WaPo Collaborates on Front Page Piece With Far-left ProPublica

The Washington Post published an extensive investigative piece about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Friday which was a collaboration with the far-left media outlet ProPublica (h/t Carter Wood).

As NewsBusters executive editor Matt Sheffield and I reported last September, ProPublica was founded by Herb and Marion Sandler, the California billionaires that have contributed millions to liberal causes and entities such as MoveOn.org and the Clinton front-group Center for American Progress.

Readers might recall the Sandlers being lampooned by "Saturday Night Live" last October for having a hand in the financial crisis. NBC later caved to pressure from the couple and edited out any reference to them in the video of the skit posted at the network's website (Pat Dollard still has the full video here).  

In October 2007, shortly after the Sandlers announced their new media venture, Slate's Jack Shafer expressed concern:

The first American press was the partisan press, underwritten and dictated by the political parties. Starting in the 1830s or so, the profit-seeking lords of the commercial press staked their major claim to the news business and established a primacy they have maintained to this day.

The third wave in American journalism—that of the foundation press—may be taking form now thanks to Bay Area billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler. Waving $10 million that they promise to replenish annually, the Sandlers have founded the nonprofit ProPublica to produce investigative journalism. (Usual suspect the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is also chipping in some money to the ProPublica kitty, as are the Atlantic Philanthropies and the JEHT Foundation.) [...]

What do the Sandlers want for their millions? Perhaps to return us to the days of the partisan press. [...]

ProPublica's Web site vows that its investigations will be conducted in a "non-partisan and non-ideological manner, adhering to the strictest standards of journalistic impartiality." But philanthropists, especially those who earned the fortune they're giving away, tend not to distribute their money with a blind eye to the results. How happy will they be if ProPublica gores their sacred Democratic cows? Or takes the "wrong" position on their pet projects: health, the environment, and civil liberties?

Now, eighteen months later, one of ProPublica's investigative reporters, Jeff Gerth, has collaborated with the Washington Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. to produce a piece published by both the Post and ProPublica.

For those unfamiliar with Gerth, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter that has spent most of his time at the New York Times, most recently co-authoring 2007's book about Hillary Clinton entitled "Her Way."

Speaking of the Clintons, Gerth hasn't always been kind to them. He actually wrote about Whitewater back in 1992, and also reported on the Monica Lewinsky scandal amongst other things.

This has gotten Gerth in trouble with the Clinton front-group Media Matters for America which has written unfavorably about him on numerous occasions. 

Yet, in fairness to both authors, this is actually a very good piece about Geithner and issues related to the lead up to September's financial collapse. Readers are highly encouraged to review the entire article.

Of greater concern is the precedent established here, and the possibility that this far-left leaning outlet will get more of its work published by major mainstream entities like the Post.

Or, as Carter Wood cautioned Friday, this might allow other extraordinarily liberal entities to get their propaganda such attention:

This week the news appeared, “Huffington Post to bankroll investigative reporting.” How soon before we see a front page Washington Post story with the byline, “By Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Sam Stein?” Stein’s a good reporter, so no problem.

Bears watching, doesn't it?

Washington Post Slate Media Matters Timothy Geithner Jack Shafer Jeff Gerth
Noel Sheppard's picture