WashPost Puts 'Macaca' On Front Page of Metro Section (With Fake Nonpartisans)

Nine days after Sen. George Allen's less-than-monumental "Macaca" moment happened in southwest Virginia, The Washington Post is still flogging the story hard. In Sunday's paper, the article sprawled across the top of the Metro section is headlined "For One Group, 'Macaca' Recalls Slurs After 9/11." The subheadline is "Many Indian Americans Are Disturbed by Allen's Remarks, but Some See a Chance to Strengthen an Alliance." (It should not surprise you that the less disturbed aren't on the front page.) The story by Michael Shear and Leef Smith began:

Word of Sen. George Allen's controversial comments flashed across the country last week, but nowhere more rapidly than in Virginia's Indian American community, where frustration over ethnic stereotypes has intensified since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Dolly Oberoi, chief executive of a Northern Virginia technology company, heard what Allen said to a 20-year-old Indian American from Fairfax County replayed on the radio Monday while driving home from work. "To me it sounded like, 'You dirty kid, get out of my way,' " Oberoi said. "That was very painful to a lot of people."

Some facts left out: Dolly Oberoi lives in Maryland, not Virginia, where she is a Democratic contributor: to Congressman Chris Van Hollen, to be precise. But there's more room for Dolly to be offended on Metro's front page:

But it was the scene -- of a senator singling out a member of her community in front of a mostly white crowd -- that affected Oberoi more than any word. It smacked of insults directed at her since terrorists, none of whom were Indian, attacked the Pentagon and World Trade Center nearly five years ago.

Oberoi recalled an incident in which "this woman came and started honking. She parked next to me [and yelled], 'All you people from the Middle East!' "

"They get mixed up about who's from what part of the world," Oberoi added.

Later on, Oberoi added that "Macaca" will cause a power shift: "At this point, people are going to get actively involved. This will really heat things up." To that mix, Shear and Smith added Aneesh Chopra, named to Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's cabinet, who underlined "After 9/11, the sensitivity went up." There was also this grievance:

Deepa Iyer, 33, executive director of SAALT, a nonprofit organization in Takoma Park that supports people with South Asian ancestry, said the terrorist attacks "led to this perception that South Asians are to be suspected, or to be feared, or somewhat marginalized." She added that Allen's comments to Sidarth are "not an isolated incident. It's part of a broader pattern of incidents. It was, Oh, gosh, here we go again."

Iyer said her group hopes to use Allen's comments, and the fallout from them, to encourage more political activity and awareness among Indian Americans in the Washington area.

"This is something that's coming from both sides of the aisle," she said. "What are the political parties going to do about this?"

SAALT, unsurprisingly, is a liberal "civil rights" group most recently touting on its website its participation in pro-illegal alien rallies, and advocating open-borders immigration policies. The story ended with another alienated Indian American:

Smita Siddhanti, president of an environmental consulting firm in Tysons Corner, said she had planned to vote for Allen before the incident. She doesn't know what was in Allen's heart, but she said she is disturbed that he would be so careless with his words. She said she didn't know whom she would vote for now.

"We all have to think, many times now, about George Allen," she said.

So would it surprise you, yet again, that Smita Siddhanti is a Democratic contributor -- to Gov. Tim Kaine's "Inauguration Committee 2006"?

'Macaca' also surfaced twice in the Outlook section. On the front page, former Post reporter (now Time correspondent) Mike Allen rehashed the often-rehashed yet again (including more milking of Allen's Confederate-flag affinities) as he explored the similarities between George Bush and George Allen:

Indeed, the uncanny echoes of George W. Bush's career have fueled the hopes of Allen backers that he would be Bush's presidential heir. But as Bush's popularity has slumped, Allen's 2008 outlook has dimmed. Worse, last week's bizarre Allen insult of a rival's young campaign aide has revived old questions about his sensitivity, temper and smarts. Some high-level Republicans warn that if he's not careful, he may wind up branded as Bush without the brains.

Perhaps most predictably, Dana Milbank puts Macaca-gate at the top of his "Zeitgeist Checklist," number one with a snarky bullet:

Sure, there's stuff going on in Lebanon and Iraq, but Washington is more intrigued by Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) calling a young man of Indian descent "Macaca" -- a type of monkey -- and welcoming the Fairfax native to America. The filmed insult, and the effort to attribute it to the man's mullet hairdo, which Allen confused with a mohawk, may not scalp Allen in Virginia but puts his presidential prospects in deep caca.

Don't buy that all of "Washington" is intrigued by the Post's endless flacking of this story. "The liberal fraction of Washington" would be more accurate. There's one place where this story perhaps should have appeared in Outlook: in the Ombudsman column, where Deborah Howell could have answered the question: How can anyone with a straight face claim The Washington Post is striving to be an objective newspaper, and not a Democratic talking-points sheet?

Howell could contemplate the claims of former Post Ombudsman Geneva Overholser, who Brent Bozell recalled could claim the Post was the essence of objectivity (not that she was wild about objectivity):

Ms. Overholser sat across the table from me and announced with a straight face and a calm voice that the Washington Post was committed to "presenting the news in a straightforward manner," while the Washington Times was only committed to "representing the conservative viewpoint."

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