Once Again, The News Sells Us Down the River in a Pork Barrel

Yesterday afternoon The Dallas Morning News published a story on its Web site about the Oinker Awards handed out by D.C.-based Citizens Against Government Waste. The headline was, “Nine Texas projects included in 2008 Congressional Pig Book.”

The “Pig Book” is CAGW’s entire database of pork barrel projects -- thousands of them. CAGW also published a summary, in which a total of 14 Texas “earmark” projects were named. These are projects where members of Congress get personal legislation passed to provide funding for projects that wouldn’t pass muster otherwise.

Fourteen projects. Not nine. Wonder why? Not after the jump you won't.

The more interesting piece of what CAWG put out yesterday I would think, at least from a reporter’s point.of view, was its complete and very easily searchable database.

All you have to do there is pick Texas from the drop-down list, click “Search,” and you get a catalogue of 427 earmarks authored by Texas congress persons. No mention of that in The News story.

There's also no mention -- and I’m sure this is strictly a coincidence or an oversight or serendipity or moonglow or something -- of the fact that the Trinity River project is on the complete list.

THE TRINITY RIVER PROJECT!!?!? Included in the “Congressional Pig Book”? Oh my gaaawd! What’s a Dallas Morning News reporter to do?

Here’s how I look at it. I’m a News reporter. Some bastard comes to my desk with the Oinker Awards story, tells me to write it up for the Web site, and then, in the horrible gasping chain-rattling voice of Christmas Past, he whispers, “The Trinity project’s in there.” He makes the sign of the cross over me and disappears.

For the next 45 minutes I’m sitting here at my desk sweating .38-caliber bullets while thinking, “Got to get it out, got to get it out. Cannot write story saying Trinity Project in Pig Book.”

I hit on the idea of writing only about the summary, which doesn’t mention the Trinity. And then I’m in such a swivet I get even that wrong.

I don’t think its easy being a News reporter. I’ve had bad jobs before myself. I half admire them. --Jim Schutze

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