July 15, 2011

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Friday, July 15, 2011

This week we explore the 'debt ceiling', internet self-regulation and tabloids - both now and in the 1970's.

Reporting On the Debt Ceiling

With the press’s coverage of the drama surrounding the debt ceiling debate in Washington, much of the public misunderstands the underlying economic realities of the situation.  While the usual political fights are playing out in Washington, a growing number of economists, corporate CEOs and those on Wall Street maintain that the solution lies in a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. According to the U.S. News and World Report’s Rick Newman, real economics information is out there – but only if you’re willing to find it.  

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Government Benefits - We Hardly Knew Ye

A Cornell study has shown that a substantial portion of Americans who receive government benefits either don't believe or don't understand that they are government beneficiaries.  We talked with Danny Hayes of American University to figure out what role the media, politicians, and citizens themselves might play in our nation-wide cognitive dissonance.

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The Continuing Woes Of Righthaven

For the past year, newspapers have been teaming up with a law firm called Righthaven to file lawsuits against people posting copyrighted content on the web, in what appears to be a stab at a lucrative new business model. However, Joe Mullin of Paidcontent.org says that over the past month, Righthaven has seen a string of losses that throw the future of this model into doubt.

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New Six Strikes Internet Regulations

Last week the six largest internet service providers in the country announced an agreement with the nation's largest content providers.  The ISP's will adopt something called the copyright alert system - if users are suspected of pirating copyrighted material they'll be warned - up to six times - at which point something bad will happen to them.  Timothy B. Lee of Ars Technica explains the strikes and the stakes.

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Congress, Copyright and Monkeys

Techdirt's Michael Masnick talks about the PROTECT IP Act which is a bill making its way through Congress that would allow the DOJ to block sites it deems "infringing" on copyrighted material.  Masnick isn't a fan of the legislation.  His main critique is that the definition of "infringing" is way too broad. Plus, Masnick talks about standing his ground in a current copyright dispute involving Techdirt, a macaque monkey and a human photographer.

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News International Scandal Grows

It's been another rough week for Rupert Murdoch's News International. Following last week's phone hacking scandal, the FBI has launched a probe into News Corporation here in the U.S., News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks resigned on Friday and Murdoch dropped his bid for bSkyb, the UK's largest pay-TV service. The Guardian's Simon Hoggart talks with Brooke about new challenges facing News International.

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Foreign and Corrupt Practices

Suspicions that News Corp misdeeds may have extended across the Atlantic heated up this week. A growing chorus of politicians called for investigations, even urging the FBI to look into whether Murdoch’s papers hacked the phones of 9/11 victims. News Corp may have already broken a U.S. law, however, though in a less sensational way. That law is the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act, and it prohibits companies that are publicly traded in the United States from bribing foreign officials. Pulitzer Prize winning ProPublica reporter Jake Bernstein explains.

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Errol Morris on Tabloid

In 1977 a former beauty queen with a 168 IQ named Joyce McKinney became British tabloid fodder when she supposedly kidnapped her Mormon boyfriend at gunpoint and for 4 days kept him as her sex slave.  She's the subject of Errol Morris' new documentary Tabloid and Morris joins us to talk about what makes for tabloid fare, then and now.

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