The Washington Post’s ombudsman Andrew Alexander devotes his weekly column to explaining how the Post‘s food critic is above reproach. Fine. Over the last few weeks we’ve been treated to columns on reporters’ conflicts of interest (no, nothing to see there, move along), another on anonymous sources, and one more on a biased book review. So where’s the heartfelt examination of the Post’s coverage of the Virginia gubernatorial race? Hmmm.
No self-examination was forthcoming, no discussion as to why dozens and dozens of stories were devoted to Bob McDonnell’s twenty-year-old college paper — an “issue” the voters cared not a wit about. Odd, isn’t it, that on the most obvious example of bias and excess the Post wouldn’t want to clear the air and take a look.
Instead, this week the Post doubled down, screaming for the governor-elect to denounce comments made by Pat Robertson about Muslims. No, Robertson isn’t in McDonnell’s transition team and isn’t going to be in his administration. The Post breathlessly observes: “In addition to attending law school in the 1980s at what was then called CBN University, the Virginia Beach school founded by Mr. Robertson and named for his Christian Broadcasting Network, Mr. McDonnell served eight years as a trustee of the same institution after it was renamed Regent University.” The Post editors proceed to holler: “Doesn’t Mr. McDonnell owe them and other Virginians some reassurance that he doesn’t share Pat Robertson’s despicable view?” Actually, no. McDonnell is under no obligation to denounce every comment by a supporter with which he disagrees; no more than Obama is expected to denounce every controversial comment a supporter of his makes.
But what is clear here is that the Post is not chastened, has not given up its habit of fomenting hot-button controversies where none exist, and holding Republicans to a standard that would never be employed against Democratic politicians. The Post hasn’t looked back and isn’t about to change its tune. But one thing we do know: the voters don’t much care what the Post prints. Those darn voters have a mind of their own and seemed to have figured out the Post’s gambit.