I am a huge dork. I get really excited by really good news articles. So the political writing edition of the Best American series is well, exciting. I bought it in November when a lot of the articles (which are mostly from magazines) were less outdated because we still didn't know the midterm election results, but they are still excellent. If I were to ever teach a long-form journalism class, I would use examples from this book. One that made me smile and cringe at the same time, was Vanity Fair's "High Noon in Crawford"
For your reading pleasure, three excerpts about how the residents of the town of Waco (yes, yes, that Waco.) react to the press when they descend Bush's Crawford ranch. I highly suggest you read the whole thing. (All links are added by me).

First on the local paper, The Lone Star Iconoclast's (great name, less than great Web site) decision to endorse Kerry in 2004:

[T]he local reaction was near hysteria. Letters to the editor would not suffice. The paper lost half its subscribers and most of its advertisers. Businesses in Crawford refused to sell it. "There was an active boycott put into place," says Smith, "and [shopkeepers and advertisers] have been told they will be boycotted if they support us."

It didn't stop there. Diebenow received phone calls demanding, "Are you a Christian?" (In fact, his father is a local pastor.) "We had e-mails saying, 'We hope you die,'" says Fisher. "Literally, 'We hope you die.'" One man came by the office to say that he and his buddies were going to "run you out of town." Two college students who were covering a local festival for the paper were denied admittance and were told that their names were on a list, and to wait right there so the sheriff could be summoned. Should the editors attempt to go into the Coffee Station, "you [would] have to carry your six-guns and go down, like High Noon," says Diebenow. "It really wouldn't surprise us if we were served the door instead of a hamburger."

(Tangent: This summer, a friend working for a small newspaper sent me the following email: "So remember that West Wing episode where they get stranded in Indiana, and Josh is wigging out because he hasn't seen news in 8 hours, and Donna hands him a paper, and he goes, "I read it. Preparations are underway for the fair. I'm briefed."? Well, I realized today that I work for that paper. And am writing that story. About preparations being underway for the fair. Just felt you should know. n related news, seen today in the parking lot of my office: car with a vanity plate reading "PRAY HRD," and overlayed over the bottom of the plate a "Bush/Cheney '04" sticker. With love from the heartland. " She laughed a lot when I told her that these college students from the Iconoclast had been blacklisted...from a FAIR. End tangent.)

Excerpt two, on the bias of The New York Times:

"When The New York Times's David E. Sanger dropped by Starbucks to get his paper, a fellow customer asked him why on earth he'd want to read that liberal nonsense. Sanger admitted that he not only reads it every day but also works there. The man advised Sanger that he ought to go home and set them straight. (For the record, Sanger's ancestors are from Waco and founded a department store there.)"

Excerpt three, and I thought I had it bad when someone told me she hated the press:
"The press have also been reminded that they are considered sordid and debauched. When they were first working out of the elementary-school gym, unhappy parents, afraid that child-molesters might be in the group, demanded that a large, steel door be erected between the press and the kids. "We are the unknown ... sort of sleazy element," says Julie Mason, White House correspondent for the Houston Chronicle. "I think they feel we're there to attack their president.… We're sort of these troublemakers who make the president unhappy."

Wow. All I have to say is wow. I wonder if this means we are doing something right or something wrong.

0 Responses to 'From My Bookshelf: Best American Political Writing of 2006'

Search This Blog

Contact Me

Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

I have left my real name off of the blog so as not to imply that the blog is somehow linked with the journalism I get paid to do. (Still, I never write about my beat on this blog, and rarely express opinions about the day's news regardless of its relationship to my beat).

I would love to hear from you. If you want to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment here, I can be reached at WrittenPyramids@gmail.com.

Blog Archive

Books pyramid image originally from the British website, Explore Writing.