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Ed Driscoll

Gosnell: Washington Post Plays the See-No-Bias Card

April 15th, 2013 - 11:44 am

“WashPost Admits a Gosnell Blackout, But Claims There’s No ‘Evidence’ of Liberal Bias,” Tim Graham writes at Newsbusters:

Monday’s Style section of the Washington Post was topped by a surprising story: “An abortion provider is on trial: Where’s the media coverage?” Sadly, what followed was a denial that there’s any evidence of liberal bias, and a parade of utterly unconvincing evasions, excuses, and accusations against conservative media.

Post reporter Paul Farhi credited the “conservative Media Research Center” with asking if the blackout of the Kermit Gosnell trial could be caused by the “mainstream media’s supposed support for abortion rights.” This story utterly erodes the word “mainstream” for them. Start with the maddening list of official media responses to where they’ve been on Gosnell:

After quoting Farhi’s roundup of excuses from NBC/MSNBC, CBS and CNN, Graham spots Farhi attempting to play the see-no-bias dodge:

Martin Baron, The Post’s editor, offers a more mundane rationale for the newspaper’s lack of coverage: He wasn’t aware of the story until last Thursday night, when readers began e-mailing him about it. “I wish I could be conscious of all stories everywhere, but I can’t be,” he said. “Nor can any of us.”

…The Post ran a full AP report on it in Saturday’s editions; the paper has also assigned its own reporter to cover the trial in Philadelphia this week.

“We talked about the story during the day on Friday and decided that, in fact, the story warranted our staff attention because of the seriousness and scope of the alleged crimes and because this was a case that resonated in policy arguments and national politics,” said Baron. “In retrospect, we regret not having staffed the trial sooner. But, as you know, we don’t have unlimited resources, and . . . there is a lot of competition for our staff’s attention.”

Added Baron, “We never decide what to cover for ideological reasons, no matter what critics might claim. Accusations of ideological motives are easy to make, even if they’re not supported by the facts.”

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.

And as Byron York wrote in the Washington Examiner in July of 2010, “At Washington Post, mum’s the word on JournoList:”

But none of those now-published comments came from Post writers.  So is there a problem for the paper?  Potentially.  Since the paper employs JournoList’s founder and proprietor, and since comments on JournoList led to Weigel’s leaving the paper, and since those events raise questions about whether other Post journalists took part in JournoList, and since there are likely more stories to come from the thousands of still-unpublished exchanges on JournoList, it is reasonable to ask what the Post’s management knows, and what it knew in the past, about Post journalists taking part in the list-serv.

It’s reasonable to ask — but the Post isn’t going to answer.  On Tuesday afternoon, I sent a list of questions to Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti. Does Post management know who among its employees participated in JournoList?  If so, did management know at the time JournoList was active? Has Post management reviewed employees’ writings on JournoList?  If not, does it plan to do so? Has Post management specifically reviewed the JournoList writings of founder Ezra Klein? Did the Post know about Klein’s involvement in JournoList when he was hired?  (The list-serv’s existence and Klein’s involvement were first reported by Michael Calderone, then with Politico, before Klein went to the Post.)  If the Post knew, did it approve of Klein’s involvement in the list?  And did Post management order Klein to put an end to JournoList after the David Weigel controversy became news, or did Klein do it on his own?

Finally, in light of the “call them racists” passage in Tuesday’s Daily Caller story on JournoList, I asked whether Post management believes that kind of organized behind-the-scenes conversation is appropriate for Post journalists to take part in.

The Post’s response was brief.  “We do not discuss personnel matters,” Coratti responded.  “The Post has standards for its employees and we expect all personnel to follow them.”

Were they following them when they ganged up on the Post’s best-known employee? In late February, I noted that “The JournoList is Hopping Tonight,” as multiple Washington Post Company employees began ganging up on Bob Woodward in a coordinated attempt to destroy his reputation, after he reported that it was the Obama administration that wanted the Sequester to take place, thus destroying a key narrative plot point for the JournoList/Obama nexus.

Responding to Farhi’s ludicrous claim that “Neither Graham nor any of the other critics have offered evidence for their suspicions,” Graham concludes his article at Newsbusters by noting:

Speaking of suspicions, I suspect someone at the Post is ignoring what I clearly said to Farhi as we talked about the Why of the Gosnell blackout. The evidence of the liberal bias is as plain as day in the blackout. The “why” is somewhat irrelevant. We believe the media want to prevent public-relations damage to the abortion industry, in the same way we believe the media want to inflict public-relations damage on other institutions — say, the Catholic Church, as I said to Farhi.

I told Farhi is what this blackout proves is that the abortion industry and their media enablers have demonstrated they don’t believe in the “safe” part of keeping abortion “safe, legal, and rare.”

Oh, and memo to Marty Baron and the Post: I’m with Jim Geraghty on your peculiar Obamabot sense of news judgment about what local news is somehow national: “This is the same Washington Post Style section that had a front-page-of-the-section story about an Alabama high school football coach mocking Michelle Obama’s butt.”

You don’t need to be a Kremlinologist to know that something very bad has happened to the culture at the Post

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