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Monday, July 19, 2010

Who Needs a Fairness Doctrine Now?

I can't resist briefly commenting on a story that serves to integrate two recent themes. The Washington Post Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, takes his paper to task for not covering a major scandal which I discussed previously:

Thursday's Post reported about a growing controversy over the Justice Department's decision to scale down a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. The story succinctly summarized the issues but left many readers with a question: What took you so long?

For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn't been covering the case. The calls increased recently after competitors such as the New York Times and the Associated Press wrote stories. Fox News and right-wing bloggers have been pumping the story. Liberal bloggers have countered, accusing them of trying to manufacture a scandal.

But The Post has been virtually silent.

Adams raises the question of whether the Post employs a double standard.

The Post didn't cover it. Indeed, until Thursday's story, The Post had written no news stories about the controversy this year. In 2009, there were passing references to it in only three stories.

That's prompted many readers to accuse The Post of a double standard. Royal S. Dellinger of Olney said that if the controversy had involved Bush administration Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, "Lord, there'd have been editorials and stories, and it would go on for months."
If you want a clue as to why the Post has not covered the story, consider the title of the article that finally did appear on Thursday: "2008 voter-intimidation case against New Black Panthers riles the right." [emphasis mine]. Immediately, the pragmatist ideology of the liberal journalist is revealed. In other words, this story, which involves a serious voter intimidation case inexplicably dropped by the Justice Department, is not important based on the facts of the case. It is only a story because it "riles the right." In fact, while the article does mention some of the facts of the case, most of it is devoted to throwing water on the seriousness of the case. Why would liberals employ such a double standard? Adams writes:

To be sure, ideology and party politics are at play. Liberal bloggers have accused Adams of being a right-wing activist (he insisted to me Friday that his sole motivation is applying civil rights laws in a race-neutral way). Conservatives appointed during the Bush administration control a majority of the civil rights commission's board. And Fox News has used interviews with Adams to push the story. Sarah Palin has weighed in via Twitter, urging followers to watch Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's coverage because "her revelations leave Left steaming." [emphasis mine]
The accusation by liberal bloggers that Adams should be dismissed as a mere "right wing activist" is exactly the type of argument that I analyzed previously. In other words, the facts or principles underlying the case are irrelevant to the liberal. Sure, there is video of two New Black Panthers dressed in military gear wielding nightsticks outside a polling place. And sure, a justice department lawyer has resigned, after the Attorney General dropped the case, citing his concerns that the Justice Department is not interested in applying civil rights law in a race neutral way. Who cares - that's not news? What's really important is that the lawyer is a right wing activist and Fox News is busy "conditioning" the minds of their dupes in order to "manufacture a scandal" (recall, that Obama Care opponents were denigrated as "astro-turf" agitators manufactured by the insurance lobby). Only when this "vast, right-wing conspiracy" reaches fever pitch does the Post feel the need to begrudgingly mention the story.

Is it ironic that the left are the ones yearning for a "fairness doctrine?" Please.

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