Quack Medicine: Columnists Group Gives Alberto Gonzales 'Sitting Duck' Award

By: Dave Astor The U.S. attorney general, who conveniently "forgets" things when testifying in front of Congress, won the "Sitting Duck Award" at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) conference Sunday.

"We're giving the award to Alberto Gonzales, but can't remember why," quipped NSNC President Mike Argento, columnist for the York (Pa.) Daily Record.

The annual Sitting Duck "honor" goes to a person or situation that's an easy target for columnists. Among the other candidates this year were Fox News host/Creators Syndicate columnist Bill O'Reilly and the media's overcoverage of shallow celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

One reason NSNC members opted not to choose O'Reilly was that it might have been a "cheap shot" to do so after he spoke at the NSNC conference Friday.

The NSNC Sunday also elected a partial slate of new officers (Argento and Vice President Samantha Bennett of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have another year on their terms).

The new officers include secretary Ben Pollock of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, treasurer Lindor Reynolds of the Winnipeg Free-Press, archivist Linda Caillouet of the Democrat-Gazette, contest chair Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News, membership chair Dan St. Yves of Calgary in Canada, and 2008 conference chair Smiley Anders of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La.

New Orleans will be the site of next year's conference, during which attendees will fan out in the still-partly-devastated city to write post-Katrina columns.

The NSNC also passed a resolution to try to devote at least one session at each future conference to discuss ways columnists can better cover people, including the poor, who most need help.

Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch columnist Mike Harden, winner of the NSNC's Will Rogers Humanitarian Award on Saturday, had suggested the resolution.


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