Scott W. Johnson (“Lies upon lies: The sad state of ‘Truth,’ ” Nov. 1) condemns the movie “Truth” for making heroes out of the CBS News team that he says “fraudulently” exposed George W. Bush’s deficient Texas Air National Guard service record.

The movie is based on the CBS report that led to the firing of its producer and the demise of Dan Rather at the network. Johnson is right that they were derelict in their duty to verify the documents they used to make their case against Bush. The documents that appeared on the air were not originals; they were created after the fact, with technology that did not exist when Bush’s evaluations were recorded.

But Johnson is dead-wrong about the content of those documents.

Bush was indeed derelict in his duty to the United States, as the Boston Globe’s careful and probing report in 2004 clearly revealed. That report appeared before the CBS story, but no one stood up for the CBS team based on the content; instead, the network — and anyone in the news business who could have defended the content — caved in on the basis of the inauthentic document papers.

Fear of losing access to government sources, plain and simple.

Johnson’s partner in the Power Line blog, John Hinderaker, was once asked by a radio interviewer if Power Line checked the facts on stories it distributed. “No,” he immediately replied. If there are any errors in what Power Line sends out, he said, people out in cyberspace will quickly correct it.

So much for respect for facts.

Gary Gilson, Minneapolis

The writer is former executive director of the Minnesota News Council.

• • •

The journalism of Dan Rather and Mary Mapes in “Truth” was called into question, but the actual facts behind it have backed them up; Bush had a cushy job during the war, and often didn’t even show up for that. Johnson viciously rips into the two journalists, but the rest of us are busy recalling the “swift-boating” of John Kerry. (Wikipedia defines swift-boating as “an unfair or untrue political attack.”)

Which was worse? Putting unverified (but not necessarily untrue) documents on the air, or fabricating a story that denied the very real heroism of a presidential candidate? Bush was never in harm’s way, but Kerry led his men through dangerous waters in Vietnam. Military service was Kerry’s strength, and the Bush people knew they had to rip out the heart of it, so they did, much like Bush “push-polled” the false story of John McCain’s black baby in South Carolina. Rather’s journalism was sloppy, but Bush’s campaigns were purposeful, vicious lies.

Scott Johnson, a rabid right-winger, should not be allowed to “review” a movie as if he were an entertainment writer.

Mary McLeod, St. Paul

 

TWIN CITIES SCHOOLS

Transportation is where the segregation debate must focus

I was dismayed, but not at all surprised, by the Nov. 1 front-page story about the return of school desegregation to Minneapolis and St. Paul. During the debate over St. Paul’s Strong Schools, Strong Communities plan several years ago, many parents (including me) and organizations (including the NAACP) warned that this return to neighborhood schools would result in school segregation. It seemed at the time, and it still seems true today, that despite years of success across this country with busing and magnet programs to integrate schools, the improved educational, social and civic outcomes did not outweigh the cost or inconvenience of busing.

The nostalgic attachment to neighborhood schools must be questioned. Until we as a society can figure out how to integrate our neighborhoods, the schools are our primary hope for achieving a society that provides equal opportunities for children of all income or racial backgrounds to succeed. As a St. Paul district parent, I’d sure like to see more open conversation about transportation, and some creative ideas about finding ways to pay for it, so that we can regain the progress we had once made. Addressing transportation access and cost sure seems like the elephant in the room.

Scott Chazdon, St. Paul

 

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE

Another tip for handling disruptive situation

Retired officer Richard Greelis made some interesting points as he assessed the situation regarding the arrest of the very disruptive South Carolina student (“A retired cop’s analysis — and his concerns,” Nov. 1).

I agree that two officers should have been called and could have more easily secured the situation. A better option, while waiting for the officers, would have been eliminating the disruptive student’s audience. Have all other students leave the room. The limelight for the student’s showmanship and obstinacy would be eliminated.

One last thing, this commentary reads that the student was “fired across the floor.” She was not. The media — namely, the Associated Press — reported that she was “thrown” across the room. Both verbs are very inaccurate and should never have been used. Action words such as that simply work up the reader, and you have to wonder what is achieved by their use other than sensationalism prompted by a professional journalist.

William Lundquist, Bloomington

The writer is a retired police officer.

 

DINING ALONE

Time to ourselves is valuable; this is one way to get it

Thoreau tried it and seemed to like it. My wife takes a class that teaches her how to nurture it. My best friend prefers to hike around Canada with it.

Solitude.

I don’t have a cabin. Yoga isn’t my thing. And I’m not fond of heights.

But eating solo hits the spot for me (“Table for three: Me, Myself and I,” Nov. 1). It took a few tries to get past some skeptical and even sympathetic looks from parties of two or more (or was I just imagining that?), but keeping company with my engrossing book, journal or random thoughts has become my idea of a much-appreciated and needed getting-away-from-it-all.

Once way back in college, a composition professor assigned our class the task of comparing and contrasting two words with seemingly similar meanings. I chose “loneliness” and “aloneness.” My sophomoric logic and research concluded that no one seeks out loneliness (except maybe poets), but people sometimes like being alone. I guess I was onto something.

Fast-forward a bunch of decades. Lately, so much is studied and written about the necessity for and benefits of penciling in time for “aloneness” (read: “solitude”). Based upon Kim Ode’s article, we seem to be getting the point. We need and seek solitude more than ever, and dining alone has become accepted and well, even cool.

Some people covet their cabin time. Others meditate in a studio or head for the hills. I’ll take a cozy restaurant on a chilly autumn night with a candle shedding some light on my table for one.

Of course, that’s when my wife is at her yoga class.

Richard Schwartz, Minneapolis

• • •

I frequently travel solo and have noticed a big increase in restaurant patrons dining alone. Many of them are sitting across the table from their dinner companion, who is sending text messages or scrolling information on a smartphone.

Mark Weber, Minneapolis