WaPo ombud: Say, there aren’t many conservatives in our “news” section, huh?

posted at 2:31 pm on September 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Distrust of the national news media continues to grow, pollsters such as Gallup and Pew report, and yet we don’t see too much introspection on the part of these media outlets.  New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane concluded that the newspaper suffered from institutional bias to the point where it has become a “progressive hive mind,” but he made that observation on his way out the door of the Gray Lady, which rejected Brisbane’s criticisms while more or less proving him correct.  It’s not often that a voice from the inside points out the obvious — as Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton did yesterday, simply by doing the math:

One aspect of The Post that particularly irks conservatives is the columnists who appear in print and online in news positions (as opposed to those on the editorial and op-ed pages and the online Opinions section). With the exception of Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza, who cover politics in a nonpartisan way, the news columnists almost to a person write from left of center.

Ezra Klein of Wonkblog comes out of the Democratic left, fills in for Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz on MSNBC and sometimes appears in the printed Post on the front page.

Steven Pearlstein, who covers business and also appears occasionally on the front page; Walter Pincus on national security; Lisa Miller of the On Faith blog; Melinda Henneberger of She the People; Valerie Strauss, the education blogger; plus the three main local columnists — Robert McCartneyPetula Dvorak and Courtland Milloy — all generally write from a progressive perspective, readers say. (So does Dana Milbank, who works for the Opinions section but writes a column that appears on Page A2 twice a week.)

Is it any wonder that if you’re a conservative looking for unbiased news — and they do; they don’t want only Sean Hannity’s interpretation of the news — that you might feel unwelcome, or dissed or slighted, by the printed Post or the online version? And might you distrust the news when it’s wrapped in so much liberal commentary?

Well, yeah, although I’d argue that the online impact is probably less than in the printed version.  Everyone knows that Milbank writes point-of-view work, and I’m not sure that the online access gives the impression that it’s news rather than opinion. Klein is clearly a partisan, especially with his work on MSNBC.  However, the rest of the lineup shows how that progressive hive mind forms; most readers probably don’t know about the ideological pitch each of these gives their work in the “news” sections.

That’s not to say that they don’t do fine work.  But why not include some conservative writers in those slots?  The Post has Jennifer Rubin, who turns out a fairly prodigious amount of work in their blog on the conservative perspective, but how often does Rubin write “news” stories for the Post on politics? [See update below.]  I’ve seen Jennifer cover CPAC and other events, so it’s not a case of being locked up in an office 24/7.  Why not hire a Byron York or a Philip Klein, a Robert Costa or an Erika Johnsen for some front-page and news features?

This is exactly what Brisbane meant by creating a “progressive hive mind,” and Maurice Brauchli gives the Jill Abramson response right on cue:

Marcus Brauchli, The Post’s executive editor, said conservative readers may perceive that recent coverage of Romney is too tough because they’ve missed a lot of the coverage of Obama in the past four years. “We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,” Brauchli said. “We’ve only been covering Mitt Romney deeply since he became the Republican nominee. We cover politics in an even-handed way, and Dan Balz, Chris Cillizza, Karen Tumulty, Glenn Kessler and our other reporters do a terrific job of delivering the news without slant. Between the columnists on the editorial page and the commentators on the news pages, I believe The Post offers readers a balanced perspective.”

I’ll give the Post credit for being tougher on Obama than the New York Times and some of the other media — but that’s not Pexton’s point.  Pexton is talking specifically about the news pages, and the lack of “balanced perspective” where readers expect it most. Perhaps the Post has been tougher than some, but are they being tough enough?  Are they capturing all of the stories about this administration, or is their choked perspective blinding them to stories and angles on stories that leave their readership ill-served, and angry about the reasonable perception of bias in their reporting?

Give Pexton credit for pointing out the obvious and doing the math.  The fact that Brauchli either can’t or won’t do the math himself tells me that the media should prepare itself for even further erosion in public trust.

Update: As it turns out, Jennifer writes quite a bit for the news sections — but in the Post’s online format, it’s not easy to determine which story is published in which section.  This is what I was referring to in the post above, which is that the perspective of the writers named by Pexton is probably a lot more clear on line than in print.  My apologies to Jennifer, as the last thing I intended was to slight her.  She does terrific work, and I’m glad much of it appears in the news section.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

No one learns The Law of Cosines from watching Glee or writing on Facebook.

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:02 PM

The only reason I passed HS geometry is because the teacher was in a good mood that day.

Liam on September 29, 2012 at 5:08 PM

No blame here, everyone’s abilities differ.

