The Post and ‘liberal bias,’ then and now

Cal Thomas cries AHA! upon reading the Sunday column of The Washington Post‘s ombudsman, in which Deborah Howell writes:

Neither the hard-core right nor left will ever be satisfied by Post coverage — and that’s as it should be. But it’s true that The Post, as well as much of the national news media, has written more stories and more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain. Editors have their reasons for this, but conservatives are right that they often don’t see their views reflected enough in the news pages.

For Mr. Thomas, this is an occasion for pontificating (in a column he wrote for tomorrow) about "what’s wrong with modern media." For me, I’m reminded of "All the President’s Men," which I watched again over the weekend.

There’s a great scene in which Hugh Sloan is trying to explain himself to a fidgety Woodward and Bernstein. "I’m a Republican…" he begins, to which Redford’s Woodward, eager to keep this critical source talking, says, "So am I."

In response, Dustin Hoffman’s Bernstein gives Woodward this look. As focused as he is on the goal of getting Sloan to talk, he registers surprise, for just an instant. His look seems to say, "What did you just say? Going a bit far to ingratiate ourselves with this guy, aren’t we?" The look combines incredulity with a touch of acknowledgment that maybe it IS true, and if so, this Woodward guy is really a different animal.

I really don’t know what newsrooms are like these days because I haven’t worked in one in a while, but in my day it was extremely unusual for anyone to declare a party preference, but a far greater rarity to say, "I’m a Republican." I can think of one reporter I had over the years — one out of dozens — who made a point of saying that, and it was sort of the running gag — he was the "office Republican." He left the paper in 1982 to go to work for a newly elected GOP congressman — Don Sundquist. Now he’s a lobbyist for the insurance industry. I’ve mentioned him here before: Joel Wood.

There have been reporters who, if you forced me to guess, I would guess leaned Republican, and plenty of them who leaned — some very heavily — to the Democrats. But Joel’s the only I remember who made a point of it. Come to think of it, I can only think of one reporter who made a big point about being a Democrat, and he did it to an embarrassing degree. He wasn’t nearly as cool about it as Joel. And why do I just say "leaned" when I speak of the others? Because it’s nothing I would quiz people about, not back in my news days, anyway.

So yeah, Woodward was a different sort of critter, certainly back in Ben Bradlee’s day, and probably today. In another column, Ombudsman Howell says the following:

While it’s hard to get some readers to believe this, I have found no hint of collusion between the editorial and news pages in my three years here. The editorial board’s decisions have nothing to do with news coverage. In fact, Len Downie, who just retired as executive editor, famously didn’t read editorials, and the computer system has a firewall that prevents the newsroom from seeing the editorial staff’s work.

Republican-leaning readers — along with some who say they are Democrats — have overflowed my e-mail inbox saying that The Post is biased in favor of Obama. As I’ve noted before and will again, Obama has gotten more news and photo coverage than McCain.

Of course, readers who tilt to the right will say that with news people being instinctively, reflexively liberal, you don’t need any collusion. (The Post, by the way, endorsed Obama — even after years of agreeing more with McCain on Iraq.)

I’ll close this post with a quote from yet another Howell piece, and this is an experience that everyone in the business can identify with, whatever their biases or lack thereof:

When I came to this job in October 2005, I heard more from Democrats who thought The Post was in George W. Bush’s back pocket. The Post was "Bush’s stenographer." Now I hear mainly from Republicans who think The Post is trying to elect Barack Obama president.

Yup. Been there, heard that.

19 thoughts on “The Post and ‘liberal bias,’ then and now

  1. Lee Muller

    The media elites, and the print editors, and producers of broadcast news, have always voted 80% to 91% for the Democrat in every election.
    Many of them don’t reveal that they have spouses who work for politicians (like Andrea Mitchel and husband Alan Greenspan), or that they are personal college buddies (like Michael Kinsley, Marty Peretz and Al Gore).
    Basic FACTS of media bias.
    Just look at how they black out the news on Obama scandals. They got in the tank for Obama early because he is somewhat “black”, and then were too invested in him to report the sleaze about him.
    Media cover ups for Obama:
    * communist father and other mentors
    * socialist connections with Bill Ayers, ACORN, Michael Klonsky, Saul Alinksy, Democratic Socialists of America, New Party
    * Muslim connections from Wahabee schooling, Black Muslims, his Pakistani roomates in New York, Khalid Monsour paying his way through Harvard, Rashid Khalidi of the PLO, etc.
    * a stooge of the Daley machine, Abner Mikva
    * went from starving lawyer to millionaire by working with swindler Tony Rezko, and parlaying his Senate seat into a $360,000 pork job for Michelle.
    * socialist agenda to “bankrupt” the coal industry, nationalize industry, take over 401-k accounts, send electic and gasoline costs “skyrocketing” through taxes, ban most guns, shut down talk radio and Internet blogs…e

  2. Norm Ivey

    I’ve concluded that some news organizations (MSNBC, Fox News) deliberately lean right or left. I think most news organizations (including The State) are balanced, or at least strive to be. All you have to do is go back and read the number of comments that have tagged Mr. Warthen as in the tank for both Obama and McCain–sometimes on the same blog entry.
    If a consumer of news personally leans to the left, he or she is likely to see news organizations as right-biased, and vice versa. The bias isn’t really so much in the news, but in ourselves.

  3. Lee Muller

    If the news side was not biased, they would print stories on the Obama scandals, instead of covering up for him every week.
    This week it is Obama’s desire to bankrupt coal-powered businesses, covered up by the San Francisco Chronicle.
    Last week, it was videotape of Obama partying in 2006 with Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorn, Rashid Khalidi, and other terrorists.
    Every week, coverup after coverup for Obama, with 64% of all news stories for Obabama being positive, and 32% of news about McCain being positive.

  4. Norm Ivey

    Did it ever occur to you that it might be that 64% of what Obama does is positive, while only 32% of what McCain does is positive? Balanced reporting doesn’t mean 50-50. It means stories are given their due weight based on interest and importance. Did it occur to you that they don’t report on the stories you want them to because they just aren’t important enough or true enough? Or that you are making more of the negatives than really exists? Or that many people really prefer Obama as president in spite of your claims?

  5. Lee Muller

    Did it occur to you that 64% positive news for Obama is due to Big Media CONCEALING theh scandals that are later dug up by small papers, Internet journalists, and talk radio?
    Do I need to provide you a partial list of the many Obama scandals covered up by the media?
    It is really bogus to claim that “the stories aren’t important”, when the public becomes so inflamed as they leak out. The reason they were not reported was because the WERE IMPORTANT for the voters to know.
    Of course, to a socialist, like many in the media are, Obama having mostly communist and terrorist friends is no big deal.

  6. Norm Ivey

    But “the public” isn’t inflamed. You are, and a few others are, but that’s all. Both sides–right and left–have extreme proponents. You’re more right-biased than the general public. You tend to see socialism, communism and terrorism where it doesn’t really exist. You may be mistaking lack of interest in a story for CONCEALMENT. I don’t need a list of supposed offenses. I’ve seen the lists you’ve posted repeatedly on Brad’s blog. I’m unimpressed.
    If Obama is victorious tomorrow, America is not suddenly on a downward spiral into communism. We’re not going to hand over our nation to terrorists. The world won’t end tomorrow or on January 20th. We’ve been doing this for 218 years. Everything is going to be alright. Really.

  7. Ish Beverly

    What about the civilian force that Obama proposes to establish if he is elected president? It is to be larger than our military force. Do I see a socialist thing here? Is this Chairman Mao of China all over again with a great leap forward (backward) when Mao sent all those young thugs throughout China? There are just to many things about Obama that has not been explained or investigated. If you are sane and vote for Obama, you should be investigated.

  8. Norm Ivey

    The civilian force he talks about is a service force–as in Americorps, Peace Corps and the like. It’s not some sort of police force. If you’re going to argue against his civilian service plans, attack them because they are expensive, not because they’re Maoist.
    I’m sane. I’m voting for Obama. It appears that over half the nation will also. Are you going to investigate all of us? Geez.

  9. Lee Muller

    I see socialism everywhere Obama writes about admiring socialism.
    I hear socialism in every Marxist slogan Obama weaves into his speeches.
    I see socialism in the communist friends and advisors of Obama – William Ayers, Bernadine Dorn, and Michael Klonsky.
    Unfortunately, most Americans, like Brad and Norm Ivey, don’t know what socialism is, are unfamiliar with the socialist writings, and don’t know what Obama is talking about when he delivers a Marxist diatribe against America.

  10. Lee Muller

    Norm, you are simply uninformed.
    Obama’s campaign site explained a bunch of the “forces” he wants to expand and build. That document has been removed.
    One of them is a National Security Force, “at least as large and as well-funded as the military”. Obama proposes diverting $152 BILLION from the military into a dozen “forces”, including this new, armed national police force.
    Wise up. You are just like the liberals who supported Mussolini and Hitler.

  11. Lee Muller

    According to his Blueprint for America, which has been removed from his website, the expanse of
    this is enormous:
    * He wants to double the Peace Corps’ budget by 2011
    * expand AmeriCorps, USA Freedom Corps, VISTA, YouthBuild Program, and the Senior Corps.
    * plus formation of new Obama forces:
    Classroom Corps,
    Health Corps,
    Clean Energy Corps,
    Veterans Corps,
    Homeland Security Corps,
    Global Energy Corps,
    Green Jobs Corps,
    Then Obama dropped this bombshell: a
    National Security Force.
    “Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but is also depends on the teacher in East LA, the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans…”
    “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
    “Now I know what the cynics will say. I’ve heard from them all my life.”
    A national police force “just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the U.S. ilitary! How big is that? And for what purpose? This same Barack Obama who has voted to take handguns, semiautomatic rifles and shotguns from law-abiding people, now proposes to arm his follower of urban youth!

  12. Norm Ivey

    I’m hardly uninformed. I investigate and research claims made by people on both sides. The claim of an armed, national police force is ludicrous.
    There is no armed, national police force in his plan. The idea comes from this quote from a speech Obama made last summer:
    We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
    You can see the quote in context in this video (it occurs at 16 minutes into the video):

    The entire speech is devoted to service–military and civilian– and the quote occurs in the middle of a list of civilian opportunities for service. The sentence just before the widely-circulated quote is this:
    We will…double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy.
    He lists several “Corps” which I think you are interpreting as “forces”. He talks about expanding Americorps, the Foreign Service, Peace Corps, Senior Corps, and Freedom Corps He wants to create a Classroom Corps, Energy Corps, several other new Corps that are dedicated to service. None of them are even close to being an armed police force.
    The “civilian national security force” is a rhetorical fourish. The idea is that civilians can contribute to our national security by engaging in service. A reader or listener with an open mind understands this metaphor.

  13. Norm Ivey

    We crossed in our postings. I see you know of the list of Corps Obama would like to create and expand. Which group do you think is the armed police force?
    The Blueprint is still available. It is located here:
    (See? You claimed it was gone. Rather than take your word for it, I verified. Which of us was uninformed?)
    I can appreciate an argument that attacks the expansion and creation of these service agencies because of their expense. I find it difficult to believe that someone of your obvious intelligence can really interpret his words to mean the creation of a Nazi-style SS.

  14. Lee Muller

    1. America does not need any of these “corps” or “forces” proposed by Obama. We need to be abolishing the Peace Corps, Job Corps, etc.
    2. They are not volunteers. They are paid.
    3. The proposed expense is ridiculous.
    4. The are of no benefit to America. They are to build loyalty to the leaders, like FDR, JFK, BHO.
    5. Obama said, We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
    What national security objectives has he set?
    Why can’t our military provide security?
    Why can’t our elected sheriffs provide security?
    It smells like Hitler Youth or Mao’s Red Guard to me.
    What do you think it is, since it obviously isn’t any of the other innocuous “forces” or “corps” he proposes for every other pseudo-problem in the world?
    And what do you know about socialism?
    Have you read Hitler’s book, ‘Mein Kampf’?
    Have you read any of Obama’s books?
    Have you read any of Lenin or Trotsky?
    Are you aware of how militaristic the WPA and CCC of Roosevelt were, how modeled after Hitler?
    Do you know how much the liberals of the 1920s and 1930s supported Mussolini and Hitler?
    Do you realize how many communists and socialists are managing the Obama campaign?

  15. Lee Muller

    I hope Norm Ivey is taking this time to study up on socialism. Norm seems like a nice fellow, who wants to be a moderate, and wants to believe that there are no evil socialists in office.

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