By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
At the end of last week, George Rodrigue, vice president and managing editor of the News, called me to say the paper had decided to provide some of the details of the model but not to Hill. Rodrigue said the paper will publish information about its model at a later date in an article for an academic or trade journalism journal.
In the recent series of stories, the News talked about the 36-year term of former Dallas County prosecutor Henry Wade, "when prosecutors followed a stereotype-ridden manual in rejecting black jurors." The paper, describing 63-year-old Bill Hill as "a track star with a country twang," presented his side of the story by saying, "District Attorney Bill Hill, who was an assistant to hard-nosed former DA Henry Wade, called the analysis of his office's jury selection practices 'unfair and biased.'"
That's all code. It's clear enough. You know what it means. Wade, Hill. Old white guys. Same-same.
But the News didn't have any bullets in its gun. Not really. And publishing the details of the model at a later date in an obscure journal--what the hell is that? If there's anything to say about the model, it needed to be said in the same story that said Hill and his prosecutors were racists.
I did a little reality check on this and asked a couple liberal defense lawyers what they thought of the series. One, whom I will not name, paused a beat and then said, "Oh, yeah, you mean that series the News did trying to make Bill Hill look good."
I said, "No. They said Hill and his staff are racists."
He said, "Well, I didn't read it that carefully. I just got to the part where they said there are as many blacks on juries now as there are in the pool. That seemed like real progress to me. Maybe I've just been around too long."
These are strange times in Dallas. Racism is a brutal charge anytime, especially if it's not true. It's surprising, isn't it, who tosses it around. And how. And why.