Note to Staff: Connect the Dots

In the wake of the big shakeup in his campaign organization, is Gov. Howard Dean still at odds with his own top aides? One could infer that by painstakingly connecting the dots in The New York Times and Boston Globe stories today. Unfortunately, the reporters involved didn’t connect them for us, so it’s easy to miss the story inside the story.

Far down in their The New York Times piece, Jodi Wilgoren and Glen Justice report that, “While most people in politics, including many in his own camp, believe he must win a state on Feb. 3 — or Feb. 7 at the very latest — Dr. Dean said repeatedly Wednesday that he did not need to post a victory, only to keep amassing enough delegates to be the last man standing, or to stage a challenge at the party’s convention this summer.”

It’s interesting news that Dean is still at odds with “many in his own camp” on campaign strategy. Still, if Wilgoren and Justice can’t find anyone to say so on the record, or even to be quoted anonymously, maybe it’s not much of a story.

But wait — here’s Steve Grossman, Dean campaign chairman, telling Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe, “We, the Dean campaign, have to put a ‘W’ up on the board. There’s no question that we need to show a breakthrough, somewhere soon.”

Surely the Globe’s Johnson was aware of Dean’s remarks yesterday, which flatly contradicted Grossman’s. If he’d put the two together, he’d have had some news to break.

This isn’t a major gaffe, either on Johnson’s part or on Wilgoren and Justice’s. But when what busy readers want is a fully-cooked meal, it’s not much help to drop a bag of groceries on their doorstep.

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.