WashPost Plays Down Democrat Loss on Iraq, Plays Up GOP Racism Charges

Tim Graham
September 19th, 2007 8:13 AM

The Washington Post’s favoritism toward Democrats is obvious in Wednesday’s paper. When Democrats abandon efforts to force a troop pullout from Iraq, the Post puts the story on A3 with the headline "Democrats’ Iraq Push on Hold." Reporter Shailagh Murray says the Democrats are "abandoning a bipartisan effort" for pullout. That’s amusing, since just words before, she says this move is because most Republicans don’t want to be counted in that "bipartisan" effort.

But on page A1, the Republicans are still the ones in political danger, with the story "Debate No-Shows Worry GOP Leaders." Reporter Perry Bacon Jr asserted that GOP presidential contenders turning down debates hosted by Hispanic liberals and black liberals could cause "a backlash that could further erode the party's standing with black and Latino voters." Bacon front-loaded the story with loud lamentations from Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich about failing to stand before Tavis Smiley on PBS and get attacked from the left.

"We sound like we don't want immigration; we sound like we don't want black people to vote for us," said Kemp. "For Republicans to consistently refuse to engage in front of an African American or Latino audience is an enormous error," said Gingrich. Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman urged the candidates to reconsider, and Bacon noted that Mehlman was aggressive with GOP minority outreach in 2005 and 2006.

The enormous unasked question by Bacon: say, did that pan out for Republicans in 2006? Did it pan out for Dole-Kemp in 1996? It sounds great to say Republicans should compete for every vote, and it’s never good to suggest that you don’t want votes from minorities. (That’s exactly why the Post is putting this story on page one.) But when it comes to the bottom-line question of winning elections, would it work, or is it like a national GOP campaign spending millions of dollars trying to win the electoral votes of Massachusetts?

Bacon can’t seem to find a single Republican leader who disagrees with Kemp or Gingrich, not even a conservative talk-show host who would quickly explain how pandering on issues like amnesty and "affirmative action" aren’t exactly going to please the conservative base. Late in the piece, one anonymous GOP adviser suggested the obvious: "Why would [the candidates] go into a crowd where they're probably going to be booed?"

Bacon concluded by noting that "Giuliani, Romney and McCain also declined to appear at events sponsored by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the National Urban League, which [Tavis] Smiley said suggests a pattern of ignoring minority voters. He said debate organizers will set up lecterns showing the names of the absent candidates."

So PBS is going to use taxpayer funds to let Smiley make a national issue out of GOP candidates’ failure to embrace his liberal agenda. Smiley’s complaints of GOP racism ended the story:

"When you reject every black invitation and every brown invitation you receive, is that a scheduling issue or is it a pattern?" he asked. "I don't believe anybody should be elected president of the United States if they think along the way they can ignore people of color. That's just not the America we live in."