said she wasn't.

SCARBOROUGH: I am quoting an Associated Press report from yesterday.

CRANFORD: Joe, you've got to get your facts straight.

SCARBOROUGH: I have got my facts straight.

CRANFORD: Get your facts straight. You've got your facts way off.
And on it went. You can read the whole transcript by clicking on the top link.

What to make of this?

The hosts of these shows are working on a particular persona each is marketing ? and the hook for this show is in its catchphrase ? ?Talking about the issues that matter to the average Joe.? That sells. And the marketing guess seems to be the ?average Joe? wants to hear that the doctors have it all wrong, or that they really don?t agree, and the evidence is we are starving to death a woman who is actually getting better. Great drama for the news network.

Except the doctors pretty much agree, and she isn?t getting better, and never was, and the facts are there for all to see. And the tests were done. And there?s not much more to say ? unless you don?t like the facts.

But ratings matter.

And CNN is changing too.

CNN Seeks New Ways to Battle Fox News
Jacques Steinberg, New York Times, March 23, 2005

This is a long item on Jonathan Klein, the new president of CNN, and his plans to change CNN to improve its ratings.

How?
One of Mr. Klein's mantras - a version of the same one he invoked when announcing in January that he intended to cancel the afternoon shout-fest "Crossfire" - is that the network's prime-time programs should spend less time reporting the news of the day and more time spinning out what he hopes are emotionally gripping, character-driven narratives pegged to recent events.

But he has also sought to take a page from the playbook of local television news and encourage some reporters to put more of their personalities in their reports. It is not insignificant that he is being advised in this effort by Joel Cheatwood, a former news executive in Miami and Chicago who is well known for using loud sound effects to amplify crime stories and for the failed effort to make Jerry Springer a commentator in Chicago in the late 1990's.

In a segment last Wednesday on the program "Paula Zahn Now," for example, Rick Sanchez, a former local news anchor who worked for Mr. Cheatwood in Miami and who joined CNN last year, strapped on a device known as a shock belt - worn around the waist, it can deliver 50,000 volts of electricity to a person's body - and then gave a simple command: "Do it."

Moments later, Mr. Sanchez moaned audibly, crumpled to the floor, and, still panting after being helped to his feet, reported: "It hurts. It's painful. But no one's dead."

Mr. Sanchez was attempting to show first-hand how a device like the shock belt might have prevented the courthouse rampage in Atlanta in which a judge and three others were killed by a rape suspect.

The morning after his program was broadcast, Mr. Klein was euphoric.

"I thought it was great," he told several dozen producers and editors, gathered by videoconference from around the country for their regular 9 a.m. assignment meeting. Mr. Sanchez will join Anderson Cooper's evening news program on CNN early next month as a full-time correspondent.
Yeah, well, that?s the state of the news media now.

By the way, for a video of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show having fun with this particular CNN report, go here and in the right column click on Professional Journalism item.

When news becomes just one of the products a major corporation sells, or uses to sell advertising slots, we get what the corporation thinks we want ? silly crap and lies that, well, maybe could be true if you're paranoid. (And that raises the question of whether folks want to feel paranoid ? whether they really want to believe that there are evil plots afoot and tons of folks who want to abduct our kids from schoolyards, and tens of thousands of kids who will sneak into those very schools and murder their classmates, and judges who want everyone to die, and that most if not all foreigners want to kill us because that hate freedom, and there?s a master plot by liberals to destroy Christianity and all the rest? And then there's... the French! You know, you CAN use that paranoia about the world being a creepy place with everyone out to get us all ? and sell a lot of tampons or cream cheese. But that?s another issue.)

Those who want Professional Journalism? There?s the PBS ?News Hour? and ?BBC World Report? out there, I guess. Dull stuff. With low ratings.

__

FOOTNOTE:

Excerpts from a comment from Digby over at Hullabaloo, who calls Scarborough ?a man with the mental capacity of a Vidalia onion (a small Vidalia onion)? -
? I'm mighty proud of Dr. Cranford, and I think the medical profession should be proud of him too. One of the most outrageous aspects of the whole sorry Schiavo circus was the willingness, nay, eagerness of complete idiots -- and even their inferiors, the cable news people -- to second guess the doctors. People you wouldn't trust to fix your downstairs toilet suddenly thought they know more about neurology than men and women who spent, oh, ten or twelve years of their lives learning to be doctors, and another two or three decades as practicing board-certified neurologists, and who repeatedly, over the course of ten years, two trials and more appeals than you can shake a catheter at, examined, tested and diagnosed Terri Schiavo -- making her probably the world's most over-treated patient. A poster child for excessive medical procedures.

