Search Results for ‘marcotte’

Amanda Marcotte, as accurate as ever

Friend of Overlawyered Amber Taylor writes:


I have my suspicions that when the Republicans talk up “tort reform” to stop “nuisance lawsuits”, they’re not exactly talking about stuff like this. [Short version: scientist posts negative reviews of a book on his blog, criticizing its new theory of developmental biology as having no basis in reality; the word “crackpot” was used. The author, a critic of “Darwinian orthodoxy,” sues.]

Right. That would be why the tort reform proponents at Overlawyered covered the story days before Marcotte got around to it. That coverage was even noted at the website Marcotte quoted. But why acknowledge facts when inaccurate smears are available?

Just so. Earlier Marcotte: Feb. 16, Feb. 2 and links therein.

Marcotte’s regrets

I wouldn’t even go so far as to say there’s things I “regret”. There are comments I’ve made that tone-deaf wingnuts don’t understand, sure.

— John Edwards official campaign blogger Amanda Marcotte, or someone posing as her, in the comments at J Train. Marcotte (or the person posing as her) apparently thought better of the Edith Piaf stance, and a minute later returned with a second amending comment. For examples of the “comments I’ve made that tone-deaf wingnuts don’t understand” regarding the Duke lacrosse case, see our post of Friday, further updated on Sunday.

Marcotte has a “tremendous fan” and doughty supporter in Ann Bartow of Feminist Law Professors (Feb. 6), whose precision in classifying adversaries as “conservative” is disputed by South of Heaven (Feb. 7: “People who know me are rolling all over the floor.”) On the other hand, inveterate publicity hound and professional taker-of-offense Bill Donohue of the Catholic League has now gone on the warpath against Marcotte (and another Edwards hire, Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister). Marcotte’s writings on religious topics do seem to present a rather broadly inviting target for offense-takers, to judge from the snippets now making their way into press coverage (Nedra Pickler, “Catholics Slam Bloggers Hired by Edwards”, AP/, Feb. 6; Kathryn Jean Lopez, “Unholy Hire”, National Review, Feb. 6). The New York Times’s coverage, unlike the AP’s, makes reference to the Duke lacrosse rants that originally drew our and many other people’s attention to Marcotte. (John M. Broder, “Edwards’s Bloggers Cross the Line, Critic Says”, New York Times, Feb. 7). The Times adds that “Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.”

More commentary: Patterico (“godbag”); Ed Morrissey (“In the case of Marcotte, her anti-Catholic screeds would make Jack Chick blush with embarrassment”); Althouse; John Cole (scroll to “Browns/Cowboys Superbowl”, as well as comment); Kos comments (do Catholics tithe, anyway?); “Expo” on Kos; Matt Stoller at MyDD.

Marcotte encore

John Edwards’ selection as his blogger-in-chief of Pandagon‘s Amanda Marcotte has mushroomed into what National Journal “Beltway Blogroll” terms “the first blog scandal of campaign 2008,” made more piquant by Marcotte’s quick move (documented in our Friday post) to delete her bizarrely abusive rantings about the Duke case once they began to attract attention. I should note that in our very active comments thread, Ted takes a different view than I do of the affair, and I explain in turn (in a comment kindly quoted by K.C. Johnson) why I think the episode does reflect poorly on Edwards’ campaign:

John Edwards’s life in the law and experience with the justice system is his major resume item dating back beyond the past few years, as well as the major reason this site has given his career extensive coverage. Moreover, the Duke case, which looks ever more like the Scottsboro Boys case of our era, has been convulsing his own state of North Carolina for month after month. Edwards’ dodging of the case — his apparently successful stifling of any urge to speak out at the plight of the falsely accused — might on its own stand as merely cowardly. Marcotte’s hiring, on the other hand, throws an even less attractive light on it, rather as if, in Scottsboro Boys days, an on-the-sidelines Southern senator took on as a major spokesperson someone who’d been yelling the Boys’ guilt from the rooftops in the most crudely prejudicial language.

