WashPost Highlights New Publisher's Reagan Ties, Hints It Could 'Cause Questions' About Conservative Bias

September 2nd, 2014 11:57 AM

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday morning that publisher Katherine Weymouth was stepping down (as Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos is now the owner), and former Politico executive Frederick Ryan is taking her place.

Post technology reporter Craig Timberg implied that the important/interesting part of Ryan’s resume is his “years rising in the Reagan administration, eventually becoming a top presidential aide and key leader in the construction of his presidential library and numerous other initiatives after Reagan left office in 1989.” This, he reports, will “raise questions about the direction” of the allegedly “nonideological” Post:

[Bezos’] most aggressive move yet may be the hiring of Ryan, who has long experience at a news organization that grew sharply during a digital transition that savaged the profits of traditional newspapers such as The Post. Ryan’s background in Republican politics also is certain to raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial page, among the most influential in the nation.

In the interview, Ryan said he planned to keep the newspaper’s current executive editor, Martin Baron, and its editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt. Ryan said he did not anticipate changes in The Post’s editorial policies and would protect the independence of the newsroom, saying Baron “does a superb job.”

Baron said he did not expect Ryan’s appointment to carry political implications for coverage by the newsroom. “Our news coverage aims to be fair, honest and accurate,” said Baron, “and it’s nonideological. I’m confident it will remain that way.”

Laugh track, please, for the "nonideological" Post. Start with the incessant daily front-page coverage of former Republican governor Robert McDonnell's trial in Virginia right now, for example.

Timberg did not assess whether Ryan’s work for Reagan ever caused a conservative bias at Politico (perhaps because that would sound silly, if you read Politico). Timberg did manage to list all the Reagan associations, alongside the Annenberg journalism school at USC:

Ryan is the chairman of the White House Historical Association and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation, as well as a board member for the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, where he received both bachelor’s and law degrees. He also is listed as editor of “Ronald Reagan: The Wisdom and Humor of the Great Communicator,” published in 1995, and as editor of “Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator,” a compilation of pictures and excerpted public remarks published in 2001.

Timberg could have compared Ryan to previous Post publisher Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., whose brother-in-law John Hardman was executive director of the Carter Center. Jones is listed as a donor.