As a result, a 2,000-word story actually gives short shrift to the substance of much of the testimony. Readers see not Patterson’s conclusion, but a lengthy anecdote involving the storming of Alcatraz by Indian protestors (which reporter Kate Phillips refers to “a walk down memory lane”). Halstead is quoted for the purposes of re-examining a Bush-era controversy, and Harrison not at all—but Republican Senator Sue Collins gets plenty of space to express her concerns.
Thankfully, there were some reporters who decided that the focus of their stories should be what the people who know things had to say. Take a look at these ledes:
The Wall Street Journal: “Is the Obama administration’s use of policy ‘czars’ unconstitutional? Five experts who testified before Congress today say no.”
Los Angeles Times: “Five constitutional experts testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday that President Obama’s extensive use of policy ‘czars’ is legal — as long as the officials do not overstep their authority.”
McClatchy: “President Barack Obama isn’t skirting the U.S. Constitution or abusing his authority by appointing so-called ‘czars,’ or policy coordinators, to oversee certain issues or problems, a Senate panel was told Tuesday.”
It’s not that these stories neglect political concerns, or political claims—each gives space to both Feingold and a Republican senator. But those criticisms are presented and measured against what the expert witnesses had to say. It’s some good work, on this day, by these reporters. Let’s hope their colleagues take note.