Leading Off (4/16/13): The Morning News Editorial Board Tackles the Boston Bombing and Fails

A national tragedy, and I’m about to harp on something as insignificant as a few words published by the Dallas Morning News in its aftermath? Yes, I am. You don’t get a free pass because you’re typing during a trying time. In fact, you show your mettle. And in this instance, while some good work is getting done in the trenches, from the big offices, where the highest-paid DMN writers ply their craft, we get dreck. I’m talking about the editorial board.

About two hours after the explosions, Tod Robberson took to the paper’s Opinion Blog to tell people that no one, at that point, knew who was responsible for the attack. Then he went on to speculate about who might be responsible for the attack.

One thing for sure: This was well planned. Al-Qaeda also patiently looks for openings and areas of vulnerability. The New York Marathon, for example, would have had such tight security it would have been almost impossible to infiltrate a bomb without the perpetrator being caught. Boston probably wasn’t on anyone’s radar for a big attack.

What? Why would someone try to infiltrate a bomb? No one wants to get inside a bomb. Unless you’re the guy from Hurt Locker and you find the top-secret machine from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and you think you can disarm the bomb from within, in which case Zac might watch that movie. Does Robberson know what the word “infiltrate” means? And why would he say that Boston probably wasn’t on anyone’s radar? It makes me angry just typing those words. We don’t know the attack was well planned. We don’t know whether security is tighter at the New York Marathon or the Boston Marathon. We do know that thousands of law-enforcement and security personnel were involved in the planning of the Boston Marathon. I’m guessing that an attack was on their radar. Since 9/11, an attack has been on EVERYONE’S radar.

The best part: after doing all this speculating, Robberson warns against speculation, citing the Kaufman County murders, which many thought were carried out by the Aryan Brotherhood but which it seems now were the work of a lone Segway-riding lunatic. Okay, wait. That wasn’t the best part. The best part was Robberson’s final paragraph:

There’s nothing pithy to be said. We live in a sick world.

This is like a plumber saying, “There’s no way to get water in here. We live in world without pipes.” Where Robberson engaged in ill-advised speculation before throwing up his hands and saying, in effect, “I’m no good at this job,” the comedian Patton Oswalt showed us on Facebook how it should be done:

You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. … This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

Pretty damn pithy. Oswalt, it should be noted, has never won a Pulitzer. He did the voice of Remy from the movie Ratatouille.

The only thing worse than Robberson’s post is the editorial that the DMN published in the paper this morning. I don’t know if Robberson wrote it; I won’t speculate. But it manages to say nothing and do it with prose so purple that it makes me want to sing “I Would Die 4 U” while I ride my motorcycle to Lake Minnetonka.

I should probably stop here, before I get carried away.


  • Paul

    I think you just sent an invitation for a thorough edit of the May issue of D. Let the games begin!

  • David Hopkins

    Isn’t “we live in a sick world” extremely pithy? Patton Oswalt, in contrast, nailed it.

  • Yvonne Crum

    Most interesting observation.. and right on track.. oh my goodness…!

  • Michael Hassett

    I’m glad he has determined Al-Qaeda was to blame. Saves a lot of people a lot of time.

  • SybilsBeaver

    He wants it to be Al-qaeda, its an easier thing to write about. Heaven forbid we have to write about domestic terrorism and actually use brain cells

  • SandyMc

    Agree. Roberson editorial = dribble drabble. Oswalt post = amazing.