Tuesday, January 31, 2006

McBride Forgets, Apparently

Keeping Bill's blog up to the founder's standards is a big responsibility, so I would be remiss if I didn't point out the following apparent contradiction over there on the right side of the Blogosphere:

On Saturday, January 28th, Jessica McBride posted an item on her blog with this title:

If you have to use the word "apparently", people, you don't have the story; will you now report on Doyle's strategist this hard?

McBride was objecting to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about a free NBA basketball ticket that is at the center of a political fracas involving Mark Graul, campaign manager for Mark Green, member of Congress and Republican gubernatorial candidate. She also called for equally tough reporting on Doyle campaign strategist Rich Judge. Here are the few graphs: the quotation marks are mine, to separate the posted material from my remarks.

"From Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hatchet job on Mark Graul, strategist for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green (a story that had 8 times as many words as the paper's original news brief on Travelgate), comes this lead (*my emphasis in bold):

"Mark Graul, campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Mark Green, Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor, apparently took an improper gift from a lobbyist while working as the congressman's top aide.

"If you've got to use the word "apparently" in the lead, it means you don't have the goods. And if you don't have the goods, it's highly unfair to write a lead like this. I know this trick; I worked at this newspaper. You don't stick the word "apparently" in a lead unless you aren't quite sure what you are saying is true, or you know you can't quite prove it. So you want to imply it as heavily as you can, but you soften it. If you aren't quite sure what you are saying is true, it's highly unfair to hang a big story on it in such a dramatic fashion."

OK. The blog goes on...Anyway: I get the point. I worked at the paper, too. Which is why the lead sentence from the following story stored in the paper's online archive caught my attention. Again, the quotation marks are mine.

Executive sought details in August

By JESSICA MCBRIDE and STEVE SCHULTZE of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2002

"County Executive F. Thomas Ament apparently knew details of his sweetened pension at least by August - two months earlier than he has previously acknowledged."

'Nuff said, apparently.