WashPost Prints Lie of 'Never Been Political' Organizer of an Anti-Romney, Pro-PBS Subsidy March

The Washington Post story offered the liberal organizers of an anti-Romney, pro-PBS-subsidy "Million Puppet March" their biggest dose of publicity on Monday on the front page of the Style section -- despite the tiny 600-person Capitol Hill protest on Saturday. Post reporter Maura Judkis wrongly presented the march co-founder Chris Mecham as a nonpartisan puppet lover.

"I've never been political. I didn't intend for this," Mecham said in the Post story. "I just feel passionately about this one thing." Wrong. Sixty seconds on Mecham's Twitter page would have easily kept this lie out of the paper, like this Thursday tweet begging for Democrat donations:

"Join me in supporting Support President Obama's Agenda via @actblue," which followed with a donation link to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Mecham's clearly not just political, but way over on the Left. Right before his pro-Obama tweet was a tweet promoting Marxist professor Cornel West: "Listening to Cornel West's Democracy Matters en route to defend my favorite democratic institution, #publicmedia".

And this tweet from Mr. "Never Been Political" on October 26: "My God I can't wait till this election is over so the #dems stop asking me for money every 5 minutes. Broke by Nov" -- with a link to an Obama donation page.

And there was this anti-Romney tweet with a Todd Akin tweak on October 28: "@RomneyStormTips Mr. Romney? If this is a legitimate storm, don't women have a way to shut the whole thing down? ".

The story appeared on the bottom of the Style front page with a color photo. The headline was "Ruffling feathers for Big Bird and PBS."  The story then continued onto the section's back page (underneath the weekly "Kids Post" feature) -- with another color photo.

Here's another way Judkis bungled the story to help Mecham: "As Mecham stood on the sidewalk of North Capitol Street, taking video of the marchers as they passed, he estimated a crowd of more than 600 people — way more than the 300 they had anticipated in their permit."

But the actual pre-march media advisory belied that claim: "Capture Million Puppet March founders Michael Bellavia and Chris Mecham addressing the nearly 600 participants expected for the march  and gain insight into why public broadcasting needs the support of all Americans."

Judkis and the Post made no attempt to include an anti-PBS subsidy, pro-Romney point of view. Instead, Judkis let Nonpolitical Mecham complain that PBS "shouldn't even be on the table" of any budget negotiation: “There are issues that are really are important, and public broadcasting shouldn’t be among them. It shouldn’t even be on the table. I can’t believe that anyone would even question the value of it.”

The online version introduced this Mecham quote with these words: “Democrats have been criticized for focusing on Romney’s remarks about Big Bird,  saying it’s a distraction from more serious issues in the election. Mecham agrees — and he says that’s what the rally (which was supposed to be nonpartisan but skewed liberal) is all about.”

In Monday’s newspaper, the “nonpartisan but skewed liberal” words in parentheses were edited out.

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