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Ed Driscoll

The Washington Post Keeps Rockin’, Keeps Hiding the Decline

June 15th, 2010 - 10:41 am

As Jim Geraghty writes at NRO’s Campaign Spot blog, “This is not even bias anymore; this is information management:”

The Washington Post, the newspaper than mentioned “Macaca” in approximately 100 articles, op-eds, editorials about the 2006 Virginia Senate race between George Allen and Jim Webb, watches the video of Rep. Bob Etheridge, North Carolina Democrat, physically assaulting a questioner and concludes it warrants three paragraphs on page C3, in the Reliable Source gossip column.

The opening sentence? “So what really happened when Rep. Bob Etheridge ran into a couple of self-described ‘students’ on the streets of D.C. last week?”

David Weigel, who used the term “hug” in his initial report on the altercation and has been receiving furious e-mails since, is cited; the Post should have let him write an actual print story on this. In this news nugget, there is little or no description beyond ‘grabbing the wrist’ of one of the young men.

This is not even bias anymore; this is information management, designed to ensure those who pick up the print version of the Post never encounter what the blogosphere is buzzing about.

Exactly. And that’s on top of Richard Pollock’s article last Monday at PJM, which noted that the Post’s initial coverage of Helen Thomas’ Flip camera-captured meltdown was as sparse as their coverage of Etheridge was biased:

It is day four of the Helen Thomas saga. The 89-year-old White House doyen, adored by Washington’s liberal mainstream media, told a Jewish rabbi in a video that Jews must “get the hell out of Palestine” and must “go home” to Germany and Poland.

The issue has been raging since Thomas’ ugly comments were released on Friday by RabbiLive.com. Ironically, Thomas made her remarks at a White House Jewish Heritage Month observance.

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, there is near silence. As of the this writing, searching “Helen Thomas site:washingtonpost.com” on Google brings up two articles on Thomas being dropped as a commencement speaker at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, a Howard Kurtz piece mentioning her remarks, and a post debating if Hearst will drop Thomas as a journalist.

Otherwise, the Post, which prides itself since the days of Watergate as being the “political” paper of record, is dark. There’s no initial report on Thomas’ remarks, which given her stature as a near household name, particularly inside the Beltway, are certainly newsworthy. In that regard, this is much like the legacy media covering the fallout of the Swift Boat Vets in 2004 on the op-ed pages, without actually reporting their remarks in the news section first. (And then making the group’s name a pejorative slur, rather than researching or repeating their actual claims.)

Or the L.A. Times’ “Keep Rockin” moment to avoid reporting on John Edwards’ affair.

Or the elite media’s initial lack of response on ClimateGate. (To the point where commenters on some outlets’ sites and even TV channels were asking: where are you on this one?)

But while the Post keeps rockin’, Thomas has been denounced by former Clinton apologist Lanny Davis. Her speaking agency, Nine Speakers, has dumped her. Ari Fleisher, former White House press secretary, says she is calling for “religious cleansing” and that she ought to be fired by her bosses at Hearst Newspapers.

At PJTV there is a survey about whether the White House should pull her press credentials.  Independently, there is an online campaign underway to force the White House to revoke her White House press credentials. Jewish leaders are denouncing the Lebanese-American journalist as the hours tick by.

In the tempo of Washington life, this constitutes three full news cycles of the Helen Thomas story.

The paper’s comparative silence is in contrast with the incendiary anti-Israel coverage of the past week, in which the Post published wall-to-wall coverage of the “peace” flotilla.

As anti-Semitism boiled globally, the Post both aided and abetted the frenzy, but then went silent when anti-Semitism reared its head with a beloved liberal columnist in a liberal town.

As a commenter noted when he responded to my post late last night on Etheridge:

In the mind of liberals, ambush journalism against Republicans is OK because they deserve it. In contrast, the motives of almost all Democrats are so pure and noble, that it’s completely unfair to take one brief moment of being goaded into anger as any sort of example of how they really feel about being questioned on their congressional votes or beliefs. Totally hypocritical, but to them, when the other side is pure evil, hypocrisy is justified.

All of which recalls one of Charles Krauthammer’s Laws. “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.”

Update: One of Chris Muir’s characters asks, “You’re not going to go all ‘Bob Etheridge’ on us, are you?”

And just like that, a heretofore little-known Democrat congressman becomes a meme.

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