Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, The Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Sexual Hypocrisy Complaint: "Fox News Porn"

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 8:33 AM PST

Robert Greenwald, the man behind the film "Outfoxed," has produced a montage of some of the sexually explicit footage that Fox News has shown while promoting a "family values" agenda:

If you didn't know that Fox News uses sex to get you to keep watching, you haven't been paying attention. I'm reminded of a great Slate slide show by Jack Shafer about "TV's Aryan Sisterhood." The last slide is a discussion of "what people inside the industry call 'Fox lips.'":

They are worn by Fox's Laurie Dhue, Fox's Gretchen Carlson, and MSNBC's Rita Cosby, three top blondes. Achieved in the makeup room in a procedure that sounds one step this side of cosmetic surgery, I'm told that powder, pencil, and paint can turn even the weakest mouth into a juicy vagina dentata.

Now that's family values.

Via Larry Lessig.

DC Bureau Chief David Corn on WPR Right Now

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 8:29 AM PST

Listen to Mother Jones' Washington Bureau Chief David Corn on Wisconsin Public Radio right now here!

Update: The segment with David is over, but you can listen to an archived version later today on the website for the Kathleen Dunn show.

MoveOn Takes On Fox. . .With a Little Help From the Wingers

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 2:06 PM PST

A little more than six months ago, a vast right-and-left-wing conspiracy launched a campaign to make the footage of the Republican and Democratic presidential debates free. Not free of advertising, that is, but free in the sense that anyone could take the footage and use it as they wished—to criticize, to mock, to celebrate. Most of the networks, surprisingly, agreed, although many people didn't get the point of asking for "free debates" in the first place. "Oh come on. Do you really think a network is going to threaten a presidential candidate over a copyright claim?", a friend wrote to intellectual property guru and internet Thomas Jefferson Lawrence Lessig.

Turns out, of course, that a network really is threatening a presidential candidate over a copyright claim. The candidate is John McCain, who used a clip from a debate in one of his ads, and the network, of course, if Fox. As TPM reported, MoveOn.org Civic Action and a coalition of right-wing bloggers (including the inimitable Michelle Malkin) are taking on Fox for their uniquely silly and counterproductive position. Lessig elaborates:

It is time that the presidential candidates from both parties stand with Senator McCain and defend his right to use this clip to advance his presidential campaign. Not because it is "fair use" (whether or not it is), but because presidential debates are precisely the sort of things that ought to be free of the insanely complex regulation of speech we call copyright law.
Indeed, as the target of the attack, and as one who has been totally AWOL on this issue from the start, it would be most appropriate if this demand were to begin with Senator Clinton. Let her defend her colleague's right to criticize her, by demanding that her party at least condition any presidential debate upon the freedom of candidates and citizens to speak.

Indeed. And if you don't think this is a key moment for "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," you should really watch that McCain ad again.

California Ballot Initiative: But That Didn't Stop it, it Came Back for More...

| Thu Nov. 1, 2007 1:10 PM PDT

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that California Republicans are reviving an effort to change the state's winner-take-all system for allocating electoral votes (a move that could hand the 2008 Presidential election to Republicans). But progressives are raising questions about Arno Political Consulting, the group organizing the new signature drive. In a letter to the California Attorney General, Kristina Wilfore, the Executive Director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC), wrote:

In 2006, BISC worked extensively with the committee that opposed an extreme measure known as "TABOR" . . .Our work with these groups placed BISC in a unique position this cycle to witness firsthand several different types of fraud perpetrated by certain signature gathering firms, including but not limited to, Arno Political Consulting.

So there are some doubts about the reputation of the firm promoting this measure. I'm not surprised: the whole thing seems pretty stinky in the first place. But, as I've written before, none of this matters very much because there's a pretty convincing case (via Doug Kendall) that the ballot measure is unconstitutional:

In Article II, Section 1, the Constitution declares that electors shall be appointed by states "in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct." That's legislature.

Let the GOP and Arno waste their time and money gathering signatures. Even if they get the 650,000 signatures they want, it won't do a bit of good. Unless they want to throw out this part of the constitution, too...

(The title of the post is from here. Hail to the King, baby.)

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