Thursday, June 10, 2004

Dewey Beats Truman All Over Again

Maybe you haven’t heard this one yet.

It was DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN all over again.

The Tampa Tribune apologized this week for what it called a “terrible error” after publishing an incorrect editorial after the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in the National Hockey League playoffs.

The newspaper had prepared two editorials—planning to use one if the Lightning won, the other if the Lightning lost. Well, the Lightning won, so you get one guess which editorial made the paper the next morning.

The wrong one.

It was another in a string of embarrassing things that have been happening to newspapers recently.

“We took a puk in the gut this morning when we published the wrong editorial about the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup final on Monday night,” wrote Rosemary Goudreau, the paper’s editorial page editor.

“We apologize to the team and to the fans for our terrible error….”

The Smoking Gun wrote, “In another fabulous newspaper screw-up, a Florida newspaper printed a lead editorial saluting the Tampa Bay Lightning’s valiant—but unsuccessful—bid to beat the Calgary Flames for hockey’s Stanley Cup.

“The Florida newspaper’s mistake came eight months after the New York Post bemoaned a Boston Red Sox victory in the American League Championship Series which, of course, the Yankees actually won….”

However, one of the most horrible newspaper screw-ups of all time came on Nov. 3, 1948 when the Chicago Tribune had its now-famous front page banner headline that had the DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN message the morning after the presidential vote.

The next day, Give ‘Em Hell Harry was photographed holding the Tribune’s front page in the air after he won the election.

More recently, the newspaper business has been infected by people such as Jayson Blair of the New York Times and Jack Kelley of USA Today, who wrote more fiction than fact for their papers.

But that’s not the extent of the problem. Newspapers everywhere are hurting financially. Circulation is down, profits are down, and layoffs are coming at such high-profile papers as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

When layoffs happen at places like that, they also come to smaller papers.

There are problems locally, too. Rob Borsellino recently authored an embarrassing column in the Des Moines Register which showed that he was in over his head in writing about the death of Bill Reichardt.

Borsellino wrote that, as an Iowa football player, Reichardt “was the Big Ten MVP in a year when the school didn’t win a single game – 0-9.”

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Iowa had a 2-5-2 record in 1951. The comment about the 0-9 record was an embarrassment to the family of the late Leonard Raffensperger, who then was Iowa’s coach.

Raffensperger’s son, Gene, is a former Register city editor, sports editor, Eastern Iowa Bureau Chief and senior reporter. Borsellino’s big-time error has been drawing plenty of “well, what-do-you-expect-from-the-guy?” comments at our weekly lunches that attract retired and working reporters and editors.

Frankly, Borsellino wears me out with the stuff he writes, so I’m not in the habit of checking out how many times he uses the word “I” in his columns. I let others worry about that.

But readers tell me that the biggest problem with the column on Reichardt was that neither Borsellino nor the paper has admitted the mistake in print.

Nor did the paper admit another recent error. That came in the sports section when it reprinted a story from the Biloxi, Miss., Sun Herald that said Tim Floyd planned to join Larry Eustachy’s basketball coaching staff at Southern Mississippi as an unpaid assistant.

The Register printed the story three days after the AP carried a story that said Floyd had no intention of joining Eustachy’s staff.


Too bad for the Iowa Cubs and their fans.

If the Cubs were playing at home this weekend and not in Oklahoma City, Sammy Sosa would be trying to hit home runs at Sec Taylor Stadium instead of in Jackson, Tenn.

Sosa has been on the disabled list after hurting his back by – excuse the expression – sneezing. At first, he wanted no part of a minor league rehab assignment, but later agreed to it.

Cubs management told Chicago reporters that they wanted no part of helping the attendance at Oklahoma City, so that’s why the Class AA West Tenn franchise was selected as the site of Sosa’s rehab assignment.

Sosa’s rehab starts Sunday, and he’s expected to return to Chicago next Wednesday. The I-Cubs stay on the road, going from Oklahoma City to Albuquerque.


You may remember “Uncle Bob” Nicholas, who has been corresponding with me in recent weeks about his nephew, 2003 Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler.