I mean, I don't think the pope has gotten as much medical attention as Terri did. I doubt Leonid Breshnev had that many doctors. The CAT scans, MRIs and hyperbaric vaso...vaso...whatever tests alone probably added a couple of percentage points to GDP -- at a time when millions of unfamous Americans have no health coverage at all. But that's another outrage. Right now we're talking about how the Terri Schiavo case produced a national epidemic of TV faith healers (as if we didn't have enough of them already.)

Even the doctors second-guessed the doctors -- from 800 miles away. When the Senator from HCA, Bill Frist, got up in front of the cameras and offered his own personal diagnosis of a patient he'd never met, based on nothing more than a couple of video clips (wave to the camera, Terri!) you really had to wonder what comes next. Will Frist decide to perform open heart surgery on Dick Cheney, based on the vice president's appearance the next time they let him out in public?

"You look a little pale today, Dick. Why don't you get up on the table and let me rip out your left ventricle." (Actually, I'd be in favor of that.)

When the Frist for President Committee starts airing his ads, the FEC (or the FTC, or somebody) should make the bastard put in a disclaimer, something along the lines of: "I'm not a quack, but I played one on television . . ."

Frist, though, isn't an idiot -- just a politician who's had his ethical standards surgically removed in order to enhance his career. (Think of it as the inside-the-Beltway version of a Hollywood face lift.) But the mind-numbing stupidity displayed on the cable channels throughout the whole Schiavo saga truly was a sight to behold.

Nobody expects broadcast journalists to be medical experts. That would be like expecting the workers at your local sewage treatment plant to host a gourmet cooking show (actually, the odds on that one are probably higher.) But Christ, doesn't basic common sense suggest that an RN who tended Terri Schiavo six years ago might not be as believable as three board-certified neurologists who gave her a full medical examination in 2002? [Editor?s note: Regarding the nurse see Just Above Sunset here.]

Apparently not, even though the nurse's testimony was found not credible in a court of law and the neurologists' testimony was. Both were equal in the eyes of cable news -- just two more opposing witnesses to be examined on Scarborough Country, with Onion Joe as both judge and prosecutor, and the millions of semiconscious couch potatoes out there in living-room land as the jury.

We're fortunate, I guess, that the only life at stake in this particular kangaroo court was that of poor Terri Schiavo. For better or worse, good or evil, her time on this earth is over. But when I think of the thousands, or even millions, of lives that could ride on the next big trial-by-media -- when the topic might be war with North Korea or the reality of global warming or the copyright laws governing the music industry (I'm kidding! I'm kidding!) -- I get worried. Because right now, the corporate media (and the dumbed-down culture they've helped create) are looking more and more like the intellectual equivalent of Dr. Kevorkian. And any of us -- or all of us - could be their next patient.

Leaving me with the heartfelt question: Where is Dr. Sponge Bob when we really need him?
Ouch!

Posted by Alan at 17:28 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 31 March 2005 12:07 PST home

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Topic: The Media

On wanting to kill anyone who does not share your views?.

I understand from a well-placed source at CNN (really) that this Associated Press item is being circulated around news organizations today. Of course it is. The concept is fascinating, or would be of interest to the cable news folks who worry about ratings.

Man Sells Device That Blocks Fox News
Friday, March 25, 7:39 PM ET
Emily Fredrix, Associated Press Writer
It's not that Sam Kimery objects to the views expressed on Fox News. The creator of the "Fox Blocker" contends the channel is not news at all. Kimery figures he's sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets, since its August debut.

The Tulsa, Okla., resident also has received thousands of e-mails, both angry and complimentary ? as well as a few death threats.

"Apparently the making of terroristic threats against those who don't share your views is a high art form among a certain core audience," said Kimery, 45.

Formerly a registered Republican, even a precinct captain, Kimery became an independent in the 1990s when he said the state party stopped taking input from its everyday members.

