Jack Shafer

What do Miley Cyrus, Ricky Gervais and William Shatner have in common? Quitting Twitter.

By Jack Shafer
September 18, 2014

Singer Miley Cyrus poses backstage after winning Video of the Year for "Wrecking Ball" during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood

Almost as much as celebrities love to tweet, they love to quit Twitter. And as much as they love to quit Twitter, they love to return to the social networking service.

Roger Goodell, the NFL’s judge and jury, becomes his own executioner

By Jack Shafer
September 11, 2014

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Oh, yes, let’s torch and pitchfork the NFL for its handling of the Ray Rice case and not rest until NFL Commission Roger Goodell pays for his incompetence or his bad judgment — whichever proves greater — with his resignation. Then, after a good night’s sleep, let’s ask ourselves why, after cementing his reputation across the league as a hanging judge, did Goodell pick the Rice case to appear insufficiently authoritarian?

Keep your frenemies list short and your enemies list shorter

By Jack Shafer
September 5, 2014

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Compiling an enemies list was a cinch for the United States during the Cold War, what with most of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal targeted its way. Friends of the Soviets immediately became America’s enemies, and Soviet enemies became U.S. friends. That made China a U.S. enemy of the highest order, a ranking shared by the Soviet client-states of Cuba, North Korea, and North Vietnam, against which the United States fought. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya rose to high-enemy status under President Ronald Reagan, a position it maintained until he surrendered its nuclear program.

Why we’re so blase about global warming

By Jack Shafer
August 29, 2014

Graffiti art is seen on a wall next to the Regent's Canal in Camden in London

If you don’t regard global warming as a serious problem, your company is growing. According to the survey jockeys at Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who think global warming is “very serious” or “somewhat serious” has declined since 2006 (from 79 percent to 65 percent). While a firm majority still considers global warming to be very or somewhat serious, the numbers show that public alarm over the topic has receded over a period during which the scientific, journalistic, and political consensus on the topic has surged the other way.

This month’s ultimate enemy — the Islamic State

By Jack Shafer
August 26, 2014

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At an Aug. 21 Pentagon press conference, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel claimed that the Islamic State “is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded.”

The Islamic State buys itself a day of horror, little else, by killing James Foley

By Jack Shafer
August 20, 2014

By uploading a video of its execution of journalist James Foley to the Web on Tuesday, the Islamic State achieves the impossible: It re-executes him every time somebody presses play.

If you must quote anonymous sources, make sure they say something!

By Jack Shafer
August 14, 2014

A decade ago, both the Washington Post and the New York Times conceded that they had lost control of the use of anonymous sources in their pages and each set up new guidelines to police the practice.

All the myths that are fit to print: Why your news feels familiar

By Jack Shafer
August 12, 2014

Has some wise guy flipped a switch and thrown the news into summer reruns?

Everywhere you look in your news feed is a story you’ve seen before. In northern Iraq, conquering jihadists have the Kurds calling on the United States for more help. North Korea is again stating its desire to nuke the White House. A virulent contagion abroad has Americans worrying when it will break out on our shores. And, in a rerun of a rerun, a Gaza war of tunnels, rockets, invasions, ceasefires, withdrawals, broken ceasefires, and shuttle diplomacy is claiming a record harvest of headlines.

The dangers of deputizing Google to bust child pornographers

By Jack Shafer
August 5, 2014

Illustration file picture shows a man typing on a computer keyboard in Warsaw

“Don’t be evil” — the first sentence of Google’s “Code of Conduct” — has served as the technology company’s corporate motto since its earliest days. But given Google’s role in the arrest late last month of a Houston man on child pornography charges, perhaps we’ve been misreading it. Perhaps the motto is aimed at its customers, as in, “Don’t you be evil or we’ll have you busted.”

Plagiarists’ real crime? Ripping off readers.

By Jack Shafer
July 29, 2014

A man reads a newspaper in the auditorium before the lectures for the 15th biennial International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brasilia

The plagiarists are back in the news, taking public beatings for allegedly having filed refried copy at BuzzFeed, the New York Times, and the United States Army War College, where Senator John Walsh, (D-Mont.), has just been busted for lifting portions of his 2007 master’s degree paper.