Friday, January 30

Dean has been better 

Latest Patricia Wilson, abbreviated

perfunctory campaign stops ... floundering…dismissing… fallen front-runner… struggling to keep his campaign afloat…unemployed …a black, an immigrant and a Hispanic at his hotel …not scheduled to return …not advertising …hard choices… dismal showings … forced him to change strategy… reeling campaign …looking down the road … for a lifeline…high-flying campaign has plummeted…the former lobbyist and White House aide tapped to rescue Dean's campaign… cost cutting measures… dwindling resources …not advertising anywhere at the moment. ...struggling to pay its bills and has asked staff to defer their paychecks for two weeks. Other staff are being moved or let go to reduce operating costs. Dean has said only that the campaign is "not broke" .

Shorter version : Get me off this campaign. They can't afford to treat us like princesses anymore.

Thursday, January 29


Wilson laces a story with representative quotes from Dr. Dean

Yo ! Ms. Wilson, over here 

Here's the text af what Dean is saying in Michigan today. Is it possible that you could actually quote part of what he says, instead of giving us one more story where you figure out another clever way to talk about his "campaign"? The "hopscotched" bit was cute, but Dean's words are eloquent.

Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire have cast their ballots. The 2004 election is underway.

The election won’t be decided by pundits or polls. That’s not the way our Constitution works. Democracy leaves the last word to the people, and the people are going to decide – in primaries and caucuses across this country in coming months.

I began this campaign over two years ago, hoping to talk about issues: health care, investing in children, balancing budgets.

I was outraged at the direction of the country – but what struck me quickly was how deeply my outrage was shared by the people. Outrage not just at the President but at the Democrats in Washington for failing to stand up to George Bush and for what we believe.

Our economy is at risk. Our international reputation is in tatters. The fabric of our society is being ripped apart.

These aren’t petty political differences to be papered over. This is a fundamental disagreement over the very nature of what it means to be an American.

Wilson foundering 

Republican political advisers today took credit for "successfully tarring Dean as an angry liberal", as they figure out how to slam Kerry.
Here's how Patricia Wilson contributes to the effort to bury Dean in her report on Dean's campaign shake-up. Guess she didn't get the "buyers remorse" memo.

Dean is "struggling" after "crushing losses " with an effort .."try to steady his slide from one-time front-runner"

Steady his slide ? God, Patricia, couldn't you at least manage to say "reverse his slide"

"The turmoil in the Dean campaign followed a devastating 20-point loss to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in Iowa on Jan. 19 and a televised concession speech that turned into a fist-pumping, bellowing speech"
…He managed to eke out second place in Tuesday's primary, finishing 13 points behind Kerry. Aides had said he needed to close the gap to single digits to right his foundering campaign

Bullshit. A statement like that without attribution is just plain crappy journalism. And "devastating" ?

… Political analysts said back-to-back double-digit losses were not good enough for a man who dominated the race through the summer and fall and that Dean needed to prove he could win a race soon, preferably on Tuesday when seven states hold primaries or caucuses.

If you're not out working like Nedra, picking up quotes and doing your job, at least don't give us this "Political analysts said" construction.

Tuesday, January 27

Kerry, Dean, Bush - Win, Place, Show 

New Hampshire has one of those open primaries, where you can pretty much vote for anyone in any primary. Pending final results, but it looks like in total votes, the finish is Kerry first, Dean 2nd, Bush 3rd. Patricia Wilson reports on Dean's solid second place finish, but neglects to compare Republican candidate George Bush's "disastrous third place finish" with Dean's similar setback in Iowa.

Bush's surrogate in New Hampshire today, Robert Novak, was accused of assaulting a bystander who had the temerity to question the right-wing pundit on some of the charges swirling around his release of classified documents. Novak's publication of information on a CIA agent has been characterized as treason, since it may have endangered the lives of American operatives. The gaffe-prone Novak's prickly temper and red-faced, screaming outburst have led critics to question his ability to continue as one of America's least-respected media figures.

Although criminal assault charges have been filed against Novak by the victim, prosecutors have yet to announce a schedule for the customary perp-walk.

UPDATE Final numbers from New Hampshire

Kerry: 85,649 -30.4%
Dean: 58,762 -20.8
Bush: 53,864 -19.1
Clark: 28,105 -10.0
Edwards: 27,224 -9.6
Lieberman: 19,340- 6.9
Other 9,229 3.3


One of the lessons we can learn over time is the difference between Wilson's immediate observations on January 19th to the changing descriptions as the media storm whirled.

January 19th

"His voice raspy, Dean, who finished a stunning third in the first contest of the 2004 White House race after once being one of the favorites in Iowa, shouted to supporters, "We are not only going to New Hampshire," then hoarsely listed at least a dozen states that hold contests in the next few months."

January 22

"Dean is trying to get past the arm-waving, screaming speech he delivered after finishing third in Monday's Iowa caucuses ...
His performance has been widely lampooned on the Internet, and late-night talk shows, but it could also be a serious problem for his campaign, reinforcing his image among some as an "angry" candidate who does not have the temperament to be president. ...
Dean has been dogged by the fist-pumping, sleeve-rolling, shrieking remarks. He has been asked about it in more than a dozen radio and satellite television interviews."

Monday, January 26


In an article centered on dirty tricks, Wilson sneaks in the unrelated recycling of an RNC attack

"Neither Dean nor his campaign immediately pointed the finger at any particular opponent. Late last year, Dean got into hot water by perpetuating a rumor he had heard that Bush knew in advance of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks"

Sunday, January 25

Skirt tails 

Wilson on Dean, his wife, and other candidates and their wives in New Hampshire.

A light-hearted, affectionate article, again so much better than AP's version.

Saturday, January 24

Horse race stuff 

Wilson from New Hampshire

Some dubious constructions, like this one, "A doctor who has no hands-on foreign policy experience and whose campaign was built on an anti-war, anti-establishment message". I hope AP will start qualifying every quote by Kerry or Edwards on health-care with "a senator, who has no hands-on medical experience".

And this "reinforcing Dean's image among some as an "angry" candidate who does not have the temperament to be president". What "some" is she quoting there, other than the media itself, echoing the official talking points of Rove and his messengers.

But hey, it's been a long week, and Ms. Wilson has to file something. Overall she's been consistently best of the national reporters on the campaign for a fortnight. Hope she wraps a scarf around her neck.

Friday, January 23

Dead Solid Wilson again 

Wow, here's a journalist reporting on what a candidate is saying, with solid background, relevant accurate facts, no horse race stuff, no media spin. Expanded for USA today where it's even better.

"In a book about Paul O'Neill's tenure as Treasury secretary, Greenspan was quoted as saying Bush's 2001 tax cuts — if implemented without "triggers" to cancel them if budget deficits swelled — would be "irresponsible fiscal policy."

However, a Fed spokesman last week said Greenspan has denied saying this. He has, however, raised the issue of triggers in the past.

"In recognition of the uncertainties in the economic and budget outlook, it is important that any long-term tax plan or spending initiative ... be phased in," Greenspan said in testimony Feb. 13, 2001, a time when government forecasts envisioned mounting budget surpluses for years to come.

"Conceivably, it could include provisions that in some way would limit surplus-reducing actions if specified targets for the budget surplus and federal debt were not satisfied," he said."

Note how Wilson does what most American journalists don't do - takes Greenspan's "denial" and actually goes back to Greenspan's record to show his public statements on the issue.

Props, kudos, accolades. Find me a thesaurus so I can keep complimenting one reporter for one day for doing a notable job of outstanding journalism.

It's amazing that we live in a world where USA Today outshines the NY Times and the Washington Post for the accuracy and the depth of their coverage.

AP Scoops Reuters 

On the infinite hall of mirrors.

AP reports on blogs, including the Wilgoren Watch. Coming soon, reports in Wired and on NPR regarding the Adopt-a-journalist movement. Yes, the American media has gone from reporting on itself to reporting on reporting on itself. And I'm reporting on that.

I'm dizzy. I seem to remember that there was some political stuff going on somewhere in America, but I can no longer remember what it was.

Thursday, January 22

It's not the anger anymore. It's the rant 

Wilson today. Compared to trash like this over-the-top LA Times piece, Wilson is the most professional of the national journalists today.

As to the whole growing fascination and embellisment of the media pack and the rant, here's Rittenhouse Review

It’s just the latest of the media’s effort to steer their collective coverage away from the hard stuff, like issues, issues they have proved time and again to be incapable of understanding, in order to focus on such fun Alpha-girl trivialities as the candidates’ appearances, personalities, “character,” and relationships, as if the presidential aspirants were running for Prom King or Prom Queen"

Dean is quoted, "I'm going to become a frog if I keep this up" , neglecting to mention that only candidates who kiss Nedra Pickler are magically transformed into amphibians.


Later version includes Al Sharpton's jibe and Judy Dean's TV appearance. Wilson gets good marks for continuing to use actual quotes, including many from Dean. She could have done without the word "hysteria".

The question remains, why is this still in the news cycle ?

Wednesday, January 21

"Railing" in "measured tones" 

Wilson today, while significantly better than AP's Pickler, is still almost deliberately misrepresenting Dean's Taking Back Our Democracy statement today, and the other substantive comments in his remarks.

Here's BlogforAmerica's summary of Dean's remarks.

"Can't we get beyond the cynical pandering of both parties that promise people everything and don't stand up for what is good for the American people in the long term?" Dean asked, but then looked carefully at the structural reasons the public debate has been flattened.

He spoke about the different pressures threatening our democracy: big money, condensed media, electronic voting machines and the mistrust they engender, and aggressive political gerrymandering. For each of these he talked about specific things we could do to bring our country back to its democratic roots. He launched his vision of creating a National Commission on Democracy, made up of people (not politicians) from all spectrums, people who would examine cutting edge ideas, who would be charged with constantly exploring new ways to bring ourselves back to our democratic roots.

"This is a two-way campaign," he said. He talked about how when he makes a speech, you critique it, and he always learns from your criticisms. The country must be built on that same kind of feedback, where we are learning from, instead of disconnected from, the people who make up our democracy.

Isn't that a hell of a lot more interesting than the Reuters story, not to mention a more accurate report?

Tuesday, January 20

Revised Atkins Diet 

Less red meat for Dean, updated to drop Dean to "White House hopeful" from "Presidential hopeful".

I'm really appreciating Wilson's finely-tuned sentences, like this one, where she comes to terms with Dean's caucus night screed. So much better than Wilgoren.

His fire can translate as anger. On Monday night, he literally shouted out his speech to supporters in Iowa, at times reaching screaming pitch as he vowed to fight on.

Underdog in New Hampshire 

Wilson updates from Dean's early AM Portsmouth rally.

A long night, as BlogforAmerica reports "and then Joan Jett took the stage while an exhausted-looking press corps wearily sat down to file their stories".

On the ground we have an incredibly vivid live report.

Monday, January 19

Kerry come from behind story 

A flattering portrait of Kerry on the night of his biggest victory. Wilson's prose shines in this passage,

Kerry's Iowa campaign centered around several promises: Leadership without power sharing by special interests, health insurance for all as good as the best available, a technology hunt to end dependence on oil so U.S. servicemen will no longer be held "hostage" to it and an inclusive policy on Iraq that will restore America's role as a world leader.

Bush, he said, has pursued a reckless and ill-conceived foreign policy and ignored a host of domestic problems ranging from an unfair tax code to vanishing jobs and children deprived of before and after school programs

Dean 3rd in Iowa 

Wilson straightforward on "body blow" to Dean's campaign in Iowa. If anything, she's charitable in not painting a more accurate picture of Dean's speech to his supporters tonight.

Sunday, January 18

Dr. Mrs. Dean to Iowa 

Patricia Wilson on Judith Dean's surprise visit to Iowa. Have to compliment her on finally getting the hockey dad angle into a story, "Dean calls his wife every day, often from his campaign plane. He tries to get home to Burlington at least four times a month and hates to miss his son Paul's ice hockey games."

Meanwhile, Nedra Pickler has clearly returned to her mangling form on the same story. Nedra can't quite get one correct quote from a five-sentence statement. Mrs. Dean said,
"I wanted to come here today and say thank you to the people of Iowa for being so kind and gracious to my husband -- Howard Dean"
Nedra's twisted version, "I wanted to come today, I wanted to say thank you to Iowa and to support my husband for president, Howard Dean" . Next week I hear there will be a new Adopt-a-Journalist blog devoted just to Nedra - What a Pickler.

Carter & Dean at services 

Wilson delivers a good piece of wire-service work again. I had a chance to view the Carter/Dean press conference, and this piece captures it well.

The obvious question is why Wilson feels it necessary to replay the fact-esque "Dean can't tell one testament from the other" wingnut obsession. That this was reported to begin with was a "gotcha" artifact of journalism, where a misstatement in a casual conversation with the press is played out with more gusto than the outright fabrications in the last State of the Union Address.

AP manages the same story without a dig. Further AP coverage includes the Job reference without the Picklerism.

Saturday, January 17

Dead solid Wilson today 

Patricia Wilson lets Dean do the talking today with four quotes from the candidate himself. Still process-oriented, but a huge improvement over the stories that state the conventional wisdom of the media as fact, or cite unnamed "critics" or "opponents". Good crisp writing.

Friday, January 16

Groundgame Day 

Two busloads of reporters following Dean. Today they're all writing the groundgame day story. If they don't write the "now it's all about who can get their troops to the caucus" story, or if Dean sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of caucus.

Dean's sweater is new and blue, his bus was used by Aretha Franklin and the Four Tops, Truman's name comes up frequently.

I saw snippets of his Newton speech live. It didn't seem like Dean "ditched his stump speech". But hey, Wilson was there, on one of the buses. She can tell us what the campaign spent for butterscotch and chocolate sundaes for the press. Maybe it's that Patricia Wilson's heard the stump speech too many times, so there's never any reason to quote Dean on issues.

On the signal to noise ratio scale, today's Wilson is all noise, no signal.

Thursday, January 15

G'bye to Moseley Braun 

Another highly professional piece from Patricia Wilson today, later update here . You can compare it with Nedra Pickler's longer take, the New York Times more intimate piece, which describes Moseley Braun as "eloquent" and has more inside details of the Dean endorsement negotiations. The Washington Post, integrates this into their daily Iowa story.
In her update, Wilson takes the first sentence of Braun's endorsement, "I am here today to thank those Iowans who were prepared to stand for me in Monday's caucuses and ask that you stand instead for Howard Dean" Pickler reaches down a sentence, "Gov. Dean has the energy to inspire the American people, to break the cocoon of fear that envelopes us and empowers President Bush and his entourage from the extreme right-wing,".

Wednesday, January 14

Dean on Latin America 

Patricia Wilson solid today covering Dean's comments on South America. Good lead, nice quotes, a few background sentences. Reuters reported on Bush's Mexico trip including this money quote "he is now seeking support from Hispanic voters for his re-election bid this year, and is trying to win back allies in an increasingly troublesome region. It will be no easy task.", Reuters did much better than this snarky piece from the Washington Post. For more on special relationships.

Tuesday, January 13

More Reuters campaign coverage 

When political correspondent John Whiteside takes over, and Patricia Wilson is out of the picture, we see Reuters delivering much more traditional coverage, without the emotive adjectivies and regurgitation of the RNC talking points. Here, and here.

It's still mostly horse-race stuff, but it's recognizable as "news".

The Boston Globe here gives a better take.

Monday, January 12

Mission to Mars 

Such a nice solid article from Reuters
Showed up in my searches because Patricia Wilson contributed to it. Substantial quotes, good writing, lots of viewpoints, neutral language.

Does anyone else still remember the Tomorrowland Mission to Mars with its vibrating chairs that gave you that accelleration special effect? Somehow the future of my childhood was much more exciting than today's.

Essence of PW 

What happened in the Democratic Presidential campaign in 2003?

Any moderately perceptive observer would note one obvious phenomenon. Millions of moderate and liberal Americans became horrified by the success of the radical right, and by the Democratic leadership's failure to mount an effective critique. While many of us were wishful that some core competency in Washington would ultimately justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, our hopes have been dashed time and again by fact and reality. We've been looking for a new voice, and not very interested in Gore, Lieberman, Kerry, Gephardt, Nader, Davis.

The two candidates who have benefited most from the zeitgeist have been Dean, who was first and alone in his outspoken criticism of Bush, and then Clark, whose candidacy exists because of an electronically communicated draft movement. Both of these candidacies were initially self-organizing outside of the traditional media and party establishment. Both have grown to add support from the more traditional leaders and institutions. Jay Rosen at Pressthink has a great piece on the new campaigns.

Reuters' Patricia Wilson tells the story of how Dean came from nowhere.

Anti-war rhetoric, savvy use of the Internet and fund-raising prowess transformed Howard Dean -- an obscure but outspoken former governor -- from underdog to top dog in the Democratic presidential race.
His bluntness, impulsiveness, imprecise statements and lack of foreign policy experience also have critics questioning his readiness to lead and whether he can beat President Bush in post-Sept. 11 America.

Every word seems chosen to convey subtle disdain. "Rhetoric" carries the connotation of insincerity. "Savvy" brings to mind some sort of insider shrewdness. His only "prowess" is associated with fund-raising, the most sordid of the political skills; the description is also at odds with the large number of individual donations from small, non-traditional contributors that came about because Dean had no access to traditional party fund-raising sources.The characterization of him as blunt, impulsive, and imprecise in the lead conflicts with the later description of him as being "Clintonesque" in his wonkishness.
That's how she begins, and her analysis never gets any closer to the really interesting story the Dean campaign phenomenon. Instead we get "His campaign really began to catch on last summer", and a string of factoids. The one that makes me go absolutely bonkers is the cute little paragraph about his marriage.

He is married to Dr. Judith Steinberg, an internist with whom he used to do crossword puzzles in the back of neuro-anatomy classes. They later opened a practice in Vermont. Healer, loyal husband, doting hockey dad, who respects his wife and her vocation? No, they're both slackers who weren't paying attention in class.

Am I asking too much of a wire-service story here ? Is it too much to expect some energy, something more than phoning in a series of cliches with a snarky tone? Could we have a little more straightforward journalism?

Update:This story was edited for length, clarity, and tone on January 14th.

AP scoops Reuters 

Will Patricia Wilson be "on-the-ropes" for missing this story?

In the vicious "catfight" of wire service journalism, you can't afford not to be "leader-of the pack".

The only way to recover from being scooped will be to add some additional fillip to the story. Maybe she can provoke yet another flash of anger from Dean, or show how Lieberman, in his compassion, has been wiring money to help these victims get their money out of Africa.

At least it's not a horserace 

It's a dogfight, or maybe it's a heavyweight bout. Definitely time for Ms. Wilson to focus a little on not mixing metaphors.

And here's a little style note from American Heritage, prompted by her description of Gore's "fulsome praise"
Usage Note: Fulsome is often used to mean “offensively flattering or insincere.” But the word is also used, particularly in the expression fulsome praise, to mean simply “abundant,” without any implication of excess or insincerity. This usage is etymologically justified but may invite misunderstandings in contexts in which a deprecatory interpretation could be made. The sentence I offer you my most fulsome apologies may raise an eyebrow, where the use of an adjective like full or abundant would leave no room for doubt as to the sincerity of the speaker's intentions.

Might Gore have given the good Doctor abundant praise, or generous praise? Why use that tricksy word "fulsome" which is synonomous with unctuous?

Hey, maybe we need a catfight between Nedra and her Reuters Rival - Tangle of the Manglers.

Worse than Nedra on Dean Anger 

AP's Nedra Pickler, queen of wire service manglers, did a bettter job than Ms. Wilson on her Dean heckler story. "Dale Ungerer, a retiree from Hawkeye, Iowa, lectured Dean for nearly three minutes near the end of a forum aimed at winning voters for Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses"
At least Nedra pointed out that Dean patiently listened three minutes to a heckler before telling him to sit down and listen to a response. Might that have been a more important fact for the reader than the heckler's "Mr. Fix-it" tee-shirt?

And as I reread the Wilson story, I keep chuckling over the description of Dean "blasting President Bush for, among other things, his Iraq policy and his stewardship of the economy"
I sincerely doubt that Dean has ever described Bush's corporate cronyism and tax cuts for the richest as "stewardship of the economy", unless he was referring to his favorite new testament passage Luke 16.

Sunday, January 11

Contact information for Patricia Wilson

Reuters America -
Patricia Wilson, White House Correspondent : patricia.wilson@reuters.com
Phone: (202) 898-8300
Fax: (202) 898-8383
Address: 1333 H St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Courtesy of takebackthemedia
Reuters principles

We are committed to reporting the facts and in all situations avoid the use of emotive terms. The only exception is when we are quoting someone directly or in indirect speech. We aim to report objectively actions, identity and background and pay particular attention to all our coverage in extremely sensitive regions.

We do not take sides and attempt to reflect in our stories, pictures and video the views of all sides. We are not in the business of glorifying one side or another or of disseminating propaganda. Reuters journalists do not offer their own opinions or views.

I like the part about not disseminating propaganda. It's hard to imagine how you can cover the Bush White House and follow this dictum.
Here's where we start with Patricia Wilson. A sharply angled piece detailing a moment of the Iowa campaign. Did Karl Rove offer a bounty for the first reporter to publish a proof source after the Daily Show so aptly ridiculed the Angry Dean theme? The Republican machine is working overtime to frame the image of Howard Dean. Their minions at the wire services compete to publish the official line.

Atrios leads. We follow. I've chosen to adopt Reuters journalist Patricia Wilson. As I figure out how to do this, I hope that this will co-evolve with the Wilgoren watch


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