Houston Chronicle, Modestly Declining To Blow Its Own Horn. For Some Reason

The Houston Chronicle bannered a headline Saturday over a story about federal inspectors criticizing the Harris County Jail: "County Jail Fails Feds' Probe."

The story outlined the results of the inspection, saying "poor access to health care and life-threatening conditions" at the jail violated inmates' rights.

What brought on the inspections in the first place? "The Department of Justice initiated its investigation last year after the jail, which has failed four of its last six state inspections, came under scrutiny for inmates' deaths, overcrowding and inadequate access to medical treatment," the Chron reported.

"Came under scutiny"? Why not mention that the conditions were exposed in stories published by the Chronicle itself? Since when has the Chron ever passed up an opportunity to trumpet itself?

When there's lawyers involved, possibly.

The stories exposing the conditions were written two years ago by Steve McVicker (Anita Hassan co-write one). And McVicker no longer works for the Chron.

He won't talk about it, but he is suing the paper over his layoff in a case filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

There was some indication the Chron felt heat from the story -- then-Sheriff Tommy Thomas was allowed to publish a lengthy rebuttal, a rebuttal that was itself not allowed to be rebutted.

McVicker was laid off eight months or so after the initial story ran, so it's not likely there's a direct cause-and-effect, but if the EEOC suit centers on job-perfomance issues then it might make the Chron less likely to brag publicly about something he'd written.

Or maybe the paper is just adopting a policy of graceful modesty, and not wishing to shine a light upon itself.

It could happen. We guess.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly