After penning a number of stories toeing the Democratic line on a variety of issues, Washington Post reporter Shailagh Murray decided to make it official: the Post announced Friday that she has taken a job in the office of Vice President Joe Biden.
Murray marks the 18th journalist to move from a reporting position to a post in Democratic politics or vice versa since President Obama took office. The revolving door between journalism and the Democratic Party underscores the extent to which the ideologies of each overlap.
The bias dossier on Murray is thinner than, say, Katie Couric's, but contains a number of telling items. Let's review a few of the highlights.
"Obama budget makes deep cuts, cautious trades," blared the February 15 print edition headline for Washington Post staffer Lori Montgomery's page A1 story on President Obama's 2012 budget plan. "[The] Focus [is]on education, energy and research," a subheadline approvingly added.
In the lead paragraph, Montgomery hailed Obama's spending blueprint as "full of surgical cuts and cautious trade-offs."
By contrast, a Republican plan for the spending blueprint for the rest of 2011 was cast as a "plan with drastic -- and painful -- cuts" in a page A13 headline*.
The front page of Saturday's Washington Post carried an article by Shailagh Murray from Ohio's 13th congressional district, just west of Cleveland. The dominant theme was two-term Rep. Betty Sutton's whining that her GOP opponent Ted Ganley, a car dealer, benefited from Cash for Clunkers but now bashes it. The Post wondered about why Democrats get so little credit for the "stimulus," and Murray's central question was this:
How can nearly $1 trillion flush through the U.S. economy, with tangible results, and still leave voters dubious? ["Flushed" is a good verb for this.]
The Washington Post published another story dedicated to the proposition that the Tea Party is too extreme and will ruin the Republican Party's appeal to moderate voters. Reporter Shailagh Murray's entire story on Sunday dwelled on how standard-issue Republicans “worry that tea-party candidates are settling too comfortably into their roles as unruly insurgents and could prove hard to manage if they get elected.” Murray began:
So who wants to join Rand Paul's "tea-party" caucus?
"I don't know about that," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) replied with a nervous laugh. "I'm not sure I should be participating in this story."
It would sound odd to say the Washington Post is harsher on Tea Party activists than they are on the man who shot Ronald Reagan. But that's what happened on Monday's front page. Shailagh Murray's article on former Congressman Charlie Bass moving to the right, endorsing the Tea Parties, and saying "their agenda is exactly the same as mine," painted conservatives this way:
But for a career politician who served on Capitol Hill for a dozen years, addressing serious policy questions with people who profess to hold zero faith in the federal government can get awkward. Bass's challenge is to recraft his image in a way that will defang his conservative Republican opponents yet stay true enough to his centrist self to win back the crucial independent voters who defected to his Democratic opponent in 2006.
Conservative Republicans have "fangs"? You can't constructively "address serious policy questions" in their presence? Right next to that story, Annys Shin writes about Reagan-shooter John Hinckley and his "steps toward freedom" away from his charmed life at St. Elizabeth's Hospital: "He fills his free time strumming on his guitar, crafting pop songs about ideal love, or going on supervised jaunts to the beach or the bowling alley."
President Obama is proposing a measure today to slowly kill the D.C. school voucher program by attrition. Because the liberal National Education Association wants Congress to immediately kill the program, the Washington Post's Bill Turque and Shailagh Murray hailed Obama's plan as "an attempt to navigate a middle way on a contentious issue."
President Obama will propose setting aside enough money for all 1,716 students in the District's voucher program to continue receiving grants for private school tuition until they graduate from high school, but he would allow no new students to join the program, administration officials said yesterday.
The proposal, to be released in budget documents today, is an attempt to navigate a middle way on a contentious issue. School choice advocates, including Republicans and many low-income families, say the program gives poor children better access to quality education. Teachers unions and other education groups active in the Democratic Party regard vouchers as a drain on public education that benefits relatively few students, and they say the students don't achieve at appreciably higher levels at their new schools.
Reportedly few Republicans see reason to ultimately vote against confirming Obama's attorney general designee and the GOP Senate minority has only put a one-week delay on his confirmation hearings, but the Washington Post was insistent in its January 22 headline that that Republican senators were set on "Obstruct[ing] Eric Holder's "Path to [the] Justice Dept."
This is markedly different from the Post's take in 2001 when Democratic senators objected to whom the Post called the "highly contentious" John Ashcroft. The January 16, 2001 edition of the Post described the Ashcroft hearings as the "first test of Bush's strength on [Capitol] Hill." (excerpt via Nexis, emphasis mine):
Supporters and opponents of John D. Ashcroft mobilized constituencies and honed strategies yesterday in last-minute preparations for the opening today of confirmation hearings over his highly contentious nomination as attorney general.
Washington Post environmental reporter-slash-advocate Juliet Eilperin penned a front-page piece in Monday’s Post on how John McCain is "instinctive" on environmental matters, pulling a "balancing act," which means insufficiently radical enough to please the Sierra Club and their media friends. Eilperin’s piece was loaded with the opinions of environmental "interest groups" without any group or any policy being labeled as liberal:
McCain's lifetime League of Conservation Voters score is 24 percent, compared with 86 for Obama and 86 for Clinton; Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund's conservation report card gave him 38 percent in the 108th Congress and 40 in the 109th.
When [LCV chief Gene] Karpinski tells audiences about McCain's environmental scorecard rating, he said, "jaws drop....I tell them, 'He's not as green as you think he is.' "
Washington Post reporter Shailagh Murray mastered the self-negating sentence on Monday's front page. Her article began:
As strong and consistent abortion foes, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. and former congressman Timothy J. Roemer are anomalies in a Democratic Party that has overwhelmingly advocated abortion rights. Yet both are backing Sen. Barack Obama, whom one conservative blogger dubbed "the most pro-abortion candidate ever."
Dear Shailagh: If a politician supports the election of President Obama, who will nominate abortion supporters to the federal courts, doesn't the "strong and consistent abortion foes" line go directly out the window? But she stuck to the "firm opponents" fiction spin:
As firmly as Casey (Pa.) and Roemer (Ind.) have adhered to their opposition, Obama has never supported a single measure that would curtail access to abortion -- even under controversial circumstances. But Casey and Roemer have chosen to ignore Obama's legislative record, and are promoting the Democratic presidential candidate to their antiabortion allies as someone who could achieve a new consensus on the issue.