Bill O’Reilly & Fox News: Does Money Matter More Than Doing the Right Thing?

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Feminism, Human Rights, Media & Journalism, Public, Tort Law

Yesterday, Fox News ousted Bill O’Reilly, who for two decades was the top-rated host with his show, The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly’s blustery on-air persona—which inspired Stephen Colbert to create ultraconservative pundit Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Show—minced no words, ever.

As a result, he often said outrageous, offensive, if not downright inaccurate things on the air. For example, he said that the slaves who built the White House were “well-fed and had decent lodging provided by the government.” He called child hunger “a total lie,” and said that feminists should not be allowed to report on Trump “because Trump is the antithesis of” feminism. He’s also been known to make inappropriate comments to women on the air.

O’Reilly’s personal conduct (like that of his former boss Roger Ailes before him) apparently has been similarly offensive. Over the course of his time at Fox News, O’Reilly has been accused of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior involving both women at the network who worked for him and women who appeared as guests on his show. Read more »

Media Should Inform the Public on Why, Not Just What, of Criminal Legalities

Posted by:
Category: Criminal Law & Process, Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, Public
Leave a Comment »

As we discussed potential procedures following the aftermath of acts causing tension between citizens of the Milwaukee area and police officers, a small group I was part of presented an interesting point. That point was that many times citizens are unaware of the on-goings of the criminal legal system. When situations arise in which officers or citizens are not found guilty subsequent to what seems to be a criminal act, onlookers are furious and the city burns—literally.

The media does little to help reduce the animosity, pointing fingers and creating distrust between residents and law enforcement by informing on the what, but failing to expand on the why. We as law school students are all legally educated, and most of us, at the least, have taken criminal law, even if we are not so knowledgeable as those who teach it. So, when an event takes place that seems unjust and nobody walks away in handcuffs, we understand why. The citizens of Milwaukee, however, don’t have that same knowledge and are understandably outraged. Read more »

Calling 911 in the Wake of Police Violence

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, Human Rights, Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Poverty & Law, Public, Race & Law
Leave a Comment »

black_lives_matter_sign_-_minneapolis_protest_22632545857Amanda Seligman is a Visiting Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Marquette University Law School.

How does racially-tinged police violence toward civilians affect city residents’ willingness to summon aid in an emergency? A study in the October 2016 American Sociological Review asks what happened to the number of 911 calls after the public revelation that off-duty white Milwaukee police officers beat Frank Jude in 2004. In “Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community,” Matthew Desmond, Andrew V. Papachristos, and David S. Kirk find that in the year after the initial publicity around the beating, Milwaukee residents placed 22,000 fewer 911 calls than might have been expected, resulting in a total of 110,000 calls. Although white neighborhoods saw a spike in 911 calls and then a long but shallow dip, the loss of calls was especially pronounced in black neighborhoods. The authors found no such loss of calls reporting traffic accidents.

Desmond et al.’s 911 study received extensive mass media coverage. Juleyka Lantigua-Williams wrote about the study in The Atlantic, and the New York Times’sThe Upshot” column reported the findings. The study was the subject of two articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one reporting on the findings and one offering responses from District Attorney John Chisholm and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. Two of the authors, Desmond and Papachristos, also published an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times commenting on the significance of their research. A small host of other reports suggest broad interest in the study’s implications in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread coverage of police shootings of African American civilians.

Sociologist Desmond is one of our most thoughtful observers of the cultural significance of the 911 emergency call system. In Evicted, his 2015 ethnographic study of housing and poverty in Milwaukee, Desmond observed how victims of domestic violence put themselves at risk for losing their homes if they call the police too often. Read more »

Close Friend Praises Jim Foley for Putting Marquette Values to Work in War Zones

Posted by:
Category: Media & Journalism, Public, Speakers at Marquette
Leave a Comment »

The legacy of Jim Foley? Tom Durkin intentionally put it in terms that connected to Marquette University’s core mission. “We’re either people for others or we’re not,” Durkin said. “That’s the legacy that he created – we do stuff for others.”

Durkin was a close personal friend of Foley, a Marquette alum who committed himself to reporting from some of the most troubled spots in the world. Foley wanted to get to know the people living in those places, to tell their stories, and to help others around the world understand the world we all live in. Durkin said.

Foley was captured in Libya in 2011 and held hostage for 44 days before being released. After returning to the United States – a trip that included a visit to Marquette, where he took part in a public discussion about journalism in war-torn places – Foley went back to work, this time in Syria. In late 2012, he was captured by ISIS. In August 2014, he was executed by ISIS, a gruesome event that drew worldwide condemnation. Read more »

Trump’s Rhetoric, Proposed Policies, and the Rule of Law

Posted by:
Category: Constitutional Law, Federalism, First Amendment, Immigration Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Media & Journalism, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Religion & Law
1 Comment »


For some, presumptive Republican nominee for president Donald J. Trump’s biggest appeal is his blustery persona and his take-no-prisoners attitude in his quest to “Make America Great Again.” For example, he started his campaign with a bold promise to build a wall on the United States border to keep out Mexican immigrants. More than that, Trump said, he would make Mexico pay for that wall. Mexican President Vincente Fox said Mexico would not and Trump just upped the ante. When Wolf Blitzer asked Trump how he would get the Mexican government to pay for a wall, Trump responded simply, “I will and the wall just got 10 feet taller, believe me.”

