Watchdog Blog

Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

Herb Strentz: Not Many GOP Voters in Maine, Either

You get insights into presidential campaign news coverage from the darndest places — a pharmacy, for example. I picked up three prescriptions, all packaged for me in one bag. When I opened the bag at home, I noticed one prescription was different from what I had ordered — they gave me something called doxycycline instead [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Of Socialists and Extreme Moderates

The winner of the Republican presidential nominating battle is unknown at this writing. It’s not too soon, though, to declare the loser: the English language. When, in politician-speak “moderate” becomes an epithet or President Obama morphs into a “socialist,” language has lost its moorings and meaning. At one time “moderate” had entirely favorable connotations. It [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: The Iraq War, Colin Powell, and the Press

No retrospective on the Iraq war would be complete without reference to the part played by Colin Powell in convincing the country to go to war. Public opinion about the war was lukewarm until Powell spoke at the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. He gave such a boffo performance, complete with convincing visual aids, [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Why So Slow in Reporting on Gingrich?

What took so long? Why, many months into the presidential campaign, with Newt Gingrich at or near the top in the preference polls, did the press not raise questions sooner about his character flaws and money-grubbing ways? Connie Bruck and the New Yorker waved warning flags about Gingrich many years ago, on Oct. 9, 1996, [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Much Ado About Very Little in Iowa

Republican presidential candidates are flooding into Iowa attempting to reach and influence the tiny sliver of GOP voters who actually will express a candidate preference at the much-hyped Jan. 3 “first-in-the- nation” Iowa caucuses. If past experience is a guide, the press will go ga-ga over the event, but most Iowa Republicans will have nothing [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Rick Scott, Frills, and Steve Jobs

Rick Scott, Florida’s first-term governor, recently gave students in his state free vocational guidance. His message: study useful subjects like science and engineering instead of wasting taxpayer money on frills like anthropology not likely to have a pay-off in the job market. Scott’s single-minded focus on bottom line measures reminded me of the satirical essay [...]

Barry Sussman: ‘A textbook example of dogged reporting’

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is running an extraordinary three-part series on city police violating the laws they were sworn to uphold, ranging from minor offenses to sexual assault, and often getting off with a slap on the wrist or, sometimes, no punishment. The series started Oct. 23; a second article was to appear Oct. 26 [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Iraq, a spectacular failure in many ways

As American troops prepare to head for the exit in Iraq, pundits prepare to critique the war. Let me contribute my two cents worth: the war was a spectacular failure for the vaunted American system of checks and balances. The only checks in evidence were those written to pay for the trillion or so dollars [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Did Editors’ Personal Views Lead to Such Poor Iraq War Run-up Coverage?

Bill Keller, who stepped down recently as head of the news operation of the New York Times, wrote a candid piece about this country’s invasion of Iraq for the Sept. 11 Times magazine that deserves more attention than it received. Keller labels the attack on Iraq “a monumental blunder,” and he is as unsparing of [...]

Herb Strentz: Iowa Politics and Press, Bachmann, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Inquiring minds may want to know how Iowans feel now that Rep. Michele Bachmann has dropped sharply in the GOP presidential derby. After all, the Hawkeye state often fashions itself as a presidential kingmaker, and it was Iowans — well, right-wing, evangelistic Iowans — who had crowned Bachmann as a frontrunner for the Republican Party’s [...]