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Watchdog Blog

To encourage probing journalism, one commentary at a time

Last Build Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 16:21:38 +0000


‘We Probably Could Have Saved Ourselves’

Fri, 24 Aug 2012 14:09:42 +0000

Today is this website’s last day. I’ve already said goodbye – on Monday – but since then I’ve gotten some nice, even moving emails from folks and I’d like to share a few of them. I’m leaving out the names of the writers. “Hi Barry–You should feel as proud as a peacock for the quality [...]

Iowa as the Center of the Political Universe

Tue, 14 Aug 2012 17:32:23 +0000

DES MOINES – Everyone wants a turn in the spotlight. Small states and smaller towns in particular position themselves as, say, the World’s Sock Capital (Fort Payne, AL), Artichoke Capital (Castroville, CA) Paddlefish Capital (Fort Thompson, SD). Indeed, you could excite spouse and family by saying next year’s vacation will be to world capitals. Even [...]

Why Not a Few Golds for NBC

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 03:13:06 +0000

For all the brickbats tossed NBC’s way for its tape-delayed coverage of Olympic highlights, there certainly were a few gold medals for the network to deservedly sink its teeth into — in the cliché shot that photographers demand . This assessment comes with some caveats and idiosyncrasies in that (a) I did not faithfully attend [...]

Want Some Votes, Mitt? Here’s How.

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 18:31:06 +0000

Here is what Mitt Romney should say without further delay: I hereby make public all hitherto unpublished information about my income taxes. It was a lapse of judgment on my part not to have done this sooner. I am proud to pay taxes. As the press will learn when it examines the records I have [...]

Time to Cut Back on Violence, Not Just Analyze It

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 22:04:00 +0000

In the wake of the killings at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Bob Schieffer on the CBS evening news wondered what the killer’s motive possibly could be. And in today’s Des Moines Register, a headline over a front-page column said we had to stop this cycle of “retribution.” Motive? Retribution? Is the press that clueless? [...]

International Monitors Needed for U.S. Elections?

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 13:50:31 +0000

Not long ago, the emphasis was on encouraging voter turnout. Nowadays, it’s on shutting down access to the polls. The efforts have become so numerous that New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice has taken to keeping a running tally of the restrictions. A recent count: • “At least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the [...]

You Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is All About, So Say So

Mon, 30 Jul 2012 15:21:33 +0000

Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about  voter fraud? No, of course not. And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again. In Pennsyvlania, [...]

Big Questions — Not Just Leaks — About National Security

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 19:19:52 +0000

Two recent books about national security have incited an overwrought kerfuffle about leaks. But what they should have done is provoke a vigorous debate about the startling policies they describe, and the many things that remain unknown. I reviewed the two books — “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power“, [...]

A Criminal Justice Problem in 1958, and in 2012 Also

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 16:34:51 +0000

The New York Times reminded its readers recently of the enormous part played by guilty pleas in the criminal justice system – 97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases are decided by pleas rather than trials. The Times called the statistics “stunning.” The Times and its readers might be even more [...]

The Hypocrisy of Division 1 Sports

Wed, 18 Jul 2012 23:48:22 +0000

Like Captain Renault in the movie Casablanca, sportswriters and the NCAA are “shocked, shocked” by the revelations that continue to tumble out of the child-molestation scandal at Penn State. How could such a travesty unfold in the billion dollar business of NCAA Inc.? Judging from coverage and commentary it’s as though no one who is [...]