If it seems that CampaignDesk is beating up on reporters lately for poking and prodding at Howard Dean as if he were some sort of unwelcome space alien, it’s not because we hold any special place in our hearts for Gov. Dean.

We don’t give two hoots if Dean — or anyone else — succeeds or fails in this campaign.

But we do give two hoots when the press singles out one candidate for the kind of mauling and piling on by exaggeration and distortion that Dean has endured in the past week.

On CNN last night, Judy Woodruff joined the mob at 10:42 PM when she suggested that perhaps Dean’s lower-key post-election address in New Hampshire meant that he was “preparing his minions, all of his supporters, for the fact that he may not win this nomination?”

Faced with that kind of unsupported supposition, candidate Dean can’t win for losing. If he gives an emotional post-vote address to supporters (Iowa), he’s portrayed as an unstable lunatic. If he gives a more sedate post-vote address (New Hampshire), he’s portrayed as a man trying to prep his loyalists for his eventual defeat.

That’s neither fair nor journalism.

—B.K.

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Bryan Keefer was CJR Daily’s deputy managing editor.