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

Liebermania!

August 10, 2000 -- Getting Their Money's Worth : On August 3rd the Hotline reported the results of a new poll that showed that a clear majority of the public (65 percent) believes that the government's antitrust case against Microsoft is "politically motivated by competitors" and that roughly twice as many voters would be less likely (33 percent), rather than more likely (17 percent), to vote for a politician who supports the government suit. But the folks at the Hotline left out one detail. The poll was, in essence, a poll Microsoft had commissioned about itself. The organization that sponsored the poll is Americans for Technology Leadership. And as the Prospect reported in its July 17, 2000 issue, ATL is really a front group for Microsoft, technically independent, but really a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, run out of the company's PR department. August 10, 2000 -- Lieberman's...

Don't Show Me the Money:

Q: The first question I wanted to ask was about "stealth PACs." Voting on a bipartisan basis, Congress recently closed the loophole that allowed these groups to conceal their donors. But some have questioned the significance of the legislation. Do you think this is a step toward more fundamental reform, or does it just serve as political cover for Republicans so they can say they got something done on campaign finance? A: Well, I do think it's a positive step toward campaign finance reform, but I'd be the first to say it's only a minor step in the right direction. One of its main purposes is to give us some momentum, to show that we can win one of these battles. I think anybody that tries to use [voting for the "stealth PAC" legislation] as political cover in a campaign is really making a mistake because it's impossible to compare the disclosures . . . to the more fundamental issue of banning soft money. But I do think it was a good sign. It was the first...

Drawn and Quartered:

Following the Supreme Court's dramatic 5 to 4 ruling striking down Nebraska's partial birth abortion ban in Stenberg v. Carhart , George W. Bush got caught without a thesaurus. Condemning the decision, Bush proclaimed that states should be allowed to enact laws "particularly to end the inhumane practice of ending a life that otherwise could live." More specifically, Bush said, "I hope to be able to come up with a law that meets the constitutional scrutiny." Though we've come to expect these marble-mouthed episodes from the Texas Governor, in this case Bush's declamatory awkwardness may signal a deeper discomfort. After all, less than a month away from this summer's upcoming Republican National Convention -- where abortion would have been an edgy issue anyway -- the last thing Bush needed was a pro-choice ruling from the court. He got two : The same day as Stenberg , the justices also voted 6 to 3 to uphold a Colorado law requiring protesters to keep at least eight feet away...

Outrage of Aquarius:

Word came out recently that Dan Kennedy , the talented press critic, will soon be leaving his post at The Boston Phoenix to work on a book about dwarfism. Just in time: A recent article suggests media watchers of Kennedy's caliber may want to turn their guns on the Phoenix itself, whose sense of journalistic duty appears to be shrinking rapidly. The story in question, a full-length feature by Chris Wright , is titled "Prophets of Doom" and bears this subtitle: "Jihad terrorists surprised America on September 11, but apparently more than one astrologer saw it coming." The evidence presented in the article, however, actually seems to prove exactly the opposite -- that astrologers didn't have a clue about September 11 before it happened. But don't tell that to Wright, whose loving citations of vague astrological predictions, without a single skeptical voice to serve as a counterbalance, may represent a new low in journalistic credulousness -- at least among outlets that don't aspire to...

Reflections on Political Catastrophism

O n the morning of September 11th -- three months ago today -- I went into a phone booth at a hotel near my evacuated office building, where I'd taken refuge to watch CNN, and called my parents and girlfriend to let them know I was all right. I wasn't the only one making such a call; in fact, I had to wait in line. Many in the Washington, D.C. area were so shaken by the Pentagon plane crash and the slew of bomb threats that ensued that they felt in mortal danger. The roads backed up as some fled the city, believing we were under an all-out attack. The panic wasn't helped by the President's cross-country joyride aboard Air Force One. It all seems such an overreaction now. But it also seems emblematic of how rapidly and dramatically -- and continually -- political discourse in this country has shifted over the past three months. Again and again, a prevailing week-old wisdom has emerged, only to be shattered almost immediately by the events of the next week or even the next day. Remember...

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