‘Terrorism Is Aimed at the People Watching’

When an explosion killed 19 people at a concert in Manchester, England, late Monday, media organizations across the English speaking world rushed to break the news.

That was the right call.

An apparent mass murder of that scale is newsworthy. A self-governing people cannot shrink from facing the reality of terrorism. There are perpetrators to catch, victims to mourn, and survivors to help. And large majorities of the public want to be informed when a probable terrorist attack is perpetrated inside a major Western city.

Unfortunately, the very act of publicizing an act of terrorism cannot help but advance the ends of terrorists, who try to generate as much media attention as possible to stoke fear.

That tension ought to inform coverage of terrorist attacks more than it does.

There was a time when the ideological right was foremost in asserting a similar position. Here’s conservative hero Margaret Thatcher speaking on the subject in 1985:

Civilised societies cannot use the weapons of terrorism to fight the terrorist. But we must take every possible precaution to protect ourselves … And we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend. In our societies we do not believe in constraining the media, still less in censorship. But ought we not to ask the media to agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, a code under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the terrorists’ morale or their cause while the hijack lasted?

In our own era, the American right’s leading politician, Donald Trump, complained that the media was not giving terrorists enough attention (his assessment of coverage proved inaccurate). The outlets most friendly to him reflect that desire for more coverage. But this needn’t be a partisan or ideological matter, insofar …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

The 25th Amendment Makes Presidential Disability a Political Question

Last week, in The New York Times, Ross Douthat became the latest and perhaps most prominent advocate of using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office. Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to recommend the removal of the president in cases where he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” and allows the House and Senate to confirm the recommendation over the president’s objection by two-thirds vote. Douthat argued that the Amendment should be invoked to stop what he calls a “childish president” who is unfit for office and who is unlikely to be impeached.

The response to Douthat’s suggestion was mixed. Jamal Greene argued for a broad reading of the amendment to remove “a compulsively lying President would be ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’” On the other hand, Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg, Ian Tuttle in National Review, and John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist concluded, in different ways, that for elites to invoke a contested interpretation of the 25th Amendment to remove the president would trigger a political crisis. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, in her summary of the 25th Amendment commentary, argued that “the most practical problem with the 25th Amendment option is that it won’t happen. The selfsame Cabinet and vice president tasked with assessing the president are still enabling him.”

It’s true that the use of Section 4’s involuntary-removal mechanism for the first time in American history—especially for a president who is not ill and who still has public support—could trigger a political crisis. Still, the constitutional test of the president’s being “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office was intended to be vague and open-ended. In 1995, Senator …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics