Diary

Question Of The Day

So, how many other news organizations find themselves in the position that the Washington Post is in? Probably quite a few:

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.

My assistant, Jean Hwang, and I have been examining Post coverage since Nov. 11 last year on issues, voters, fundraising, the candidates’ backgrounds and horse-race stories on tactics, strategy and consultants. We also have looked at photos and Page 1 stories since Obama captured the nomination June 4. Numbers don’t tell you everything, but they give you a sense of The Post’s priorities.

[. . .]

The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board’s endorsement. The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.

Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Post reporters, photographers and editors — like most of the national news media — found the candidacy of Obama, the first African American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. Journalists love the new; McCain, 25 years older than Obama, was already well known and had more scars from his longer career in politics.

What a shock. And of course, the laudatory coverage continues . . . along with claims that the media is not biased at all. I am sure that there are those who wonder how on Earth it is possible that an engaged polity should be able to make informed decisions with this degree of media favoritism but I would encourage those people not to voice their questions and objections. Valid as those objections are, they will be met only by the derisive laughter of a media establishment that believes fervently in its ability to be fair and impartial even as it demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not.