Departing Senator Blasts Press p. 11

By: TONY CASE NO BOMBSHELLS AS to why Sen. Alan K. Simpson
(R-Wyo.) is leaving Washington after three terms. He says he's simply ready to do something else with his life.
But addressing the Newspaper Association of America convention this week, Simpson, one of the record 13 senators who decided not to run for reelection this year, couldn't resist blaming the press for forcing his retirement into the news prematurely while blasting reporters for their use of anonymous sources.
Simpson said he had intended to announce his departure from Congress during a function back home in Cody, Wyo. But a reporter who learned of the senator's plans through an unnamed source broke the news to the nation instead.
Calling the episode "an intrusion of my privacy," Simpson told several hundred newspaper publishers lunching at the Waldorf-Astoria: "One tip I've got for you ? you'd better get rid of anonymous sources in your line of work or you won't make it much further. Anonymous sources are bizarre."
The most salacious details contained in news stories seem to always come from those who wish not to be identified, Simpson observed ? and the public, he maintained, highly disapproves of reporting that depends on these shadowy figures.
In a half-hour talk peppered with ribald political humor ? and no shortage of four-letter words ? the senator insisted that he and his colleagues accomplish quite a lot on the legislative front, despite the surfeit of news reporting on gridlock.
"It's so vacuous to watch us do our work, come out of conference committee and the first question is, 'Who won?' 'Who lost?' 'Who caved?' 'Who didn't cave?' " he said. "Forget it! Ask whether your country made a step ahead instead of 'Who caved?' "
Simpson shared with the NAA members what he termed the "five C's of journalism."
He explained: "Journalists are more directed toward confusion, conflict and controversy ? and clarity comes last."
The final C-word, he joked, pertains to television reporters: coiffed.
"You must be properly coiffed to do the news," he said to roars of laughter. "If you jerked that script away from half of them, they would have thought they were selling chickens" instead of reading the news.


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