Watchdog Blog

Archive for March, 2009

Morton Mintz: Conservatism in the Era of Gingrich and Bush

Standard dictionary synonyms for “conservative”—cautious, constant, controlled, conventional, middle-of-the-road, not extreme, sober, stable, traditional—are a poor fit for the many public figures who claim to be conservatives but are in fact radicals or opportunists. Newt Gingrich is a prominent example. Look at what he said on Feb. 29: The New York Times this morning said, [...]

Bob Giles: More Applicants but Fewer from Newspapers

CURATOR’S CORNER Attached to the personal statement in the file of a Nieman Fellowship applicant for the class of 2010 is this note of explanation concerning his “evolving situation.” He had been offered a buyout from his company, he said, and had decided to accept it. He and his family would be moving back to [...]

Mary C. Curtis: A Nieman Memory of John Hope Franklin

When I heard about the death of John Hope Franklin, I grabbed my copy of “Mirror to America,” his 2005 autobiography. The blurb on the cover reads: “The twentieth-century fight for civil rights told in the first-person singular by a preeminent American historian.” An understatement. For 94 years, John Hope Franklin lived the history he [...]

Dan Froomkin: That’s Entertainment!

Some reporters covering President Obama’s first high-tech town hall yesterday apparently found it boring. Which raises the question: What excites the press corps? Well, top of the list would be itself, of course. We’ll start with Frank James, who liveblogged the town hall for Tribune’s Washington bureau. Ten minutes in, he wrote: “The second question [...]

Morton Mintz: Different Approaches to Common Problems

A Swedish man “convicted in the 1999 hate murder of a trade union worker…  was paroled after serving 6 1/2 years of an 11-year sentence,” the New York Times reported the other day. That was “a typical penalty for murder in Sweden.” Eleven years for murder? Surely a reasonably curious reader would want to know [...]

Mary C. Curtis: Urban League Issues a Challenge

Now is not the time to be reminded of Charles Dickens or the French Revolution, it would seem. Life in 2009 America is already plenty bleak. Yet Marc Morial, National Urban League president and CEO, channeled “A Tale of Two Cities” to summarize the league’s State of Black America 2009 Report. It is “the best [...]

Carolyn Lewis: In Defense of Our Laughing President

Poor President Obama. All he did was laugh a couple of times during his Sixty-Minutes interview, and he was pummeled by media critics. How DARE the man even smile in the thick of the crises encircling him? He did explain that his laughter reflected a kind of “gallows humor,” a necessary relief from the burdens [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: It’s Only Money

Hundreds of individuals and institutions hoodwinked by Bernard L. Madoff lost tens of billions of dollars. As the saying goes, it’s only money. Lives have been affected by Madoff’s scam, but only a couple are known to have been lost, by suicide. Destruction of human life is incalculably more devastating than money down the drain. [...]

Mary C. Curtis: Still Fighting

In the photograph, lawyer Julius Chambers stands in the rubble of his fire-bombed office. His firm is in the middle of more than 30 desegregation lawsuits before courts in North Carolina. And the Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools case – which would be a landmark win for school desegregation and the law firm – is pending [...]

Carolyn Lewis: Blaming the Victims in the AIG Scandal

Crikey! Who are the dunderheads who shaped the lead editorial in the March 18 Washington Post? Pack them off to the woodshed. With growing outrage across the country, in Congress and the White House, over the obscene bonuses given to top dogs at AIG, the Post writers complain about the complainers. They are called “demagogic [...]