03.19.09 WaPo is a Rag: The Washington Post declares the Obama administration dead. And then declares war on it.

Have you noticed how anorexic the Washington Post has gotten?  The thing is so thin it needs a feeding tube.  Perhaps we should be glad about all the trees being saved.  Of course, this is hardly the Post’s fault.  Rather it manifests the dire straights print journalism is in.  Which is tragic for American democracy.  But, that is not why I am calling the Post a rag.  Nope.

The reason is the top-left front-page stories of March 17 and 18.  The headlines read (respectively):

An Imperiled Agenda: Anger Over Firm Depletes Obama’s Political Capital


President’s Budget Strategy Under Fire: Tactic May Break Obama’s Pledge, GOP Says

So, the Post has taken it upon itself to declare on two successive days that AIG bonuses have caused the Obama Presidency to fail and that Obama is a dangerous heretic because the GOP says so.

Game’s over.  Might as well turn out the lights on the whole Obama change thing, go home, and wait for the Great Right Wing to reassume four years hence their rightful place at the head of Everything.

Must be true, ‘cause our hometown rag newspaper says so.

Let’s take these one at a time – March 17 first.  Yeah, this AIG stuff sure sucks.  Yeah, Geithner & Co. (if not Obama himself) should have gotten on top of the whole bonus thing a month ago.  But it’s a little over the top to blame this administration for the AIG mess or the bonuses.  It’s March 2009.  Two months ago the gang that ran the joint for eight years packed their bags.  And the Post has forgotten.  If it’s senility, the paper should be institutionalized.

It’s even more over the top to declare authoritatively that the American public or Congress is so angry about AIG and (as the Post is) so amnesiac about the thieves in charge ‘til January, that they are wholly blaming Obama.  It is even so much more over the top (the gang at the Post must be wearing oxygen masks to write this stuff) to declare that because of AIG, health care reform, energy reform, apple pie and Mom are dead.

For godssake, the news about the AIG bonuses hit the American consciousness less than a week ago.  And the Post claims that it has a digitally calibrated Political Capital Meter that is sitting on E?

I don’t think the problem is senility.  But we’ll get back to that.

The March 18 article is even worse.  For at least two months, the Post editorial page (and David Broder, a regular columnist) have been singing the praises of Bipartisanship for Bipartisanship’s Sake.  To hell with policy results!  Who cares about getting intractable problems solved?!  As long as the guys (I mean that generically – 17% of Congress is actually women!*) on both sides of the aisle are chummy, everything is peachy keen.

This is a load of crap, of course.  But, since it’s on the editorial and op-ed page, I understand that it’s just someone’s opinion.

March 18’s lead story is also an opinion piece.  Only it poses in the most prominent spot on page A1 as a news article.  It isn’t so much tagged as “analysis.”  Nope, this is what the Post calls “reporting.”

The article is a screed against the mere possibility that Democrats could invoke a legislative device (“reconciliation”) to prevent the Republicans (remember those guys who nearly destroyed the world as we know it and gave only three (3!) votes for the stimulus, after getting the gullible new prez to give away the store on tax cuts, and who are publicly calling for Obama to fail?) from filibustering health care reform, energy reform, etc., etc., etc.  (Yep, those same items that, the day before, the Post declared dead as a result of the AIG bonuses.)

Reporting?  Well, for one thing the headline is simply WRONG!  It calls reconciliation the “President’s Strategy.”  Not true.  Sure, Obama folks and Congress  folks are talking about ways to stop the GOP from Continuing to Ruin Everything.  Yeah, some of these folks have discussed reconciliation, but it ain’t (at least not yet), the “President’s Strategy.”

The sheer propaganda goes on for 20 paragraphs, without quoting a single liberal or citing a single reason why the Dangerously Non-Bipartisan President and his lil pals in the Far Left Wing rump of the Democratic Party might want to resort to this measure.  (There are plenty of quotes of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats, who might as well be Republicans.)

No mention of the GOP’s ruling by fiat for eight years while (as previously mentioned) Ruining Everything.  No mention of those same back-from-the-dead zombies trying to kill the stimulus.  No mention that all the right-wing ideologues continue to offer as the solution to Everything is tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.  (Oh yeah, there’s McCain’s Hooveristic spending freeze, too.)  No mention of how the country clearly chose the Democratic agenda in November and filibusters could kill the whole thing.

