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Ed Driscoll

Tomorrow’s Post-Election MSM Apologias Today

October 13th, 2012 - 5:00 pm

Not that it makes much difference, of course. At the beginning of 2005, Howard Fineman, then of Newsweek (then owned by the Washington Post), wrote that “The ‘Media Party’ is over”:

A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don’t mean the Democrats. I’m talking about the “mainstream media,” which is being destroyed by the opposition (or worse, the casual disdain) of George Bush’s Republican Party; by competition from other news outlets (led by the internet and Fox’s canny Roger Ailes); and by its own fraying journalistic standards.

On November 16th 2008, the late Deborah Howell, then the Washington Post’s ombudswoman, wrote:

Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

In 2011, Patrick Pexton, the Post’s current ombudsman, wrote:

The Post will always compete with the inside-the-Beltway journals and with the Times. It has to. But its future lies not with the rich; it lies with the citizenry. This newspaper must be the one source of high-quality, probing Washington news that readers in this region and across the country can look to for holding their government accountable. This publication must be for all Americans.

This means that The Post can’t be a liberal publication or a conservative one. It must be hard-hitting, scrappy and questioning — skeptical of all political figures and parties and beholden to no one. It has to be the rock-’em-sock-’em organization that is passionate about the news. It needs to be less bloodless and take more risks when chasing the story and the truth.

No matter what happens in November, we’ll see similar hand-wringing from ombudsmen at numerous MSM publications. And we’ll all know it’s just boilerplate, and nothing will change there, except an ever-diminishing subscriber list.

Update: “On Twitter, Washington Post reporter calls Ryan ‘Law & Order: SVU’ ‘perp of the week.’”

Rather nice of him to inadvertently prove our point.

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