But I had “geometry” in grade school. Calculus in junior high and Trigonometry in highschool (thus the Slide Rule). It’s not a song and dance, I agree, and it takes genuine book studying to get through it, so no complaints from me as to those who struggle through (I certainly did later, it’s a case of not using some of this course of study in practical life later and it being easy to forget unless you keep a hand in it).

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

conservative readers may perceive that recent coverage of Romney is too tough because they’ve missed a lot of the coverage of Obama in the past four years. “We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,” Brauchli said.

I laughed out loud with that statement. I guess I must have missed their last 4 years being tough on Obama.

As for Jennifer Rubin being a conservative…… I would call her more of a liberal, establishment Republican. My guess is she is David Brooks circa 2000.

KMav on September 29, 2012 at 5:28 PM

The shocker to me was when I learned my third-grade neice could not tell time with an analog clock.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2012 at 4:57 PM

No one learns The Law of Cosines from watching Glee or writing on Facebook.

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:02 PM

My thirtysomething kids can not tell time with an analogue clock.

Steveangell on September 29, 2012 at 5:06 PM

That’s awful (at both remarks).

Hard to believe, too. I wonder what else people like that don’t know today…

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

My hardest part with Geometry is the theorems and the proofs to back them up. I mean, I can understand it all logically, but I couldn’t grasp the mathematics.

Trig is even farther beyond my skills. As for Calc–let Captain Kirk figure it out.

Liam on September 29, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Newspapers could have remained relevant if they had gone back to basics and actually had real local news that was important to people locally. They went national, instead, and short-shrifted beat reporting. Now it is non-inquisitive sycophants giving us ‘stories’ not facts. Just the facts, Ma’am… newspapers are killing themselves by wiping out the basics.

ajacksonian on September 29, 2012 at 5:23 PM

While your comments are true nationally, I saw it most clearly between the two times I lived in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune when I lived there in the late 1990s was an awesome paper. It had intelligent insightful articles reporting events and how they were relevant to the readers. Second time I lived there (five months post Katrina) there was a decided difference. It was mostly AP clippings.

Initially there were some compelling local columns. People attempting to find lost recipes because when you evacuate for a hurricane you don’t think to take your cookbooks along. But in the end, the Times-Picayune is a shadow of its former self. Part of a generic corporate conglomerate. Biggest hit IMO were the food pages. No longer local cooks in charge. And New Orleans is about the only place in America where food is such a predominate part of the culture. When the Times-Picayune decided to publish recipes with ingredients hard to find in the city, it was the day the paper died.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Hard to believe, too. I wonder what else people like that don’t know today…

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Why is it hard to believe?

And to your second question what people don’t know today I will only say this. And it requires thinking.

How many ways can you access a method to do your calculations for you? I’m guessing it is more than one.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2012 at 5:56 PM

conservative readers may perceive that recent coverage of Romney is too tough because they’ve missed a lot of the coverage of Obama in the past four years. “We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,” Brauchli said.

I laughed out loud with that statement. I guess I must have missed their last 4 years being tough on Obama.

KMav on September 29, 2012 at 5:28 PM

You’ve got to carefully parse that statement and very carefully denote the differences in the sentences:

conservative readers may perceive that recent coverage of Romney is too tough because they’ve missed a lot of the coverage of Obama in the past four years.

First, the pitch. “You conservatives perceive we are being too tough on Romney”. i.e, it’s perception, so it’s your fault. Oh, and by the way, you are also stupid because you missed a lot of the coverage we did on Obama over the past four years.

In the pitch, he establishes that conservatives’ idea they are tough on Romney is just a perception and that they have not been paying attention the past four years.

Now comes the con: “We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,” This would imply to the casual reader that they have been tough on Obama the past several years. But that isn’t what he is saying in this sentence, he is only saying they have been “covering Barack Obama aggressively for years”. Comes down to what does “aggressively” mean? Given their past history, it doesn’t mean that they were covering him in an adversarial manner as they did Bush. It just means they aggressively pursued stories with Obama as the topic and published a lot of newsprint on what the administration was dictating to them. Yes, they were aggressive, but they were aggressive stenographers, not reporters and journalists.

The casual reader is supposed to come away with the idea that he is being unfair to the Washington Compost because it has only just started to criticize Romney since he became the nominee. True, since the Compost wanted him to be the nominee so they played softball with Romney before then. They then want you to believe that the Compost has been equally critical of Obama in the past years. That is not true, aggressive in this sense is that they transcribed a lot of White House press releases and printed them and breathlessly fawned over his every statement and provided glowing lap dog reports about Michelle’s wardrobe, fashion style, and nutrition campaign.

AZfederalist on September 29, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Hard to believe, too. I wonder what else people like that don’t know today…

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Why is it hard to believe?

And to your second question what people don’t know today I will only say this. And it requires thinking.

How many ways can you access a method to do your calculations for you? I’m guessing it is more than one.

Happy Nomad on September 29, 2012 at 5:56 PM

I was referring to those here who said that those they know can’t tell time by an analogue clock, which is difficult to believe ESPECIALLY SINCE IT’S BEEN A BIT LIKE BREATHING FOR MOST HUMANS FOR CENTURIES.

Wiped out in only one generation of digital mania, apparently.

Reminds me of those stories (fantastical, I don’t know) about “lone survivors of some major catastrophe” found by other civilizations who found the lone survivors — children in the catastrophe, now grown to teen/early adult years when found — unable to read, write and understand other basic aspects from the now-destroyed “advanced civilization” from whence they/their ancestors originated.

Anyway, telling time by an analogue display is so basic as to question someone’s credible intelligence when it’s not mastered. They use that challenge to investigate possible dementia cases: ask someone to draw a (analogue) clock face on a piece of paper and then fold it in half…people with dementia often can’t handle the whole request at once, if ever.

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 6:55 PM

AZfederalist on September 29, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Well said.

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Not to nitpick but what does this have to do with that pic of Home Alone or Macaulay Culkin??

cableguy615 on September 29, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Reporting truthfully on Obama’s actions is being hard on him.

Mormontheman on September 29, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Not to nitpick but what does this have to do with that pic of Home Alone or Macaulay Culkin??

cableguy615 on September 29, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Look right below the pic.

No kidding.

CW on September 29, 2012 at 7:27 PM

It’s gotten so bad that 3 Democrats Charge the American Press with CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT BEHAVIOR.

Mutnodjmet on September 29, 2012 at 7:57 PM

Reminds me of those stories (fantastical, I don’t know) about “lone survivors of some major catastrophe” found by other civilizations who found the lone survivors — children in the catastrophe, now grown to teen/early adult years when found — unable to read, write and understand other basic aspects from the now-destroyed “advanced civilization” from whence they/their ancestors originated.

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 6:55 PM

That’s not as far-fetched as I used to think, actually. I remember ERB’s novel Tarzan of the Apes, in which the young Lord Greystoke taught himself to read from a child’s primer.

Today, he’d go into the hut where his dead parent’s remains were, and find… a MacBook with a dead battery. He could probably still figure out how to use his father’s hunting knife, but as for learning to read, forget it.

Our present (and potential future- if any) “wired” society puts great emphasis on everything being digitally archived. This is great- until the power goes off, and doesn’t come back on again.

Our “environmentalist” types seem to overlook the small detail that their pre-technological, agrarian-socialist Eden will lack the tech base to keep them in IPods and CrackBerries. And that data they might desperately need just won’t be available. (“What do you mean, the material on culturing the antitoxin for berry poisoning was ‘in the cloud‘?”)

Give me one generation of the sort of “carbon-neutral” civilization the deep-ecos dream of- and I’ll give you a population with even lower literacy rates than Europe in the Middle Ages. Also defined as “an accident total disaster waiting to happen”.

As for the “enlightened ones” who think that will be a feature, not a bug, all I can say is, hire scribes. Or join the Catholic Church. (And I’m not talking about for spiritual reasons, either.)

This is why I still have “dead-tree” books. A lot of them. Many of the more vital ones (on animal husbandry, etc.) printed on acid-free paper.

Just in case.

clear ether

eon

eon on September 29, 2012 at 8:21 PM

conservative readers may perceive that recent coverage of Romney is too tough because they’ve missed a lot of the coverage of Obama in the past four years. “We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,” Brauchli said.

That’s a serious statement?

No crossed-fingers behind the back?

Honestly?

Well, of course I believe it.

98ZJUSMC on September 29, 2012 at 8:39 PM

The shocker to me was when I learned my third-grade neice could not tell time with an analog clock.
Happy Nomad on September 29, 2012 at 4:57 PM

I wonder,…

..do they simply stare at it, uncomprehending and unable to inquire? How could you not…..

Oh, nevermind.

98ZJUSMC on September 29, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Dear WAPO Go Fluke yourselves

stormridercx4 on September 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM

That’s not to say that they don’t do fine work.

Ed

Poor Ed … he’s conflicted. Let me help.

No, they don’t do fine work. They are consistently, clownishly biased by their leftist politics, and make zero effort to demonstrate otherwise.

Jaibones on September 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Sort of on the same topic, it seems as though CNN has been trying to cover the Libyan story/cover-up. You know if these MSM types would wise up and report more accurately, they might discover that they could compete for some of the conservative audience. A more balanced or conservative news channel could give Fox a run. Right now Fox has a corner on the market. WaPo and NYT are lost causes. Let ‘em sink.

COgirl on September 29, 2012 at 11:02 PM

If that guy doesn’t think Chris Cilliza is leftist, it just shows how out of touch he and other liberals are. They actually think Cilliza, a huge Obama cheerleader 4 years ago and a defender since, is non-partisan? They obviously wouldn’t know a neutral observer if he bit them on the ass.

babygiraffe on September 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM

They call this “reporting”.

Schadenfreude on September 30, 2012 at 1:26 AM

My apologies to Jennifer, as the last thing I intended was to slight her. She does terrific work,

Very funny. I guess shilling for Romney in the primaries counts as “terrific work” nowadays.

besser tot als rot on September 30, 2012 at 1:40 PM

They call this “reporting”.

Schadenfreude on September 30, 2012 at 1:26 AM

Well, it says that it is “Opinion.” To be precise and accurate, they should clarify it as “Below Room Temperature Opinion.” But, it is “Opinion” nonetheless.

besser tot als rot on September 30, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Below Room Temperature IQ Opinion -

besser tot als rot on September 30, 2012 at 1:42 PM

The coverage for Mitt is all over the internet and anyone can Google past news but it’s a different story with Obama with the closed media and the locked history of Barry. Outstanding double standards but that’s denied to the hilt by the left. It’s getting old with the denials from the White House when the media smells a rat and realizes the public thinks of the media as low as whale dung. Newspapers are history and many of the news magazines bit the dust too. FoxNews leads as always yet the lies continue.

mixplix on September 30, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Calculus in junior high and Trigonometry in highschool (thus the Slide Rule).

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

No clue what your comment was about, but learning Calculus in junior high is kind of BS-ish. This would mean that you never learned integration by parts which is required to do integrals on trig functions. So if you learned trig afterwards, you missed out… or something is out of whack with your description. Also, you’d need to learning algebra first, and then limits.

MrX on September 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM

“We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,”

Golly gee willikers, who knew!

ConservativeLA on September 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM

New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane concluded that the newspaper suffered from institutional bias to the point where it has become a “progressive hive mind,” but he made that observation on his way out the door of the Gray Lady, which rejected Brisbane’s criticisms while more or less proving him correct.

Why does this remind me of the SNL paraody of the real life comments of Marlon Brando on Larry King Live in April 1996, saying

“Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of—of people who are suffering. Because they’ve exploited—we have seen the—we have seen the Nigger and Greaseball, we’ve seen the Chink, we’ve seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino, we’ve seen everything but we never saw the Kike. Because they knew perfectly well, that that is where you draw the wagons around.”

Which was followed by:

Actor Marlon Brando broke down and wept when he met with Jewish leaders Friday to apologize for remarks he made about the community last week.

which were”more or less proving him correct“.

J_Crater on September 30, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Calculus in junior high and Trigonometry in highschool (thus the Slide Rule).

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

No clue what your comment was about, but learning Calculus in junior high is kind of BS-ish. This would mean that you never learned integration by parts which is required to do integrals on trig functions. So if you learned trig afterwards, you missed out… or something is out of whack with your description. Also, you’d need to learning algebra first, and then limits.

MrX on September 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I’m not into Mathematical P***ing Fights, “MrX.”

Believe what you will, imagine what you will, but I tend to doubt your abilities as Super-Power All Knowing What Some Stranger On The Internet Studied and When.

“Math” followed by Algebra (late Grade School/early Junior High) followed by Calculus (later Junior High) followed by Trigonometry in High School. Later came college level “two years of Calculus” which was not at all the level of Calculus nor Trigonometry I took in High School but much more challenging.

That was my experience. Go ahead and “think” whatever works for you.

Lourdes on October 1, 2012 at 6:59 AM

Calculus in junior high and Trigonometry in highschool (thus the Slide Rule).

Lourdes on September 29, 2012 at 5:26 PM

No clue what your comment was about,

I was responding to someone else’s remark about “still having (their) slide rule” and the conversation that had taken place from there. Had you read earlier comments, you’d have recognized that and not been far flung in your wonderment about my remark about my early-years’ education.

Lourdes on October 1, 2012 at 7:03 AM

My thirtysomething kids can not tell time with an analogue clock.

Steveangell on September 29, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Umm, Steveangell, please forgive me, but: Didn’t you teach them?

(Or maybe you did teach them, and then they got so used to digital clocks that they forgot how…?)

Mary in LA on October 1, 2012 at 8:02 PM

“We’ve been covering Barack Obama aggressively for years,”
Translation: “We’ve been tripping over each other to see who could kiss his ass and lick his boots”

kirkill on October 2, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Comment pages: 1 2