Tasteless: In Newtown Aftermath, WashPost Cites So-called 'Saturday Night Massacre' in First Sentence of Bork Obit

Here's a sign of how much The Washington Post can never get the Nixon-hating DNA out of its reporting. In a front-page obituary on Thursday on  former federal judge and rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, the Post's Al Kamen and Matt Schudel begin: "Robert H. Bork, the conservative jurist who fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the 'Saturday Night Massacre' in 1973," and yada yada, "enduring schism" over failed nomination to the High Court.

In the immediate aftermath of a real massacre, couldn't the Post back off its ancient ideological hissy fits and acknowledge that firing a special prosecutor -- and the resignation of several officials who didn't want to do the firing -- is not comparable to Adam Lanza mowing down first-graders? Could there be a one-week grace period on overheated Watergate metaphors? Apparently not. When liberal justices die, do they discuss the actual "massacre" of American abortion they legalized? No:

Take Justice William Brennan, a judicial hero to liberals. When he died, the Post front page on July 25, 1997 carried this headline: "Justice Brennan, Voice of Court's Social Revolution, Dies." Bork's front-page headline on Thursday was "Iconic conservative judge and lightning rod." Brennan's could have easily been "Iconic liberal  judge and lightning rod," but the Post is apparently allergic to using "liberal" in headlines.

Then-Postie Joan Biskupic tipped over a barrel of goo, but there was no reference to Roe vs. Wade in the first paragraph. In fact, there was no reference to Roe or the word "abortion" in the entire article. Well, unless you count the euphemism of a "civil rights revolution" that "expanded rights" of women to include millions of terminated babies:

Former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan  Jr., the progressive voice of the modern court and a justice unequaled for his influence on American life, died yesterday. He was 91.

During his 34 years on the court, Brennan pushed his colleagues to take on a variety of social issues and was widely recognized as the chief strategist behind the court's civil rights revolution.

He was the architect of rulings that expanded rights of racial minorities and women; led to reapportionment of voting districts guaranteeing the ideal of "one person, one vote;" and enhanced First Amendment freedom for newspapers and other media.

A slight man with a ready Irish grin, Brennan was recognized across the political spectrum not only for his legal mastery but as a defender of individual liberty and a voice of civility.

By contrast, Kamen and Schudel emphasized Bork "criticized civil rights legislation and rulings in cases involving the 'one man, one vote' principle and the constitutional right to privacy."

UPDATE: In 2007, as the Post played up Bush firing seven U.S. attorneys, Brent Bozell reported that when Team Clinton eliminated the attorney investigating the ethics of corrupt Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (who later went to jail), the Post didn't find a massacre in the sacking of 93 U.S. Attorneys, just a whiny prosecutor:

The headline was simply "Washington Area to Lose 2 High-Profile Prosecutors; All U.S. Attorneys Told to Tender Resignations." They then added helpfully that Reno said it was routine.

The Post noted mildly that the canned D.C. prosecutor was Jay Stephens, who was right in the middle of investigating corrupt Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the man who was sure to play a major role in passing Hillary's socialist health-care plan. Was the mass firing a way to get rid of him? Stephens protested. The Washington Post editorialized and answered: Get lost. "Jay Stephens Strikes Out" was their headline.

The suggestion that the White House had a political agenda was a contemptible reach, editorialized the Post: "The innuendo in which U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens has indulged in the past few days can only be calculated to undermine the integrity and reputation of the prosecutorial process he claims it is his goal to protect. Attorney General Janet Reno announced at a news conference Tuesday that all U.S. attorneys across the country were being asked for their resignations. No surprise there. These are political appointees who owed their jobs to the last administration and have expected to be replaced ever since last November's election."

So in 2007, the firing of a U.S. Attorney is an egregious ethical offense, but in 1993, it was merely a customary transition of administrations.

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