"After an extraordinarily productive two years in which Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley muscled through legislation on several top priorities — including same-sex marriage,gun control, transportation funding and repealing the death penalty — the question is: What, if anything, is there left for him to do before leaving office?"
That's how Washington Post staffer John Wagner opened his Metro section front-page April 22 story "O'Malley plans for rest of term -- and beyond." Nowhere in his 24-paragraph story did Wagner -- no stranger to NewsBusters criticism by the way -- cite any conservative or Republican critics of the liberal Democratic governor, a prospective 2016 presidential contender.
July 1 is traditionally the day when many new state laws take effect, and every year on or about that date, the Washington Post makes sure to inform its readers of some new laws hitting the books in Maryland and Virginia. This year, Marylanders are seeing tax increases, with residents of Montgomery County -- a significant portion of the Post's subscriber base -- disproportionately affected.
Yet in reporting on "A slew of new laws for Md., Va.," Post staffers Laura Vozzella and John Wagner buried infomation about the Old Line State's tax hikes. The first mention came in paragraph 4 out of the article's 34 paragraphs. What's more, Vozzella and Wagner dealt with Virginia's new laws first, meaning that more in-depth explanation of Maryland's tax increases only came 24 paragraphs into the article.
On February 24, Washington Post reporter John Wagner sympathetically covered leading Maryland Democrats (and Catholics) for crossing their hierarchy to lobby for "gay marriage" -- without seeming to contact this hierarchy. So when Wagner sympathetically profiled House Speaker Michael Busch -- again -- at the top of the April 11 Style section, the primary question was: How was this "news," a full month after the gay lobby failed to pass it? The headline was "A matter of conscience: Speaker Mike Busch found a new perspective for Maryland's same-sex marriage bill." It was considered an awakening of conscience that Speaker Busch wept:
Busch, whose hunched 6-foot-1 frame still bears witness to the standout running back he was at Temple University, retreated to his office at the side of the House chamber. He apologized for the bill’s failure to a few of its leading supporters. They thanked him for his efforts. And then another unusual event happened: With them, he cried.
Maryland is a deep blue Democratic state, but it has a fair share of socially conservative voters who are not certain to approve of same-sex marriage if it were to be decided at the ballot box.
Even so, Washington Post staffer John Wagner failed to quote at least one state legislator opposed on principle to a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the Old Line State.
In his February 8 Metro section front-pager "Backers of gay marriage in Md. want no half measure,"* Wagner noted an openly-gay lawmaker who denounced a compromise civil unions bill as a "non-starter." Later in the article, Wagner quoted a moderate Republican state senator who lamented that his preference for civil unions would go nowhere, so he's given in and backs passage of a same-sex marriage bill.
Liberal Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is in trouble with the voters who elected nearly 15 months ago. In a state that is deep blue in presidential elections and has a 2:1 Democratic registration advantage, the former local Irish rocker is getting a chorus of boos from voters with poll numbers in the mid to high 30s. One major factor: the tax-hiking special legislative session he called in fall 2007.
Not to worry, Governor, the Washington Post has got your back. Here's the headline for the top Metro section story in my January 23 Maryland Home Edition of the Post:
It becomes apparent, however, that rebuilding O'Malley's positive press is high on the Post's agenda. Reporter John Wagner wrote of O'Malley's plan to take "modest steps" towards fulfilling what O'Malley insists is "protecting our priorities." Wagner takes care to focus on how a slowing economy could prove an obstacle to O'Malley's policy goals, but fails to address concerns that O'Malley's tax hikes could be part of compounding the problem by disincentivizing business from expanding or moving to the state:
A few months after cheering Martin O'Malley's successful push for tax hikes, the Washington Post's John Wagner is lamenting the Democratic governor may have to settle for a "modest" agenda in 2008 due to budget constraints.
Don't hold your breath for similar concern about everyday Marylanders and how they may have to settle for more modest spending thanks to tax hikes, particularly a boost in the sales tax to six percent from five percent.
Facing a budget shortfall due in large part to overspending in years past, Gov. Martin O'Malley called a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to consider a package of tax hikes and a referendum on legalizing slot machines. Now that the freshman Democratic governor has proven successful in pushing through both, the Washington Post congratulated O'Malley with a front page article replete with pats on the back and attaboys from O'Malley's fellow Democrats. The icing on the cake: a signing ceremony photograph (shown above*) of O'Malley that appears to show him pumping his fist in victory.
Staff writer John Wagner opened his November 20 article with triumphal language that painted O'Malley as a respected statesman: