September 29, 2012

THE NAMES CHANGE, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME: This just in to Patrick B. Pexton, the Washington Post’s ombudsman: His paper’s “news columnists almost to a person write from left of center:”

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 McCartney, Petula 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?

Why yes, you might, particularly since the paper has been aware of this issue for some time, and has chosen to do nothing about it. While not naming names, the late Deborah Howell, Pexton’s forerunner as the Post’s ombud, made the same observation four years ago, immediately after the 2008 election was over, and it was obvious how deeply her paper’s writers had been in the Obama tank:

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 Brent Baker of Newsbusters spotted at the time, “As for Howell’s presumption [that] ‘most Post journalists voted for Obama,’ that’s a safe bet given how 96 percent of the staff at Post-owned Slate reported they planned to back Obama.”

Doesn’t look like much has changed at the Post in the last four years, except for its continually eroding subscriber base and level of trust.

Much more on the topic from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

* “At Washington Post, mum’s the word on JournoList,” Byron York noted in 2010 at the Washington Examiner.

UPDATE: Moe Lane diagrams the inevitably short unhappy lifespan of a conservative working for a liberal newspaper, and concludes, “I… would heartily recommend that conservatives avoid news careers.”