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Week of 21 January 2000

Vol. III, No. 20

In the News

After New Year's Eve, with its much ballyhooed turn of the year, turn of the century, and turn of the millennium, business as usual has some people down. CAS Associate History Professor Richard Landes, who directs the Center for Millennial Studies, says in an article in January 7's Boston Globe, "Apocalyptic millennialism can lead to extravagant expectation and profound disappointment. The media contributed to it significantly."

"I don't think the American public is quite as dumb as we sometimes think," says R. Curtis Ellison, MED professor of medicine and public health, in the January 10 Chicago Tribune. He says that concerns that wine's supposed health benefits might cause a surge in alcoholism are "greatly exaggerated."

Remember impeachment? It was in all the papers last year. But according to CAS History Professor Robert Dallek, for most of 1999, "Instead of a crippled chief executive, we have seen a familiar Bill Clinton negotiating to end international conflicts, pushing the Congress to pass budget bills, calling on the national conscience to deal with gun violence, racial divisions, and patient rights, and cheerfully presiding over all manner of White House ceremonies." In an essay in the January 10 Australian Financial Review, Dallek argues such a state of affairs "looks quite normal and suggests that impeachment was a kind of overkill that never should have occurred. This is likely to be the principal view of historians, who will have to dig below the surface of events to understand the strange impeachment of a popular president in the seventh year of his second term."

Whether John McCain's emotional stability or Bill Bradley's cardiac stability, the health of presidential candidates inevitably invites media scrutiny. "Have they ever found out anything that mattered?" asks George Annas, professor of medical ethics at SPH, in an article in the January 9 New York Times. "I don't think there's any magic in medical records, that we're going to learn something essential about candidates by rooting around in their records. If there's a terminal illness, you'd want to know. That is fair, but that's it." Annas says a letter from a doctor vouching for a candidate's health should be enough.

"Right now, these [candidates] are all holding back, and you have this really unusual phenomenon of a heavy dominance of feel-good advertising," says Tobe Berkovitz, COM associate professor of mass communication, in the Boston Globe on January 4. He is referring to the benign tone of presidential campaign advertising, describing such ads as "aimed at pulling your heartstrings rather than playing to your anger" and adding, "We haven't seen a lot of this sort of advertising for 10 years."

"In the News" is compiled by Alexander Crouch in the Office of Public Relations.