Maddie Oatman

Maddie Oatman

Research Editor

Maddie worked as a travel guide in Argentina and a teacher at several educational nonprofits in San Francisco before joining Mother Jones. She’s also written for Outside, the Bay Citizen, and the Rumpus. A proud Boulder native, she makes time for mountain climbing, stargazing, and telemark skiing.

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Taking Down Fox News

| Wed Aug. 25, 2010 4:25 PM EDT

After Glenn Beck blamed Obama for harboring a "deep-seated hatred for white people" during a morning chat on Fox and Friends more than a year ago, ColorofChange.org's director James Rucker decided that enough was enough. "Beck's comments about the president perfectly captured what has been going on at the network for a long time," Rucker told reporter Alexander Zaitchik, who wrote about the incident in our July/August issue this year. Color of Change is an online civil rights group focused on strengthening the political voices of people of color. Under Rucker's direction, it successfully urged several advertisers, including Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and RadioShack, to pull their ads from Beck's show. But Rucker didn't exactly get the outcome he was hoping for. Fox News did nothing to reign Beck in: instead, he's been allowed to blather on with few boundaries ever since. "Nothing has essentially changed," says Rucker. So Color of Change has launched an even larger offensive: convincing local businesses to silence Fox News.

Rucker had been bothered by catching glimpses of figures like Beck on television in the gym or restaurants. True Fox devotees, who see the world through that lens, should be able to watch Fox in their own homes, says Rucker. "But no one else should be subject to that." The Turn Off Fox campaign, which launches today, wants to de-legitimize Fox in public places. The campaign provides anyone with a kit, including instructions on how to persuade store owners to become "Fox-free" and a flyer detailing why.

"Fox's race-baiting and fear mongering is more than just deceptive and offensive," reads the campaign literature. "It's bad for the country, it's dangerous, and it can result in violence." In a letter asking for signatures, Turn Off Fox makes a case for how Fox's divisive reporting has sparked recent acts of violence. For example, when a man open fired at highway cops on an Oakland freeway in July, he told them that he wanted to start a revolution, with planned bloodshed at the Tides Foundation in San Francisco. Tides is a little-known non-profit, argues Turn Off Fox, that Glenn Beck chose to demonize on his show. A report by Media Matters suggests that the trigger-happy man could have drawn inspiration from Beck's proselytizing, and the shooter's mother admitted that her son "watched the news on television and was upset by 'the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."

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A Gay Cadet's Sense of Honor

| Tue Aug. 10, 2010 1:53 PM EDT

Katherine Miller, a junior at the US Military Academy at West Point, outed herself yesterday while also filing her resignation. In her letter to West Point administration, Miller writes that the current military policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) had caused her to undermine her own integrity:

Specifically, I have created a heterosexual dating history to recite to fellow cadets when they inquire. I have endured sexual harassment for fear of being accused as a lesbian by rejecting or reporting these events. I have been coerced into ignoring derogatory comments towards homosexuals for fear of being alienated for my viewpoint. In short, I have lied to my classmates and compromised my integrity and my identity by adhering to existing military policy.

"12th and Delaware" Shows Where Abortion War is Really Waged

| Tue Aug. 3, 2010 4:30 PM EDT

The new documentary 12th and Delaware, which premiered last night on HBO, presents a fly-on-the wall view inside two organizations in Fort Pierce, Florida, that cater to pregnant women. Though across the street from one another, in political terms the offices might as well be on separate planets; the Woman's World clinic offers abortions, and the anti-abortion Pregnancy Care Center goes to great lengths to goad women out of them.

Directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, who also created Jesus Camp, plant their film right in the middle of an issue that may be on the minds of politicians everywhere, but is not always an easy topic to broach in conversation."It's just a headache," Grady admits, referring to the film's subject matter. Even though 12th and Delaware cozies up to controversy, "in our opinion it's been hard to get media coverage for the film," remarks Grady, who explains that they had trouble getting traction in the TV review world.

Gangstagrass, and Other Hip Hop Hybrids

| Mon Aug. 2, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

You've heard songs from hip hop artists who sample other musical genres: From the unfortunate evolution of rap metal (think Papa Roach) to Danger Mouse's controversial and crafty mashup of Jay-Z and The Beatles, the practice of intertwining multiple musical roots is widespread in hip hop. You may have also heard bands who reappropriate rap tracks and perform them in their own genres, like The Gourds' popular country version of Snoop Dog's "Gin and Juice." Then there's the surprising collage of hip hop and bluegrass music: Gangstagrass, an experiment that proves, at least to me, that hillbillies and emcees can get along swimmingly.

Behind Every Mountain Man, Three Harmonizing Women

| Mon Jul. 19, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

The women of Mountain Man, a group consisting of three lucid voices and the occasional accompaniment of a guitar, playfully write that they derive inspiration from "train engines, mothers, kale, Wild West" and several tree varieties.

While the flora references leave a bit to be explained, the train-engine influence is easy to detect: Beginning with a chord that grows and then softens, "How'm I Doin," a cover off their new album Made the Harbor, emulates a passing locomotive. The mood created by this song transports me to a bygone era full of the windswept prairies, lone wooden houses, and the bleak and beautiful mining towns of the Old West. Other highlights, like "Animal Tracks," "Honeybee," and "Sewee Sewee" present narratives set in woods and tall grasses. The natural world, with its bees and loons and cold creeks, is woven into nearly every song. We'll follow animal tracks, a voice beckons, to a tree in the woods / and a hole in the leaves we'll see / the bright baby eyes of a chickadee.

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