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June 19, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Glen Justice of the New York Times Edition)

Paul McLeary of CJR Daily is annoyed:

CJR Daily: Archives: This morning the New York Times' Glen Justice... writes that:

Expenses began increasing in 2004, when Mr. DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee, and three of his political operatives were indicted in Texas. They face charges that include money laundering and raising illegal corporate contributions for a political action committee created by Mr. DeLay. The prosecutor, a Democrat, has not ruled out charges against Mr. DeLay

The prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, is indeed a Democrat, and an elected official -- a relevant part of the story... his record shows that he has prosecuted far more Democrats than Republicans in his 27-year tenure as Travis County, Texas, District Attorney.

The Christian Science Monitor pointed this out in December 2004, writing that 'Earle has prosecuted 12 Democrats and three Republicans' during his tenure. Earle... told Lesley Stahl of CBS's 60 Minutes... '15 cases involving elected officials, that my office has prosecuted. ... Of the 15, 12 were Democrats; three were Republican.'... [T]he Times is hardly alone in fingering Earle as a Democrat, while omitting his record.

In the final analysis, a little perspective is in order. One sentence in a news story isn't going to tilt the case one direction or the other, but significant omissions like this may well influence the court of public opinion -- and they don't reflect well on the basic reporting skills of those involved.

So does Glen Justice lack basic reporting skills? Or does he think that hinting that Ronnie Earle is on a positive witch hunt will gain him more cooperation from administration sources in the future? I would genuinely like to know which it is.

Posted by DeLong at June 19, 2005 10:17 PM