The 6-6, 257-pound Chandler (he was listed at 6-7 and 250 as a Hawkeye senior) was trying to make it with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent.

I heard from Uncle Bob again this week. Here’s his e-mail, which was titled “Big Nate Chandler:”

“A quick note from a still proud Uncle Bob.

“Nathan was cut yesterday by the Bills.

“I cried a little with the cry reserved for very sad things, like when you remember your dad and wish he was still around.

“The end of something or a new beginning—I guess it depends on how you look at things.”

[NOTE: Thanks for the update, Uncle Bob, on Big Nate. I observed Big Nate plenty of times last season, and he’s a classy, stand-up young man. I wish him well in whatever he does in the future, whether it’s on the football field or off the field. By the way, Uncle Bob, you brought a tear to my eye with your comment that “I cried a little with the cry reserved for very sad things, like when you remember your dad and wish he was still around.”


For my book, “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines,” I had the pleasure of researching Ronald Reagan’s sportscasting career at Iowa radio stations WHO in Des Moines and WOC in Davenport.

Here’s what I wrote about Reagan, the former president who died last Saturday and is being buried Friday:

Not many play-by-play radio announcers of collegiate football games go on to become president of the United States.

But that was the case with Ronald Reagan, who worked for Iowa stations WOC in Davenport and WHO in Des Moines as a young man.

George F. Davison Jr., a Des Moines attorney and a Sunday newscaster on WHO, said Reagan was hired by WOC in the fall of 1932 to broadcast several Iowa football games from Iowa City. The Minnesota game was among them.

“The pay was $5 a game, plus round-trip bus fare from Davenport,” Reagan said in April, 1974, while speaking at the 50th anniversary of WHO.

Davison said Reagan joined WOC as a staff announcer on Feb. 10, 1933.

“At the time, WOC and WHO were both owned and operated by the Palmer family,” Davison explained. “In May, 1933, the WOC studios in Davenport were closed. Reagan and other WOC employees moved to Des Moines and the WHO facilities. WOC returned to the air in late-1934 as a separate facility.”

After his radio days, Reagan took a screen test in Hollywood in 1937, acted in 53 films and later went into politics. He was elected the nation’s 40th president in 1980 and served two terms.


This is a true story.

A 92-year-old suburban woman was having trouble swallowing her food, so she went to a doctor.

The doctor diagnosed the woman’s problem as achalasia, a disease of the esophagus. But the doctor had good news. He said he could treat the woman successfully.

The woman had been taken to the doctor’s office by her son. The son said he knew the doctor.

“He performed a colonoscopy on me a few years ago,” the son told his mother of a procedure that ranks right up there with a prostate exam in terms of having fun. “He said I had no polyps and that I didn’t need to have another colonoscopy for 10 years.”

Then there was a pause.

“I hope those doctors wash their hands after they do a colonoscopy and before they look inside somebody’s throat,” the son told his mother.
The 92-year-old woman said, “Yes, but they do wear rubber gloves for those exams these days, you know.”

No wonder that guy raves about his mother’s great sense of humor all the time.


Don’t look for me to attend any of the games played in that goofy International Basketball League, if and when it comes to town. If I’m looking for off-beat sports silliness, I’ll stick with women’s wrestling.


Al Schallau, the former Iowan who now lives in California, was in Des Moines a while back.

One of the things he did was attend an Iowa Cubs game at Sec Taylor Stadium. Jeff Lantz, the I-Cubs’ media relations guy, is Schallau’s nephew.

Jeff’s mother (my sister Jean) told me that I was going to get the VIP treatment,” Schallau wrote me in an e-mail. “Jeff took me to my seat in the owner’s box, and then came back two minutes later with a baseball and glove, and said, ‘By the way, you are throwing out the first pitch tonight.’

“So I went out to the mound fearful of impending disaster. But I decided to throw the ball a bit high so it would make it to the plate. I did not want one of those pitches that bounce 20 feet in front of home plate and then roll up there.

“I threw a fairly high pitch. The catcher had to come out of his crouch, but he caught it about neck high. I was quite relieved.”

Vol. 4, No. 237
June 10, 2004