Curiouser And Curiouser At The Chron

We told you yesterday about how the Houston Chronicle was being uncharacteristically modest in writing about federal inspectors criticizing the Harris County jail.

Their story mentioned only how the jail "came under scrutiny" without mentioning that the scrutiny in question was spurred by Chronicle stories.

Cynics that we are, we wondered if that had anything to do with the fact that the guy who wrote those stories, Steve McVicker, is suing the Chron over being laid off. Suits like that tend to take performance issues into consideration, and higher-ups at the paper might not want to have been lauding stories McVicker wrote eight months before his dismissal. As we say, we're cynical. It's a curse.

The Chron wrote about the issue again today in the news section and didn't mention the McVicker stories.

Not so on the editorial page, though.

An editorial headlined "Deadly Detention" makes the connection clear from the outset:

Two years ago the Houston Chronicle published a series of reports documenting the high number of prisoner deaths in questionable circumstances in the Harris County jail. The sheriff at the time, Tommy Thomas, countered that the jail provides "exemplary health care" and rejected assertions that poor sanitation was a threat to the well-being of prisoners.

Editorials obviously follow a different editing stream than news stories. And, also obviously, today's news story proves the earlier decision to not mention the Chron's role was no fluke.

So this looks to be a little bit of rebellion from the Chronicle editorial board. If that's the case, more power to them.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly