Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Reflections on 20 Years as Accidental Columnist

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo

A recent one, published February 11, 2011, raised doubts about the media coverage — and information released –— following the shooting of then-Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords. I realized the piece could be controversial, and I spent more time writing and rewriting it than I have any other column.

I heard from medical professionals, political insiders, journalists and people who had relatives who had suffered traumatic brain injuries. Virtually all of them echoed my thoughts.

But the biggest reaction by far came in response to a June 13, 2002, column (yes, almost 10 years ago to the day) mocking the Congressional testimony against mountaintop mining of Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys. Apparently, the boy band’s fan website posted my piece and dozens of teeny-boppers (along with more than a few adult groupies) took offense at my criticism of Richardson.

Politics and journalism certainly have changed during the past 20 years, and not necessarily for the better. What hasn’t changed for me is the importance of the folks on the copy desk, who try to correct as many of my goofs as they can find, the energy of the newspaper’s bright young reporters, the wise counsel of my longtime colleague Nathan Gonzales and a series of editors, especially Tim Curran and Lauren Whittington, who have always been encouraging and supportive.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

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