The Locker Room

September 10, 2005

Understanding what you overhear

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:40 AM

The Washington Post illustrates a perfect example of why a news organization -- in this case the Wall Street Journal -- needs to make darn sure they get a quote directly, and more important, correctly. This is the line the Journal reporter supposedly heard spoken by Republican Rep. Richard Baker of Baton Rouge to lobbyists:

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

You can imagine the mileage his political opponents are getting out of that one. But here's what Baker said he said:

"What I remember expressing, in a private conversation with a housing advocate and member of my staff, was that 'We have been trying for decades to clean up New Orleans public housing to provide decent housing for residents, and now it looks like God is finally making us do it,' " Baker wrote. "Obviously I have never expressed anything but the deepest concern about the suffering that this terrible catastrophe has caused for so many in our state."

Who knows what he really said, or the intention behind it, but reporters are getting pretty sloppy if they "overhear" something and then don't speak directly to that person to correctly understand what they're saying.

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Another minority perspective

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:14 AM

Because he doesn't have as polished a presentation as Jesse Jackson -- oh, and because he's not liberal -- the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson almost never gets attention from the mainstream media. But here's what he had to say about allegations of racism against President Bush after Hurricane Katrina:

"The mayor failed in his duty to evacuate and protect the people of New Orleans. ... The truth is, black people died not because of President Bush or racism, they died because of their unhealthy dependence on the government and the incompetence of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco."

"If black folks want to blame someone for this tragedy, they only need to look in the mirror. Hopefully, this will help black people realize the folly of depending on the government or leaders and serve as a notice to avert future tragedies in other cities."

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