Watchdog Blog

Archive for August, 2011

Barry Sussman: Reporting Is Getting Better and Worse at the Same Time

I got a few questions from a Norwegian journalist asking my reflections on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The questions tend to be a little lofty; as the writer, Tore Saevik, noted, “It is possible to write books about several of them.” But they all are good questions, so I took a shot at them. [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: I Remember It Perfectly, Officer

In downtown Des Moines several years ago I witnessed a woman fatally injured by a car as she crossed the street. I was an ideal witness. I had an unobstructed view of the accident, which had happened directly in front of me. But I learned later that, when police questioned me, the only accurate things [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Rick Perry, the Handsome Candidate

Looks matter. They matter particularly in electoral politics. Would Rick Perry be anywhere near the top in polls if he were bald, potbellied, stooped, shrimpy, acned and spoke with a lisp? A lot of people seem willing to forgive or overlook oddball views if the speaker looks good. The two women receiving the most attention [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Nocera, Brisbane Should Read Times v. Sullivan

I did a double-take when I saw that New York Times columnist Joe Nocera had apologized for harsh criticism of the Tea Party in a column and then a quadruple take upon reading that the Times public editor, Arthur S. Brisbane, thought Nocera’s apology “reflected well on him and, I believe, on The Times, too.” [...]

Herb Strentz: The Iowa Straw Poll, Made Fun of Everywhere

DES MOINES—If we were to take the advice of Scottish poet Robert Burns, the Iowa GOP Straw Poll would be toast — finally put out of its news media-induced merriment and ending the misery of those who take democracy seriously. You know, as though self-governance were something to nourish and value, not something to debase [...]

Barry Sussman: If News Corp Is Clean, Wouldn’t Murdoch’s Lawyers Say So?

Rupert Murdoch is back under attack in London. The New York Times reports charges that bugging of telephones was widely discussed at the News of the World, despite years of denials by chief editors and owners. Also, officials at a law firm said it has not given the News of the World “a clean bill [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Bush Boycott in Iowa

On Saturday August 13th, I cleared the deck of distractions and sat glued to C-span’s coverage of the Iowa GOP’s fundraiser in Ames, the extravaganza better known as the Iowa Straw Poll. I didn’t want to miss a word. The word I especially didn’t want to miss was “Bush.” How, I wondered, would this highly [...]

Herb Strentz: All You Need to Know About the Iowa Straw Poll, and Then Some

Here is a thought to ponder as you read and hear about the results of the Iowa Straw Poll: “Most of what is in the paper comes from irrational people, but becomes rational because it filters through rational reporters and copy editors and maybe a rational editor, if you’ve got one.” Those words came to [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Bastardizing George Gallup’s Work

It’s difficult to know what is more absurd: the actual description of the Republican so-called straw poll this weekend in Ames, Ia., or the seriousness with which the press is taking the stunt. George Will spent a recent column giving credence to the Ames goings-on by discussing it dead-pan even while conceding the “zaniness of [...]

Herb Strentz: Des Moines Register Ends Anonymity for Online Posts

DES MOINES–The Des Moines Register will no longer allow people to post anonymous online comments about items published in the paper. On Aug. 7, Julie Thompson, the paper’s digital editor, wrote that effective August 11th, “You will have to have a Facebook account to comment, which will eliminate use of anonymous screen names.” For years, [...]