Is There a “Right to Be Forgotten”?

Slate's weekly political roundtable.
May 16 2014 1:55 PM

The Google Will Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Forget You Gabfest

Listen to Slate's show about melting ice in Antarctica, Jill Abramson's firing from the New York Times, and an EU court ruling on Internet privacy.

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On this week's Slate Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, David Plotz, and special guest Phil Plait discuss melting ice sheets in Antarctica, Jill Abramson's firing from the New York Times, and what "the right to be forgotten" means for Google.

  • Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:
  • The collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet due to global warming may be unstoppable, two groups of scientists concluded this week.
  • We're already seeing the effects of rising sea levels, Phil writes; flooding in Manhattan after Superstorm Sandy is one example.
  • A day before the news from Antarctica broke, Sen. Marco Rubio denied that human activity is causing climate change. Another recent study says Rubio's hometown of Miami is one of the cities most vulnerable to damage from rising sea levels.
  • Of the leading GOP presidential candidates for 2016, only Chris Christie acknowledges that climate change is man-made.
  • Americans ranked climate change 14th out of 15 national issues they're concerned about in a March Gallup poll.
  • Ninety percent of ads in the North Carolina were funded by groups outside the state.
  • Former executive editor Jill Abramson was fired from the New York Times on Wednesday.
  • Abramson and Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. had always had a tense relationship. The final straw was when Abramson learned that she was being paid less than her predecessor and confronted Sulzberger about it, Ken Auletta writes in The New Yorker.
  • Abramson's presence at the top of the Times masthead had a symbolic impact on young female reporters, Amanda Hess writes.
  • The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that individuals can force Google to remove links to personal information.
  • The court decision reinforced the “right to be forgotten,” a concept in European privacy law.
  • There might be some practical issues with this ruling—it's impossible to guarantee removal of content from the Internet, Lily Hay Newman writes.
  • Gruesome photos of an 18-year-old who died in a car crash went viral after the California Highway Patrol released them; despite her family's best efforts, they're still readily available online.

John chatters about whether you can actually boil a frog alive if you heat the water slowly enough. Spoiler alert: You can't.

Emily chatters about a companion book to one of her favorite children's books, Wonder, told from the bully's point of view.

David chatters about touring the Ford Rouge Factory in Detroit.

This week's credits were in the style of a commencement address.

Topic ideas for next week? You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. The email address for the Political Gabfest is (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Rebecca Cohen.

Emily Bazelon was a Slate senior editor from 2005 to 2014. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.


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