Tag archives: blogosphere

A Judge is Judged for Injudicious Behavior

by Travis Weber

July 16, 2014

I recently wrote about the depressing abuse of free speech in which a song writer decided to ridicule the Supreme Court justices in the Hobby Lobby majority opinion for nothing connected to the opinion whatsoever. Yes, of course. Freedom … .

Since then, a federal judge weighed in on his personal blog with his view that, instead of ruling on the issues in Hobby Lobby, the Court should “stfu” “shut the f*** up” in the parlance of some kids these days. Apparently, U.S. District Judge Richard G. Kopf of Nebraska believes the Court shouldn’t wade into issues to which he believes most Americans would react poorly. His reaction is the poor one, however. What’s worse is that it comes from a federal judge.

Therefore, I was heartened to see the news in the L.A. Times that he was being rebuked for his entirely improper behavior:

[A]fter coming under fire from fellow jurists and legal experts for writing a blistering criticism of the high court’s recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case,” Judge Kopf was reported to comment that “[b]logging will be light while I figure this out.”

The L.A. Times is too kind, though. And imprecise. It wasn’t his “blistering criticism” of the decision that was problematic—it was his attack on other judges, his choice of words in that attack, and his crude rejection of the decision which betrayed any semblance of impartiality. Criticism of legal arguments and decisions occurs all the time and is a normal and even necessary component to our judicial system. What is not proper, however, is a personal attack. Neither is an overtly partial judge. But what is most troubling is Judge Kopf’s use of an obscenity. It has no place on the federal bench.

The judge, who also caught the attention of many earlier this year for inappropriate comments about a female attorney, apparently cut back on his recent blogging activity after receiving “a note from a lawyer he held in the highest respect who explained to him that people ‘expect judges not to be publicly profane, lewd or disrespectful.’”

Thank you, Mr. or Ms. Lawyer, whoever you are. You are a credit to the profession.

As the L.A. Times reports: “The incident raised questions about whether impartial, black-robed jurists can thrive in a blogosphere that often places high value on quick analysis and provocative comments.”

Exactly. Judges should simply refrain from blogging if they can’t resist the temptation. For now, I extend a hearty “thank you” to the attorney who took the time to explain to Judge Kopf that his behavior was indecent. Such actions preserve the integrity of the bar and the decency of our society.

Will Obama Bail Out Gray Ladies of the Press?

by Robert Morrison

September 24, 2009

I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.

Those were President Obamas words in an interview with editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade. The President was explaining his openness to a federal bailout of struggling big-city daily newspapers. For that reason, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) have introduced S. 673, their so-called Newspaper Revitalization Act.

These two very liberal senators should have acted even sooner. They should have sponsored the Manual Typewriter Preservation Act. You see, the computer revolution put great pressure on Royal, Underwood, and Olivetti. Those companies represented thousands of jobs. We cant just let the free market run rampant. Save typewriter ribbons! Save white-out! Save carbon paper! Theres no telling how much damage these new-fangled computers might do.

The President is concerned that the Internet will not provide the kind of fact-checking and balance that was once provided for us by, say, the New York Times. Remember Jason Blair? In firing the 27-year old reporter, the Gray Lady had to confess: [He] committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found. The widespread fabrication and plagiarism represent a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.

Or what about the care taken by Dan Rather of CBS News? Shall we recall Rathers careful fact-checking in 2004 of the letters purportedly written by 1/Lt. George W. Bushs commanding officer in 1972 and 1973? Those letters, it was quickly revealed, were typed in a Microsoft Word computer typeface. This was most interesting, since Word hadnt even been invented in 1973.

It was the blogosphere that provided the fact-checking that exposed Dan Rathers trafficking in clearly demonstrated forgeries. It was intrepid bloggers who put a stop to Dan Rathers long-running career in gonzo journalism.

Dan Rather was typical of the liberal journalists who reigned unchallenged on the airwaves for decades until Ronald Reagans FCC appointees in 1987 abolished the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Id prefer to call it the Furnace Doctrine, since thats where it consigned our First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free press. After that, radio talkers rose up to challenge the liberal medias monopoly. The Internet quickly followed. Then, along came FOX.

Obviously, President Obama would prefer town hall meetings where 9-year olds read scripted questions. Real town hall meetings do sometimes get rowdy. So do tea parties.

And so does a truly free press.

If someone today alleges that some of the 53 government bureaucracies to be established by ObamaCare are death panels, there are many voices prepared to debate that, voices left and right. Isnt this vigorous debate preferable for a free people to federal government bailouts? These newspapers are declining because their readers have either fled their decaying cities or have opted instead for Internet sites and talk radio.

Presidents have historically been unhappy with negative coverage in the press. President George Washington was enraged by that rascal Freneau, a caustic anti-Washington propagandist who was secretly on the payroll of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. John Adams actually had opposition editors imprisoned under the Alien & Sedition Acts. Lincoln closed down a number of newspapers he charged were inciting rebellion. In modern times, JFK famously threw across the Oval Office a crumpled up editorial page of the Herald Tribune.

But none of these Presidents past actually tried to bail out failing newspapers. They had too much respect for a free press, free markets and the free exchange of ideas, and for the American people, whose resources should not be employed by the federal government to prop-up industries that, due to innovation and creativity of our fellow citizens, are less and less needed as means of communication.

We dont need another industry bailout. If we bail out failing newspapers, whats next, a government bailout of MSNBC? This bailout would result inevitably in a government-controlled press. We dont need President Obama to issue us our mutual understandings.

You may have noticed: I wrote this without capital letters and without exclamation points. See? No shouting at all.

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