The Norman Transcript

Editorials

March 12, 2013

Gatherer vs. newsmaker

NORMAN — The subject of newsmaker-news gatherer relationships became a national debate when eminent journalist Bob Woodward took body blows from the White House and others when he had the audacity to write that it was President Barack Obama who first put forward the idea of sequesterization.

Woodward said nothing that others hadn’t said, but Obama’s top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, sent him a now-famous email that warned, “I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Whether or not the email qualifies as a threat, the whole episode has thrown some very interesting light onto the high-stakes journalism played in the rarefied air that Woodward — who became a household name with his Watergate reporting — breathes.

Most reporters and columnists are only rarely “abused,” and only then in comparably extreme cases. But in Washington, we are told, entire divisions of pit bulls are employed to pounce whenever a report surfaces that goes against the desired spin.

The Obama White House received a brushback from the Woodward incident, perhaps justified. Reporters have charged that the Obama administration is particularly aggressive at picking on the messengers of contrary reporting. Then again, insiders also say attacks come with the territory and with every presidential administration.

And, certainly, those of us in the media would be wise not to protest too much at push-back from those we report on. We can take a lesson directly from Woodward, who was once admired enough to have inspired many a journalistic career.

But since the White House flap materialized, he has been roundly ridiculed. Some have called him a has-been who’s lost touch with reality.

There is an important lesson here for all journalists. Public officials are fair game and so, too, are the people who report about them.

— The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • Repairs still needed

    Lawmakers once again kicked the can down the road on making needed repairs to the state Capitol. By a 62-34 vote, they turned down a Senate-approved plan to authorize up to $160 million in bonds to repair the nearly century-old building....

    April 24, 2014

  • Can’t have it both ways

    Local sheriff Joe Lester wasn’t among the state sheriffs and lawmakers protesting the removal of state prisoners from county jails this week. The sheriffs, some of whom have protested by having too many state prisoners in their ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Help for rural America

    A drive through rural parts of the Southwest can be depressing. For sale and for rent signs are prevalent. Businesses along main streets have closed. Unless they are close to a major interstate highway, many communities are in decline....

    April 23, 2014

  • Embarrassment to Oklahoma, again

    The standardized testing that was halted in local schools Monday is another embarrassment to the state. The same thing happened a year ago and Oklahoma gave them another chance....

    April 23, 2014

  • Time to move on; exit of Sebelius is right choice

    From the moment it became obvious that healthcare.gov wasn’t working, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius became damaged goods for the White House....

    April 23, 2014

  • Happy birthday to us

    We don’t expect any cake and that many candles might be dangerous but today is the unofficial 125th birthday of Norman....

    April 22, 2014

  • Dancing forward

    The official motto for Mike Fowler’s chairmanship of the Norman Chamber of Commerce is “Moving Norman Forward.” But after Thursday night’s annual banquet, the sub-theme should be, “Let’s Dance, Norman.” More than 500 chamber members and ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Local control or not?

    Oklahoma lawmakers are a fickle bunch when it comes to issues of local control. Sometimes they want it and other times they do not....

    April 19, 2014

  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014