Kimery now contends Fox News' top-level management dictates a conservative journalistic bias, that inaccuracies are never retracted, and what winds up on the air is more opinion than news. "I might as well be reading tabloids out of the grocery store," he says. "Anything to get a rise out of the viewer and to reinforce certain retrograde notions."
Yeah, well, we are told a Fox spokeswoman at the station's New York headquarters said the channel's ratings speak for themselves.

So be it. They get the most viewers, and I hear from my source in northern Iraq that Fox is just about the official news channel of the military. Of course.

But what exactly is the motivation driving this man from Tulsa?
Kimery's motives go deeper than preventing people from watching the channel, which he acknowledges can be done without the Blocker. But he likens his device to burning a draft card, a tangible example of disagreement.

And he's taking this message to the network's advertisers. After buying the $8.95 device online, would-be blockers are shown a letter that they can send to advertisers via the Fox Blocker site.

"The point is not to block the channel or block free speech but to raise awareness," said Kimery, who works in the tech industry.
Perhaps. But those who would buy the thing have already have had their awareness raised, one would think. And marketing this seems just an in-your-face insult to those who actually believe Fox News presents the only real, and only patriotic alternative to the America-hating liberal bias of all the rest of the media. When you insult people they threaten to kill you. Isn?t that how everyone responds to insults?

No?

Anyway, you can buy one here if you?d like. But if you buy one, you probably aren?t watching Fox News anyway. Any beside that, you could just select a different channel and save the money.

Ah, one more liberal novelty item, much like this.

On the left Eric Alterman has a take on this here -
It?s not just a David Kelly fantasy. Sam Kimery says he's sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets, since its August debut. Of course, he has also received death threats from Fox fans, who naturally wish to kill anyone who does not share their views.

? We also note, for fairness? sake, that Kimery doesn't use the device himself; his remote is programmed to only a half-dozen channels. Plus he occasionally feels the need to tune into Fox News for something "especially heinous."
Fox fans naturally wish to kill anyone who does not share their views?

Ah, only some of them. So far.

You find my views "especially heinous?? I kill you!

Well, that's one kind of discourse.

Posted by Alan at 19:13 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 19:19 PST home


Topic: In these times...

Polarization: The Effect of Washington?s Intervention in Florida Regarding the Woman with No Brain Waves for the Last Fifteen Years

At the Betty Bowers site you can buy mugs and t-shirts and such that say Dear Red States: To be honest, we do look down on you - and you can order those here.

So? Those of us who live in California are supposed to be happy that we do.

Variations of the letter below can be found here:

You're FIRED
Pink slip for the Red States
David Donnell - January 26, 2005

Abusive Relationships: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But Staying Together Is Suicide
by Citizen of South Canadian Republic Friday, Nov. 05, 2004 at 3:48 PM

This is the version going around the web now, and was forwarded to me from a friend at a prestigious Wall Street law firm -
From: Blue Girl (f1.newtimes.com)
Subject: Letter from a New Yorker: Dear Red States
Date: November 9, 2004 at 2:39 pm PST

Dear Red States:

Congratulations on your victory over all us non-evangelicals. Actually, we're a bit ticked off here in California, so we're leaving. California will now be its own country. And we're taking all the Blue States with us. In case you are not aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and all of the Northeast.

We spoke to God, and She agrees that this split will be beneficial to almost everybody, and especially to us in the new country of California. In fact, God is so excited about it, She's going to shift the whole country at 4:30 pm EST this Friday. Therefore, please let everyone know they need to be back in their states by then.

So you get Texas and all the former slave states. We get the Governator, stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85% of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get all the technological innovation in Alabama. We get about two-thirds of the tax revenue, and you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms to support, and we know how much you like that.

Did I mention we produce about 70% of the nation's veggies? But heck, the only greens the Bible-thumpers eat are the pickles on their Big Macs. Oh yeah, another thing, don't plan on serving California wine at your state dinners. From now on it's imported French wine for you. (Ouch, bet that hurts!)

Just so we're clear, the country of California will be pro-choice and anti-war.

Speaking of war, we're going to want all Blue States' citizens back from Iraq. If you need people to fight, just ask your evangelicals. They have tons of kids they're willing to send to their deaths for absolutely no purpose. And they don't care if you don't show pictures of their kids' caskets coming home.

