Tod Robberson Tackles West Explosion, Fails (Again)

Once again, in the wake of a deadly explosion, Pulitzer Prize-winning DMN editorial writer Tod Robberson has shown us that he is not very good at at his job. A pattern is emerging. After the Boston bombing, he speculated about who was responsible for the attack before acknowledging that speculation wasn’t useful and concluding that there was nothing to say about the matter because we live in a “sick world.” And now West. Last night, three hours after the explosion at the fertilizer plant, Robberson gave us his take on the Opinion Blog. Three hours. The fires were still burning. EMS workers were still searching for bodies. And Robberson wrote this:

The devastation from the explosion in West, especially given the known destructive power from the Oklahoma City bombing, should have been foreseeable. … [W]hy didn’t local planners demonstrate … forethought and imagine what kind of problems could arise when you place a middle school, a retirement complex, apartments and houses next to a fertilizer plant with a 12,000-gallon tank containing highly volatile chemical compounds? Someone needs to be called to account for the scores of deaths and injuries caused by this explosion.

Then, two graphs later, he wrote:

Obviously, this isn’t the time to be asking how this could happen because the main concern is saving lives, easing suffering and containing the damage.

It’s breathtaking. He literally did that. He asked how the explosion could have happened (as he blamed planners), and then, just 100 words later, he said it wasn’t the time to ask that question — obviously.

If this were golf, and if Tod Robberson were a gentleman, he’d withdraw. That’s how sloppy he’s playing. It’s like he carded a 10 on a par-3 after taking an illegal drop and then stepped up to the next tee and duck-hooked his drive into the gallery. Who is his caddy over there? Please, talk to him.

Now, if you want to read something poignant written by a professional who understands how words work, then read what Robberson’s colleague Mike Hashimoto wrote this morning. That’s more like it.