On Marcotte’s quick removal of her Duke comments, Dale Franks at Q and O makes the legitimate point that there’s nothing intrinsically improper in bloggers’ going back to amend or delete past posts that they now realize are mistaken or which no longer reflect their evolving views. And Ted cautions, also quite fairly, against evaluating a blogger’s fitness for a real-world post by pointing to the most inflammatory of his or her thousands of past posts.

Part of what lends the Marcotte episode such a comic aspect, however, is the timing and nature of her post and later revision. Her vitriolic rant asserting the lacrosse players’ guilt was posted a mere two weeks ago, almost certainly at a point after (as the Atlanta airport reference indicates) she had already entered talks with the Edwards campaign and thus had reason to know that she might soon come under the heightened scrutiny accorded to an official spokesperson. These were not the impulsive utterances of a Net Newbie. Moreover, the temperate-sounding new “official stance” with which she replaced the scrubbed post is ludicrously different in both tone and content from the rant it replaced; at a quick reading, one might even take it for a defense of the lacrosse players. A closer examination of its dodgy language, however, reveals that she does not actually take anything back; there is no indication that she has reconsidered her view of Jan. 21 or sees it as being in need of actual correction.

As for whether Marcotte was just having a bad day and slipped into an abusiveness that is unrepresentative of her usual tone, even a cursory glance through her output at Pandagon makes clear that there is much more embarrassment for the Edwards campaign to come: a few examples are collected at LieStoppers (scroll to “Earlier Comments”), Michelle Malkin, and Creative Destruction.

Some further commentary: Common Sense Political Thought, Protein Wisdom, Mark Steyn @ NRO (“There are two Americas: one in which John Edwards gives bland speeches of soporific niceness, the other in which his campaign blogger unleashes foaming rants of stereotypically obsessive derangement.”), Patterico (& welcome Michelle Malkin readers).

How SCOTUS urban legends are made

No, the Supreme Court did not rule that firing a woman for breastfeeding is okay because men can lactate too. [Philip Miles, Lawffice Space]

P.S. Snopes weighs in (headlines “create a grossly misleading impression based upon one very minor element of a single aspect of the case”), prompting the ACLU’s Galen Sherwin to try a rescue mission in hopes readers would not lose interest in the case entirely once deprived of its clickbait elements. Raw Story, which did much to spread the silly meme, has now appended an easy-to-miss correction; Slate, which slapped an equally ridiculous headline on an Amanda Marcotte post, as of this writing has not.

“Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity…”

California regulates college sex, in a law just signed by Gov. Brown and applying to campuses that accept state money. Key passages:

It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. … Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

Earlier here. More: K.C. Johnson on the very bad coverage in the New York Times, and less bad coverage in The Nation. And it’s totally reassuring that a Slate writer who won fame insisting on the guilt of the Duke lacrosse guys is being cited as an authority on why there’s no need to worry about the new California law.

An in-faux-graphic on rape statistics

In recent days media outlets, including respectable ones like Washington Post “WonkBlog”, have circulated an infographic on rape incidence claiming (among other things) that false accusations of sexual assault are a vanishingly rare phenomenon. The chart claims to be sourced to official statistics, but Mark Bennett digs in a bit and finds a pile of at best strained speculation, at worst made-up nonsense. [Defending People]

P.S. This supposedly corrective piece at Slate is if anything worse than the chart it purports to correct, straining to minimize false accusation as even rarer than portrayed. (It’s worth remembering that its author, Amanda Marcotte, has a bit of a history herself when it comes to credulity on this subject.) Bennett again provides a needed corrective: “Forensic DNA typing laboratories — as numerous commentators have noted — encounter rates of exclusion of suspected attackers in close to 25 percent of cases.” (& Greenfield; and an informative followup from Bennett regarding the incidence of false accusation.) Yet more: Washington Post ombudsman says mistakes were made.

