Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is a Prospect senior correspondent and, most recently, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatened Our Future (with Sheril Kirshenbaum).

Recent Articles

Jingle Bell Schlock:

Politically, Christmas this year began on the evening of December 13th. Many of us witnessed the seasons' greetings on CNN. At 10:00 p.m. Eastern, George W. Bush was scheduled to deliver his presidential acceptance speech from the Texas House of Representatives, the site of his occasional bonding with a Texas Democrat. An hour before, Al Gore -- skewered by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling -- had conceded the election. On CNN, Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff waited for signs of Bush's appearance; finally, the network switched over to Austin. The first thing that caught the viewer's eye, however, was not the new president's elfish grin, but an enormous Christmas tree , rising out of floor of the legislature as the cameras panned in. The tree appeared to have roughly the breadth of a California redwood; streaming gold ribbons, it dwarfed everyone in the chamber. And yet somehow, in later discussions of Bush's speech, it went largely un-remarked upon. Assuming...

The Ashcroft Debate:

Watching Ted Kennedy and Pat Leahy tear out John Ashcroft's entrails during his confirmation hearings this week -- he'll survive, damaged -- conservatives are getting desperate. And you can see it in their prose. Covering the second day of the Ashcroft hearings for the National Review Online -- in a piece entitled "Playing the Race Card: The Democrat strategy to label Ashcroft a racist" -- Byron York quotes from an exchange between Ashcroft and Senator Joe Biden: "I want you to understand why people are suspect [sic]," Delaware senator Joeseph Biden said as he grilled Ashcroft about an interview Ashcroft gave to Southern Partisan magazine. "Your ideology blinds you to an equal application of, not just the law, but the facts." Now, if Biden had actually said that -- which might have amounted to at least implying Ashcroft is a racist -- York's article title and whole angle would have had some merit. But now look at how the Boston Globe 's Susan Milligan...

A Few Good Conservatives

Over the pre-Thanksgiving weekend, as their alma maters clashed waspily in the Harvard-Yale game (Yale won) and as the candidates themselves went for highly publicized jogs (Governor Bush is faster), Al Gore and George W. Bush spinners continued their grating arguments for and against manual ballot recounts in Florida. In this battle of repetitiousness, conducted in any media forum available and with virtually interchangeable spokespersons -- bench Jim Baker for Marc Racicot; tag in David Boies when Warren Christopher starts falling asleep -- it's not particularly easy to warm up to either side. Indeed, in this respect, the post-campaign is very much like the campaign itself. But there's an important difference, too. Whereas the election turned on whose plans were best for the country (a matter of interpretation), the Florida recount is about who actually won the most votes (a matter of fact, though difficult to ascertain). And perhaps that's why intellectually...

The Bush Detector:

During the past month of the presidential race, "objectivity" in the mainstream media has become virtually indistinguishable from lowering the bar for George W. Bush -- despite the governor's repeated howlers . When Al Gore boasts, the press reports it as more evidence of the "Gore the Exaggerator" story line. And the Bush campaign eggs it on, sending out regular e-mails entitled: "THE GORE DETECTOR, A Regular Report on Al Gore's Adventures with the Truth." But when Bush exaggerates? Yawns. That is, until now. One of the most nagging illusions about Bush's Texas record, promoted wholesale by the Bush team, has just been shattered. And the papers are reporting it. "Study Disputes Bush Claims On Texas Education Record," announced today's Washington Post . "Report questions Texas' progress in education," echoed USA Today . The New York Times reported: "Study Casts Doubt on Texas Test Scores, and Gives the Democrats Ammunition." The Los Angeles Times put the story on its front...

Conservatives v. Cheney

After prolonged coyness, George W. Bush has finally announced that he has tapped Richard B. Cheney, former George Bush defense secretary, to be on the Republican ticket. Bush had said he wanted a "forward-looking administration," but then picked one of Daddy's dinosaurs. Bush had once promised that his veep choice would be an "electrifying" one -- but the selection of Cheney seems more likely to cause a GOP power outage. Conservatives as well as liberals have been setting off Cheney-bombs. Perhaps after a few more editorial meetings, conservative opinators will rally around Bush Sr.'s trusty stalwart, the Texas oil baron from Wyoming. But so far, they seem crestfallen. Before Cheney's selection became official, many writers continued to fantasize in print that the Cheney leak was a bait and switch -- and that Bush had finally convinced Colin Powell to join the ticket. More prominently, though, Bush's second-guessers are busily worrying that Cheney's selection...

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