By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Letters...We've Got Letters: It looked like an April Fools' joke, except that it was announced on April 3, and the organization that announced it, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, isn't--how should we say this?--a big fan of the yuk-yuk. According to the DFW chapter of CAIR, it had reached an agreement with The Dallas Morning News "concerning long-standing complaints of anti-Muslim bias in the newspaper's coverage of local and international events." The complaints had to do with several stories, many of them written by the paper's excellent investigative reporter Steve McGonigle, that CAIR said unfairly linked Muslims with terrorism ("War of Words," Dallas Observer, May 18).
What were the details of the agreement? To quote The Princess Bride's Iñigo Montoya, "Let me 'splain...No, there is too much. Let me sum up." The paper, according to CAIR, would meet with, publish, be sensitive to, hire and train and generally be all nicey-nice to Muslims.
Sounds pretty innocuous, eh? The agreement, according to the CAIR news release, was "outlined in a letter to CAIR-DFW from Dallas Morning News President Robert Mong." Mong didn't return a phone call from Buzz, and we couldn't reach CAIR-DFW officials for comment. (Well, we could have, if we hadn't started writing this an hour before deadline, and if someone there would pick up the phone, and if the answering machine at CAIR-DFW didn't beep at us and say, "The memory is full," therefore not allowing us to leave a message...you get the idea.) But one source speaking to Buzz says the Morning News scuttlebutt goes like this: Morning News suits were holding regular meetings with representatives from CAIR-DFW, trying to find middle ground where possible, provide a forum for discussion and other management b.s. One of the CAIR reps asked Mong for a letter summarizing the points discussed to date. Mong did so, reiterating the mundane points listed above.
CAIR-DFW then did a brilliant thing. It said the letter was a formal agreement, sent out a press release and claimed victory. Cuz what's the Morning News going to say? "Uh, wait, that's not true, progress hasn't been made, you are fibbers!" Don't think so.
All of which, if true, provides one more example as to what happens when newspapers try to please every constituency that cries foul: They end up being prisoners of their own desire to be seen as inoffensive. Which makes them not only easy targets but boring to read as well.
--Compiled from staff reports by Eric Celeste