The Washington Post announced today that former national editor and staff writer Kevin Merida is the paper's new managing editor, effective immediately. "Kevin is a journalist of remarkable accomplishment, with a record of strong leadership," Post executive editor Marty Baron was quoted in a community relations notice. "He has cultivated a talented staff on the National desk, and he has won the admiration and affection of his colleagues. I'm delighted to have him leading coverage across the entire newsroom,” Baron added.
As my colleague Scott Whitlock noted in September 2008, however, Merida denies that the media exhibit a liberal bias:
With the first official presidential debate for 2008 set to begin this evening on the Oxford campus of Ole Miss, Washington Post associate editor Kevin Merida gave readers of today's Style section a glimpse at how the state of Mississippi is still "Bearing Its Southern Cross."
Merida opened by insisting that the Magnolia State "has been chasing away ghosts for years, trying to rid itself of a past that keeps haunting the present" and that "the ghosts just won't leave Mississippi alone." The Post staffer did end up closing on a positive note regarding race relations in Mississippi, but in doing so, he failed to note the role of conservative policies in leading an overwhelmingly white state senate district to elect a black candidate:
Washington Post staff writer Kevin Merida talked to NewsBusters at a rally for John McCain in Fairfax, VA and denied that the media are biased. He asserted, "I think that most journalists are really conscientious about, you know, really looking at all sides of issues and subjects." However, he did hedge that "there's always some bias in media coverage and some, just, not-terrific journalism."
When asked about intense scrutiny into the life of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Merida didn't see an issue of unfair coverage. "...She's somebody new on the scene and she's getting a lot of, you know, scrutiny, like anyone would, I think, in her position, with her background, her resume and, kind of, bursting onto the national scene in this sudden way." Asked specifically about possible double standards, such as when "Today" reporter Amy Robach speculated on September 3 about whether a Vice President Palin will "be shortchanging her kids or will she be shortchanging the country," Merida declined to comment on other media outlets.
During the noon hour of the July 8 "MSNBC News Live," host Tamron Hall discussed McCain's new TV ad with Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman and Washington Post’s Kevin Merida. The ad focused on McCain's time as a POW as demonstrative of his love of country and Hall questioned how Obama could compete with such a story.
Well, look, Senator McCain's got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that's something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.
So, the story of a man who never served in the military but was a community organizer and graduated from Harvard Law is "different" but just as impressive as the story of a man who was a prisoner of war, tortured by his Communist captors and refused special treatment in order to stay with his fellow servicemen in prison?