Sunday Wrap: Mitchell in Awe of Cabinet's 'Brain Power,' Donaldson Pro-Mario Cuomo, Ombudsman Urges Bias Fix

Some quick items from the Sunday interview shows and newspapers:
♦ On Meet the Press, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, who last month hailed Obama's “all-star cabinet,” on Sunday trumpeted the cabinet's “meritocracy,” and how it's supposedly made up of “superstars,” as she gushed over “people with so much brain power and so much education.”

♦ Over on ABC's This Week, during the roundtable's look at Caroline Kennedy as a potential Senator from New York, Sam Donaldson opined that “my preference would be Andrew Cuomo,” the liberal Attorney General for the Empire State, because, in part, “I thought his father would make a very good President.” That would be the far-left Mario Cuomo.

♦ In her final column for the Washington Post, outgoing ombudsman Deborah Howell urged the paper to address its lack of political diversity. Since “too many Post staff members think alike,” she advised: “Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper.”
Mitchell during the panel segment on the December 21 Meet the Press:
It's also a meritocracy. These are superstars, not afraid of strong personalities -- Larry Summers inside the White House -- but people with so much brain power and so much education, and a combination of, of talents here. And maybe it's combustible, but it's clear from people who have been to briefings with him that he listens carefully, but he's also very decisive and he knows what he wants.
My November 21 NewsBusters item reported how Mitchell, sounding completely in the tank, hailed President-elect Obama's “all-star cabinet” as she maintained “Obama is determined to pick the strongest, smartest people he can find, knowing that he is facing an economic crisis of historic proportions.”

Donaldson on This Week during a discussion about the merits of New York Governor David Paterson naming Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat:
My preference would be Andrew Cuomo. Why? Because he's experienced, he's paid his dues and, but an aside, I thought his father would make a very good President.
In November columns, Howell agreed with readers who saw “a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama” in the paper's campaign coverage and admitted she voted for Obama and “bet” that so did “most” in the Post's newsroom. In August, 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.”

Now, in her December 21 column, “Resolutions for a Better Post,” Howell advised:
The Post is one of the best newspapers in the country -- so much better than the hollowed-out newspapers scattered across the landscape. As my term ends, I'd like to again point out ways that The Post can enhance its accessibility, credibility and appeal to readers in this time of economic stress.

...

Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper. I'd like those who have canceled their subscriptions to be readers again. Too many Post staff members think alike; more diversity of opinion should be welcomed.
My November 16 NewsBusters item, “Howell: 'Most Washington Post Journalists Voted for Obama. I Did,'” recounted:
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, Howell had already documented the slant at her newspaper: “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.”
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