01.30.16 WaPo’s fluff on MD-8 race ignores Raskin

Full disclosure: I support Jamie Raskin for Congress, but am not formally affiliated with his campaign.

The Washington Post’s sole reporter on Montgomery County politics, Bill Turque, recently covered a Maryland District 8 congressional-candidate forum. Bless Bill: he wanted to shine a little light on all nine forum participants. But in taking an elementary-school-everybody’s-in approach to this important race, he forgot about journalism – the “balance” he seemed to be striving for was (1) unbalanced and (2) vapid.

Ok, it was novel to have GOP candidates present, in a race where a Democrat is 99% certain to win. Hence the seven paragraphs (out of 19) devoted to the GOP. Two of those were about a Democrat, Liz Matory, who switched parties in a fit of rage over the fact that no one anointed fellow-African American Valerie Ervin the automatic winner last summer. (Ervin quit the race in September, issuing a bitter screed about the lack of deference she got.)

Turque devoted two paragraphs to Will Jawando, who is bright and compelling for sure, but who has little chance of winning and is (at least according to this article) running solely on the fact that, as an African American, he would diversify our representation. (I expect that Jawando has more to say than Turque gives him credit for.)

Next Turque spends two paragraphs on one of the true heavy hitters in the race (along with Jamie Raskin): Kathleen Matthews. He actually gives her a sentence on policy positions (all of which are no-brainers for Democrats) before turning, again, to identity politics (Matthews: “We need more women in Congress.”) There’s nary a word on Matthews’s relevant experience (or lack thereof: she doesn’t have any) or previous service to the district (or lack thereof: she doesn’t have any).

Then, more identity politics: Ana-Sol Gutierrez as Salvadoran American and Kumar Barve, who would be the first Asian American member of Congress from Maryland (I fail to see the relevance in the age of Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal). Barve does earn a wee bit of substantive coverage from Turque for the candidate’s claims of business acumen.

Of course, to the extent that identity drivel is what the campaigns are dishing, a reporter can’t be blamed for reporting it. But one gets the overwhelming sense that Turque just doesn’t care about much else.

The outrage of this fluff piece is its treatment of Jamie Raskin, a clear leader in the race, based on fundraising, volunteers, and endorsements alone. Raskin runs leagues ahead of all the others in terms of legislative effectiveness (Barve and Gutierrez are the only other ones with legislative experience at all). If it were not for personal millions, Matthews and (new candidate) David Trone would hardly be irrelevant, and this might be a Raskin-Barve competition.

What did Turque have to say about Raskin? Just this: “Raskin . . . pledged to return any overdue books.” Huh? A man serves as a key leader in the MD legislature for years, is a constitutional scholar, and — at least in Takoma Park and Silver Spring — has more visibility in the race than anyone else, and that’s all Turque can find to say?

If this is what the Washington Post and Bill Turque call journalism, they should be as embarrassed as we are for them. Really, the only game in town for coverage of MoCo politics these days is the Seventh State blog. That’s where to turn for serious analysis, as opposed to bake-sale fluff.

PS. The photo accompanying the article features Jawando, includes six others, and (you got it) omits Raskin.

©2016 Keith Berner

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6 Comments on “01.30.16 WaPo’s fluff on MD-8 race ignores Raskin”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Keith, I always enjoy your articles. Lorraine

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Great and clear analysis – will the Post get a copy of this blog? Linda


    • Keith Berner Says:

      Thanks, Linda. The odds that the Post will admit its own bias or poor writing are very close to zero, so I would not advise holding your breath. (I didn’t send the post to them as a letter to editor, because they do not reprint pieces that have been published elsewhere, which is pretty standard practice.)


  3. […] Turque) assigned to 1-million strong Montgomery County, for example, and his writing is usually superficial and vapid. (A county politician I discussed this with yesterday called Turque “lazy.” I think it’s the […]


  4. […] reporter Bill Turque has done some good reporting on the race. He has also ignored Raskin (at times) or damned him with right-wing language that clearly reflects the Post’s editorial […]


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