The inside headline (where the story continues on A4) is: Budget Shortcut Could Sideline GOP.

As if that were a bad thing.

Fair and Balanced.  Isn’t that Fox News’ slogan? 

So, the Post is a rag.  Its front page is now devoted to no-basis-in-fact declarations that the game us up and editorializing about the Glory of Letting the GOP Grind Everything to a Halt. 

Geez.  If I didn’t know that this hallowed Newspaper of Record is a leader of the Liberal Establishment, I might think they were rooting for Obama to fail.

This ain’t senility.  It is Fox-style editorial policy taking over the newsroom.

Step aside Rush.  The Post has it covered.

*Be proud, the US ranks 71st in the world for female representation in the national legislature.

© 2009 Keith Berner

Explore posts in the same categories: Media/Journalism, Politics

6 Comments on “03.19.09 WaPo is a Rag: The Washington Post declares the Obama administration dead. And then declares war on it.”

  1. KenF Says:

    Hey Keith, glad to see you are back! I thought you retired and moved to Florida or something.

    As for the Washington Post. This is nothing new. In 1963 I was a copyboy at the Evening Star, and hanging out at civil rights demonstrations. The accounts of civil rights actions, and the civil rights leaders reported in the Post had nothing in common with what I was seeing on the ground. I asked one of the Star’s reporters about this. He said “Didn’t you know that the Post has ordered a ‘hatchet job’ on Julius Hobson?” (one of the civil rights leaders) I said no, and asked if the Star would do something like that too. I was told no they would not. I lost all respect for the Post that day. And Carl Bernstein was not nearly enough to get them salvation.


  2. Leon Morse Says:

    I saw the headline re: political capital on-line the other day and did find it a bit odd, basically for the reasons you give. Political capital, to me, is a combination of net favors and one’s brand (popularity and accomplishments).

    I am not 100 percent satisfied with Obama’s handling of the issue (I would prefer a more measured response that outlines the different considerations (the bonuses, after all, are written as contracts) rather than a populist one. That said, I can’t see him losing a lot of political capital over this.

    All that aside, I don’t know that this amounts to calling the Post a “rag.” They get things wrong, sure. You have to wonder what editors were thinking. Perhaps the blending of opinion-based blogging, increasingly seen as a source of news, has colored decisions there: they perhaps want to appear more like a blog. After all, one of a newspaper’s remaining competitive edges is opinion pieces.

    But really, the whole “liberal media” shtick is idiotic and insidious. The media is painted as liberal simply because it tries to be pluralistic on the one hand and because it only occasionally swallows and gives credence to cockamamie schemes of fringe political elements (from both sides, by the way). Oddly, the left-wing anarchists have not been able to tar mainstream media with the “corporate stooges” brush nearly as well (outside their cadre).


  3. Jerry Berner Says:

    I’m glad to see your blog again. I can’t comment on the Post since I don’t read it. The AIG situation is despairing to all — but it is not Obama’s fault. AIG should be held accountable for their arrogant stupidity. Pointing fingers of blame to this Administration doesn’t correct what AIG did. The bonus recipients should in good conscience return the money or be taxed on it. After all it is taxpayers’ rescue money ! The rest of the budgetary goals should be looked at each on its own merit and not sacrificed on the altar of AIG and other bank bailouts. Unfortunately, Obama’s opponents won’t be doing that and they probably won’t relent and could emasculate many sorely needed and worthwhile programs : health care , energy conservation and education.
    Welcome back.


  4. […] Takoma Park blogger Keith Berner took the Washington Post to task (to wit, “WaPo is a rag“) for a couple of stories today — An Imperiled Agenda: Anger Over Firm Depletes […]


  5. Keith Berner Says:

    Response to Leon Morse: You’re right. I should not have called the Post a “rag.” I should have called them a “Center-Right Rag, with Fox-Like Tendencies.”


  6. Keith Berner Says:

    Response to the person who submitted a comment calling my post “garbage”: I will allow through every single *thoughtful* comment that disagrees with me. Attacks without content I will mark as spam every single time.


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