Ask The Polemicist

Categories: Schutze

One thing that’s so wrong with blogging is that you have to do it so fast. I am literally grabbing a cup of coffee between appointments today, but I can’t let George Rodrigue’s new post on The Dallas Morning News' Web site go unanswered until tomorrow. Many things to get to.

First: I said they had never published a story on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers critic Dr. Robert Bea, and they say they did. My Lexis-Nexis search didn’t find those wire stories, because The News doesn’t send wire stories to Nexis. I believe I already have explained and acknowledged this mistake. I believe I did that immediately.

Let me say, however, that it’s sort of pathetic for Rodrigue to brag about the fact that they ran wire stories dealing with Bea's criticisms of the Corps’s failures in New Orleans, given that these same issues are central to the Trinity River toll road debate. When I was at the Dallas Times Herald, we would have dispatched a team of reporters to New Orleans to ask the specific and narrow question: Was the Corps’ failed process in New Orleans similar in any important way to the process that has produced the Trinity Project?

Yes, Rodrigue wants to get points for having stuffed some wire copy somewhere inside the paper. No, he does not get any points for honestly and aggressively reporting the failure of the Corps to provide New Orleans with a safe flood control system and the relationship that failure may have to Dallas’ unique, some would say peculiar, plan for a flood way with a highway in it.

I did not misquote the bond proposal language. That’s a petty and unfair characterization of what I said, and George knows it. I paraphrased the bond language to illustrate the misdirection and deception in it.

The Dallas Morning News published a story arguing that voters should have known the “parkway” in the bond language was really a limited access high-speed highway because the term “toll road" appeared in some Dallas Morning News stories. Did The News ever examine the question of whether the ballot language was deceptive because it described a toll road as a parkway? Never. It set out to prove the contrary. Talk about mangling the facts to fit your thesis.

I am running to my next appointment. I don’t know if I will return to this flame war or not. Let me leave you with a certain bottom line here: The editorial page of The News deserves credit for having published diverse views on this. In the past, such News reporters as Victoria Loe Hicks have done good work on the Trinity story.

But now, when the issue comes to a crunch, what the reader can’t miss is that not a single writer, columnist, editorialist or reporter at the paper has had the balls to produce anything that would run against the grain of the paper’s basic position in favor of the road. Not one. That’s the real story here.

The people I hear from are outraged by The News' coverage of this question. I think that’s what George Rodrigue is hearing, and that is what really inspires these posts by him. That, and he’s defending his troops, which I admire. But, George, if you want to do your troops a real favor, let them go out and do some real reporting for a change.

Oh, and George: What about John Oppedahl’s take on your reporter's e-mail? --Jim Schutze


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