July 8, 2011

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Friday, July 08, 2011

On this week's show it's (nearly) all scandal - News of the World!, Casey Anthony!, the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit and ... scandal magnet Lenny Dysktra.

News of the World Folds

Last week, Rupert Murdoch's News of the World was a phenomenally successful tabloid newspaper in England, with 2.7 million readers. This week, the paper is being shut down after the public learned that the paper hacked the voicemails of ordinary British citizens, including a 13-year old murder victim. Bob talks to the Guardian media columnist Roy Greenslade, whose paper has led the coverage.  

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The Chiquita Phone Hacking Scandal

14 years ago another phone hacking scandal shook up journalism - but this one was in the Cincinnati Enquirer and it involved a year-long investigation of global fruit behemoth Chiquita.  The resulting piece uncovered many examples of Chiquita breaking the law and endangering its workers but it was almost completely forgotten two months later when the Enquirer disclosed and apologized for one of its reporters breaking into Chiquita's voicemail system.  It's taught as a journalistic ethics object lesson but Brooke and Poynter ethics professor Kelly McBride disagree about what the lesson should be.

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The Media's Trial of Casey Anthony

This week, in a Florida court, Casey Anthony was acquitted of charges that she murdered her daughter Caylee. But in the court of public opinion, she was already guilty. Kendall Coffey, former US Attorney for Florida and author of Spinning the Law talks about how the media and the jury could have reached such starkly different conclusions.

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Lenny Dykstra's Downfall

Former baseball player Lenny "Dude" Dykstra has become a seemingly endless fount of stories for sports reporters who cover scandal. He's been arrested for grand theft auto and drug possession, declared bankruptcy, and been accused of bouncing a check to a prostitute. Philadelphia sports writer Frank Fitzpatrick has been covering Dykstra since before his fall from grace, and he talks to Bob about how sports writers can be complicit in the bad behavior of the athletes they cover.

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"Hot Coffee"

We all think we know the story of the woman who spilled McDonald’s coffee on herself and then sued the fast food chain for millions.  But in the new HBO documentary "Hot Coffee", filmmaker Susan Saladoff shows how the media got the story all wrong, and often demonizes civil litigation, using phrases like “frivolous lawsuit” and “jackpot justice.”  She says the distortion of civil cases is part of a big PR push to discourage people from suing big business.

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Mike Vuolo and the Lexicon Valley

For almost seven years Mike Vuolo produced On the Media, until he left last week. Mike was a brilliant producer and a real mensch but he was also a language obsessive who wrote crossword puzzles on the side and always knew just what you meant to say and how to correctly say it.  He produced a few podcasts about language before he left and in his honor we're airing one of them this week.  We invite you to join us in missing Mike very much. 

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