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Contentions

The Ron Burgundy-ization of the Washington Post

The Washington Post has a story today on Marco Rubio–actually, correct that. The Washington Post has a story today about the Washington Post, which is pretty much all the Washington Post writes about these days.

More specifically, the Post story is an exploration of whether the Post’s earlier story on Rubio–in which they misleadingly claimed Rubio has been dishonest about his family history–will damage Rubio among Hispanic voters. The Post’s original story, which was all based on the reporter’s misunderstanding of the word “exile,” was amended after the Miami Herald effectively tore the story to shreds. But those reading today’s story will soon forget whether they are reading about Rubio, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Rick Perry, or any number of Republican politicians subjected to the same treatment.

I don’t want to dwell too much on today’s edition, because a forgettable story should be forgotten. But it’s worth noting here just why the Post’s reputation has plummeted. It isn’t bias, because that isn’t anything new. It’s the fact that the Post uses its vast resources to talk about itself in the third person. The Post operates as though it is run by Ron Burgundy and Chad Ochocinco.

Considering the dire financial condition of the newspaper world, a bit of shameless back patting can be forgiven. And if the Post were breaking actual stories, I wouldn’t begrudge them the self-congratulation. But McDonnell’s thesis was a nonstory; a racist rock that no one could find but the Post had heard once existed was a nonstory; the fact that Rubio’s parents had come to the U.S. before going back to Cuba before leaving for good was a nonstory.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much sympathy for a mainstream newspaper’s ombudsman, however.



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