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Monday, December 31, 2007

Chris Cillizza Blows It On Ohio Politics: One Of His Best 'Columnists' Has No Column

CINCINNATI (TDD) -- Washington Post political expert/blogger Chris Cillizza says one of the best political newspaper columnists in Ohio is named Howard Wilkinson. In Ohio, we know Howard, and he's no columnist. The headline says reporters, the copy says columnist, and Wilkinson used to have a column at the Cincinnati Enquirer. But the paper took it away from him years ago. It vanished not many months after George Bush beat Al Gore at the start of this century --the last Wilkinson column Cillizza linked to was in August 2001.

Ending Wilkinson's run was probably a mistake by the Enquirer's management because Wilkinson is wired into Southwest Ohio's political network. Still, he's no columnist. Wilkinson is now a reporter who writes about a variety of topics, including politics. A very talented reporter, by the way. But he doesn't have a column. He doesn't even have a political blog like Chris Cillizza -- Wilkinson merely contributes to the Cincinnati daily's Politics Extra.

No snark aimed at Howard. He's a bright and talented fellow. Snark aimed at Cillizza. Does it seem he has little first hand knowledge about the Ohioana he's writing about? Didn't Jill Miller Zimon raise questions earlier this month about the Washington Post's touting of Iowa political reporter David Yepsen?

Joe Hallett of The Dispatch in Columbus deservedly makes Cillizza's list. Hallett came from The Plain Dealer, where he covered the Statehouse. There is no question (bias displayed here as a former PD employee) that the Cleveland newspaper has the superior political writers and reporters and columnists in Ohio. It is a hallmark of the newspaper. Another nit to pick with Cillizza. He writes that The Plain Dealer's Tom Suddes is one of the best in Ohio. Suddes is clearly one of the best. But he's a freelance. He's been in Athens after resigning from The Plain Dealer Columbus news bureau years ago to seek a Ph.D. at Ohio University. Suddes is not on The Plain Dealer's staff.


  1. Thanks for this post, Bill. What I start to wonder is, with all the brouhaha over the ethics and ability to trust bloggers, we get these kind of inconsistencies from someone who is purportedly a very established big metro/national paper. What is going on there? Does Cillizza need an editor? Is he not involved enough in that which carries his name?

    I just think some explanations for how it all comes together would be helpful. It makes those of us bloggers who really do care about what we post feel the sting of the criticisms even more when those who are at least in part connected to the MSM don't take the same care that the MSM seems to think we never take.

    Anyway - happy new year!

  2. Hi Jill --

    Sorry I did not respond last night. Out for the New Year's Eve. Your point earlier in the month is that these guys from outside lack expertise about the states and local slices of geography they must write about. I heartedly agree. Howard Wilkinson hasn't had a column for nearly a decade. Fact is, the Enquirer got rid of almost all its columnists years ago to save money or to cut costs or to avoid controversy. There has never been a public explanation. I think there are only two columnists now -- the ultra-conservative Peter Bronon on the OP-ED page and the sports guy Paul Daugherty. I would gladly write a center left column for them, but they would probably be too afraid of someone who might be have a too-independent streak. I think Tom Blumer would be a great center-right for them, too. He is from this area. I think commentary that is provocative generates readers and readership. And they ought to put Howard back in action, and let him cut loose. He knows a lot of stuff and is a talented writer.