Put the lie in your lead and the truth deeper into your story, Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney relayed on Sunday in passing along advice he got from his late father. A few pages away, Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton seemed to take that advice as he led his Sunday column, “The truth about the Sarah Palin e-mails,” by asserting: “If you read the mail to the ombudsman last week, you would think The Post organized a vigilante mob to burn Sarah Palin at the stake. That interpretation is complete balderdash.” He also insisted: “Nor was this a biased, one-sided effort to dig up dirt on Republicans and not Democrats.”
Not until the 17th paragraph of his lame 17 paragraph column did Pexton undermine his premise and let the truth out:
I think requesting the correspondence of public officials is a crucial tool for journalists. Sure, go ahead and get Obama’s e-mails from when he was an Illinois state senator. Why not? And I think crowd-sourcing is here to stay as a regular part of the future of this publication and others.
Yet, the Post hasn’t been balanced an fair since they haven’t requested Obama’s e-mails from his Illinois years. Having not done that, if they had been unbiased, they would have been consistent and passed on digging into Palin’s e-mail. And if they had any interest in appearing balanced, sometime during the nearly three years they waited for Palin’s e-mails they would have made an effort to access Obama’s.
Pexton’s conclusion is a pretty good indictment of his newspaper’s bias.
Sunday night post by Tim Graham: “WaPo Ombudsman Insists Conservative Palin E-mail Complaints Were 'Complete Balderdash'”
In his June 19 Fathers Day tribute to his late dad, Jim McCartney, a long-time Washington correspondent for the Knight-Ridder chain, current Post columnist and former reporter Robert McCartney recalled his father’s advice:
“Never put the truth in the lead [first paragraph]. It scares the editors, and they’ll change it,” he instructed, only half-joking.
For instance, if a politician was a lying, corrupt weasel, you couldn’t just say it outright at the top. Too provocative.
He claimed it was safe to put the truth in the second or third paragraph, because the editors never read that far.
Robert McCartney also revealed how a liberal worldview is instilled in succeeding generations of journalists:
Both his writings and our family dinner conversations featured extensive discussions of how the military-industrial complex encouraged warmongering and how America’s need for oil explained its policies in the Middle East.