And, in the wake of the mass shooting at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando, Trump renewed his call to profile on the basis of race/ethnic origin and religion, in order prevent future terrorist attacks. (The Pulse nightclub shooter was American-born and raised; his parents were refugees from Afghanistan, but his father became a naturalized American citizen.) Though claiming he hates the “concept” of profiling, he says other countries profile, and “it’s not the worst thing to do.” Earlier in his campaign, after the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015, he talked about increasing surveillance of Muslims and mosques and has suggested registering Muslims or mandating that they carry cards that identify them as Muslims.

Trump also doesn’t suffer fools gladly—or more precisely, he doesn’t suffer his version of “fools” gladly. When the Honorable Gonzalo P. Curiel, the federal circuit judge presiding over two class action suits against Trump University, ordered documents in the suit be unsealed—documents that are likely to shed negative light on Trump University, Trump spoke loudly and often about Judge Curiel as a “hater” and biased against Trump because, in Trump’s view, Judge Curiel is Mexican and, presumably, would not like Trump’s wall. (Judge Curiel is an American, born in Indiana.) Trump went even further, seemingly threatening the judge: “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. . . . O.K.? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case?”

As well, just over a week ago, Trump revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials to cover his campaign because he did not like how it wrote about some of his comments after the mass shooting at Pulse, calling the publication “phony and dishonest.” Trump seems particularly thorny about The Washington Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon. Like Judge Curiel, Bezos has been on the receiving end of what seems very much like a Trump threat. According to The New York Times, Trump said in February about Bezos, “He owns Amazon. . . . He wants political influence so Amazon will benefit from it. That’s not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.”

These examples and more have a common theme: Trump’s disdain for the rule of law, if not outright ignorance of it. Read more »

Narrative and Social Control

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, Media & Journalism, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Race & Law
Leave a Comment »

copslogoIn recent decades, awareness of narrative and of stories in general has increased in many fields and academic disciplines, law included.  However, it is nevertheless surprising to see that even law enforcement specialists in the Justice Department have developed an appreciation of the workings and importance of narrative.

This heightened sensitivity surfaced in the recent Justice Department report on police conduct in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of Michael Brown.  Issued by the Department’s “Community Oriented Policing Services” office, the report outlines no fewer than 113 lessons that police in Missouri and elsewhere might learn from developments during the seventeen days following Brown’s death and funeral.

Much of the report is predictable.  It criticizes such police tactics as the use of dogs, tear gas, and so-called “overwatching.”  With the latter, police use rifle sights to survey a crowd from positions on top of police vehicles.  Overall, the report warns that “militarization” of a volatile situation will probably make things worse.

Toward the end of the report, its authors turn to what they label “lost narrative.”  In their opinion, Missouri law enforcement was too slow to provide information about the shooting of Brown and thereby created an opening for alternative representations of the incident.  Supporters of Brown and his family seized the opportunity and offered an alternative narrative, one conveyed largely but not completely through the social media and one stressing that “Black Lives Matter.” Read more »

Diederich College Appointment of John Pauly as Colnik Chair

Posted by:
Category: Media & Journalism, Public
Leave a Comment »

John PaulyJohn Pauly came to Marquette University in 2006 to lead the Diederich College of Communication, and we were deans for two years together — or at least next door to one another, as he was in Johnston Hall and I immediately east in the “old building,” as we in the Law School now call Sensenbrenner Hall. Then Dean Pauly became Provost Pauly in 2008, and so for five years I reported to him, although that phrasing does not convey all the support that Provost Pauly gave to the Law School and to me as dean. Throughout these years and his administrative positions, I admired the way John remained engaged in his discipline — journalism — in a way also integrated with the larger work of the Marquette University faculty. I remain particularly drawn to his substantial essay, “Is Journalism Interested in Resolution, or Only in Conflict?,” published in the Marquette Law Review in 2009 as part of a dispute resolution symposium at the Law School (introduced here by conference organizer, Prof. Andrea K. Schneider). There are other examples of his contributions, including a post last month on our blog concerning the study of political polarization conducted by Craig Gilbert, Washington Bureau Chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Law School’s Lubar Fellow for Public Policy Research last year.

In any event, for all these reasons (and for any additional engagement with the Law School that it might occasion), I am delighted that my colleague Lori Bergen, dean of the Diederich College of Communication, has appointed John Pauly as the college’s Gretchen and Cyril Colnik Chair in Communication. In making the announcement, Dean Bergen noted that Prof. Pauly’s research and teaching “in the history and sociology of the mass media, cultural approaches to communication, media ethics and criticism, communication theory and the theory and practice of literary journalism have brought him international distinction as a scholar.” This appointment as Colnik Chair is a signal and well-deserved honor for a much-respected colleague and reflects not just terrific judgment concerning John Pauly’s past contributions to Marquette University and the community of scholars but also a prediction of more such. Kudos and congratulations to all involved.

