The Washington Post: A Tale of Two Comments

The Washington Post had two awful statements from Presidential campaign surrogates to work with last week. How it dealt with each of them is highly illustrative of how the media does its business.

Last Sunday evening the world was again made privy to the inner workings of the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s mind, thanks to a moment of hot microphone pre-interview candor. Apparently, the Reverend Jackson is very, very angry with how Illinois Senator Barack Obama talks to black people, and with his pledge to up the ante on President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative. So perturbed is Jackson that he wishes to perform a certain ghastly procedure on the Senator, one that if executed on a sheep would be what a cowboy chef would say is the first step in the preparation of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

This is either a huge problem or a huge gift for the Illinois Senator. It is hardly good for a prominent Obama proxy to wish him castrated, worse still if he is so passionate about seeing it done that he is willing if not eager to do the job himself. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for Obama to distance himself from the grievance-mongering Jackson and his ilk.

On Wednesday, Jackson officially retracted his desires to enter the eunuch-ing business, and on Thursday the Post delivered us the politically volatile goods like this for a headline: "Obama’s Ideology Difficult to Pinpoint."

See that one-line bit of text down at the bottom, which we have had to highlight in yellow as a way to draw your eye away from the titanic glowing picture of Senator Ted Kennedy? That tiny little line, when you finally notice it, reads:

“Rev. Jackson apologizes for remark about Obama | A4”.

Now here is a newspaper clearly desperate to have their readers see this story. So earnest are they that they dedicate an entire seven words in ten-point font below the fold (the chicken scratch line from my pen) to it. This all just screams “Please read me”.

The Washington Post did this because they are neck-deep in the tank for Obama, and wish to minimize anything that may damage their Boy Wonder. Care for another example? Look to the right of the yellow, at the equally huge one-liner highlighted in purple. Which reads:

“Obama joins Senate in passing wiretapping bill. | A6”.

Here is another tremendously important story about Senator Obama. Voting for the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was an amazing act of apostasy from liberalism, igniting a very brief harrumphing campaign from leftist bloggers. When this bill was drafted, containing telecom immunity, Obama promised a filibuster.

On the day of the vote, Obama set aside his campaign duties to return to Washington — and joined with conservatives in voting “Aye”. No filibuster, no “Nay”, not even a no-show (a specialty of his in his state Senate days).

The bigger the bad news for Obama, the smaller the type-face from the Post. They hide it alongside the Jackson remark, and bury it on page A6.

And when the Post isn’t minimizing Obama damage, they are eradicating it completely. Obama’s Wednesday anti-English Only “embarrassed by Americans” bender, the one during which he said it was just as important that Americans learn to speak Spanish and compared us unfavorably to Europeans, failed to make the front page, or the A section at all.

Late on Wednesday (too late to make the Thursday papers), Senator John McCain’s lead economic advisor Phil Gramm asserted that America is suffering only a “mental recession”, not an actual one, and that we have become a “nation of whiners”. (He said the former (at least) in large part because it’s true. A recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth; we have not yet had one.)

McCain quickly distanced himself from Gramm’s comments, saying he “does not speak for me, I speak for me. I strongly disagree. The person here in Michigan who just lost his job isn’t suffering from a mental recession.”

Good enough for the Post? Good enough at least to warrant a ten-point font, one line below the fold mention a la the Obama-Jackson debacle? Umm, no (below):

Top of the fold, banner headline just below the masthead and three columns wide. And the wording of the headline is indicative of the anti-McCain slant throughout. Yet another hit-job disguised as a news piece.

The Washington Post front page is prime real estate, where news is not just delivered, it is made. The Post can turn anything it wants into a major story, or into nothing at all, just by where the Editors choose to place it.

This week demonstrates clearly that these “news”men allot their property each day so as to best suit their ideological objectives. Three injurious Obama stories in one day net but two small and well hidden demi-sentences in the low-rent district, while one bit of bad McCain news gets monster placement in the top corner lot.

We may not be in a recession, but this certainly represents a media real estate crisis.

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