WaPo: Reid Paints Angle as 'Dangerously Reactionary,' and That 'Has Not Been Especially Difficult Work'

Saturday's Washington Post put the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race on the front page with the headline "In a tight spot, Sen. Reid colors his foe 'wacky,' reactionary". Post reporter Amy Gardner makes it all about the attack on Angle, not on Reid's record:

Few places are as aptly named as a divey little bar in southwest Las Vegas called The Hammer.That's where the campaign brain trust of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D) unwinds over beer and nachos after long days spent trying to discredit his Republican opponent, former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

All summer long, Reid's small army of young, eager staffers has bombarded Nevada voters with unflattering, sometimes distorted allegations about Angle. They have scoured old newspapers, government transcripts and video archives for anything she has said or done that might be turned against her. In television and radio ads, Reid's aides have tried to create and then exploit perceptions that Angle is a dangerous reactionary.

It has not been especially difficult work.

Angle, a "tea party" favorite, has said many controversial things in her years as a politician. A conservative who is deeply skeptical of government, she called for a phaseout of Social Security and proposed eliminating the departments of Education and Energy. Most recently, Reid claims to have uncovered information that links Angle to an obscure political movement called Christian Reconstructionism, which holds that government should rule according to biblical law.

Why is the Post covering a campaign by the Majority Leader of the Senate entirely focused on laying all his opposition research out on the table? Gardner would only address Reid's record by underlining he doesn't want to talk about it:

He is gaffe-prone, as when he said recently that he didn't know "how anyone of Hispanic origin could be a Republican." And in an anti-incumbent year, Reid has chosen not to run on his credentials as one of Washington's most powerful politicians. Instead, his campaign strategy has been to use his formidable resources to diminish his opponent rather than to promote himself.

This is the Post's first (and so far only) mention of Reid's gaffe, plopped in paragraph 8, safely inside the paper on page A-5. There's no mention of Reid's gaffes about how Obama won election because he was a "light-skinned black" with "no Negro dialect." There's no mention of Reid claiming the war in Iraq was "lost" and the surge accomplished nothing. But the Post is more interested in Reid's Sharron Angle packets:

This month, The Washington Post received a 27-page packet linking Angle to Christian Reconstructionism. Similar material appeared in reports by other news outlets.

Within days, newspapers, television stations and political bloggers in Nevada began buzzing about Angle's ties to this largely unknown conservative movement, which says politicians should follow biblical law and should not separate their Christian beliefs from their secular duties.

The Reid packet strongly implies that Christian Reconstructionism is a dangerous secret society intent on turning the United States into a theocracy. This is something of a stretch. At its peak in the 1990s, the Christian Reconstructionist movement was small and mostly ignored. The group's founder, R.J. Rushdoony, tried to start a political party, but it went nowhere. When Rushdoony died nine years ago, the movement dried up.

It is true that some of Angle's views mirror those of Christian Reconstructionists. She has called government entitlement programs a violation of the First Commandment and has objected to church-state separation.

The Reid material also points out that Angle was an early member of the Independent American Party of Nevada, the state's affiliate of the Constitution Party, which seeks "to restore our government to its Constitutional limits and our law to its Biblical foundations."

Of course, to any group of secular leftists, it's frightening for any conservative politician to talk about God, regardless of whether the Rushdoony arguments have a scintilla of merit. The Post's video detailing Reid's opposition research shows footage of Angle talking to CBN about how God called her to the Senate race, and then includes Reid "tracker" footage of Angle telling some elderly women that the left dominates academe, and the media also bends to the left.

Apparently, the Washington Post considers this contention "wacky" and "reactionary" -- even as its Harry Reid coverage proves it.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis