The Obama-loving media’s fractured "news judgment" – the kind that tried to skip Van Jones and ACORN because they were hobby horses of that wacko Glenn Beck – came under scrutiny Sunday by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander. Alexander suggested the Post doesn’t pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints. The headline was "Wrongly Deaf to Right-Wing Media?"
But check out Tom Rosenstiel (formerly of Newsweek and the L.A. Times) gritting his rhetorical teeth at Alexander’s point even as he calls the liberal media "non-ideological":
It "can't be discounted," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Complaints by conservatives are slower to be picked up by non-ideological media because there are not enough conservatives and too many liberals in most newsrooms."
"They just don't see the resonance of these issues. They don't hear about them as fast [and] they're not naturally watching as much," he added.
The "non-ideological media" have "too many liberals in most newsrooms"?
Alexander was gentle where he could have been harsher, looking at journalists like ABC's Charlie Gibson, who almost seemed to be taking pride in skipping the story or even following it. And to think these people to mock George W. Bush for being intellectually incurious beyond his bubble. Sarah Palin should ask them which media they're consuming. The world doesn't stop at the edge of the New York Times.
Alexander gave the Washington Post's editor a chance to look less clueless than Gibson:
Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said he worries "that we are not well-enough informed about conservative issues. It's particularly a problem in a town so dominated by Democrats and the Democratic point of view."
To guard against it, he said, "I challenge our reporters and editors with great frequency to look at what is going on across the political spectrum . . . at the extremes, among the rabble-rousers, as well as among policymakers." He said he pressed the National desk this week to provide more ACORN coverage.
The Post does not survey its staff to determine its ideological makeup.
Of course, the Post does obsess a bit over its "affirmative action" makeup. But the line about they're not "surveying" the ideology is really an evasion. Liberals largely hire liberals, even if they're not doing surveys to prove it. I doubt liberals would buy Fox News defending its fair-and-balanced motto by saying Fox does no "survey" of its staff's ideology.
Alexander calmly laid out how the Post was dragged into covering Van Jones and ACORN:
It's tempting to dismiss such gimmicks. Fox News, joined by right-leaning talk radio and bloggers, often hypes stories to apocalyptic proportions while casting competitors as too liberal or too lazy to report the truth.
But they're also occasionally pumping legitimate stories. I thought that was the case with ACORN and, before it, the Fox-fueled controversy that led to the resignation of White House environmental adviser Van Jones.
Jones had issued two public apologies before The Post finally wrote about him. One was for using a crude term to describe Republicans in a speech before joining the administration. The other was for signing a 2004 petition that said members of the Bush administration may have "allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext to war." Conservatives had attacked Jones for more than a week before the first Post story appeared Sept. 5. He resigned the next day.
With ACORN, The Post wrote about it two days after the first of several explosive hidden-camera videos were aired showing the group's employees giving tax advice to young conservative activists posing as a prostitute and her pimp. Three days passed before The Post ran a short Associated Press story about the Senate halting Housing and Urban Development grants to ACORN, which operates in 110 cities. But by that time, the Census Bureau had severed ties with ACORN. State and city investigations had been launched. It wasn't until late in the week that The Post weighed in with two solid pieces.
Kudos to Alexander, since some Post ombudsmen (ahem, Geneva Overholser) never quite located the topic of liberal bias in their Sunday columns.