CommunityFDL Main Blog

The Moral Outrage Of the Washington Post — Oh My!

The WaPo’s "media critic" Howie Kurtz regularly takes a headlong dive into every right wing blog controversy hallucinated by Michelle Malkin. But he couldn’t be bothered to write about the Joe Klein FISA fiasco because…well, he’s a busy man.


The controversy first broke on November 21. But it took Kurtz more than two weeks to address it. And even then he didn’t write about it in the Post and he didn’t address it on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Instead, Kurtz simply included it as a footnote at the very end of a lengthy, five-page column. (Kurtz’s coverage was so well hidden that Greenwald told me he originally missed it, "even though I was actively looking for it.")

Kurtz admits he was late to the Klein story. "Beyond taking a few days off at the time, I am spending most of my time covering the coverage of the presidential campaign, which includes the time-consuming task of critiquing the candidates’ ads," he told me in an email. "Every four years at this time I am stretched somewhat thin because of the campaign. I work many, many hours and cannot cover everything."

What kind of a reportorial outrage does it take to get the Post off its tuffet? Well, now we know. The whole brotherhood of journalism is up in arms. Filthy bloggers:

[W]hat has awakened the slumbering lions from Len Downie to Adam Nagourney to Karen Tumulty is the thing that we journalists continue to best as our world crumbles around us: Play defense. In particular, rise up to defend one of our own — Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon Jr. — against a kind of personal attack, even though few if any of these people had much to say about the appalling journalistic lapse by Bacon’s editors (including Downie himself) that is really at root of the controversy.

What started it all was this: An odd piece on the ironically named by Boston University prof Chris Daly in response to an ongoing controversy over Bacon’s recent front-page piece in the Post, citing persistent rumors dogging the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama of allegedly troubling links to the Muslim religion or culture. Daly is hardly unique in critizing the piece: an online Columbia Journalism Review article called it the single worst article of the 2008 campaign so far, and I and many other agree on that. That’s because the piece failed to clearly state that the rumors about Obama brought up in the article have been clearly debunked.

But Daly went way too far — with little more evidence than a hasty Google search, he attempted to argue that Bacon, who is 27 but has an impressive resume dating back to his undergraduate years at Yale, is too young to be on the presidential beat for a national newspaper. That’s ridiculous on its face: A lot of great political journalism has come from 20-somethings. (In a completely unrelated matter to great journalism, I myself was just 25 when I covered the very first "Super Tuesday" in the Deep South for the Birmingham News, so I can sympathize.) More importantly, I don’t even think Bacon is really the issue here; it’s his supposedly more sophisticated editors, all the way up the ladder to Downie, who helped shaped the assignment and guided it into paper.

It’s quite amazing that Downie has his knickers twisted up around his windpipe over a blog post that affected….oh, probably nobody, but the WaPo doesn’t want to mention the editorial failings that lead to a real journalistic outrage which reflects very badly on his own paper’s ability to fairly report the upcoming presidential race.

What’s that thing they say about first casting that beam out of your own eye?

Previous post

Horserace Politics Roundup

Next post

Score one for Theocracy

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
Subscribe in a reader