WaPo Ignores Rep. Jim Moran Race -- Even As Moran Sneers His 24-Year Army Vet Opponent Offers No 'Public Service' Record

October 19th, 2010 5:32 PM

A letter to the editor of The Washington Times really underscored how little attention the D.C. media are paying to Congressman Jim Moran, who represents the easternmost part of northern Virginia (including MRC headquarters in Alexandria). A letter writer complained:

I am enraged by Rep. James P. Moran's comment on the service record of his opponent, retired U.S. Army Col. Patrick Murray, in Virginia's 8th Congressional District race. Mr. Moran recently stated, "What [Republicans] do is that they find candidates - usually stealth candidates - that haven't been in office, haven't served or performed any kind of public service. My opponent is typical." Col. Murray served his country for 24 years in the U.S. armed forces. The fact that Mr. Moran thinks 24 years of service in the Army is not equivalent to public service speaks for itself.

Michael Gryboski of Examiner.com reported these comments on October 9 from an Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on October 6. The Washington Post cribbed a passage or two from the liberal blog  Blue Virginia on their website on the 7th, but never noted it in the paper. The blog summary avoided Moran's "public service" outrage:

More video from last night's Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, this time Rep. Jim Moran - who spoke for nearly 1/2 hour total - talking about "stealth" Republicans, the bogus GOP "Pledge," and what this election's all about. Great stuff, should get you "fired up, ready to go!"

P.S. By the way, attendance at last night's meeting was very low, maybe 1/3 of the chairs filled. It seems the "enthusiasm gap" is alive and well in Arlington. Ugh.

But Blue Virginia also has the video, with Moran speaking outrageously right at the beginning.

The Washington Post staff at Metro apparently doesn't cover House races they consider in the bag for the Democrats. Since the primaries on June 9, there's been only one Post story mentioning Patrick Murray: a Monday story on the front page of Metro headlined "Moran won't stray from winning ways." In other words, pay no attention to this 8th District campaign. Reporter Ben Pershing highlighted how Jim Moran has won with at least 60 percent of the vote in the past six elections, and "has enormous advantages in fundraising and name identification over Murray, who left the military in 2009 after 24 years of service and has never held elected office."

Reporter Ben Pershing didn't acknowledge Murray until the story jumped to B5. Pershing showed no real interest in elaborating on Murray's military service (including deployment to Baghdad during the surge in Iraq in 2007), or his personal story of growing up with a single mom in Oklahoma.

The Washington Post does know how to focus a whole story on an unlikely House challenger. On September 19, there was a story by Ben Pershing on the front page of Metro. The headline was not "Frank Wolf won't stray from winning ways." It was "In Va., Wolf challenger Barnett focuses on future." There was a subhead, too: "Using a campaign walk, Democrat runs for Congress." There was also a nice color picture of a smiling Barnett, touting his "80-mile trek across the 10th District to meet voters." Pershing began with the challenger, not the incumbent:

In 1996, Air Force Col. Jeffery R. Barnett published a book predicting how wars would be prosecuted in 2010. Now, Barnett is engaged in an uphill battle far different from the ones he imagined: He is running to unseat Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) in the 10th Congressional District.

The Moran story's inside headline was "Moran relies on his record against GOP newcomer." The Barnett story's inside headline was "Barnett cites population growth and area's infrastructure needs."

Unlike Murray, Pershing did tout Barnett's resume about his "26 years in the Air Force, including stints in Virginia working at the Pentagon and in Croatia as part of a U.N. peacekeeping force. He went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton in 2009 before joining Toffler Associates in 2003 [which was mentioned at the beginning]. Barnett has written two books -- 'Future War' in 1996 and 'The Job Box' in 2009."

It's not difficult to conclude that for the Post, the biggest test of newsworthiness might appear to be whether you are a Democrat.