Anyway, we wish you all the best in the next four years and we hope, really hope, you find those missing weapons of mass destruction. Seriously. Soon.

With the Blue States in hand, the Democrats have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, over 90% of our pineapple and lettuce, 92% of all fresh fruit production, 93% of the artichoke production, 95% of America's export quality wines, 90% of all cheese production, 90% of the high tech industry, most of the US low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Stanford, Berkeley, CalTech, IIT and MIT. We can live simply but well.

The Red States, on the other hand, now have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care cost spike), 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of all tornadoes, 90% of all hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, 100% of all Televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. A high price to pay for controlling the presidency.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually eaten by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% believe that evolution is just a theory, 53% that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 and - most hard to grasp - 61% believe that Bush is a person of moral conviction.

Sincerely,
California
So we drift apart. The country is more divided that it has ever been ? unless you count that Civil war back in the early 1860?s ? or as they sometimes call it south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the late unpleasantness between the states.

Ah well, perhaps we should split.

But the folks in the red states are serious. South Carolina may actually secede. See this from World Net Daily on May 24, 2004 ? on the plans for states succeeding to form a Christian traditional-values nation of their own. And we see who is first - "? after originally considering Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina due to their relatively small populations, coastal access, and the Christian nature of the electorate, Burnell says South Carolina has been selected as the target location."

Fine.

All this was discussed in Just Above Sunset last September here.

Now, thanks to events in Florida, momentum is no doubt building.

Posted by Alan at 17:12 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 19:07 PST home

Monday, 28 March 2005

Topic: The Culture

The Uses of Philosophy

Teaching is getting dangerous ? see this - an item by someone (Jacqueline Marcus) who teaches philosophy at a college in Florida.
In the Florida legislature, House Republicans, on the Choice and Innovation Committee, recently voted to pass a bill that threatens to restrain academic scholars. The law would allow students to sue teachers for beliefs that do not concur with conservative perspectives. If, for example, professors argue that evolution is a scientific fact instead of a theory, and if they don?t devote equal time to creationism, under this bill, initiated by conservative David Horowitz?s campaign, students can sue the professor for being biased.

Although the bill has two more committees to pass before it can be considered by the full House, it represents a growing threat against the very foundation of scholarly research. The intended goal of this bill is to portray professors as tyrannical monsters who terrorize Republican-conservative students, rendering them into poor, helpless victims under the authority of those, ah yes, Brutal Liberal Dictators!

Indeed, the phrasing of the bill is comical. It turns the essential meaning of ?liberal education? upside down: ?leftist totalitarianism? by ?dictator professors? in university classrooms. How?s this for an Orwellian twist? The bill is titled ?The Academic Freedom Bill of Rights,? sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala.

In this rather oppressive atmosphere, particularly if one lives in a conservative county, as I do, teaching philosophy is a dangerous occupation. It?s not quite as dangerous as being a liberal journalist, but it has its risks.
Whine, whine, whine ?

But a good anecdote here -
A conservative student actually tried to push me aside at the beginning of class, dressed for the occasion in his tie and suit, with a digital camera, to deliver his Thou SHALL Kill presentation. It never occurred to him to discuss his proposal with me after class or during my office hours. He simply presumed that he was at equal status with the teacher, and that he has the ?Academic Freedom? to take up precious class time with his flaky opinions on interpreting the word ?kill? in the 6th Commandment.

I explained that students are paying to learn from an accredited teacher with degrees in philosophy/humanities. They?re not paying to hear HIS opinions. The test will be on Plato. He stormed out of the class and then dropped out the next day. (Praise the Lord!)

Here?s a follow-up question for Republican legislators: Some students still believe that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Now if I were to tell them that even the Bush administration has announced that Saddam was not responsible for 9/11, under this bill, if passed, would students have the right to sue me because I clarified fact from fiction? Do I now become a Big Bad Liberal Dictator for challenging misinformation?
Hey, kids don?t want to learn what they don?t know to be true.

What?s the point in that?

Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, asks questions ?
- Will a professor be able to counter-sue the student on grounds of terminal stupidity?

- What's stopping these students from getting their full does of 'creationism' in Sunday school? Or, are they lazy - wanting 'creationism' in school so they can cut Sunday school?

Give them a good used toaster!
And over at FAFBLOG the Medium Lobster has this to say -
Freedom is ever-marching, and its latest target for emancipation is none other than the Gulag Academia, where millions of students are held hostage by totalitarian educators whose cruel practice of teaching them things they don't already believe could soon be put to an end.

Florida Republicans are considering passing an "Academic Freedom Bill of Rights" which will give college students the power to sue "dictator professors" who offend their beliefs by teaching material which contradicts them. The Medium Lobster hails this as a measure long overdue. For far too long, higher education has been concerned with "education" and "instruction," mere euphemisms for harsh indoctrination into the totalitarian ideology of Fact. But now students will be given the tools to fight back, to free themselves of their oppressive enslavement to a world in which life evolved over millions of years through natural selection, dinosaurs weren't wiped out six thousand years ago by the flood of Noah, and the evil Xemu was not responsible for the existence of body thetans.

Will students learn more in such an environment? Of course not. If any thin-skinned adolescent can mau-mau his educators into avoiding any subject that fails to reinforce his own prejudices, universities will be engaged in the antithesis of teaching. But this is precisely the point: America has done so much to oppose tyranny in the form of earthly despots that it can only proceed to liberate humanity from the greatest dictator of all: Reality, which tyrannically insists that man acknowledge That Which Is rather than That Which Would Be More Convenient For Us.

Freed from the tyranny of Reality and the dangerous threat of its advance guard, Information, America's youth will be free to live in a world consisting solely of their own pre-existing beliefs, where messy ideological review and examination of fact have become unnecessary. As usual, the Bush administration has been admirably and ably leading the charge in this direction for years.
America's youth will be free to live in a world consisting solely of their own pre-existing beliefs, where messy ideological review and examination of fact have become unnecessary? So be it.

Posted by Alan at 20:03 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 08:35 PST home


Topic: Couldn't be so...

Fahenheit 911 vindicated?

See this item on the wires...
The FBI played an active role in arranging chartered flights for dozens of well-connected Saudi nationals -- including relatives of Osama bin Laden -- after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The New York Times reported that the documents show Federal Bureau of Investigation agents gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, while several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, citing newly-released US government records.

The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, had requested the FBI escorts out of concern for their personal safety in the wake of the attacks. ...
The flights DID take off BEFORE the nation's commercial fleet was allowed to resume flying.

Michael Moore has it right? Who’d have thunk it?

Not that it matters now.

Bob Patterson, columnist for Just Above Sunset, the parent weekly to the web log, comments below...
CBS radio is reporting that FBI papers obtained through the "freedom of information" act show that members of Osama bin Laden's family were permitted to leave the USA during the flying ban right after 9/11 (as was alleged in Michael Moore's documentary film "Fahrenheit 911.")

It's time to change the Freedom of Information act.

Can't Bush do it with an executive order?
Well, yes. But he doesn’t need an executive order.

See this from October 11, 2002
... In his October memo, Attorney General Ashcroft recognizes "it is only through a well-informed citizenry that the leaders of our nation remain accountable to the governed and the American people can be assured that neither fraud nor government waste is concealed." Then he talks about "other fundamental values" including "safeguarding our national security, enhancing the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies, protecting sensitive business information, and not the least, preserving personal privacy." In instructing agencies dealing with FOIA requests, Ashcroft pointed out that "any discretionary decision... to disclose information protected under the FOIA should be made only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial and personal privacy interests that could be implicated by disclosure of the information."

Ashcroft assured agencies that should they decide to withhold information, they will be fully supported by the Department of Justice "unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an unwarranted risk on the ability of other agencies to protect important records."

At a mid-March conference in Philadelphia on computer-assisted reporting sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors, some journalists reported that the number of FOIA request refusals is on the rise, along with the time it takes to hear from the government. In a report in the March/April 2002 issue of Columbia Journalism Review, John Giuffo writes that "It's not just access to sensitive data about infrastructure and water supplies... that is being blocked." Barbara Fought, a Freedom of Information law officer at Syracuse University, during one of four panels convened to discuss the impact of the Ashcroft memo said that "We're beginning to hear about a few problems, which I think signal a different tone with the Bush administration and the Attorney General." ...
Ah well.

Posted by Alan at 19:58 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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