WashPost Prints Letter Mocking the Ombudsman for Claiming The Post Isn't An Arm of the Democrats

In Saturday’s Washington Post, they published a conservative letter to the editor mocking ombudsman Patrick Pexton’s Sunday column acknowledging the obvious – that "in the vast majority of elections - federal, state, or local - The Post generally endorses Democrats." But Pexton tried to insist the paper made significant Republican endorsements.

For example, “It endorsed Virginia Republican John Warner for reelection to the Senate in 1990, 1996 and 2002.” But Pexton ignored the little fact that moderate Warner ran unopposed by a Democrat in 1990 and 2002. This is what the letter writer said:

If ombudsman Patrick Pexton thinks The Post is unbiased [“The Post’s left-leaning endorsements,” Sunday Opinion, Nov. 4] in its endorsements, he needs to dig a little deeper.

Among the few endorsements The Post gives to Republicans, nearly all fall into the “doesn’t matter” category. Either the Republican is going to win regardless (think Rep. Frank Wolf in Virginia) or he is going to lose regardless (think Arlington County Board or D.C. Council races). The question Pexton should have looked at is, how often does The Post endorse a Republican in a race where the endorsement could make a difference?

And The Post’s record on presidential endorsements? Breathtaking! Mondale over Reagan — seriously?

If The Post were a university and Republicans were some disadvantaged minority, the case would be open and shut. If The Post claims to be independent, it is because it is unwilling to see its own bias.

Thomas F. Hafer, Arlington

The Republicans don't want to be a "disadvantaged minority," even if the Post wants to consign them to that category (without "affirmative action" remedies, of course.)

Pexton noted the Post also liked endorsing moderate Republicans (I'd say liberal Republicans) like ex- Reps. Connie Morella and Wayne Gilchrest in Maryland. This is the Pexton passage that probably spurred the letter:

Republicans and conservatives write to me and say that this record of endorsements makes a mockery of The Post’s editorial-page motto: “An Independent Newspaper.” Some go further, saying that The Post is an arm of the Democratic Party.

It’s important to remember that the editorial board and its endorsement process are sealed off from the newsroom. Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor, noted in a recent online chat: “We are completely separate from the news-gathering operation. I have no input and no knowledge of what they are up to, and they have no input into my operation.”

...Hiatt doesn’t think The Post is an arm of any party. Nor do I.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis