02.21.16 BREAKING NEWS: WaPo is a right-wing rag
The fact that the Washington Post’s editorials are right wing does not, in itself, make the newspaper a rag. And, to be fair, this supposed bastion of the “liberal media” is not all right wing. On social policy, from capital punishment to gay rights to reproductive freedom, WaPo is reliably progressive. It’s all the other topics that get under a progressive’s skin:
- On foreign policy, the paper is almost always hawkish neocon, ala W, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz
- The paper is virulently anti-labor
- Its coverage of the local region is wearyingly pro-corporate/pro development.
What makes the paper a rag is mostly the lack of a firewall between its editorial opinions and its news coverage. Two recent instances come to mind.
On January 20, the Post covered Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s budget under a headline including the words “tax relief.” Last time I checked, the objective term for lower taxes was “reductions” or “cuts.” The moniker “relief” comes directly from Grover Norquist: taxes are ipso facto bad and any reduction in them is about alleviating a burden on the suffering populace.
Another example is on the front page of today’s Metro section (no link provided, because I’m referring to the hard copy), where a headline declares: “Hogan learns to lead his way: Governor finds success while foiling foes’ attempts to vilify him.” On the continuing internal page, the headline reads “Hogan’s moderate agenda leaves Democrats little to attack.”
Neither of these statements is objectively true. First, one can hardly call Hogan’s record a success, when the Democratic legislature just overturned six of his vetoes. Reacting to the last veto override – restoring voting rights to ex-felons – the governor threw a temper-tantrum, unleashing a barrage of hard-right attacks and threats against Democratic lawmakers. Since that outburst, Hogan has taken to name-calling and assaults on legislators’ integrity that have embarrassed even the GOP.
Second, “moderate” is clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Many of us would not consider a refusal to allow citizens to vote moderate at all. (One can disagree with me on this, but the very point I’m making is that the Post is stating its opinion as objective fact.)
Further evidence of the WaPo’s “raggishness” comes from the decreasing quality of its reporting and writing. The newspaper has nearly given up covering the metro area at all. There is a single political reporter (Bill 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 publication’s fault for allowing him to be.)
I have seen the lack of a firewall between opinions and reporting in the Post for years: consider the decades-long refusal to acknowledge now-County Councilman Marc Elrich’s very existence in print, because they didn’t like his stand on growth (slow it down!) and unions (support them!).
Many, see a recent decline in overall quality since Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post two-and-a-half years ago. The bottom line is that WaPo has gone from being irritating and unprincipled to being an outright embarrassment.
Sadly, there is only one quality daily newspaper left in this country of over 300 million: the New York Times. And even the NYT hardly matters, when most of the country gets its news from Fox, comedy shows, and internet conspiracy theorists. Seeking explanations for the Trump phenomenon? The decline of quality journalism is certainly one of them, with WaPo as Exhibit 1.
©2016 Keith Berner