Ball Talk

Week of March 26, 2003

Ball Talk
Chalk one up for the American Life League: Thanks for publishing Mike Seely's article about the American Life League's Battin' 1000 program ["Pro Ball, Pro-Life," March 19]. That is wonderful news that so many professional baseball players are willing to speak out and to donate money. A pro-life education center is needed to help educated the public on all life-related issues.

I think it is only fair that you give people the information on how to find out more about the American Life League, since it seems that you neglected to contact anyone from the American Life League about this story. If anyone wants to know more about American Life League, please go to their Web site,

Thanks again for publishing this.
Laura Gidley-Feltz
Columbia, Illinois

Clarification Department
Warren to World: I Love Dick Gephardt: D.J. Wilson interviewed me about Dick Gephardt's chances of winning the presidency ["Weather Vane," February 26]. Of course, as a political analyst I presented the pros and cons of his presidential bid. Wilson is a solid journalist, and he did what journalists have the right to do -- that is, use the quotes that they want from the interview to develop the spin they need for their story. I was literally interviewed hundreds of times by the local, national and international print and electronic media last fall alone, and I can say emphatically that all reporters use selective quotes to spin their stories.

Unfortunately, giving interviews is always risky, because the interviewee's true position may be misrepresented in the story -- sometimes grossly, as was my position. For the record, I used to be Dick Gephardt's pollster and co-campaign manager with Joyce Aboussie back in the early 1980s. I was impressed with Dick Gephardt's character and political wisdom then, and I still am. Gephardt has many strengths. He is very intelligent, an articulate and substantive speaker (but not as flashy), experienced, and his public-policy stands are better than his rivals'.

Naturally he is a long shot in the sense that any candidate challenging an incumbent is. But Gephardt will have the money, labor support, issues and political and interest-group endorsements to make a very serious run at the Democratic nomination. Luckily, even the primary/caucus front-loaded schedule somewhat favors Gephardt. He should win Iowa, run well in New Hampshire (probably second or third behind Carey and/or Lieberman), win Missouri and do fairly well in the multiple Southern primaries because of his patriotic stand on the war and his pro-working-class economic positions. The fact that he is from Missouri (not Massachusetts, Connecticut or New York) will also play better in the South than the candidates from the Northeast, because candidates from the Northeast in modern times have done poorly in the South (e.g., Michael Dukakis).

In light of my interview with Wilson, Richard Orr wrote a March 12 letter to the RFT making absurd statements, causing me to think he has me confused with my former colleague and friend, George Wendel. Orr says he debated me on a talk show in 1988 and I made the claim that Gephardt would lose his House seat because he switched to pro-choice.

I do not remember any such debate, and I would never make such a ridiculous assertion. Not only did Gephardt face token opposition, but incumbent U.S. representatives win at a 93 percent rate and an even higher rate toward the end of a census decade. Studies show that such incumbents lose for two basic reasons: redistricting and scandal.

Orr also calls me conservative. I am sure the people who know me got a big laugh out of that characterization. Richard Orr is very, very confused.
Kenneth F. Warren
Department of Political Science
St. Louis University

Almost Funny
Setting a bad example for students everywhere: Although "SheBron's Truth" is a rather light article, aren't you concerned that the whole idea of it being a lie will sway your readers [Mike Seely, February 12]? In the letters you have posted on your Web site, myself and my classmates were able to see the disappointment in your regular readers because of such betrayal. Many don't wish to ever read the RFT again. Doesn't this concern you?

This article was not something that could have ruined lives or put someone in jeopardy of losing something; it, when thought about, is almost funny, but the main focus that has to be taken into account is the fact that journalists have an obligation to the truth. This story was just simply not that at all. In my college media-ethics class, we used your story to discuss why it's important to stick to the truth, and we also discussed why lies in the media ruin lives. How are we ever to regain full trust in your stories in the future?
Andrea Johnson
Belleville, Illinois

We Aim to Please
A satisfied customer writes: Just a note to inform you and your staff of writers, journalists, cartoonists, advertisers, printers, distributors and all others that me and my family enjoy the hell out of your paper. We've been avid readers for years. We even take your paper with us when we travel, and our out-of-town acquaintances' first words are "How are you, and did you bring me a Riverfront Times?" Thanks again, and keep the paper coming!
M.R. Williamson

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