Best of 2010: Liz Cox Barrett

Barrett picks her top stories from 2010

Target Corp.’s “Perfect Storm.” Target was but one of several Minnesota-based companies to spend corporate money on election 2010, as permitted by the Supreme Court’s January Citizens United decision. So why did Target’s contribution alone spawn weeks of headlines in August (and an in-store flash mob/protest?) And, for corporate executives, was the takeaway from Target’s PR “imbroglio,” don’t spend company money on elections or was it,be sure to spend in a way that allows you to remain anonymous?

Q&A: New York Times Investigative Reporter Mike McIntire. McIntire’s coverage of campaign finance issues this year included a focus on the anonymously funded “shadow army of benignly titled nonprofit groups,” in his words, that spent millions to influence the midterm election. In my conversation with McIntire, he discussed how “very, very difficult [it is] to crack that veneer of secrecy that covers these organizations,” (which he also demonstrated in an excellent first-person Week in Review piece). “If you have a group that is set up to be deliberately opaque,” he said, “you kind of invite scrutiny” from reporters.

Covering the $531,378 a Day Campaign. I talked to KQED’s John Myers about Meg Whitman v. Jerry Brown, and what it’s like to report on a statewide race where the (spending) numbers are so enormous. Myers explained how, to his mind, Whitman kept “giving [the press] opportunities” to again write the Wow, Whitman’s a wealthy, heavy-spending candidate story.

“She Sat With Her Legs Ajar.” Now that I have your attention, those are Robin Givhan’s words, not mine. And the “she,” here, was Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Givhan, until recently the Washington Post’s style columnist, reported earlier this year that unlike “most women,” Kagan “doesn’t appear to ever cross her legs.” My quick search of Google images, shockingly, demonstrated otherwise.

A Story in Screen Shots: Cable News Covers Lohan.” Cable news, for the media critic, is the gift that keeps on giving. In 2010 we received, among other things, play-by-play coverage (by air and by land) of Lindsay Lohan reporting to jail. This is a chronological summary, in screen shots, of that coverage (what was with the exclamation point, MSNBC)?

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR. Tags: ,