Politically incorrect

News editors try to strong-arm the League of Women Voters over its stance on the Trinity

News Publisher Burl Osborne demanded that mention of Harrison's objections to the plan be removed from the front page and be re-inserted at the bottom of a story on the day's river-related news. Robert Ingrassia, the reporter who wrote the story, demanded, in turn, that his name be removed from it, spurring a several-hours-long standoff until Osborne relented.

Later that week, news staffers were required to attend what apparently is becoming a regular event now at the News--a major group-therapy session for the staff in which senior news-side managers seek to reassure distraught younger reporters that their newspaper is still honest in spite of certain appearances.

The meeting with the league, called by Bailon and Wilk, came at least a month after the News had already won the battle on the river question. However narrow the margin or slim the turnout, the fact is that voters supported an enormous bond sale to pay for the city's share of what may be a $2 billion project before it's done.

Robin Yaklin, editor of the Voters Guide, said she was not surprised that two men in their positions, running the news operation of a major metropolitan daily newspaper, might not know how nonpartisan groups operate.

"You know how you can know something intellectually, but you don't really know it in your heart," Yaklin said. "I think this may have been something like that. We had two very intelligent men asking us intelligent questions, and the fact that they were asking us just didn't ruffle my feathers at all."

But members of the league who have been closer to the river issue took a more jaundiced view. For one thing, the News has shown no inclination to provide hard news coverage of the many objections to the plan being raised during the required environmental review process, including the fact the Army Corps of Engineers now admits the project will make overall flooding in Dallas worse, not better.

"Wilk and Bailon left it with us that they were signing off for now on continuing to publish the guide," said a member who spoke on the condition that she remain anonymous. "But they also said they still had unresolved issues with us. So that's supposed to be a shoe hanging over us, waiting to fall, if we get out of line again as this thing goes along.

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