Best Daily Newspaper Columnist (2003)
Dallas Morning News op-ed columnist Ruben Navarrette, back for his second straight "best of," was just warming up in 2002. This year, he truly hit his stride. For the first time in memory, the News has a columnist who: A) has better things to write about than his home life; B) gravitates to local controversies; C) does original reporting; D) is not an apologist for anyone, including members of the Hispanic community, where he appears to be quite well-sourced. Take, for instance, Navarrette's February 14 column, "Where are the defenders of framed immigrants?" In a single piece, Navarrette broke the news that Dallas police Chief Terrell Bolton successfully stopped the city's Hispanic leadership from criticizing the department for framing Mexican immigrants with fake drug charges. Navarrette pointed out that there were high-ranking Hispanic officers in the chain of command over the drug debacle, and their jobs were on the line. From there, eschewing matters of race and picking up on those of class, he asserted that "Mexican-Americans have convinced themselves that having more education, more money and more English proficiency than Mexican immigrants makes them superior." We've heard this before, but never in the News. Finally, he ended with an honest-to-goodness conclusion about the chief: "What confuses me is why this man is still drawing a paycheck." Nice work.