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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer (journalism-style)

Summer time, and the rumors are easy...

Nothing like a sultry summer Sunday to bring out the journalism "evergreens." You know, the timeless stories that pop up like weeds. Often they have meaning and relevance.

At other times, they just rehash items, offering little or nothing more than keeping the rumor mill churning.

Like this story, for example:

Speculation that Governor Deval Patrick could wind up in a Barack Obama presidential administration has been rife, and lately political and legal observers are pointing to the Supreme Court as a potential destination for the Harvard Law grad and former Justice Department official.

Legal blogs have been spreading Patrick's name as a potential Supreme Court pick for at least a year. In recent months, both The New York Times and The Washington Post have mentioned Patrick either first or second in stories handicapping potential Obama high-court nominees.

Check out the qualifiers and lack of hard news in this gem. Speculation. When the first word of a news story is speculation, I speculate most people head for the comics.

Lately. Quickly backed up by the words "for at least a year." Followed by attribution to other newspapers, as if that confirms things that otherwise appear in silly old blogs.

But here's an interesting twist. The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about liberals looking for the the "anti-Scalia." It includes this paragraph:

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), a former Justice Department official and prominent Obama friend, has also been mentioned as a potential court appointee, and such a move would not be unprecedented. There is a substantial list of justices who once held political office.
And well what do you know. Patrick's name is second in the speculation -- right after that of Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Funny how that paragraph disappeared in the Globe's editing of the story which runs in tandem with Drake's. Why demonstrate exactly where your own lazy-hazy-Sunday-make-a-couple-of-follow-up calls story came from?

Or demonstrate the Globe story is speculating about rumors about rumors.

I'm not blaming John Drake. He made calls and tried to advance somebody else's effort to advance musty and stale rumors as news. I'm probably not as sanguine about a Globe editor who assigned the story in the first place and I have questions about the editors who chopped the sentence from the Post story to make their own editorial laziness seem less offensive.

Reminds me of a 1990 book with the title supposedly gleaned from a telegram sent by an editor to a far-flung correspondent (not sure if it was in the lazy, hazy days of summer).

"If No News, Send Rumors."

I won't even add my own speculation about how the assumption that Patrick may be a classic liberal may be way off.

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Anonymous Joel Patterson said...

It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

July 21, 2008 2:30 PM  

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