Four Sideshow Bobs

“Washington Post fact-checker introduces ‘Bottomless Pinocchio’ rating to call Trump on repeated false claims” Or, the weird desperate petulance of a man in denial about the limits of his profession. “Fact-checking” refers or should refer to behind-the-scenes editor research, ensuring quotes are real, data points are accurate, to keep the journalist honest. To use “fact-checking” to describe analyzing the veracity of politicians’ public claims just admits … Continue reading Four Sideshow Bobs

Self-tracking tools and data discipline

“Digital self-tracking tools are the latest wave of disciplinary technologies, imprisoning their users in a cage of data.” A pregnant-woman-to-be wonders how incessantly digitally tracking her pregnancy will amass data to be used against her future child. Is the Apple Watch truly a guardian, caring for our well-being — or is it a warden, watching and waiting for us to make a misstep? “Self-tracking” seems … Continue reading Self-tracking tools and data discipline

On the import of Debra Van Poolen’s artistic witness

Those of us who covered Chelsea Manning’s court martial at Ft. Meade relied on the drawings of artists in attendance to illustrate our coverage of witnesses testifying, dramatic proceedings, and vital courtroom moments. Debra van Poolen, one such artist, wrote about her experience here. I’ve thanked Debra in a piece explaining the value of her and others’ images, first published here at WARP Place. Relatedly, see artist Clark Stoeckley’s book-length graphic account of the trial here.


We are, increasingly, a visual people, overloaded with imagery at every turn. Thus the army’s (and administration’s) strategy to turn what should have been a trial available to the public for witness, conversation, and debate into a covert one made sense. No cameras, no cell phones, no computers in the courtroom. Metal detectors scanned our every inch for a hidden lens or wire. Uniformed muscles with weapons lined the walls, escorting us out to stretch our limbs and rest our eyes, watching, retrieving us. In the media room, a relaxed appearance betrayed an even more sinister crackdown on any attempt to publicize the show trial of U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning.

By and large, the mainstream media ignored the trial. We few reporters followed proceedings on a delayed video feed, that—just next door to the NSA, capable of spying on Americans’ every communication—was conveniently, annoyingly liable to cut out at any minute, for several at a time. So adverse was the Army to the public witnessing the immense, inexorable courage of a 5’2” soldier who stood head and shoulders above her fear-stricken fellow servicemen that when a few seconds of video did seep onto the world wide web, Ft. Meade soldiers with handguns were assigned to patrol the media room, their hot breath on our necks as we tried to transcribe extensive motions in real time. Continue reading “On the import of Debra Van Poolen’s artistic witness”

On Media Access to Bradley Manning’s Hearing

Last week, I applied for press credentials to cover Bradley Manning’s pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland. I’m an intern for the Bradley Manning Support Network, but because I intended to write about it for this site and potentially elsewhere, I applied as an “independent journalist” not affiliated with any particular organization, a news team of one. On Wednesday, December 14, at 3:35 PM, Fort … Continue reading On Media Access to Bradley Manning’s Hearing