Blagojevich names Foghorn Leghorn to Obama’s Senate seat


Comparing the coverage by the Times and Wall Street Journal.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will name former Illinois AG Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama‘s Senate seat.

Read the mid-afternoon versions of that breaking story in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and it’s no contest.

The news is that Blago is naming some Foghorn Leghorn guy to the Senate. You gotta hand it to Gov.-not-for-long Blagojevich; he’s cleverly playing the race card by replacing a black senator with another black senator. That should blunt some critics. Maybe.

The race angle is for another story. What’s relevant here is the WSJ‘s third graf:

The choice is likely to face intense scrutiny because the governor faces federal corruption charges. The governor appears to be thumbing his nose at critics who have said the process allowing him to choose Mr. Obama’s replacement should be circumvented.

Compare that with the New York Times‘s second graf:

Mr. Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges including allegations that he tried to sell Mr. Obama’s former senate seat for a high-paying job or money, had not been expected to try to fill the seat. As recently as ten days ago, his lawyer, Edward Genson, said he would not attempt to make an appointment, since Senate leaders had indicated they would not accept anyone whom the beleaguered Mr. Blagojevich had appointed.

The snooty Times thumbs its nose at phrases like “thumbing his nose.” The Journal consistently beats the Times at analyzing the facts and giving us the gist in colloquial — or at least lively — English that pols and other crooks use when privately figuring out ways to screw the public.

The WSJ is the best daily in the city, obviously for business news, but also for political news. That’s because you don’t have to read very far into its stories to get the real skinny. After all, its audience is largely those people who skirt the line between being crooks or just barely legal (according to their own lawyers) sharks.

But even if you’re not a shark or otherwise scheming just to make money from money, the Journal‘s still a great read. Sound, detailed, lucid reporting, with plenty of human-interest angles and vivid descriptions, even of callow business people. The paper’s a cheap subscription and has a well-tuned website. Besides, it offers a good way for Americans who can’t afford million-dollar apartments to try to understand the nefarious activities of those who can.

Considering that the country is falling into a major depression, you commoners (who, after all, will feel the brunt of it) would be better off reading the Journal than the Times. At least you’ll get a more accurate and readable measurement of how far you’ll fall.

Both papers, incidentally, are likely to still be publishing a year from now. The same can’t be said of other papers.