Conference Probes the Depth and Breadth of Political Polarization

Posted by:
Category: Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

“I believe in my heart that we have a lot more in common than we have differences,” said Tom Meaux, Ozaukee County Administrator.

But if you do the numbers, we have a dramatic amount not in common. And no one has done the numbers the way the Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have.

The numbers – voting data, polling results, a wide range of demographic statistics – spell out the polarization that has become a dominant fact of politics in Wisconsin and especially in southeastern Wisconsin. A six-month fellowship at the Law School, funded by the Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research, allowed Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to collaborate with Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, in producing an analysis of the growing political divide that offers remarkable depth and breadth.

The result was a four-part series in the Journal Sentinel and a conference Thursday at Eckstein Hall, sponsored by the Law School and the Journal Sentinel, that brought together Gilbert, Franklin, political leaders, and academic experts to discuss what unites us, what divides us, and what lies ahead, given the intense current divisions. Read more »

Why Partisanship Bothers Us

Posted by:
Category: Media & Journalism, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
1 Comment »

Red_state_blue_stateWith the Marquette Law School conference “Dividing Lines” approaching on May 15, it is worth asking why hard and determined forms of partisanship so unnerve us.

The immediate occasion for this discussion is Craig Gilbert’s study of political polarization in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and its economic and cultural origins. Gilbert is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington bureau chief and this past year served as the Law School’s Lubar Fellow for Public Policy Research. Working with Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll, Gilbert has documented in recent elections a strong and consistent correlation between voting preferences and race, ethnicity, education, and population density (the series to date appearing in the newspaper here, here, and here, with the final entry coming this Wednesday). Marquette Law School’s Professor David Papke has also commented on Gilbert’s research, noting how deliberately conceived public policies such as restricted covenants, exclusionary zoning, and easing of residency rules for municipal employees have contributed to the climate of divisiveness.

As a scholar of journalism and media, I want to probe more deeply the meanings Americans attribute to their experience of political division. Read more »

In (Partial) Defense of Liz Cheney

Posted by:
Category: Civil Rights, Media & Journalism, Public
Leave a Comment »

Cheney sisters

Is it possible to support a loved one’s life choices if you believe those choices should not exist? Consider the following hypotheticals:

Scenario #1: Your teenage daughter tells you she is pregnant from her no-good former boyfriend, and that she wishes to terminate the pregnancy. You are pro-life. Yet you realize that your daughter is the only one who can decide what to do (assuming she is not subject to parental consent laws, and perhaps even if she is). So you drive your child to her doctors’ appointments. You also tell her that despite your fundamental objections to abortion, you will do your best to make peace with her decision.

Scenario #2: You strongly believe children are entitled to information about their genetic parents. For this reason, you think sperm and egg banks should be allowed to work only with donors who consent to the disclosure of their identity and some basic information, and who agree to a minimum number of visits with any genetic offspring. Your sister has a baby conceived with sperm from an anonymous donor. You were beyond thrilled when she told you about her pregnancy, and you love your new nephew to pieces. Your views on the need for regulation of sperm and egg donor banks have not changed.

If these scenarios sound plausible, it is because our moral convictions don’t always dictate our personal interactions. Nor should they. The ability to appreciate that others may embrace values that are different from our own, and to react to their decisions with understanding and even respect, is a sign of maturity. Read more »

Pulitzer Winner Calls for News Reporting Focused on Solutions

Posted by:
Category: Media & Journalism, Public, Speakers at Marquette
1 Comment »

Solutions journalism – what’s that? A leading advocate for this approach to news reporting told an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” audience in Eckstein Hall on Wednesday that it was, at the same time, a simple concept and an important change from the historic practices of most news organizations.

“The reigning myth of journalism is that we cover problems, and that’s all we do,” said Tina Rosenberg, co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network. ”The solution to the problem is not our business, someone else will come and take care of that.”

But, she said, “That model has failed. It’s not a good model for helping society learn what it needs to improve itself, which is what the purpose of journalism should be. Our view is that it is a perfectly legitimate part of journalism to cover, in addition to problems, what is going on to respond to those problem.” Read more »

Milwaukee Area Divide in Voting Is Unusually Deep, Gilbert and Franklin Say

Posted by:
Category: Marquette Law School, Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette


It isn’t just that we disagree whether we prefer pepperoni or anchovies on our pizza. We disagree about what pepperoni and anchovies are. And we disagree in increasingly strong ways.

That’s one way that Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy at Marquette University Law School, described the sharply partisan atmosphere of American politics. He spoke Thursday in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall in the first session of the 2013-14 season of “On the Issues with Mike Gousha.”

Franklin and Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, presented some of the early findings of research the two are conducting on polarization in politics, especially in the Milwaukee area and Wisconsin. Gilbert is on a six-month leave from the newspaper to take part in the project, supported by the Law School’s Sheldon B. Lubar Fund for Public Policy research. Read more »