Week in Review (12/08/2013 edition)

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We’re continuing with a “Week in Review” post to highlight news and such from the week with links (and sometimes commentary). It may or may not become a regular feature.

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This week, the Washington Free Beacon published an interesting piece by Matthew Continetti entitled “The rise of secretarial journalism.” Substantively, it has nothing to do with Houston. Rather, Continetti is describing as “secretarial” the sort of non-critical, unquestioning reporting of what the Obama White House says, rather than an older style of journalism that was much more skeptical, even adversarial.

I wish I had come up with that formulation, “secretarial journalism,” because it describes so much of the reporting culture here in Houston, particularly at the mighty Houston Chronicle, in which reporters seem determined to frame stories with protective (but accurate) quotes from their institutional sources, who are usually not put on the spot with very many tough questions or criticism. This approach to journalism has dominated the newspaper’s coverage of beats ranging from METRO to Commissioners Court to sports teams.

Indeed, regarding coverage of the area’s sports team, it was most interesting during the Texans press conference announcing the firing of coach Gary Kubiak this week that NOT ONE reporter in attendance asked whether some blame should be directed at the general manager, Rick Smith, who participated in the press conference. Longtime Texans blogger Stephanie Stradley has been asking that question throughout this season, and has been pushing local media to do their jobs and ask the question following Kubiak’s ouster. Eventually, she will probably succeed in shaming some of these “Secretarial Journalists” into doing their jobs and digging a little deeper into the Texans front office. That has not gone over too well with some of these “professionals” on twitter, who have tried to put her down and even implied she is irrational.

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Unca Darrell checked the Chronicle archives, and found that the Chronicle editorial board objected most strenuously in 2005 when Republicans, who then controlled the U.S. Senate, were considering the “nuclear option” with regard to the filibuster rules. As Unca Darrell notes, the editorial board has not voiced any objections to the current Senate (controlled by Democrats) deploying the “nuclear option.”

Another lowlight for the Chronicle editorial board this week was the reference to “F. M. de Klerk” in the newspaper’s editorial tribute to Nelson Mandela. Of course, the newspaper meant F. W. de Klerk. Despite emails and tweets suggesting corrections, the editorial has remained uncorrected as of this post’s publication.

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The Chronicle‘s transportation secretarial journalist reports that “sensitivity concerns” are nudging HISD towards eliminating some mascots that someone, somewhere may find offensive. HISD chief Terry Grier outlines what will be done here.

We are pleased that all the pressing area transportation and public-education issues have been resolved, and attention can now be focused on these secondary matters.

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The Chronicle continued its broadside against conservative Congressman Steve Stockman, who (the editorial board contends) spends too much time crafting “absurd anti-Obama tweets.” Political leaders must NOT take on The Precious, lest the Chronicle focus its puny remaining investigative resources on that individual (because, obviously, there are no problems or waste within HISD, or the Port, or the sports authority, or management districts, or anywhere else in the area that might be good targets of journalistic scrutiny).

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Not everyone is convinced that Mayor Annise Parker’s new deal with strip clubs is the best way to go.

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David Jennings thinks that the latest mailer from at-large Council candidate Roy Morales is deceptive. Previously, Don Hooper took a closer look at the Morales campaign finance filings. BH once looked into some curious filings from Morales.

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Quitter Paul Bettencourt has decided he’s the perfect successor to be anointed to the Texas Senate seat Dan Patrick is vacating. James Wilson also threw his hat into the ring this week.

Neal Meyer examined the fact that incumbent Sarah Davis (R) has drawn a primary opponent in House District 134 for BH. Perry vs World posted some additional thoughts about the district.

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Onetime Helena Brown staffer John Griffing criticizes Mayor Annise Parker for disregarding the city charter with her new policy on benefits for same-sex legally married municipal workers. Neal Meyer previously covered the City’s selective enforcement of charter amendments for BH.

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In case you missed it, BH also looked at Astrodome Derangement Syndrome, METRO’s “re-imagining” follies, and the Thanksgiving parade’s inflated attendance numbers.

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Krispy Kreme is returning to the Houston area!

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The New York Times magazine ran an interesting, if overly long, piece on the Houston-area’s Crazy Ants. Have any of our readers experienced them?

Kevin Whited
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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX