Where Credit is Due

We could almost pity the poor Dallas Morning News writers covering the investigation into alleged NCAA rule violations at Baylor University that arose out of the murder of basketball player Patrick Dennehy. Them poor bastards got scooped--with a capital OOP--by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and its stellar reporting on the now-infamous Dave Bliss tapes. That had to hurt.

Long ago, Buzz worked in a town with competing daily newspapers, so we know that sick feeling that settles in the pit of the stomach when you find yourself royally asswhupped by the competition. It happens, and there are essentially four things a newspaper can do in that situation: Ignore the story, steal it, discredit the other guy's reporting or give credit where it's due and cite the competitor's story, then get to work on your own scoop.

Buzz's employer back then was, for lack of a better word, a bit chickenshit. It usually went for one of the first three options. We expected better of the Morning News. Dunno why.

Oh, wait, here's why: The News' "newsroom guidelines" were updated and distributed to staff last week. The first paragraph reads: "Any newspaper's reputation rests on its credibility and its readers' perception of that credibility. To earn the trust and respect of our readers, we must do all we can to produce a newspaper that is accurate, fair, balanced and committed to the highest ethical principles."

Unless, of course, "doing all we can" means mentioning a rival newspaper. Then you act petty and small. You act, in other words, like a chickenshit.

On Friday, Star-Telegram ace investigative sports reporter Danny Robbins got a hold of the Bliss tapes in which the former Baylor head basketball coach was caught asking players to lie about Dennehy and implicate him in drug dealing in order to save Bliss' hide. (Where oh where did Dennehy get money for tuition and his new SUV? Why, by dealing evil drugs.) The transcripts were online. It was a clear scoop on a national story--the sort the Morning News had when it published a jailhouse interview with Carlton Dotson, who is charged with killing Dennehy. (If you haven't read the transcripts, check out Buzz's favorite part is the clueless Bliss trying to figure out whether hallucinogenic mushrooms are like regular mushrooms. Yes, Dave, they are. They're basted in butter and come in a jar. Idiot. )

When the Star-Telegram reported on that jailhouse interview, they credited the Morning News. But when the DMN's story came out Saturday, the paper went out of its way not to mention the Star-T, even going so far as to quote Baylor officials regarding the content of the tapes--transcripts of which, remember, were not only in the Star-Telegram but also quoted in The Associated Press story that credited the Cowtown daily.


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