In my idealistic world, it’s hard to believe that a journalist would be stupid enough to donate money to a politics-based organization, but Judy Woodruff was just that stupid.

Woodruff, who anchors the PBS NewsHour, contributed $250 to the Clinton Foundation’s Haiti relief efforts, a noble endeavor, but one that now ties her to the Democratic politicians, a sin of the first order for respectable journalists.

She joins George Stephanopoulos, the ABC TV anchor, who gave $75,000, but whose political allegiance has been well known, considering he worked for the Clinton administration. Pols turned journalists are always suspect, but news organizations have been willing to sacrifice ethics for the big name for some time now.

Woodruff, on the other hand, is a lifelong journalist who defends her gift as “charitable.”

That’s a big “no sale” to Michael Getler, the PBS ombudsman, who writes this week that NewsHour is stained by the contribution, particularly since NewsHour hasn’t touched the Stephanopoulos story.

Woodruff has had a distinguished, 45-year journalistic career, holding down important positions with CBS, NBC, CNN and PBS. She has always struck me as straight and professional in her approach to the news and, having watched her now for several years, I couldn’t tell you how she’d vote. But there are lots of ways to contribute to Haitian earthquake relief. So the choice of the Clinton Foundation, even in a small amount and with the best of intentions, was a mistake in my book.

Was the Woodruff link the reason the NewsHour chose not to cover a story that has generated lots of continuing coverage in The Washington Post, New York Times and many other outlets? It doesn’t look good from where I sit. The program did post an Associated Press story on its web site last Friday but, aside from the Woodruff statement, it has broadcast nothing about the broader story to its viewers. And the AP story did not mention Woodruff.

I asked the NewsHour’s executive producer, Sara Just, for the reasoning behind not covering the Stephanopoulos story on the air. She said: “We had an online piece but for broadcast we didn’t think it met the bar as a story for our limited on-air news hole that day.”

“In my job, I sometimes chafe at some of the restrictions or…the various checks and balances but, you know, it’s there for a reason,” Stephanopoulos told Alec Baldwin on his show/podcast in earlier March.

That was before it was revealed that Stephanopoulos was ignoring those reasons and forfeiting every shred of trust he might have earned.

We have limitless admiration today for the family of Clay Shephard, whose obituary in the Raleigh News and Observer this week was an honest assessment of his death. He died from a drug overdose.

In the obituary, the family wrote a note to those left behind.

Clay William Shephard

November 25, 1992 – May 17, 2015


Our charismatic and beautiful son and brother died Sunday morning from a drug overdose. Clay was the youngest of four children, raised in a loving home in Apex with two brothers and one sister. Outwardly Clay looked like he had it all: Intelligence, confidence, athletic ability, height, beautiful blue eyes, broad smile, fantastic wit, and the ability to engage and forge a relationship with anyone. Inwardly Clay was sensitive and had struggles that he hid well from his close and clannish family.

We loved Clay with all of our hearts, but we now know that was not enough to shield him from the world. This note isn’t an attempt to assign blame for Clay’s death. It’s not to vent our anger and frustration at a world where drugs can be ordered and delivered through the internet. We write this obituary in hope that it may provide an insight to those that need to change their behavior one night at a time.

Clay was a solid student, decent athlete, and a very likeable kid. With his seemingly endless positive traits, he had the potential to be anything from a captivating politician to a brilliant engineer, but drugs began to creep into Clay’s life while he was in high school. As trouble hit, his father stepped in and forged an incredible bond with Clay. Although Clay could never be completely honest about the trouble he was in, his love and respect for his father became a lifeline over the last few years. He successfully completed drug rehab several times, but the craving that comes from true addiction was more than he could overcome.

While we always felt we had some grip on Clay’s issues, his ability to hide and disguise his addiction proved superior to our parental (and sibling) sixth sense. The worry that we have felt watching Clay struggle, has been replaced by a deep feeling of loss that now exists knowing we will never see his smiling face again. Despite these troubles, we can smile knowing that the last communication we had with Clay was a text and answer between mother and son to say “I love you”, just as it should be.

To all children, this note is a simple reminder that there are people who love you, with everything they have and no matter what you do – don’t be too afraid/ashamed/scared, too anything, to ask for help. To all parents, pay attention to your children and the world that revolves around them – even when the surface is calm, the water may be turbulent just beneath. Clay’s struggles have ended. He is finally at peace. We will miss his keen sense of humor, impersonations, cooking, plant advice and rhythm on the dance floor.

Goodbye Clay, we love you and miss you dearly.

Mom & Dad, Cole, Wade & Jess, Jean & Lucas

Please send thoughts, wishes, and prayers to Apex Funeral Home @

The family requests that any donations in memory of Clay be made to Carolina Tiger Rescue at

(h/t: Heather Koshiol)

University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler today pretty much said tuition at the University of Minnesota will increase because a higher education bill isn’t enough to maintain a tuition freeze at the U.

“Minnesota students and their families deserve more consideration at a time of significant state budget surplus,” Kaler said in a statement. “We have done our part to lessen the need for increased tuition revenue by reducing administrative costs by $39 million this biennium, with a plan to reduce an additional $30 million next biennium.”

This should spark another round of debate about whether the cost of a college degree is worth it.

And that’s why a blog post today is worth considering.

Jon Bruns, who writes at My Greenest Kingdom, is a stay-at-home dad, now that he’s retired from a 10-year higher education career.

He acknowledges he’s had a taste of the higher education Kool Aid, but he raises a good question as he relays wisdom he’s given to seniors who are about to head to the working world. How exactly are we to judge “worth it”?

I told them that what my education provided me, above anything else, was the opportunity to create my own definition of success. It was the individual-oriented, whole-life development experience that I had, which was a byproduct of the close friendships and the authentic personal & professional mentors I was able to develop. This education showed me how to examine my life and decided ultimately what was important to me. It help me objectively ask the important questions like, “what the hell am I doing, and is it what I want to be spending all of my time on?” It gave me the background to answer those questions in a thoughtful and educated manner, and ultimately decide it was personally time for a change, even if that meant forgoing a paycheck.

This was not by chance either, but more by design, as the college I attended describes itself as a place that emphasizes “leadership and a personal development profile that includes intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical development.” No doubt a lot of colleges and universities use a similar tagline to promote their institutions, but I feel the education I received really lives up to that. In the most recent alumni magazine I received, the current President, also an alum (and an economist), opines that the education one receives at our alma mater is “as much about the formation of character and the search for meaning as about academics”, providing “a solid foundation to help young men seeking to develop their moral understanding and find meaning in their lives.”

He acknowledges he won’t be realizing the economic potential of a college degree, but he says the point of a degree is to “challenge you to lead an engaged and thoughtful life. To question what is important to you and where you find fulfillment. To have the bravery and courage to put those things first in your life.”

Now, who wants to put a price on discovering your meaning of life?

(h/t: Sam Pokorney)

I flew the official airplane of Team NewsCut to the Berkshires of Massachusetts on Friday, to attend the wedding of my niece on Saturday.

With the ceremonies out of the way, Sunday was chance to give airplane rides to family members who were so interested, including our grand nieces, two young girls, sharp as whips and destined for great things. Smart, inquisitive, and soaking up what’s around them.

These sorts of things don’t just happen.
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If you’ve ever attended a Twins game and sat upstairs behind home plate at the Metrodome, the chances are pretty good that you know Wally Englund, 85, of Richfield. For 14 years he was an usher at the Dome and other sports facilities in the Twin Cities.

But only his wife, a few family members and some season ticket holders who’ve become his close friends over the years know the secret that, until recently, he couldn’t talk about: He is still suffering from his time in the South Pacific during World War II. Read more