Day Eight: The Dallas Morning News still won’t do the Eddie Bernice Johnson story.
I called the Washington office of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson yesterday and spoke with her chief of staff, Rod Hall. He told me that as of yesterday, Johnson still had not spoken with The Dallas Morning News about her recent remarks on the Trinity River toll road.
No Morning News reporter or editorial writer has even tried to find out what she meant a week ago, when she told KERA-FM's Catherine Cuellar she thought a referendum on the Trinity River toll road would be just fine. The Morning News has been insisting for weeks that a referendum on the toll road would destroy all the great work done by the Dallas delegation, especially Johnson, in getting federal moolah for the Trinity River project.
Johnson told KERA, Nope, not true. She’s chairperson of the water resources subcommittee, and her district is where most of the project will be built. She said funding for the toll road and doubts about a route for the road will have no impact on the money for the overall project.
It’s a huge story. It goes right to the heart of the whole debate about letting voters decide whether they want a big fat honking highway in the middle of the parks and lakes we’re trying to create along the river downtown. By refusing to cover Johnson’s position on it, The Morning News tosses its readership credibility right in the toilet.
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Hall told me his boss would like to stay as far out of the toll road fight as she can. He said she doesn’t care where it goes, as long as it does not increase the risk of flooding downtown.
But mainly it’s that voting thing, you know. Johnson is an African-American Democratic veteran of the Civil Rights era who grew up in Waco when it was still segregated. It’s real hard to get somebody like that to come out against letting people vote, hard as that may be for the people at the top of The Morning News to understand.
I even know how they could get out of this corner they’ve painted themselves into and maybe save a little face. They need to assign 14 reporters, three editors, a statistician, a computer expert and a nuclear physicist to do a 15-part Pultizer Prize package called, “Is Democracy Really Necessary?” That way, they could sort of dish the Eddie Bernice stuff into the bottom of a sidebar called, “Voting, Help or Hindrance?”
Hey, man, I’m just trying to help out a little. --Jim Schutze