Saturday, December 24, 2005

From the Michael Sneed-Dan Rather School of Journalism

As I reported [See here], Rich Miller, of Capitolfax fame, in one of a series of uncomplimentary posts on Democrat Primary Candidate Ed Eisendrath [See short video interview with Eisendrath] that Rich wrote during the last week, borrowed from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed-- an always dangerous act for a fellow journalist.

Wrote Rich Miller in his Capitolfax blog [which is generally well written, well linked and very informative, and a very useful supplement to his Capitolfax newsletter],

This Sneed bit is somewhat telling [See Sneed column here]:

Dem gubernatorial hopeful Edwin Eisendrath carried an appropriate totem when he announced his candidacy against incumbent Gov. Blagojevich: a silver bookmark engraved with the Winston Churchill quote, “Never, never, never give up.”

Rich Miller added to the Sneedling, above:

So, instead of a silver spoon, he’s got a silver bookmark?

Funny story. Unfortunately for Sneed and Miller, it is not true. How very North Shore of the once and perhaps still Winnetkan Michael Sneed. She spreads a rumor that has no relationship to fact. And, others [Capitolfax] pick it up and extrapolate from the false statement to suit their own purposes and theories about Eisendrath not being a person of substance, but instead just another spoiled rich kid.

How ironic that the source of the Sneed-Miller derision should be a bookmark with a quote from perhaps the greatest world leader of the 20th Century.

Paraphrasing my good friend Locke Bowman’s statement about various prosecutors incorrectly concluding they got the right perp in a death penalty murder case, "Rich couldn’t have been more wrong." Indeed, the only thing rich about Rich and Sneed's story is Rich Miller’s error.

The bookmark is not silver. Brass, perhaps. It has a brownish color. The bookmark was a Christmas present, last year, from Edwin’s bride, Jennifer. It cost all of six dollars [not unlike O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi"]. From that, Miller gets-- [Eisendrath was born with a] silver spoon in his mouth? Gimme a break.

But, I could understand why these facts weren’t too appealing to Sneed. They don’t quite fit with her storyline, or Rich’s extrapolation. Makes you kind of wonder who gave Sneed the storyline and whether she did an ounce’s worth of journalism when she wrote the column.

When Sneed screws up, does the Chicago Sun-Times require that she does something about it? A retraction, perhaps? Inquiring minds want to know.

Then Rich Miller picks the “silver bookmark,” up, assumes Sneed got it right— and adds his own misplaced nastiness to it. After all, it's fair game. The guy is said to be rich.

Oh yeah, Sneed and Rich did get one thing right. The bookmark present from Jennifer to Ed Eisendrath is engraved with the Winston Churchill quote, “Never, never, never give up.”

Perhaps the Churchill quote will be inspiration for Sneed and Miller, as they try, in the future, to write things that are accurate and fair to their targets. “Never, never, never give up,” checking on facts, and as the Stones sang, if they “try some time, they just might find, they get what they need,” if not what they want.

As I have said before, I am not working for Eisendrath and I an not working against him. I am working for the notion of trying to be tough, but fair, on all.

I’ll videotape Eisendrath on Tuesday night. Perhaps I’ll shed some light on his positions on public policy issues. I might even find out something about his vision for the State and leadership capabilities. I might get a sense of whether he has or will have sufficient resources, organization and message to mount a credible campaign against incumbent governor Rod Blagojevich in the Democratic Primary, or even how he might match up against whichever Republican choice and/or third party candidate[s] might emerge.

After that, and with more information, the Democratic Primary voters [and, if he wins that, the general election voters] of this state might decide he is a good candidate or they might decide he is not. But, let’s not decide this stuff on silver bookmarks that don’t exist and ridiculous extrapolations from that. Let’s not, as journalists, slurp up whatever slop the candidates’ spinmeisters and handlers put in front of the hungry media. In other words, how about some good, fair, tough and balanced journalism?

One more thing, a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Holidays to all, and especially to Michael Sneed, Rich Miller and to all those Public Affairs viewers and readers who have sent me emails criticizing what I do and suggesting how I could do it better.

And, yes, I know, I am remiss in publishing those comments for which I have permission to do so. I will try to get them posted as soon as I can and I will resolve to do better next year. Keep those emails coming, please. And, please don’t forget to send your suggestions for questions and topics for this coming Tuesday night’s show with Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ed Eisendrath. Silver bullets, anybody?
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at