WashPost's Dumbest Question: 'Is The Post Pro-Gay?'

For his Sunday column, Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton tackled the dumbest question an everyday Post reader could ask: "Is the Post 'pro-gay'?" That is the journalism equivalent of "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Pexton knows this is not a real question, and he concludes the Post should do better with social conservatives. But it's illuminating to see an (anonymous) social conservative and an (anonymous) "objective" reporter spar on the proper role for journalism:

The reader wrote that Post stories too often minimize the conservative argument: “The overlooked ‘other side’ on the gay issue is quite legitimate, and includes the Pope, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, evangelist Billy Graham, scholars such as Robert George of Princeton, and the millions of Americans who believe in traditional marriage and oppose redefining marriage into nothingness. . . . Is there no room in The Post for those who support the male-female, procreative model of marriage?”

Replied the reporter: “The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the ‘view of the world’ that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law.”

The reader: “Contrary to what you say, the mission of journalism is not justice. Defining justice is a political matter, not journalistic. Journalism should be about accuracy and fairness.

“Good journalism also means not demeaning conservatives as ‘haters.’ ”

The reporter: “As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn’t marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?

“Of course I have a bias. I have a bias toward fairness,” the reporter continued. “The true conservative would have the same bias. The true conservative would want the government out of people’s bedrooms, and religion out of government.”

It should be said that the Post's objective reporters rarely stoop to words like "haters" to describe the alleged sex-segregationists they so obviously disrespect. The Post did use it in a front-page article on February 24, 2012 by Marc Fisher on black ministers, which began: "All of a sudden, they are bigots and haters -- they who stood tall against discrimination, who marched and sat in, who knew better than most the pain of being told they were less than others."

Instead, social conservatives are usually completely absent from stories, and gay activists and couples are routinely portrayed in almost saintly terms. They're better people than most, and certainly better people than their critics. 

If the Post is going to live daily by the motto that journalism is about passing a legislative agenda for liberals, than it ought to state plainly to readers that it does not abide or respect the notion of objectivity in political or cultural coverage. Pexton says "both liberal and conservative journalists alike"  want social change. But the Post claims it's not liberal, just a little bit for "justice," and the Left pretends that one can't be both conservative and a journalist.

Readers should know they're buying a product in The Washington Post that shakes its fist at people who revere the Bible as the Word of God and as a guide for living a life in God's grace. That's even proven regularly in the badly named "On Faith" project of the newspaper. Pexton's piece makes it quite obvious that he has no acquaintance with God or the Bible, as is very common in news rooms today.

He insists "most journalists have a problem with religionists telling people what they can and cannot do. We want to write words, read books, watch movies, listen to music, and have sex and babies pretty much when, where and how we choose."

But Pexton failed to acknowledge that liberals specialize in telling people what they can and cannot do through heavy-handed government action. Liberals are completely didactic in telling people how they must live and act. They want to tell people how to buy guns, how to feed their kids and get them to exercise, and in the case of this article, they tell people they are not free to proclaim their God in the public square. 

Reporters should also acknowledge that in the campaign for "justice and fairness," the Gay Left want social conservatism crushed, vanquished, defeated as mere "defamation."  In its total-war template, they do not believe in what Pexton calls for --  "conveying to readers, with detachment and objectivity, the beliefs and the fears of social conservatives."

When the Post attempted to do that in a 2009 profile of Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, the Left had a snit fit. Then-Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander faulted the story because it "did not include comments from Brown’s opponents who believe he is intolerant and a bigot." But Post profiles of gay leftists like Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign routinely exclude conservative opponents, and the ombudsmen nap.

Worse yet, while the Post never wrote a staff editorial denouncing a gay leftist shooting at the Family Research Council, they did roll out the red carpet for a Griffin op-ed suggesting the FRC really was a "hateful" organization, as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and that it was "preposterous and irresponsible" to blame the SPLC. When the shooter, Floyd Corkins, explained in court papers this month that he used an SPLC "hate map" to find his targets, Pexton wrote nothing.

The Left wants the conservative view banned as much as possible -- hence the Ku Klux Klan allusions. To people like the anonymous Post reporter, "fairness" isn't giving both sides a chance to speak. "Fairness" means that social conservatives have the right to shut up, and go away quickly. Journalists shouldn't pretend they're "open-minded" and "non-judgmental." They carry the same censorship gene they think the "religionists" monopolize.

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