Watchdog Blog

Archive for November, 2006

Dan Froomkin: On Calling Bullshit

Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do. What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them [...]

Saul Friedman: The Prodigal Daughters

As a former White House correspondent, I know there is an understanding among reporters that questions and stories about the president’s children are out of bounds. But this is wartime, Americans are getting killed and maimed along with the innocents in Iraq, so I think it is not out of line to note that the [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Lose, Lose

It was no surprise that Illinois Supreme Court chief justice Robert Thomas won a $7 million jury verdict in a libel suit against a small Illinois daily, the Kane County Chronicle. Most libel actions are tossed out of court without going to trial, but once jurors get their hands on a case they usually favor [...]

Morton Mintz: Not a Trophy for the Press Is Atrophy of Congressional Oversight

“Congress’s oversight function has atrophied in a unitary Republican landscape,” New York Times readers were told in an Op-Ed on Nov. 12. Surely the writer was impressively credentialed: He’s Stanley Brand, a former general counsel to the House of Representatives under Speaker Tip O’Neill. But like most such critics Brand omitted a major point: The [...]

Saul Friedman: Part D May Also Stand for ‘Dumb’

One large problem with self-appointed commentators is that often they don’t know what they’re talking about, and their interviewers are equally dumb on the subject. For the right-wingers on Fox News, that may be deliberate. But in this case, I don’t think so, because I’ve heard others make the same mistake. During a Nov. 21 [...]

Morton Mintz: Insert in Friedman and Rehnquist Obits

When the famous die, news reports and commentary, no matter the length, do not always recall some of the most memorable things they’d said or advocated. Milton Friedman and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist are cases in point. Consider what the famed economist said in a January 1970 article in The New York Times Magazine: [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: If CEOs Got Paid According to Readership, Maybe They’d Try Harder

As he headed out the door for Los Angeles to take over as editor of the LA Times after a stint as managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, Jim O’Shea complained to the Wall Street Journal about how the “whole damn [newspaper] industry is focusing on the wrong thing. We’re all worried about how many [...]

Mary C. Curtis: A Timely Political Lesson

Catching glimpses of the movie musical “1776” on election eve is an inspiration and a reality check. It’s inspiring watching the Founding Fathers – or the actors playing them – struggle over the Declaration of Independence. It’s enlightening seeing these figures in a history book as flawed and feuding individuals who came together for a [...]

Morton Mintz: A Model of Reporting on Oil-Industry Profits

In an article posted recently on this Web site, I suggested that the press do a better job reporting on profits, the oil industry and the news business being my cases in point. Only after the posting did I become aware of an outstanding — and unusual — article on profits done months ago by [...]

Barry Sussman: Following Up on the 2006 Elections

Some 2006 election questions and thoughts for reporters: What about voting machines? There wasn’t any way to hold a real recount in the Virginia Senate election, where the Democrat won by three-tenths of a percentage point; there could only have been a check on whether election officials correctly added up the numbers the machines gave [...]