'Macaca,' Day 3: WashPost Keeps Spinning on 'Infamous' Remark, Less Prominently

The Washington Post kept at its molehill "Macaca" scoop against George Allen Thursday, but not on the front page. Here's the latest coverage, in review:

-- With the headline "Here's the Big Hairy Deal," the most prominent coverage is on top of the front page of the Style section, a series of photos explaining that the demeaned Democratic cameraman/spy S. R. Sidarth was actually wearing not a mohawk or a mullet, but a "moo-lette," which is apparently a hot style in Spain. (Counter-spin to the Post: if Allen was joking about Sidarth being a representative of Hollywood-screenwriter Jim Webb, joking about the exotic Hollywood lifestyle vs. Virginia's, does not the fancy Spain-hair prove the oh-so-cosmopolitan point a bit?)

-- Allen's appearance with Sen. John McCain in Virginia yesterday is on the bottom of the front page of Metro, a story by Tim Craig and Michael Shear, the spreaders of the Macaca tale. By paragraph 3, the duo were back on the campaign:

"But the event was partly overshadowed by continuing criticism over comments Allen made last week to a Webb volunteer of Indian descent that many have said were demeaning and insensitive.Webb commented about the controversy for the first time Wednesday, saying that he thinks Allen 'knew what he was saying' when he addressed S.R. Sidarth, a 20-year-old from Fairfax County, as 'Macaca' at a GOP rally Friday. The term, which refers to a genus of monkey, is an ethnic slur in some cultures."

This reminds me: the "ethnic slur" experts that the Post consulted (and quoted yesterday) were the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is not the most nonpartisan of groups. The Post could write it was "founded by Morris Dees, an early political pioneer in direct-mail fundraising for George McGovern in 1972, and the finance director for Jimmy Carter in 1976, and Ted Kennedy in 1980." They never do that, though.

-- Five "Macaca" letters top the Letters to the Editor feature on the editorial page, slanted four to one against Allen. One of the anti-Allen letters comes from S. R. Sidarth's angry grandparents.

-- The Post reporter bias really shows up in Michael Shear's "Virginia Notebook" column in the local-Extra section, with a headline about "Fierce Guessing" on Allen's state of mind at remark time. (Fierce is right, and the Post is among the fiercest.) This is how Shear began:

The headline on the Wonkette blog, which normally pays little attention to Virginia politics, said it all: "Breaking News: Hakuna macaca, Or, George Allen Puts Foot In Mouth And Sucks, Hard."

The reference was to the now-infamous comment in which the state's Republican junior senator called a volunteer of Indian descent for Democrat James Webb "macaca" and welcomed the Fairfax-born University of Virginia student "to America and the real world of Virginia."

Only one quote defending Allen was used, with the rest devoted to Democratic pundits and nonpartisan experts: "Said a G. Davis , also on The Post's site, 'Yawn. Mohawka -- Mo-caca. George takes a shot at a hired gun. So what? He's calling him a dipstick, not a monkey.'"

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