From the AP subpoena to the Pentagon Papers, Caitlin Dickson highlights five key cases of press intrusion.
Two days into what’s shaping up to be the most scandal-filled week of Barack Obama’s presidency, news broke that “the most transparent administration in history” was responsible for secretly obtaining two months’ worth of Associated Press telephone records, presumably in search of the source for a story on a foiled 2012 terror plot in Yemen. The news of the backdoor subpoenas has reignited a push for a media shield law that would keep journalists from having to give up their sources—federal legislation that was introduced to the Senate in 2009 but never came to a vote. The debate over whether government has the right to interfere in the press’s news-gathering process is as old as both institutions themselves, and this most recent instance brings to mind some of the most prominent cases of government meddling in the media.
John Nugent, Held Hostage in the Capitol
Five years after his sentencing for robbery, an almost unrecognizable Simpson took the stand Wednesday in a bid for a retrial. Christine Pelisek reports on his long-shot strategy—blaming the lawyer.
How the mighty have fallen.
O.J. Simpson, who was once a pro football star and Heisman Trophy winner turned actor, famously beat murder charges in 1995 when he was acquitted of killing ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. On Wednesday, he appeared in court wearing a blue prison jumpsuit and looking significantly heavier, almost unrecognizably so, playing the part of a poor sap hoodwinked by his lawyer.
When travel writer Paul Theroux returned to his hometown after the marathon bombing, he found the mood of the city transformed, unified by a trauma, which he has seen elsewhere in the world.
For several decades, starting in the early 1970s, I traveled regularly from London, where I lived as a resident alien, to Boston, where I grew up, and each time it was like a tumble through the Looking Glass. Boston was so mild, so confident, still the joyous and even innocent city of my youth. The noteworthy Boston tragedies, vividly recalled by my father—the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 (21 killed), the Cocoanut Grove nightclub inferno of 1942 (492 killed)—were over, and such infernalities seemed unrepeatable.
A message written on a banner seen during a vigil on the Boston Common on April 16. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
Arriving in Boston was like landing upon the bosom of serenity from the derangement of a war zone. Britain at that time was in the grip of a bombing campaign by well-funded and feuding nationalists in Ulster, who were driven by spite, folklorism, and religious bigotry and were tribalistic in their antique grudges, absurd in their speechifying.
It was an innocent story about the art market, that happened to include a nude image of everyone’s favorite Golden Girl. Facebook disagreed. Brian Ries on an unjust ban.
In the end, I was done in by Bea Arthur’s boobs.
As the social media editor for The Daily Beast, I have posted countless potentially offensive stories on our Facebook page, from the sexual proclivities of porn stars to purported cannibalism in Syria. But not until we linked to a piece about the Golden Girl’s breasts did Facebook shut us down.
For a crime that wasn’t a crime. For a so-called offensive image that was an actual piece of art valued at roughly $2 million.
The attorney general’s Capitol Hill testimony was so contentious that cries of ‘Order!’ persisted throughout. Eleanor Clift on what Holder said about Benghazi, the AP, and the IRS.
It was a little like listening to right-wing radio, as one Republican member after another assailed Attorney General Eric Holder for the intrusion of big government into American life, a motivating principle among conservatives that the Obama administration has, with its handling of several issues, unwittingly given new life. A trio of scandals, a contentious nomination, and the generalized hostility that exists between the Republican-led Congress and the attorney general produced several contentious exchanges during Holder’s four hours of testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary committee.
Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill, May 15, 2013, before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Justice Department. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Pressed repeatedly for more information about the Justice Department’s seizing of journalists’ phone records and also about the newly launched Justice probe of the IRS, Holder declined to answer most questions with any specificity because both matters are the subject of ongoing criminal investigations. By the time Ohio Republican Jim Jordan got his five minutes to question Holder, some two hours into the marathon hearing, the congressman said he was keeping a tally on how many times the AG said he couldn’t answer. He wanted Holder’s assurance that the Justice Department investigation into the IRS wouldn’t interfere with Congress’s hearing next week into the IRS targeting of conservative groups seeking a federal tax exemption.
Tried to dribble a soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil.
A Seattle man who was trying to dribble a soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil in anticipation of the World Cup died Tuesday after being hit by a car in Oregon. Richard Swanson, 42, was hit by a car at around 10 a.m. while walking south along Highway 101. Swanson, who was between jobs, had undertaken the walk to raise funds for One World Futbol Project, a Berkeley, California, charity that donates durable blue soccer balls to people in the developing world. Swanson’s website said he left on his journey May 1 and expected the trip to take more than a year. He planned to stay with people he met on the road.
Holdover from 1920 gift.
Nice to know Columbia was doing its part for affirmative action—oh, never mind. Columbia University still has a “whites only” scholarship on its books—and it may even be illegal, according to papers filed in a Manhattan court. Benefactor Lydia C. Roberts, the heir to her husband’s medical-patents company, had left the bulk of her $509,000 estate to Columbia in 1920, but she stipulated the student who receives the scholarship must be white, from Iowa, not be studying law (we might understand that one), and must return to Iowa for two years after graduating. Oh, and none of the stipulations can be changed without a court order. The scholarship, now estimated to be worth about $800,000, has not been given since 1997, and it’s unclear if Columbia followed all the rules in the years it awarded it.
Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, not a health-care facility, write Dayle Steinberg and Eric Ferrero of Planned Parenthood.
By now, most Americans have heard about Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in Pennsylvania for three murders, one case of involuntary manslaughter, and a slew of other charges. It is a shocking and gruesome case.
Kermit Gosnell, 72 (right), gets escorted to a van leaving the Criminal Justice Center after getting convicted on three counts of first degree murder on May 13, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT, via Landov)
The indictment against him laid out nearly 300 pages of brutal crimes against desperate women who came to him seeking medical care, including safe abortion, and were instead subjected to unthinkable conditions.
19 people were injured in shooting.
New Orleans police on Monday identified the first suspect in the shooting on Mother’s Day that injured 19 people, including two 10-year-olds. Akein Scott, 19, has been positively identified by more than one witness, police said. Police searched two locations for Scott, both of which are just blocks from the shooting site. Ronal Serpas, New Orleans’s police superintendent, said Scott has been arrested before on charges of firearms possession, narcotics possession, and resisting arrest. Serpas said it was too early to know if Scott was the only shooter.
If we do say so ourselves. Sex scandal be damned, the disgraced former congressman is now officially running for mayor of New York City. But what is Anthony Weiner really saying in his new campaign video?