KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The New McCarthyism, Take 3

From fellow freelancer Michael Brady, about copy editor Tim Mahoney's suspension from the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

I think it's deplorable, mainly because what happened here is political speech and public protest, First Amendment rights. The newspaper's reasoning seems to be the derivative unintended consequences of the great controversy about biased and slanted reporting, reporters in the pay of—or at least in the thrall of—vested interests, whether corporate or goverenmental. Judith Miller is getting heat from her initial credulous reporting of WMD, before she was embedded in Iraq and began to shift her reporting.

This situation mirrors what happened to Mike Wallace at CBS. He is not allowed to work on stories dealing with guns, gun control, the Second Amendment, etc., because when he spoke at a birthday party for Art Buchwald, he included some news footage showing Charlton Heston saying the only way the government would get his gun would be from his "cold, dead hands." CBS deemed that this constituted an affirmative advocacy by Wallace of one side of an issue, and thus he could not be perceived to be unbiased in future reports on that topic.

One does not have two or more identities. Personal is work, and work is personal, and recreation is work is personal is religious is political is sexual is ethnic is financial identity.

Can an employer require employees not to smoke at home, because even to be smoking off-site constitutes a higher risk for their insurance and thus costs all the employees? This happened recently, but I forget where the company is.

To what extent can a company regulate private behavior? Would there have been an action taken by the newspaper's management if the reporter had been seen kissing another man? or coming out of an Atlantic City casino with a woman not his wife? or driving a motorcycle without a helmet? or tearing the tag off his mattress?

If the logic of the newspaper's actions is legitimate, should campaign reporters—and especially panelists and questioners of candidates at debates—identify their own political affiliations, reveal their own financial statements, and submit previous documents they have written or otherwise published, so that viewers and readers can judge for themselves whether there is any inherent bias or conflict between them and the subjects they cover?

Note: Michael Brady is a graphic designer and artist in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

The New McCarthyism Take 2 Take 3 Take 4 Take 5 Take 6 Take 7

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