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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Reporter’s Alert: Part VI

By Ralph Nader
October 14, 2021

Reporters at major newspapers and magazines are hard to reach by telephone. Today it is increasingly hard to converse with them about timely scoops, leads, gaps in coverage, and corrections to published articles.

We started an online webpage: Reporter’s Alert. From time to time, we use Reporter’s Alert to present suggestions for important reporting on topics that are either not covered or not covered thoroughly. Reporting that just nibbles on the periphery won’t attract much public attention or be noticed by decision-makers. Here is the sixth installment of suggestions:

1. Numerous people have been asking me “What’s happened to all those lawsuits against Trump?” Trump has escaped the grips of the law for years, most recently the stalled civil justice (tort law) suits by several women claiming sexual assaults, by prosecutors in New York, Washington, D.C., and Georgia. Trump has even managed to escape, so far, depositions under oath, including one that Robert Mueller should have demanded. This is so remarkable that there should be a seminar at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown Law Schools about how Trump has escaped, with all the ways his lawyers have shielded this serial outlaw from federal, state, and local laws.

To make his escapes more current, since Trump is a clear-cut violator of criminal statutes, including the Hatch Act and the Anti-Deficiency statute, obstruction of justice, again and again, brazenly and openly, one might expect the Justice Department should be readying some law enforcement. See letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland recounting the DOJ’s avoidance of its duties vis-à-vis Trump’s serial violations, thus demonstrating that Donald J. Trump is indeed repeatedly ABOVE THE LAW.

Also remarkable is that this topic has to be suggested to the Fourth Estate as a major, comprehensive inquiry.

2. More states are recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, giving rise to the need for a broad report on all the treaties tribal nations signed with the U.S. government that are still intact and that are still violated by the U.S. government. Recall for example, on Thursday July 9, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court had occasion to recognize the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s rights to the land in much of Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma as being part of their reservation. (See, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-9526_9okb.pdf). There will be fascinating revelations from a report on this topic.

3. State legislatures and governors in many states are using “pandemic” pretexts to eliminate rights and democratic procedures. In California, which has one of the more liberal legislatures, lawmakers are taking bills to the floor discarding past rules providing every bill have committee staff analysis and a legislative hearing with questions from legislators, and testimony from citizens. Assembly Bill 2167 is one such example, favoring the insurance industry. Imagine what more conservative state legislatures are doing. Also, the California State Assembly voted to allow votes on bills without members being present in the chamber, despite an opinion from the state’s legislative counsel that it likely violates the state Constitution.

Governors, citing the pandemic, have issued dubious executive orders that let vendors in healthcare avoid the tort laws for their negligent (or worse) injuries to innocent persons. For reporters, the quest is to find out how widespread these strictures have become and how permanent.

4. Sports injuries are more prevalent than ever before. Despite, more advanced knowledge, training, and self-care by athletes, professional teams are experiencing so many recurrent injuries that some sports announcers have started a regular “Injury Report” on sports radio. In baseball, injuries have become epidemic, when in the 1950s and 1960s they were quite rare. It is not a candidly discussed subject among the sports media and fans receive few if any explanations. The injury epidemic is so pronounced that the Yankees baseball radio announcer has started a daily Injury Report brought to you by an orthopedic practice ad in New York.

Some reasons suggested are (1) the players are bigger, and (2) the play is more strenuous. In baseball, pitchers’ arms start getting strained in their teenage years, given the dreams about throwing 100 miles per hour fastballs in the major leagues. These days after every pitch announcers note what the mph was. Tommy John operations are numerous every year. With the ever-greater emphasis on home runs, players are becoming muscle-bound with added risks of straining a ligament. Certainly today, baseball professionals have better equipment – helmets, gloves, safer shoes, and they are protected by padded walls in the outfield. These advances prevent injuries, yet today’s players are placed on the injury list far more than those in the past. What with the many years of covering up concussions in football etc., it seems important to look into this broad area. (See, leagueoffans.org). Sports reporters take note!

5. What’s happened to NASA? It has increasingly become an agency that outsources or contracts out, losing the technical and scientific capacity to better pay offers by the contractors. The brain drain is rampant: nearly 80% of NASA’s budget is contracted out. The Old NASA did far more things itself and kept its intellectual property close to the vest. NASA is now a shadow of itself, a trademark on press releases; so much so that it is losing control over policy and other matters to the contractors. A reporter should get copies of these contracts and see the extent of the multiple giveaways, corporate welfare, and undue influence taking the search all the way to congressional committees.

P.S. Next week from October 22-23, 2021, corporate crime specialists from around the world will attend the symposium at Georgetown Law Center titled, Imagining a World Without Corporate Criminal Law (Register for the event here).