Jack Fuller on Free Expression Theory and the Tribune’s ‘Waterboarding’ Blunders

When Jack Fuller pens an op-ed in the Tribune criticizing the media, it’s worth taking note. Fuller was the president of Tribune Company’s publishing group until late 2004 after working his way up through the reporting ranks and editing ranks over 30+ years at the Tribune.

But I couldn’t help but note the irony today, that soon after listening to On the Media‘s lead piece examining newspapers’ definition of “waterboarding” — I stumbled upon Fuller’s “News sells more opinion, at cost of sincerity” in the Trib.

“The concern with large news media corporations has been that they would stifle diversity of political opinion,” wrote Fuller. He picks on MSNBC’s and FOX News’ commercialization of political opinion slanted “toward whatever attracts a crowd.”

Now, with the fragmentation of media and audience, there is no clear commercial argument against presenting the news with a point of view.

But there remains an atmosphere of politicization and “stifling” in print, take for example the Chicago Tribune’s definition of “waterboarding” as explained on the aforementioned On the Media very uncomfortably and definisively by deputy editor Randy Weissman:

Our official definition is — effective today — “an interrogation technique that simulates drowning a prisoner, comma, creating the sensation of imminent death.”

OK. Just as inefficient a definition as the New York Times (“simulated drowning”) or the LA Times (“an interrogation technique simulating drowning that dates to the Spanish Inquisition”) but its his awkward defense that seems to reveal political motivation behind using “simulate” and “sensation.”

Weissman:

Simply put, if you look in Webster’s, drowning is death, and waterboarding would only fit that definition if, if the prisoner died. Ask most people if a person drowns what happens, you — I would be willing to bet you that they would say he died.

Even after On the Media host Brooke Gladstone reiterated that drownING is the gerund and surely someone who is drowning can still be saved, Weissman blamed the politicization of the Trib’s semantics on Webster’s (where the gerund is not defined):

Well, I will go along with Webster’s New World Dictionary, which says “to die by suffocation in water or other liquid.”

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Cubs in Five

I wore an Aramis Ramirez jersey to both Cubs losses at Chase Field in Arizona. Ramirez went hitless in 9 at bats. The D-backs uncharacteristically scored over a dozen runs in two games. The Cubs have yet to show up in the playoffs, but Chase Field is not really much of a ballpark. It’s more of a warehouse or hangar filled with ads, a mascot, and yes, cheerleaders — two teenagers who pop on the big screen to try and rile the crowd. Sadly, the crowd — the slight majority that weren’t rooting for the Cubs — were filled with haters, who, instead of rooting for their own team, could only get into the “Beat the Cubs” chant. Lame.

My optimism remains strong.

I still believe.

Next year is here.

Cubs in Five.

Cubs! Playoffs! Central Division Champs!

Words cannot explain the incredible joy and excitement I feel right now. I’ve been following the Cubs as close as ever this year, despite my current residence on the west coast and after 160 games, it IS HAPPENING! The Cubs are going to the playoffs and are the first National League team to clinch their division. Zambrano and Soriano were the heroes today — the two guys who got the fattest cash deals and boy do they deserve it. I don’t have cable, much less satellite but I am listening to the WGN radio stream and on a mad hunt for an Old Style. I am also loving the comment thread at Bleed Cubbie Blue as well as the Cub-cam at Clark and Addison showing the fans spilling out into the streets of Wrigleyville (the game was away in Cincinnati, btw). Soon to leave the house for a Friday night, but this is JUST the beginning of a great run. GO CUBS!

Hacking the Vote: Chicago Edition

A “very serious vulnerability” in Chicago’s elections Web site made it possible for hackers to swipe Social Security numbers and the personal information of over 1.3 million voters… No confirmation at this point of any information actually being gleaned from the site.

ABC News reports that the problem has existed for more than five years.

Chicago Tribune reports election officials claim to have patched the more than 5-year-old problem.

Can you imagine how much money may have been made by hackers over the past five years who accessed this info? I mean charging just 2 cents per SS# could provide nearly $30k toward an entire year’s tuition the outrageously expensive college of your choice. Is anyone gonna pay to fix this this

This story originally broken by the non-partisan Illinois Ballot Integrity Project