Five Best Wednesday Columns

Michael Rosenberg on Rutgers's new athletic director, Sarah Kendzior on the myth of American opportunity, Danielle Ofri on the prevalence of hospital errors, Imani Gandy on the lessons of the Gosnell in the black community, and Glenn Greenwald on how journalists defend their own.

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Michael Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated on Rutgers's new athletic director Michael Rosenberg considers the career of Julie Hermann, the new athletic director at Rutgers University, and the institutional oversight that failed to catch her most controversial moments. "You would think after the Rice debacle, and the Pernetti fallout, Rutgers would have been especially rigorous in researching the employment history of its new athletic director," he says. "Instead, Rutgers seems to have let Hermann conduct her own background check. Rutgers is a terrific school. Its students, faculty and alumni deserve better than this. But Rutgers has been pretending to know how an athletic department operates for years." At The Wall Street Journal, Jason Gay adds, "What's not happening in Jersey is really the only thing that should be happening—not just at Rutgers but at every other college and university—which is a look deep down inside, to the guts of it all, to how college sports reached a point where malfunction became not the risk, but almost the rule."

Sarah Kendzior at Al Jazeera on the myth of American opportunity What should parents tell their children about opportunity and access in 21st century America? Sarah Kendzior weighs such a conundrum: "It is one thing to discover, as an adult, that the rules have been rewritten, that the job market will not recover, that you will scramble to survive. It is another to raise a child knowing that no matter how hard they work, how talented they are, how big they dream, they will not have opportunities - because in the new economy, opportunities are bought, not earned. You know this, but you cannot tell this to a child. The millennial parent is always Santa, always a little bit of a liar." Efforts to address such a job market have flourished, notes Tom Friedman at The New York Times, where he writes that "a bachelor’s degree is no longer considered an adequate proxy by employers for your ability to do a particular job — and, therefore, be hired." Unfortunately, as Hamilton Nolan at Gawker points out, Friedman chose to highlight a business owned by his daughter's college roommate.

Danielle Ofri in The New York Times on the prevalence of hospital errors Shame, argues Danielle Ofri, prevents meaningful prevention of routine, albeit dangerous and embarrassing, hospital errors. "Medical culture is less overtly punitive than it used to be, but the guilt and blame are internalized, often savagely, by its practitioners," she writes. "How can we ease the shame and help doctors and nurses come forward with their near misses? This is not the type of thing we can orchestrate with a quality-improvement initiative and a zippy slogan. It has to come from inside the medical world, and it helps to start at the top." Still, hospitals struggle with maintaining even basic standards of hygiene, which is crucial to successful surgeries. Anemona Hartocollis in The Times explains how healthcare providers are encouraging doctors to simply wash their hands: "Studies have shown that without encouragement, hospital workers wash their hands as little as 30 percent of the time that they interact with patients. So in addition to [video surveillance of wash rooms], hospitals across the country are ... handing out rewards like free pizza and coffee coupons, and admonishing with 'red cards.'"

Imani Gandy at RH Reality Check on the lessons of the Gosnell in the black community Responding to a recent Newsday column by Star Parker about logistics of abortion counseling, Imani Gandy addresses that "choice" in the term "pro-choice" means — and how that shades into issues of economic justice. "The point of the term 'pro-choice' and the work that pro-choice activists do is to ensure that 'choice' encompasses all choices," she writes. "The choice to have children. The choice to have children when you want to have them. The choice to stop having them after you already have them." After listing GOP-endorsed policies which target lower-income populations, Gandy adds, "The brutal truth is this: The far right wing politicians and individuals so obsessively 'concerned' about the abortion rate in the Black community are the reason that the abortion rate in the Black community is so high." The abortion debate is unlikely to disappear any time soon, Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker observes: "Before too long—indeed, probably next fall—the [Supreme] Court will have to return to one of its most enduring controversies: abortion."

Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian on how journalists defend their own Weighing recent questions about the Obama administration's treatment of security journalists, Glenn Greenwald senses a sea change in the rhetoric surrounding press freedom. "What is clear is that, after the AP and especially the Fox/Rosen revelations, a real tipping point has been reached in establishment media circles in terms of how all of this is discussed," he notes. "One now regularly encounters in the most mainstream circles rhetoric that, a short time ago, was the province of a small number of critics." Progress is unlikely, Greenwald continues, because agents of change  "assum[e] that [journalists] actually value these freedoms. And it further assumes that they're willing to be truly adversarial rather than subservient to political power. With some rare exceptions, neither of those assumptions have been warranted for quite some time." Whatever their motivation, the opposition is considerable. "At a time of more or less permanent war, the federal government has shown little of its former hesitance to pursue journalists," writes Matthew Cooper at National Journal. He adds: "The government tends to win—not always, but pretty much."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.