Wednesday, March 09, 2011

David Broder Crosses the Divide a Final Time

R.I.P. to One of the Biggest of the Big in Political Reporting

I never quite knew how I felt about David Broder's dual role as both a reporter and columnist. You could see the results of his indefatigable, wear-out-the-shoes approach to political reporting for decades on the front page of the Washington Post.
At the same time, Broder, who died today at age 81 from diabetes complications, wrote a column twice a week that was a lot more than his emptying what was left from his notebook. Potentially, the column could compromise the integrity of his reporting. This wasn't supposed to be the way you did things in the news business.
However, Broder proved time and again he was worthy of an exception. Post colleague Dan Balz showed why in a glowing tribute. Balz unhesitatingly called him "the best political reporter of his or any other generation. He defined the beat as it had not been defined before. He spent a lifetime instructing succeeding generations of reporters - never by dictate but always by example."
That's not just the stuff of eulogies. It's fair to say that anyone who froze their butt off covering the New Hampshire primary or lost track of which state fair they were at during the height of a presidential campaign would likely agree.

Some Fresh Air at NPR (Not the Terry Gross Variety)

After Vivian Schiller Walks the Plank, Now What?

NPR Prexy Vivian Schiller barely survived Juan Williams.

But Ron Schiller (no relation)? Nah.

After it was revealed yesterday that outgoing NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller was O'Keefed (as in conservative stingmeister James O'Keefe) and taped saying the Tea Party was racist and that NPR should cut the umbliical cord of federal funding (a humongous no-no), Vivian Schiller was ousted from her job, according to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. The official word is she "resigned" and that the board accepted that decision with "deep regret." Yada, yada, yada.
Even if Vivian had nothing to do with Ron except a common last name, enough was most decidedly enough. The buck had to stop here, a view that Schiller concurred with in a New York Times interview, especially when the federal bucks are in danger of stopping as well.

NPR needed someone to clean up this mess pronto, and the board rightly decided that Vivian Schiller was lacking in the janitorial sciences. Now there's a big hole to fill at a watershed moment for NPR (the network, not the news operation, which still does top-flight work).

Finding a suitable candidate won't be the hard part. The hard part is identifying a suitable candidate who will want to take on what will be in the short- and mid-term a thankless job.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Madison Police Goon Squads Not What They Appear to Be

Lawmaker Says Cops Really Didn't Go Wilding When They Saw Him Walk Through the Door

At first blush, the item on Yahoo News looks rather ominous: a Democratic lawmaker in Wisconsin is tackled by police as he tries to enter the Capital in Madison
Cops have been trying to limit access, but you'd think they'd let in someone who actually works there. Apparently not, as the raw footage captured by WISN-TV shows.
So, it's easy to leap to the conclusion that Republican Gov. Scott Walker has unleashed the goon squads on the opposition after getting really, really cheesed off about the budget standoff. Not so fast.
The Yahoo item actually spends most of its column inches giving a broader brush of the Wisconsin impasse and actually spends precious little time focusing on tackled House member Nick Milroy.
So, if you want to find out more (and you should), there's a bit of a surprise when you go to the WISN site, where a follow-up story quotes Milroy as saying he was "aggressive in trying to enter the Capitol, and they were aggressive in trying to stop me."
"It may have looked violent on the video, but I had a puffy jacket on."
Double oh.
Now, questions do need to be answered as to why police turned him away after he showed I.D. So far, radio silence. So, Milroy, who took off the puffy jacket for a news conference, will have to do.
"I wasn't putting anybody to a test. It's been a long couple of weeks for law enforcement officers; it's been a long couple of weeks for me."
As Milroy told TPM, he doesn't blame the officer who took him down. Instead, he blames Walker and whomever made the decision to disable the Capital's keycards.
He has plenty of company.