WashPost Highlights 'Race, Gender' In Allen-Webb Debate, Omits Webb on Quotas

The Washington Post puts the George Allen-Jim Webb debate on Sunday's "Meet the Press" on the front page Monday with the subhead: "Comments on Race, Gender Resurface in TV Appearance." But the Post account by Michael Shear and Tim Craig omitted Jim Webb's most stunning comments on race, at least for a Democratic candidate: he re-emphasized that he believes government quota programs ("affirmative action") are the equivalent of "state-sponsored racism" -- which isn't exactly friendly to the Democratic Party's minority-group activists.

In a 2000 Wall Street Journal book review praising black conservative Ward Connerly, Webb said that only blacks were the subject of historical discrimination in America, so broadening quotas to all minorities was as odious as Jim Crow racism. In a campaign in which the Post and other outlets have so pounded Allen's supposed racism in the "Macaca" comments, isn't this the kind of stand which Democrats would usually pound (wrongly) as racist?

Russert only mentioned the words "state-sponsored racism" as he offered Webb the chance to revisit the land of "Macaca." He didn't give a fuller context of the article that would inflame the Jesse Jackson-Al Sharpton wing of the Democratic Party, such as:

Mr. Connerly's views on race relations are decades ahead of the Jacobins who have foisted the affirmative-action regime on this country.

Affirmative action, which originally sought to repair the state-induced damage to blacks from slavery and its aftermath, has within one generation brought about a permeating state-sponsored racism that is as odious as the Jim Crow laws it sought to countermand. A Soviet-style bureaucracy of political commissars now monitors every level of our society to ensure that racial and gender "diversity" matches pre-ordained models, using the awesome powers of government to make certain that white males are not "overrepresented" in education, employment or government contracts.

Shear and Craig do not consider that writings like these could at the very least depress the liberal base of Democratic voters who would find these comments highly offensive if they came out of the pen of a Republican candidate. (Imagine if Webb was the GOP nominee!) Or is it possible the Post ignored this topic precisely because it's depressing to liberals?

Is it not possible that voters watching the debate yesterday would see Webb as Allen Lite, as a race between two conservatives? Issues on which Webb is more liberal (say, "gay marriage") weren't touched by Russert, who largely stuck to Webb's comfort zone and selling point of military topics. 

The Post reporters do not omit Allen's exchange over "Macaca," of course. (You can argue that this helps Allen protest the word just popped out of his mouth as a nonsense word.) But the Posties cast this again as a dominant issue in the race (as the Post has clearly intended) and also as a "character" issue. "But questions about character -- including Allen's comment to a Webb campaign volunteer and allegations about Webb's view of women in combat -- have dominated a race that polls indicate have tightened."

Webb's anti-quota comments were also left out of a transparent Webb-boosting piece by Robin Toner in Monday's New York Times.

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