In a piece set to appear in the Washington Post Sunday, the paper's ombudsman harshly criticized his employer for ignoring the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation story.
"For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn't been covering the case," wrote Andrew Alexander.
"The calls increased recently after competitors such as the New York Times and the Associated Press wrote stories...But The Post has been virtually silent."
After giving readers some details about what happened at a Philadelphia polling station on Election Day 2008 (video upper-right), as well as how the voter intimidation lawsuit originally filed by the Bush administration was scaled down after Obama was elected, Alexander again criticized his paper:
In the Saturday Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz wrote up the resignation of blogger David Weigel, whose disgust for conservatives was too much for the Post to defend for a man hired to cover conservatives. Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli lamented "we can't have any tolerance for the perception that people are conflicted or bring a bias to their work."
Everyone brings some bias to their work, and some Post reporters bring plenty. I'd guess he means that the Post couldn't have the perception that a reporter/blogger viscerally hates the people he's supposed to cover, and wants some of them dead. Brauchli bristled at the idea that the Post didn't exactly take a hard look at Weigel's writings before hiring:
Asked about Weigel's strong views about some conservatives, Brauchli said: "We don't have the resources or ability to do Supreme Court justice-type investigations into people's backgrounds. We will have to be more careful in the future."
Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander responded online to yesterday’s NewsBusters post on Frum’s Tuesday Style section review of the new book Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One. Alexander wondered "Was Frum too biased to review book on Rush Limbaugh?"
He suggested the problem wasn’t Frum’s anti-Limbaugh bias, but that the Post should have disclosed something to readers about Frum’s record of lamenting Limbaugh -- such as suggesting he's "kryptonite" for Republicans. The book review editor claimed she was somehow unaware of their corporate cousin Newsweek’s "Why Rush Is Wrong" cover story last year:
Post Book World Editor Rachel Shea said she was unaware that Frum had written last year's critical Newsweek piece, which was headlined: "Why Rush is Wrong." But she said she was aware of debate Frum had stirred over how the GOP could best position itself with voters. And she said The Post chose Frum precisely because "it's no surprise where he was coming from."
Breitbart's $100,000 challenge may be publicity-seeking theater. But it's part of widespread conservative claims that mainstream media, including The Post, swallowed a huge fabrication. The incidents are weeks old, but it's worth assigning Post reporters to find the truth. After all, a civil rights legend is being called a liar. That aside, there's serious money at stake.
Alexander explored three different claims. The claim that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was purposely spat upon looked shaky to him, and he said the Post overplayed it:
Despite a claim by Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander, that "accusations of journalistic overkill" in the newspaper's recent coverage of same-sex marriage are "off-base," the Post itself keeps piling up evidence of its pro-gay agenda.
The Culture and Media Institute found that between March 3, the day after same-sex couples could being applying for marriage licenses in the District of Columbia, through March 10, one week later, the Post devoted nearly 543 inches of column space (almost four full pages) to the new law and what it meant for local gay couples. Supporters of the changed policy were quoted 10 times more than opponents.
Alexander spoke with CMI last week about its review of the Post's coverage, but between March 18 and March 25, the newspaper devoted another 191 inches of column space to gay rights. Thirty-four different pro-gay quotes appeared in four stories, one of which was written by a bisexual, while the opposing view did not appear at all.
Ran 11 articles related to D.C.'s new law allowing same-sex marriage.
Devoted 543 inches of column space to the ruling - equal to nearly four full pages.
Printed 14 photos of gay celebrations, including a prominent one of two men kissing.
Quoted supporters 11 times more often than opponents - 67 to 6.
Repeatedly compared gay marriage to the historic civil rights movement.
Nobody can accuse The Washington Post of being objective when it came to covering the District of Columbia's decision to legalize same-sex marriage. The Post has reported on the event with a celebratory zeal more appropriate to The Advocate or The Blade.
Unlike some Washington Post ombudsmen (ahem, Geneva Overholser), Andrew Alexander deserves credit for raising the question of liberal bias, and reporters’ connections to the liberal movement, even by marriage. But he didn’t tell the whole story. At best, he gets an I for Incomplete. On Sunday, Alexander reported:
Post reporter Juliet Eilperin covers the contentious issue of climate change. Her husband, a noted expert on the subject, coordinates international climate policy as a part-time senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. She has quoted officials from the liberal think tank in her stories, although not her spouse. Climate change is discussed at home, she said, but a "church-state separation" exists for areas where their work overlaps.
This kind of spousal connection would not be easily tolerated by the Post if Eilperin was a married to an expert for ExxonMobil. She would be moved off the green beat. Alexander bows briefly to that notion, but doesn’t really buy it:
The Obama-loving media’s fractured "news judgment" – the kind that tried to skip Van Jones and ACORN because they were hobby horses of that wacko Glenn Beck – came under scrutiny Sunday by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander. Alexander suggested the Post doesn’t pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints. The headline was "Wrongly Deaf to Right-Wing Media?"
But check out Tom Rosenstiel (formerly of Newsweek and the L.A. Times) gritting his rhetorical teeth at Alexander’s point even as he calls the liberal media "non-ideological":
It "can't be discounted," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Complaints by conservatives are slower to be picked up by non-ideological media because there are not enough conservatives and too many liberals in most newsrooms."
"They just don't see the resonance of these issues. They don't hear about them as fast [and] they're not naturally watching as much," he added.
The "non-ideological media" have "too many liberals in most newsrooms"?
Outraged advocates of same-sex marriage have forced the Washington Post into an apology for running a features piece last week that portrayed an opponent as more than an evil, bigoted, hatemongering fundamentalist.
The profile examined Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, one of the groups that lobbied for Proposition 8, the hotly-contested California State ballot initiative that explicitly defined marriage as between and man and a woman, overturning a State Supreme Court decision to the contrary.
Pundits on the left called the features piece, written by Monica Hesse—who says she is a bisexual and has had romantic relationships with women in the past—“absurd,” “bizarre,” and “accusatory and belittling.”