The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Read @JosephCurl: Because Facts Matter

Posted on | December 9, 2013 | 21 Comments

Joe Curl lives out in the horse country of Fauquier County, Virginia. He enjoys golf, and can recite lines from Caddyshack the way I can recite lines from Animal House or Blazing Saddles. Joe has been a newsman his whole life. When I met him in 1997, he was an assistant national editor at the Washington Times, the same job to which I had just been hired, having moved from Georgia to D.C. for the gig.

After I first started the job, I noticed Joe sitting around reading magazines, marking up quotes on the pages, and asked, “What are you doing?” He explained that he was culling quotes for “Culture Briefs,” the feature that ran across the top of Page A2, and I immediately offered to assist. (Because, what the heck, it’s just reading magazines, right?)

Two months after I started the job, the Lewinsky scandal broke, and Joe became the guy whose job was to act as editorial traffic cop on the story. We’d be running six or seven news articles daily about the scandal, which meant that somebody had to read all these separate pieces and make sure that the main story on A1 had all the key elements, and that there was no unnecessary duplication in other stories.

My role as the F–king New Guy on the national desk — a grass-green rookie, a hick from the sticks — was usually to edit excerpts of press conferences, speeches and eventually (my head still hurts to think about it) The Starr Report. But I also helped by taking over from Joe the job of compiling “Culture Briefs,” freeing him up to concentrate on editing all that Lewinsky stuff, as it carried on for months.

Ironic aftermath: In 2005, by which time Joe had joined Bill Sammon at our White House bureau, he and our top editors (including Wes Pruden, Fran Coombs and national edtorial Ken Hanner) got an exclusive Oval Office interview with the recently re-elected President Bush. It was widely known that the Washington Times was the first paper Bush read every morning and, after the formal sit-down interview ended, someone asked the president, “What’s your favorite part of the paper?”

His answer (and this is the quote relayed to me by Ken Hanner): “That thing at the top of the page, you know, with the pictures.”

Culture Briefs!

Yeah, you could just call me “The Presidential Editor” after that.

So, anyway, three years later, they replaced Wes Pruden with a guy they hired from the Post and I quit. (Never let it be said I would consent to work for a goddamned Postie, any more than I would consent to work for the goddamned Post.) Others had to make their own calculations, of course, and many of those subsequently lost their jobs in the waves of layoffs that marked the follies of mismanagement in the post-Pruden era.

The Washington Times newsroom is a rather empty place nowadays, and only a few determined holdouts remain from 2008, among them Joe Curl, whose latest column you should definitely read:

Fact: The IRS targeted conservative and tea party groups requesting tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. That’s a fact.
Congress held hearings — embarrassing hearings. Three top Internal Revenue Service officials resigned. No heads rolled, but for the Obama administration, and the lawless Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., that amounted to a major scandal. Even White House spokesman Jay “Circus” Carney called the IRS‘ actions “inappropriate.” Fact.
But President Obama, in an interview last week with sycophant Chris Matthews, now says the entire scandal was made up by the media.
“When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention,” the president said, no doubt sending a thrill up the MSNBC host’s leg. “If we do something that is perceived at least initially as a screw-up, it will be on the nightly news for a week.”
Like, say, deploying the nation’s tax watchdog to target political opponents? Just a “screw-up.”
You bet. Manufactured in the media. . . .

Read the whole thing at The Washington Times. Unlike a lot of pundits who come from the world of think tanks and politics, Joe comes from the world of news. And be sure to follow @JosephCurl on Twitter.


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