Deborah Howell Takes On A Strawman, But Refuses to Make The Hard Calls

Last week, Post Ombundswoman Deborah Howell “took on” the issue of media bias.

I was underwhelmed, as were most of you (I suspect).

IIRC, the job of the ombundsman is to hold people inside one’s own organization to account. To point fingers and assign blame.

Howell doesn’t do this.

I submit that she wrote this article so that liberal journalists could feel better about themselves, claim that they’ve recognized and acknowledged the problem of bias in their ranks…and then drop it, forget it and move on.

Howell didn’t write this for us. She wrote it for her friends and fellow liberals.

I hereby offer Howell’s article as proof that conservatives and Republicans aren’t part of the “community” the MSM wants to serve.

Read on.If you’re going to fight the brave fight, you need a fearsome foe to battle. Ms. Howell chooses to fight—a strawman.

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.

Ms. Howell, you’ve placed yourself on record. Please cite the conservative leaders and commentators who assert that, if it only hadn’t been for media bias, John McCain would have won.

I do have to admit, though. It is easier to win battles if you get to pick an weak opponent.

Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world.

I thought that journalists fully and fairly reported the news. Hey…who knew?

Perhaps that explains why the MSM downplayed Obamas’ online credit card fraud. I mean, when you change the world, you have to break a few eggs, right?

Howell then lists a series of stories “that brought conservative complaints” of bias. What was the ombundsman’s bottom-line judgement of whether those complaints were valid? Whether they did, indeed indicate that the WaPo had been unfair? (Note: all emphasis is this diary has been added).

readers can judge for themselves:…Combine these with the drumbeat of polling stories saying Obama and the Democrats were likely to win, a few Tom Toles cartoons and TV critic Tom Shales’s debate reviews — both are liberals who are paid to offer opinions — and conservatives decided that The Post was cheerleading — especially since they felt the paper hadn’t sufficiently scrutinized Obama. The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama. It’s not hard to see why conservatives feel disrespected.

So, Ms.Howell…what are you saying? Was there bias or wasn’t there? Aren’t you, as the ombundsmwoman, supposed to come out and say so, one way or the other?

IMO, you’re refusing to do your job. Instead, you lay out the reasons you see for why conservatives might feel aggrieved. And then, you leave it.

Ms. Howell knows that the MSM way, way overstepped in this past election. Here, IMO, are a few examples of that. (BTW, Ms. Howell cited NONE of these in her article).

1) A blogger had to uncover the fact that Gwen Ifil, VP debate moderator, has a significant financial stake in Obama’s victory. . (What’s worse—where’s the MSM outrage over one of its own accepting such an important journalistic duty during an election, when they must have known that conflict-of-interest questions would arise?)

2) It was NewsBusters, not the MSM, that alerted the American public to the fact that Barack Obama warned that energy prices would necessarily skyrocket in his administration. Shouldn’t some headline writer somewhere have highlighted that?

3) See above re. unprecedented credit card fraud by the Obama campaign. I submit that the Obama campaign expected to get caught. They also expected that they’d pay the fine…and the MSM would simply let the matter drop after a few sharp scoldings on the editorial page.

Ms.Howell is right—Obama did indeed run a “more effective” campaign. Part of that effectiveness: Team Obama recognized that the MSM was covering its flanks. That enabled it to do bold things and take risks. Like, say, turning off AVS for online credit card donations.

Ms. Howell KNOWS that conservatives are angry about many, many aspects of the MSM’s behavior, especially in this election.

But she’s not writing for us. She’s writing for those center-leftys who, while they silently applaud the MSM’s left-leaning bias, are stunned by its extent and blatancy in this past election.

A paper that gives prominences to Tom Toles and Dan Froomkin and (now) Kathleen Parker isn’t much concerned with being respectful to conservatives.

But it still needs at least a thin veneer of respectability. It needs to keep up appearances.

And profits.

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.

What can we conservatives do, in response to MSM bias? We can do our part to help the main MSM newspapers and media outlets to keep shrinking.

Read Ms. Howell’s article. She’s not interested in fixing the problems conservatives see in the MSM. She wants our money.

I, for one, respect John Hinderaker at Powerline more than any MSM reporter. Here’s his verdict on our current MSM:

the mainstream media–which is to say, most reporters and editors who work for “mainstream” news organizations–have no honor and are not interested in truth…It’s time to accept that fact and move on. Our existing news organizations–the New York Times, the Associated Press, NBC, CNN, CBS, and so on–can’t be reformed, they can only be ignored. It is time for conservatives, libertarians, moderates, and normal citizens who are interested in straightforward reporting of the news to build their own news organizations in competition with the corrupt ones that now exist.

more than 900 in the past four weeks

More, please. Keep it up, conservatives. Hit them where it hurts.