So here’s an example of what I call a story dying on the table. You had a thought, you went out, started reporting, seemed to find some stuff that supported your idea, but then, the next fifteen phone calls totally contradicted everything you thought you knew, and it’s starting to look like you’re full of shit, and you have this mishmash of stuff that doesn’t fit, doesn’t work and certainly isn’t a story.
Ordinarily, as a reporter, you’d go back to your editor and say, look, I thought I had it, I pounded on it as hard as I could, but it died anyway.
If you’re this reporter, however, you just suck it up and shove your thesis on top of a bunch of quotes thatin no way bear that thesis out:
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) of Pennsylvania once looked like a top-tier target for Democrats in their drive to take over the House. He’s a freshman, which in a typical election year would make him more vulnerable to defeat than longer-serving members. And his district, north of Philadelphia, has an increasingly Democratic tilt to it.
But Mr. Fitzpatrick has worked hard to distance himself from President Bush, particularly on Iraq. As a popular, longtime Bucks County commissioner before his election to Congress, he maintains a strong local identity.
“Fitzpatrick’s best asset is that he’s not a congressional insider,” says Amy Walter, House race analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. It also helps, she adds, that opponent Patrick Murphy is a young political novice.
Fitzpatrick’s name remains on handicappers’ lists of endangered incumbents, and he could still go down in the event of a strong Democratic wave.
For Republican Rep. Curt Weldon (news, bio, voting record), in his 10th term, his strength in Pennsylvania’s Seventh District has been in spreading federal largesse not just to his district but his entire region.
On the other hand, “Weldon’s been running around talking about weapons of mass destruction and the war, and so he has made the war his issue,” says Mr. Patti. “That cuts both ways.” Weldon also faces a strong, nationally funded opponent in retired Vice Adm. Joe Sestak (D), in a district that went Democratic in the past two presidential races.
Reporter: Republican incumbents are gonna hold on to their seats by forming close bonds with their local communities! Let’s quote some Republicans who are about to lose their seats because of a national meltdown to show you how successful the Republican local strategy really is!
Readers: Chocolate covered what the fucking fuck now?
Honestly. It is okay to kill a story when your reporter comes back with a bunch of stuff that says the story, you know, doesn’texist. You can shock it all you want with the paddles, but sometimes stories just die for lack of facts. There was nothing you could have done. Cover its face and move on.