Howell: 'Most Washington Post Journalists Voted for Obama. I Did'

A week after Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell agreed with readers who saw “a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama” in the paper's campaign coverage, Howell this Sunday admitted she voted for Obama and “bet” that so did “most” in the Post's newsroom:

I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

In her November 16 column, “Remedying the Bias Perception,” Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News for 15 years before joining the Post as ombudsman in 2005, proposed a solution to the liberal dominance in newsrooms which biases coverage: “Are there ways to tackle this? More conservatives in newsrooms and rigorous editing would be two. The first is not easy: Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done.”

Back in August, as recounted in my August 18 NewsBusters item, “Washington Post Ombudsman: '3 to 1' Obama Front Page Advantage,” Howell had already documented the slant at her newspaper:

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell reviewed how many stories the newspaper put on the front page about John McCain and Barcak Obama over the past ten weeks and discovered a wide gap in favor of Obama, a "disparity," she declared, "so wide that it doesn't look good." Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News from 1990 until 2005, outlined in her weekly Sunday column what she determined: "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good."

As for Howell's presumption “most Post journalists voted for Obama,” that's a safe bet given how 96 percent of the staff at Post-owned Slate reported they planned to back Obama.

My November 1 NB post, “96% of Slate Staff to Vote for Obama; 55 Obama to One for McCain,” related:

A beyond overwhelming 96 percent of the staff of Slate.com, the online news magazine site owned by the Washington Post, plan to vote for Barack Obama. A Tuesday posting, "Slate Votes: Obama wins this magazine in a rout," reported 55 staff members plan to cast their ballot for Obama, a mere one person will vote for John McCain, the same number (one) who support libertarian Bob Barr. Another staffer replied: "Not McCain." It's hard to imagine such left-wing uniformity isn't matched at many other media outlets. In a Wednesday posting, Slate Editor-at-Large Jack Shafer (the Barr backer) quipped: "I doubt that Obama will garner 96 percent even in his home precinct of Hyde Park."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center