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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ridenour Takes Apart Bloomberg's Carlson, Demonstrates Need for Footnoted Journalism

Bloomberg.com columnist Margaret Carlson wrote a column this week in which she bewailed the passing of a kindler, gentler politics and lamented the descent of the American public debate to the new low of Rush Limbaugh accusing Michael J. Fox of being a fraud.

It's a typical Carlson column, long on assertion but short on documented facts. And it serves as exactly the kind of column Amy Ridenour thinks demonstrates the need for footnotes in contemporary journalism. In the course of systematically taking apart Carlson's column, Amy also responds to my assessment of her suggestion regarding footnotes.

Here's just one point on which Amy uses Carlson to make her case for footnotes:

"Carlson says: 'One ad ran in Missouri, where Republican Senator Jim Talent is locked in an unexpectedly close race with challenger Claire McCaskill...' Unexpectedly close? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 22, 2006, said: 'With the election 10 months away, state Auditor Claire McCaskill is in a statistical dead heat with the man she hopes to replace in the U.S. Senate, incumbent Jim Talent.'"

Sort of reminds me of a cat toying with its prey.

Obviously, I do think Amy's footnote suggestion is a good one, but applying the idea to an opinion column is one thing, doing it with a news story is a different sort of challenge.