By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"Bob and I found ourselves arguing hydrology for about half an hour over a bad cellular connection," Schutze says, "until it finally dawned on me that this was like the blind having a sword fight with the blind.
"Not a pretty picture. I stopped him and asked him, in a year or more of reporting on the project, which real hydrology experts he had ever interviewed about it. He told me that he had interviewed the Corps experts and that they were 'the ones who crunched the numbers about this.'
"I suggested to Bob that the assertions of the Corps are what is in question in this story. I said it seemed to me that it would not be possible to report on this story without seeking the opinions of recognized experts whose opinions are on the other side of the issue.
"Bob became a bit sarcastic with me," Schutze says, "and said to me that 'unless there's a massive conspiracy here, I just don't believe the Corps is going to lie.'" Schutze says he thinks Ingrassia or someone else at the News may have inserted the stuff about "in my opinion" in his quote, "because I think they're afraid at the News that it may be against the law to criticize the Army."
Schutze claims Ingrassia's disinclination to pursue the story beyond the assertions of the Corps of Engineers "is what you get at a newspaper that beats up on young reporters for telling the truth. Sooner or later the young reporters figure out which side their bread is buttered on." Asked what "their bread is buttered on" means, Schutze says, "They will find ways to rationalize not reporting the story too far, because they know they will only earn the wrath of Burl if they uncover good arguments on the other side from the News' ownership position on the issue.
"What you wind up with," Schutze says, "is a newspaper that is not just biased, but worse--it's shallow. So why read it? And who does?"
Schutze says he regrets that he was allowed to run on at such length for this story without having his views challenged by Ingrassia, but that he had no choice since Ingrassia was unable to respond to any of Schutze's "dime-store philosophy of journalism." Schutze says there are no hard feelings on his part, and that if Ingrassia needs to write a story about Schutze's story about Ingrassia's story about Schutze's story about Ingrassia's story, "I will be there for him.