Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Washington Post coverage of the presidential campaign was biased, its ombudsman says. Deborah Howell says in her Nov. 9 column that “readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issue coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama.” Mrs. Howell went on to explain that after conducting surveys on the paper, the readers are “right on both counts.” Her assessment could be construed as coming too late.

During the presidential race, The Post “was deficient in stories that reported more than two candidates trading jabs: readers needed articles, going back to the primaries, comparing their positions with outside experts’ views. There were no broad stories on energy or science policy, and there were few on religion issues,” Mrs. Howell said. This would be a correct analysis. What Mrs. Howell does not say is that with Mr. Obama’s lack of experience on policy issues it would have been hard to write articles about his ideas. And regarding religion, she does not discuss the skimpy details about Mr. Obama’s relationship to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Mrs. Howell’s column says nothing of the fact that The Post was also biased against Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton in her run against Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Howell notes that the “number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain’s 786. Both had hard-fought primary campaigns, but Obama’s battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton was longer.” The column also says that the president-elect deserved more scrutiny of his past relationships with Tony Rezko and his admitted drug use. Mrs. Howell says that more in-depth information on policy issues should have been given.

None of these admissions means much after the fact. But it, along with other studies of other media, does validate claims made by many observers that the mainstream media is biased toward the left.

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