WashPost Reporters Switch Quick: Establishment Lamont, Outsider Lieberman

It's fascinating how fast the roles have switched in the DNC Media's take on Ned Lamont. Today's front page in the WashPost printed the headline "Democratic Leadership Welcomes Lamont." Next to that, a promotional headline: "Will Lieberman Hurt or Help Democrats?" They're not asking whether Lamont as a Democratic poster boy will hurt or help Democrats. Overnight, Lieberman has gone from party stalwart to independent pariah in the wilderness. You might expect the Democrats to switch horses like they're changing socks like party politicians. But it ought to be more surprising that the "objective, mainstream media" follows suit (or sock) so slavishly.

The front-page article by Shailagh Murray and Dan Balz began typically by using "antiwar" as a stalking-horse adjective for liberal: "Democratic leaders embraced their new antiwar Senate nominee Ned Lamont on Wednesday, but his defeated rival, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) vowed to wage an independent crusade to save his seat and prevent the party from being captured by forces he said are out of the political mainstream."

Lieberman wants to tag Lamont as an ultraliberal, but reporters refuse to cooperate. They're still covering Lamont in ideological camouflage. Murray and Balz continued, in the classic style: "Also laying on hands for Lamont were such powerful party figures" as Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi, and not a liberal to be found and labeled anywhere. Oh, and then, here's another blown chance for an L-word:
When he announced his candidacy earlier this year, Lamont was a lonely figure in the party, enjoying the backing of so-called Net-roots activists and bloggers but little else. His campaign tapped into grass-roots antiwar, anti-Bush sentiment in the state and the race became a national symbol of the debate over the war.
In reviewing the "Lieberman effect" on the fall elections, Murray and Jonathan Weisman start with a lot of good-for-Dems happy talk: "by keeping the state's electorate focused on President Bush and the war in Iraq, the Lamont-Lieberman rematch will keep voters energized, and may ultimately bolster the House challengers, Democrats and some independent analysts said."

Not everyone agreed: "Even Democratic partisans said the rematch would distract activists' attention from the House races, including the opinion "blogger Markos Moulitsas wrote on his liberal Daily Kos Web site." Bing-a-ding-ding! We have a liberal label, people!

PS: You have to shake your head at the Democratic Tower of Jello that incredibly squishy GOPer Chris Shays is facing: "In no contest will the political lines be as scrambled as in Diane Farrell's House race against Shays, a moderate Republican who has also run into trouble because of his support for the war. Farrell endorsed Lieberman in the primary, then switched to Lamont after he won." Oh yeah, here for the voters is the sterling image of opportunistic indecision.

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