Winter/Spring 2018 Silha Bulletin

Volume 23, Number 2

Below is the Table of Contents for the Winter/Spring 2018 Silha Bulletin. Click on the title to read the full article.

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We devote the first three articles of this issue of the Silha Bulletin to the ethics of covering President Donald Trump, President Trump’s supporters, and the “alt-right.”

We examine the media ethics concerns that arise when news organizations cover a presidency that many individuals, from a variety of viewpoints, consider unconventional.

Special Series: The Ethics of Covering President Donald Trump
In the winter and spring of 2017 and 2018, media organizations and experts grappled with ethical and legal questions regarding the coverage of President Donald Trump and his administration.  

Special Series: The Ethics of Covering President Trump’s Supporters
Media Coverage of President Donald Trump’s supporters has prompted several ethical dilemmas in the year since his election, including criticism that the coverage “normalizes” the ideas promoted by the president’s most ardent supporters. 

Special Series: The Ethics of Covering the “Alt-Right”
On Nov. 25, 2017, New York Times reporter Richard Fausset wrote a profile of Tony Hovater, a white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer, after violence erupted during an August 2017 march by white nationalists and other far right individuals in Charlottesville, Va., bringing the “alt-right” to the national forefront.  

Federal Prosecutions: Federal Government Targets a Leaker and
In the spring of 2018, the federal government took separate actions against a former federal special agent and (Backpage).  

Net Neutrality: FCC Repeals Net Neutrality, Prompts Legal and Legislative Responses
On Dec. 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the net neutrality rules put in place in 2015, which prohibited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from blocking or “throttling” websites, or charging for higher-quality service or access to certain content. 

Media Ethics: Parkland Shooting Raises Ethical Questions about Covering Mass Shootings, Sparks Proliferation of Fake News and Conspiracy Theories
On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 adults and teenagers were killed and 17 more were injured after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Stoneman Douglas) in Parkland, Fla., garnering significant media coverage.  

Data Privacy: Undercover Video Maker James O’Keefe Continues Attacks on the News Media, Faces Setbacks in Some Legal Disputes
In October 2017, political activist James O’Keefe, who is known for publishing controversial hidden camera videos on his website, Project Veritas, targeted The New York Times in his latest operation intended to target the mass media. 

Media Ethics: Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s “Must-Run” Segment Raises Ethical Questions
On March 31, 2018, Deadspin, an alternative sports blog that also provides political commentary, posted a video depicting news anchors from various local broadcast television outlets repeating the same scripted lines about fake news and fair reporting.  

Reporter’s Privilege: Canada Passes Federal Shield Law; Courts Deny Requests to Compel a Journalist and Internet Media Company to Disclose Sources and Information
In the final months of 2017, the Parliament of Canada, as well as a state and federal judge in the United States, supported a reporter’s privilege to protect confidential sources and information.  

Privacy: Judge Orders Certain Files from Wetterling Investigation Be Returned to FBI, Allows Release of Remaining State Documents
In the spring of 2018, a district judge ruled on two separate motions for summary judgement regarding the release of the contested Jacob Wetterling murder investigation case files.  

FOIA: D.C. Court Finds FBI Failed to Conduct a “Reasonable” Search of Records Regarding Media Impersonation
On Dec. 15, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and the Associated Press (AP) in their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 

Cameras in Courtroom: Minnesota Legislature Seeks to End Use of Cameras in Courtrooms
On March 8, 2018, Minnesota Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) introduced HF 3436, a bill seeking to restrict the use of cameras in Minnesota courtrooms, citing the necessity of protecting defendants, victims, and witnesses during court proceedings. 

Defamation: Jesse Ventura Reaches Settlement in American Sniper Defamation Lawsuit
On Dec. 1, 2017, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura had reached a settlement in his defamation lawsuit against American Sniper author and former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s estate.  

Ag-Gag Laws: Minnesota Legislature Introduces an “Ag-Gag” Law; Federal Appeals Courts Strike Down Two States’ Laws
During the fall and winter of 2017 and 2018, so-called “ag-gag” laws, which generally prohibit individuals from conducting undercover investigations into agricultural operations or from criticizing agricultural products, were the focus of state legislatures and federal courts.  

Special Report: Special Report: Silha Center Interview with Panama Papers Journalist Kevin Hall
On Jan. 16, 2018, Silha Center Director and Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law Jane Kirtley and Silha Bulletin Editor Scott Memmel met with Kevin Hall, the Chief Economics Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, Inc., which operates 29 daily newspapers in the United States, including the Miami Herald and the Sacramento Bee.   

Silha Center Events: Spring Symposium Marks the 30th Anniversary of Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, Discusses History, Purpose, and Impact of Political Cartoons
Delivering the unanimous ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1988 case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, “Despite their sometimes caustic nature, from the early cartoon portraying George Washington as an ass down to the present day, graphic depictions and satirical cartoons have played a prominent role in public and political debate.. . . From the viewpoint of history, it is clear that our political discourse would have been considerably poorer without them.”  485 U.S. 46 (1988).