In this case, the numbers are 4 1/2 to 1/2. That’s the ratio of liberals to conservatives on the op-ed page of this morning’s Washington Post. Not exactly balanced. We have the wildly left Eugene Robinson, blasting Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz in one fell swoop. Then we have lefty Richard Cohen, beginning his column by saying that Alberto Gonzales should wear a Mike Nifong mask while testifying before the Senate. For good measure, Cohen writes that voter fraud is “an urban myth.” Then there is the increasingly sloppy and smear-mongering E.J. Dionne Jr., in a predictable jeremiad against racism. At the top right of the page is former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, who blasts the Bush White House for claiming privileges against congressional testimony. In the course of his column, Podesta makes an utterly unsubstantiated claim while discussing whether Bush US Attorneys “were fired to obstruct or interfere with a pending prosecution or to influence the course of a prospective prosecution.” He writes that “evidence suggests that this may have been the case in several firings, including those of John McKay, David Iglesias and Carol Lam.”
I call Podesta a liar.
I challenge Podesta to cite the “evidence” that even “suggests” that the Lam firing had ANYTHING to do with an attempt to improperly influence an investigation.
But back to the Post: The fifth and final column today was by Anne Applebaum, by most lights a centrist or, at best (from our vantage point) just ever-so-slightly center-right. As is usually the case, Applebaum’s column was thoughtful — in this case, a discussion of protests in Russia and Ukraine that comes down hard on the Russians. A good column, but hardly one that ANYbody on the Sunday morning news talk shows would disagree with — in other words, not identifiably conservative, but utterly mainstream.
So to recap, we have an entire op-ed page without a single identifiably conservative voice.
I must admit that I rather admire the WashPost op-ed section in general, the way I used to admire The New Republic, because even though I usually disagree with it I find it (usually) thoughtful, well-written, well-argued, and undertaken with a serious attempt to be fairminded even though clearly coming from somewhere a bit left of center. Frankly, I often find the Post op-ed section more fair than its news pages, which feature a number of excellent reporters but which have lost almost all distinctions between straight news and analysis and which on big stories are repeatedly and demonstrably biased and flat-out unfair to the right.
But while it does feature a few conservatives as regular columnists (George Will, Robert Novak, Charles Krauthammer), it features an overwhelming preponderance of liberals as regulars. I GUARANTEE that the Post has never run an entire column page without a single identifiable liberal on it. I guarantee it has never featured a 4 1/2 to 1/2 ratio on any one day of conservatives to liberals (or, perhaps more accurately, 4-1-0 liberal-moderate-conservative).
By comparison, my former paper, the Mobile Register, featured a strongly conservative editorial stance. But it rigorously insisted on balance in its opinion columns. I actually counted once, for an entire six-month stretch, and found in our columns an almost perfect numerical balance along the philosophical/ideological spectrum.
Why can’t the Post even attempt to be so fair?
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