A NYT school-bullying story comes under scrutiny

Last month the New York Times ran a front-page story about the plight of a Fayetteville, Ark. high school student named Billy Wolfe, who had been “a target of bullies for years”, physically and verbally brutalized by fellow students despite his family’s repeated pleas to a seemingly heedless school district for his protection. (Dan Barry, “A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly”, Mar. 24). Billy’s parents had sued teens they said had harassed their son, and were also considering legal action against the school district.

The article generated a big reaction, especially after young Wolfe himself appeared on the Today show to discuss his plight. Most observers seemed to agree that the harrowing tale lent credence to the whole idea of using lawsuits as a way of responding to bullying in schoolyards, Facebook, etc. — an idea that, coincidentally or otherwise, is the subject of an increasingly visible campaign these days. Even as level-headed an educational observer as Joanne Jacobs wrote on her blog, “Normally, I’m anti-lawsuit, but this may be the only way to bully the bullies and the principal to crack down.” Huffington Post writer Jonathan Fast cited the article as evidence that schools should adopt “zero tolerance” policies on bullying. Some of the many other blog reactions are assembled here (e.g.: Marcotte, Greenfield, DadTalk, The Common Room).

Could there be another side of the story, you may wonder? Well, as a matter of fact, there is. To find it you need to consult the local paper, the Northwest Arkansas Times (Scott F. Davis and Dustin Tracy, “Who’s the bully?: Police, school records raise questions about claims made by Fayetteville High student”, Apr. 3)(via Childs). One may argue about whether Wolfe’s own alleged exploits in victimizing other kids, as catalogued in the NWAT article, will or should affect the disposition of his family’s legal claims. What seems beyond dispute is that the NYT’s story would have been very different in the emotional reactions it evoked — and much less effective in promoting the particular “cause” it was advancing — had it included that other side of the story.

More/updates: Word Around the Net, Val’s Bien, Pennywit @ Likelihood of Success, Joanne Jacobs, Crime & Consequences, Kierkegaard Lives. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette notes that Arkansas already has an unusually strong anti-“cyberbullying” law which “requires school districts to adopt discipline policies banning harmful and disruptive online behavior”, despite misgivings from civil libertarians about official penalties based on students’ out-of-school speech: Evie Blad, “School bullies move online; rules tricky to write, enforce”, Apr. 6. And Scott Greenfield minces no words:

…what is the New York Times thinking? To have its knees cut off by its Northwest Arkansas namesake is humiliating, but to be shown up as deceptive fundamentally undermines its credibility. Without credibility, the Times is just a dog-trainers best friend and a tree’s worst nightmare. …

The failure of the New York Times to present a full and accurate account of the Billy Wolfe story is disgraceful and unacceptable. … If you’re going to put an article on the front page with a big picture, don’t blow it. The Times did. They should be ashamed.

And in our comments section, Ole Miss lawprof Paul Secunda provides the Wolfe family’s response to the NWAT coverage. Update Apr. 24: Jay Greene weighs in.

Somewhat off-topic thought

Isn’t it a tad ironic for the woman who hired Amanda Marcotte to be complaining about Ann Coulter’s level of discourse?

Of course, there’s a difference: Ann Coulter is to politics what pro wrestling is to sports, and intentionally acts the part of a clown. (It wasn’t always so: at her best as an attorney for the Center for Individual Rights in the 1990s, Coulter successfully litigated against a whites-only scholarship in Alabama on behalf of an African-American, Jessie Thompkins, who was ineligible for the scholarship because of his race.) In contrast, Marcotte was explicitly chosen by the Edwards campaign to speak for it and the level of political discourse it wanted to produce.

And then there’s John Edwards himself, and his level of discourse in the courtroom, where attorneys are ostensibly officers of the court with an obligation to be truthful. Of course, truth and fairness wouldn’t have made John Edwards millions.

Update: my cousin Garance Franke-Ruta has a different take at the Guardian website that takes two Coulter attacks on Edwards out of context, and I’m not sure where “look like a cross between a Robert Palmer back-up dancer and an Edward Gorey drawing” fits on the Edwardsian scale of political discourse.