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Why the Washington Post blogger matters

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I'd like to take a moment to explain why so many of us are speaking out so loudly about the Washington Post's decision to start a daily column whose avowed goal is to attack Democrats and praise Republicans.

1. It's abominable.

2. It's important.

3. If you don't fight the little battles, you will surely lose the war.

It's Abominable
I've already written at length about my concerns. But let me just say this: A major newspaper cannot launch a special daily self-proclaimed partisan Republican activist column and NOT establish equal column space for a Democratic activist column.

The decision is so patently biased and one-sided on its face that it should not need further explanation. It would be akin to the Washington Post deciding during the 2004 election to start a daily column called "We hate John Kerry." It would be written by a partisan Republican party activist, and would be a daily biased and vitriolic attack on John Kerry, with the added benefit of being quite often incorrect. There would be no corresponding column attacking President Bush.

Why would they do this? Because "we all know" the Washington Post is so liberally-biased that the anti-Bush information comes through all of their articles anyway, so this is just a way to balance all that out. Sure, one bias is subtle, if it exists at all, and relies on a seasoned journalist occasionally publishing facts some people think skew against their favorite politician, while the other bias is freely admitted up front, occurs every day and in every article, and is being peddled by an avowed partisan activist with no journalistic training whatsoever. I have no problem with avowed party activists, but they are not the direct counterparts of objective journalists, yet that is what the Post would have us believe.

Not to mention, if any of the Post's supposedly "biased liberal" journalists stated that they were going to write their daily column with the goal of it presenting the pro-Democratic view of the world, with regular attacks on Republicans, they'd be fired. Ironically, this is the very reason the Republican blogger was hired, to do exactly what the Post's "liberal" reporters are not permitted, overtly and regularly whore for one team while screwing the other.

Or is the Post now saying that the conservatives' prior complaints, the ones that led the Post to launch a Republican blog, are now moot - i.e., now that the Post has addressed the "imbalance" problem by hiring an overtly partisan writer to write intentionally-conservatively-biased pieces, the Post's other "liberally-biased" journalists are now free to openly whore for the Democratic party in each and every article? Sweet.

What's worse, the Post hasn't even explained why they chose to start a Republican blog and no Democratic blog. We are just guessing it's to correct some "liberal bias" boogeyman. In fact, the Post has said no such thing. So all we really know is that the Washington Post decided to start a new column whose avowed goal is attacking Democrats and defending Republicans.

It is simply not possible for anyone to defend such a decision as fair, balanced, impartial, or unbiased. The case is prima facie, the Post loses.

It's Important
The decision to launch a self-proclaimed Republican blog, but have no corresponding Democratic blog, is important because it's part of a larger trend of media bias by the Post, but also corporate media across the board. For the past several decades, Republicans have made up claims of media bias in order to "play the ref" - i.e., coerce an already unbiased media into leaning to the right. The problem arises when the media either wasn't biased to the left to start with, or when they "correct" themselves by leaning so far to the right that they've now adopted a right-wing bias. Whatever their position five and ten years ago, far too many members of the corporate media are now biased to the right.

The Washington Post is no exception. Fred Hiatt, the head of their editorial page, is a pro-war, pro-Bush conservative - responsible for not just parroting Bush's lies that got us into the war in Iraq, but continuing to defend the ongoing American presence in Iraq by, again, parroting White House talking points. At the same time, the Post hires an ombudsman who only seems to have issues with supposed "liberal" writers at the Post and with the "liberal" blogs. She, of course, has no problem with Bob Woodward misleading the Washington Post, and more importantly, millions of Americans with his repeated TV appearances criticizing the special counsel investigating the Valerie Plame CIA leak, thereby defending countless Bush administration officials, when in fact Woodward was a party to the entire investigation/scandal. In the real world, that's called a lie and a massive conflict of interest, and would end your job. What did the ombudsman have to say about this? Woodward needs an editor. What did the Washington Post say about it? They're proud of Bob. And now the Washington Post decides to start a daily Republican activist column with no corresponding Democratic column.

There is a trend here, and it isn't good.

If you don't fight the little battles, you lose the war.
To use a rhetorical technique our illustrious president loves (but in my case, I'm quoting actual people who exist), there are those who say we should ignore the Washington Post's Republican activist blogger - he doesn't matter, and all we're doing is giving him more publicity.

I could not disagree more.

The Post's blogger himself is a 24 year old kid with no experience in journalism and little experience in politics. He still calls people he disagrees with "communists" - in fact, that's what he called Coretta Scott King the day she was buried. He is an intellectual lightweight and not the issue here.

In fact, this battle is about a much larger principle, one that we're losing. Namely, that the media is moving further and further to the right, and we're doing nothing to stop it. The Post's hire of a Republican activist is a rather egregious step in that once upon a time, oh 5 days ago, a supposedly impartial newspaper wouldn't even think of starting a conservative blog without launching a liberal one at the same time. Today, such a biased action is to be considered normal and not even worthy of note, let alone outrage.

The Washington Post's actions are part of a larger, more long-term victory by right-wingers intent on destroying any impartiality left in the corporate media. The right understands these nuances, these trends, these slow and steady victories - the left does not. We think it's all about waiting to fight the one big battle that "actually counts," not "wasting our time" with the Ben Domenech's of the world. And by the time that one big battle occurs, which is usually never, the right has already won the war by winning ten smaller battles that add up to one big battle.

What the Post has done is horrendous, and horrendously important. The left and the middle need to understand that these supposed "small" battles ARE the only battle in town, and they're the only battle that matters.

A final example. How do you think the right-wing is outlawing abortion? Not by overturning Roe v. Wade. They're doing it slowly and surely over a 30 year period with small legislative victories that, in the aggregate, make Roe meaningless.

The right understands the slow march of history. Will we?

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