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“A Trial Ends, And Nothing Changes”: No Profound Insights Into The State Of Race In America

The trial of George Zimmerman comes to a close today, and despite the endless hours of cable coverage, those waiting for profound insights into the state of race in America will be disappointed. Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence turns on narrow questions, like who got on top of whom during a fight no one saw, not on the jury’s opinions about our ongoing struggles with racism.

That hasn’t stopped some people from predicting that should Zimmerman be acquitted, those unruly black people will begin rampaging through the streets. Bill O’Reilly wondered whether, in the wake of an acquittal, you-know-who would “run out and cause trouble.” Piers Morgan speculated that after an acquittal, “There may possibly be riots.” The Washington Times ran an online poll asking, “Will there be riots in Florida if George Zimmerman receives a not-guilty verdict by a jury of his peers?”

Oddly, no one wondered whether white people would start rioting if Zimmerman were convicted, despite the fact that the chances of that happening are about the same as those of black people rioting over an acquittal. There hasn’t been a massive “race riot” in America in years; if you want to see people smashing windows and setting cars on fire, your best bet is to go to Europe and look for mostly-white people angry about their country’s economy.

But if you wanted to find some interesting and insightful commentary about the Zimmerman trial, you’ll have to surf over a tsunami of inane cable coverage, ridiculous speculation, right-wing conspiracy theories, and dispiritingly predictable race-baiting. At least it’ll be over soon.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July12, 2013

July 13, 2013 Posted by | Race and Ethnicity, Zimmerman Trial | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“But Not For Statutory Rights”: Gun Nuts Ignore The First Amendment To “Protect” The Second

Protect the Second Amendment, screw the First!

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for British CNN host Piers Morgan to be deported from the United States over his gun control views. And sadly, I’m not surprised.

Morgan has taken an aggressive stand for tighter U.S. gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Last week, he called a gun advocate appearing on his Piers Morgan Tonight show an “unbelievably stupid man.” And that is Mr. Morgan’s opinion, which he is entitled to, whether you like his accent or not. Entitled to, you ask? Is he a citizen of this country?! Well, there are a few folks, namely our founding forefathers, and more currently constitutional legal experts, who were pretty clear with regard to whose speech is protected by the First Amendment. Noncitizens and permanent residents are also protected under the First Amendment–that is unless, like those of us who are citizens, we’re yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

But that doesn’t seem to faze the gun rights activists. They are fighting back, creating a petition on December 21 on the White House E-petition website. This was done by a user in Texas accusing Morgan of engaging in a “hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution” by targeting the Second Amendment. It demands he be deported immediately for “exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.” The petition has already hit the 25,000 signature threshold to get a White House response.

Unfortunately for Tex and those who signed this petition, they shouldn’t hold their breath. Noncitizens, and especially permanent residents, have statutory rights to remain in the country unless they’ve done (or there’s sufficient reason to think they’ve done) certain bad things—at least until Congress revises the statutes to broaden the grounds for deportation. Even if the Executive Branch decides to deport someone, it has to have statutorily authorized grounds, and it has to provide hearings at which an immigration judge decides whether the conditions for deportation are met. The government may not criminally punish noncitizens—or presumably impose civil liability on them—based on speech that would be protected if said by a citizen. See Bridges v. Wixon (1945).

And how has Piers Morgan responded? Actually, he seemed unfazed, perhaps even amused by all of this. On Twitter he urged his followers to sign the petition, and in response to one article about the petition he said “bring it on” as he appeared to track the petition’s progress. “If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” he wrote.

What bothers me about this is the blatant hypocrisy of those gun rights proponents. As a liberal, I push for stricter gun control measures; I always have, even before Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tuscon, Aurora, Portland, and Newtown, and I have been attacked by the right for wanting to take away their Second Amendment right to bear arms. I and other liberals have been clear we don’t want to take their rights away, we just want to protect other Americans, especially our children by restricting military-style weapons with high volume magazine clips. Yet when someone voices their opinion and it is completely contrary to what a gun proponent believes, they have no trouble tramping on their rights…namely the First Amendment.

Look, I’m no Piers Morgan fan. As a broadcaster, I get tired of radio programmers and networks hiring people with pretty British accents. I’m a fan of not only buying American, but “hiring American,” since I know so many people out there who are unemployed in the field of broadcasting and, quite frankly many of whom I feel are much more talented and qualified interviewers and broadcasters than Mr. Morgan. I don’t make the decisions as to who they put on the air at CNN, but I do have a choice what network or program I tune into. And I can assure you, Mr. Morgan’s show is not on my list of favorites programmed on my television.

If the gun enthusiasts really want to hurt Mr. Morgan for his opinions, they should realize it’s his ratings, not his residence address they should be attacking. Because if Mr. Morgan’s ratings plummet, CNN will hand him his walking papers and as Mitt Romney once proposed, Mr. Morgan will deport himself–perhaps back over the pond for a better cup of tea.


By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, December 26, 2012

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Citizenship, Constitution | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CNN Ignores Piers Morgan’s Connection To News Corp Scandal

Ex-News of the World Editors Piers Morgan, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson (Brooks and Coulson have been arrested)

The ongoing News Corp. hacking scandal has given competitors a likely long-sought chance to tear into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, with CNN leading the way. According to a Media Matters report, CNN reported on the scandal 107 timesover the same period of time MSNBC and Fox News reported on it 71 and 30 times, respectively. But while the Time Warner news network may smell blood, some may be emanating from their own studios.

Piers Morgan, the British journalist and talk show host who took over for CNN’s venerable Larry King earlier this year, is a former editor of the now-defunct News of the World, the tabloid at the center of the hacking scandal. Moreover, Morgan has been implicated in a separate celebrity phone hacking scandal while he was editor of the U.K’s Daily Mirror.

But so far, CNN has failed to report any of this. A ThinkProgress search covering the last 30 days of several media monitoring services and CNN’s own website, show the network has not so much as mentioned Morgan’s connection to the failed News Corp. tabloid, nor the separate Mirror allegation.

A CNN spokesperson confirmed the lack of coverage to Ad Week last week, “saying that the network hasn’t covered the matter because Morgan has not been officially called to testify in England.”

Morgan himself did address the issue on Monday, telling a CBS talk show that neither he nor his former publication have broken any laws.

The allegations are especially troubling given this passage from Morgan’s 2005 book, The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade:

Apparently if you don’t change the standard security code that every phone comes with, then anyone can call your number and, if you don’t answer, tap in the standard four digit code to hear all your messages. I’ll change mine just in case, but it makes me wonder how many public figures and celebrities are aware of this little trick.

As Ad Week notes, “Morgan has been sounding a fairly sympathetic note about Murdoch.” In the CBS interview, he said, “I’m not going to join the Murdoch bashing. I’ve always been a big admirer of his. He gave me my first break in journalism. He made me editor of [News of the World] when I was 28 years old.”


This afternoon (7/17) on CNN’s Reliable Source, Howie Kurtz briefly noted Morgan’s connection to News Corp. Kurtz said that the media should “be careful about some of these allegations” because Piers Morgan has “absolutely denied” knowing about the illegal conduct. Pressed by one of his guests if that was “an official company denial,” Kurtz said he’d be happy to speak with Morgan about it.

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Think Progress, July 17, 2011

July 18, 2011 Posted by | Journalists, Media, Press, Pundits | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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