Washington Post Metro reporter Aaron Davis has an excellent story in today's paper about ethically-deficient D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) attending a reelection campaign fundraiser at the home of an "incarcerated real estate mogul" who is guilty of having "prey[ed] on homeowners facing foreclosure." Said home, by the way, is $36,000 in arrears on D.C. property taxes. Last year some of Davis's colleagues reported on how the Gray administration had moved to evict elderly residents from their houses for paltry sums of backpaid taxes, many times in cases where they had not been properly notified that they owed the District any money.
Unfortunately for Davis, and more importantly, for Post readers, his editors decided to shuffle his story off to page C5 in the Sunday paper. By contrast, they plastered the front page of Metro with an above-the-fold headline scolding the Virginia state legislature -- the lower house of which is dominated by Republicans -- for not going far enough in its ethics reforms: "Va. moves to tighten ethics rules -- but not too much."
The Washington Post kept up its crusade to attack Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in Thursday’s paper. In a story covering a debate between the two candidates vying to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general, reporters Frederick Kunkle and Michael Laris put only one candidate’s quote on the front page: the Democrat attacking Cuccinelli as an extremist and abuser of power.
The Post offered Mark Herring’s outburst, and then waited until inside the paper for his quote to fall apart:
After failing completely to offer one headline covering some liberal guy named Ralph Northam for most of 2013 -- he's the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia -- The Washington Post on Wednesday noticed "Northam targets Jackson's rhetoric." Because the Post wants absolutely every story on this campaign to be about Rev. E.W. Jackson's rhetoric. They put the ball on the tee and nudged Northam to cream it.
Reporters Michael Laris and Antonio Olivo announced “Northam cast his opponent as dangerously divisive and personally irresponsible -- someone who would hurt the state both economically and with his social values if elected. In his closing statement, Northam condemned Jackson's rhetoric.” Laris explained Jackson had a "national" reputation as a "flamethrower" of rhetoric:
If black Rev. E.W. Jackson was a liberal and his white opponent Ralph Northam was a conservative, The Washington Post would have to accuse itself of racism. In the Virginia campaign for lieutenant governor, Northam, a white liberal, is the beneficiary of obvious and massive discrimination. He hasn’t drawn a single headline from the Post since he won the primary in June. No one needs to know anything he's said or anything he's done. He's apparently perfect.
But once again on Tuesday, the Post took out a journo-hammer and hit Jackson the black conservative over the head. On the front page of the Metro section, the headline was “E.W. Jackson’s combative style to be put to test.” Post reporter Michael Laris relied on Democratic trackers (and they happily relied on him) to report that Jackson had said something allegedly outrageous from a minister -- that Christianity was true, and other religions were false:
"For those scraping by on minimum wage, an increase sounds good." That was the Einstein-brilliant headline for the February 25 Metro section article by Washington Post staff writer Michael Laris, which looked at how a "Young Pr[ince] George's [County] father finds little money left to advance dreams."
Laris's 44-paragraph story began with the plight of 24-year-old father Tyrrell Brown, who "makes minimum wage as a cashier at the Family Dollar in Forest Heights," Maryland, a town just outside the District of Columbia. "[E]ven with the job, the income of his girlfriend, Janise Creek, and support from their parents, they can't afford to get their own apartment with their daughter Jayla," Laris noted, quoting Brown in the next paragraph complaining, "Who can live off this little bit of money every week?"
Most of the January 2 front page for The Washington Post was devoted to the resolution of the so-called fiscal cliff, but editors made sure to leave space for a gauzy 33-paragraph story entitled "History at the altar: Maryland sees wave of same-sex weddings as law takes effect."
By contrast, an uplifting story involving a non-controversial religious tradition in African-American churches was shuffled to the bottom of page A2, despite the tremendous historical significance of the 2012 New Year's Eve "watch night" celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Yesterday the Montgomery County [Md.] Council passed into law a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags dispensed by "nearly all retail establishments, not just those that sell food" within the county.
"Among the few exceptions are paper bags from restaurants and pharmacy bags holding prescription drugs," Post staffer Michael Laris noted in his page A1 story.
But Laris left out one huge exemption to the bag tax of concern to the reader: newspaper sleeves like the ones that subscribers of the Post get their daily papers delivered in.
As I noted yesterday in my NB Extra piece, in an October 26 editorial listing endorsements for the Montgomery County [Md.] Council, the Washington Post erroneously stated that the incumbent County Executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett (D) was unopposed in his reelection bid.
That simply is not true, and the Post today issued a correction noting that Leggett does indeed face a challenge, from Republican Doug Rosenfeld.
Yet in today's correction notice, the Post noted that it will print an "editorial on that contest... in the coming days."
The Post most certainly has a right to make such an endorsement, but considering its gross negligence in the first place, should the paper opt simply to refuse to make an endorsement?
A search of the Nexis database from September 15 (the day after the primary election) through October 27 found just two mentions of Rosenfeld. The second was today's correction notice and the first was the very last paragraph of Metro section reporter Michael Laris's September 15 roundup of local primary election results:
- Ran 11 articles related to D.C.'s new law allowing same-sex marriage.
- Devoted 543 inches of column space to the ruling - equal to nearly four full pages.
- Printed 14 photos of gay celebrations, including a prominent one of two men kissing.
- Quoted supporters 11 times more often than opponents - 67 to 6.
- Repeatedly compared gay marriage to the historic civil rights movement.
Nobody can accuse The Washington Post of being objective when it came to covering the District of Columbia's decision to legalize same-sex marriage. The Post has reported on the event with a celebratory zeal more appropriate to The Advocate or The Blade.
If abortion clinics serve up abortions, do anti-abortion clinics perform anti-abortions?
I couldn't help but muse that as I read the Washington Post's Metro section below-the-fold front-pager "Disclaimer proposed for anti-abortion clinics."
The November 11 story by Michael Laris explained that "Montgomery County [Md.] officials" are considering a "regulation" that "would require pregnancy centers run by abortion opponents to give women a disclaimer so they don't mistake the centers for medical clinics and so they understand the source of the information given to them."
Laris painted these officials -- seven of the county's nine [all of them Democrats] county council members -- as proponents of "consumer protection."So somehow dissuading a woman from having an abortion is an affront to consumer protection?
The Post staffer went on to quote the regulation's author, Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), who insisted her bill was "just a disclosure regulation." Yet Laris failed to give readers details about Trachtenberg's affiliation with pro-abortion rights lobbies like the National Organization for Women (NOW) and NARAL Pro-Choice America.