Washington Post Pounds George Allen with Supposedly Racist Gaffe

In early July, Sen. Joe Biden joked before a C-SPAN camera that “you cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts of a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent.” Conservatives had a little fun with it, but said: a harmless slip, but if a Republican ever did it, the media would have a much different standard. That day is now. Sen. George Allen mocked an Indian-American Democratic volunteer as a "macaca," and the Post played it up on the front page, along with a very tendentious staff editorial to boot insisting Allen's racial "bullying" was beyond "the bounds of decency." Washington Post coverage of Biden? None. Not in the paper.

The Post displayed aggressive Democratic media bias in action, a glaringly obvious Jim Webb for U.S. Senate ad, heavy on outraged quotes from Webb campaign staffers. The headline for the story by Tim Craig and Michael Shear was "Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology: Name Insults Webb Volunteer."

Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent.

At a campaign rally in southwest Virginia on Friday, Allen repeatedly called a volunteer for Democrat James Webb "macaca." During the speech in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen began by saying that he was "going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas" and then pointed at S.R. Sidarth in the crowd.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."

Depending on how it is spelled, the word macaca could mean either a monkey that inhabits the Eastern Hemisphere or a town in South Africa. In some European cultures, macaca is also considered a racial slur against African immigrants, according to several Web sites that track ethnic slurs.'

"The kid has a name," Webb communications director Kristian Denny Todd said of Sidarth, a Virginia native who was born in Fairfax County. "This is trying to demean him, to minimize him as a person."

Todd added that the use of macaca, whatever it means, and the reference welcoming Sidarth to America were clearly intended to make him uncomfortable.

It's a bit odd for the Webb spokesman to say Allen minimized Sidarth in the same breath that he's calling this 20-year-old "the kid." If Allen had called him "the kid," that probably would have been the Webb campaign's gaffe of the day.

Some might say that Allen is a Senator from Virginia, so it's a local story, unlike Biden's. True, but both also are mentioned as presidential contenders. The Post is just much more willing to consider that Allen is a bigot.

Then consider this contrast, then. Biden in July, there was nothing. But also in Tuesday's paper was a story on Congressman John Kline of Minnesota apologizing for the media taking his Haditha remarks out of context, page A-3. (Oh, and just for fun, liberal Democrat Congressman John Murtha refusing to apologize for pre-judging the Haditha Marines? Post put that further back in the paper, A-10.) Unlike Biden, John Kline is a House newbie, a backbencher, and certainly not a national candidate or a local story.

The Post uses Robert Holsworth to try and hype the potential damage this gaffe could do to an Allen presidential bid: “Virginia Commonwealth University politics professor Robert Holsworth called Allen’s comments a gaffe that probably wouldn’t change the Senate race but could hurt his presidential ambitions.” Holsworth never offered an opinion on Biden’s national ambitions and Indian gaffes. The Post never noticed.

Over at The Corner, Kate O'Beirne added that Allen has plenty of room here to suggest that Allen could insist that Webb and his Post pals think those Virginia hicks are racists:

The front page headline "Allen Quip Provokes Outrage. . . " and the editorial ("George Allen's America" no less) represent a pro-Webb two-punch. Who exactly was outraged by Allen's putdown? The Webb campaign and its volunteer. The silly editorial irrelevantly points out that the offended Webb partisan has "an excellent academic record" and "is thinking of applying to law school." Although the bright young man wasn't smart enough to avoid insulting Virginia voters. He told the Post, "I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience." He apparently believes that drawing attention to him would reliably rile up the racist Virginia crackers. Whose quip should provoke outrage?

Six years ago, the Post virtually campaigned for Chuck Robb, with color photos of Robb and his wife and family splashed on the front page. They’re obviously doing it all over again in this cycle.

Related: Dan Riehl notes that the Post is distorting Allen.

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