Getting It Right in 300 Words

This morning our palsied hands were momentarily steadied when a Campaign Desk reader (along with an Associated Press reporter with the initials S.L.) directed us to this story … by, sure enough, an AP reporter with the initials S.L.

That would be Scott Lindlaw, someone whose work Campaign Desk has criticized on more than one occasion, who yesterday did some quick and basic de-spinning of a stump speech President Bush delivered in Colmar, Pennsylvania. For his efforts — reprinted by news organizations across the country — we applaud him.

How’d he do it? Lindlaw quoted a few of Bush’s vaguely worded assertions on the economy designed to raise doubts about his opponent (such as “raising taxes will be bad for our economy,” and a mention of a “hidden Kerry tax plan”). He then provided readers with details of Kerry’s actual proposals — thereby translating and deflating Bush’s original charges.

If Lindlaw can pull this off in the 300 or so words a wire reporter seems to be permitted, would it be too much to ask his peers who have three or four times that space available to muster something similar just once between now and November 2 — or, better yet, every time a candidate approaches a podium?


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.