The Washington Post position as organ of the Northam propaganda machine apparently needed balancing. Which is why this weekend’s WaPo editorial absolutely eviscerating the embattled Democratic nominee was mildly pleasing at best — entirely schadenfreude.
…and perhaps that’s where our problem with this editorial lies.
For the last two weeks, the Washington Post has run almost daily screeds about Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie: guns have changed the debate (they haven’t), Gillespie was mediocre at the UVA-Wise debate (he crushed it), Corey Stewart is waffling on endorsing Ed Gillespie (that happened formally in July), the Democrats are united while Republicans are split seven ways to Sunday (when the opposite is true), Confederate statues are an albatross (they aren’t), the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a footnote (it’s not).
The editorial is damning for Northam’s total lack of specifics on education, with the embattled nominee emphasizing higher standards in public education while failing his own test on both merits and specifics:
We recently revisited this history with Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) during a discussion of what he would do with public education if he were elected governor next month. Mr. Northam claimed to believe in accountability but was utterly unable to explain what he means by the word. The state’s Standards of Learning (SOL), which establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do, aren’t working, he said, and should be tossed out. What would replace them? Astonishingly, after almost four years as lieutenant governor and a month away from the election, Mr. Northam had no answer.
One might even suggest that such a stance — not just from a sitting Lieutenant Governor, but a multi-term Virginia state senator — would be a disqualifying statement? One that might ask the editorial team (and reporters at the WaPo) to refocus their interest away from running down Gillespie and putting the Northam campaign’s lack of intellectual rigor on notice?
Of course that doesn’t happen.
Meanwhile, Gillespie has policy positions on public education which can be weighed, assessed, discussed, etc. Northam’s inability to take positions on a host of issues screams weakness, not only of leadership, but of the brittle nature of the coalition that has him carrying the Democratic battle standards.
For a presumptive frontrunner well behind both the generic ballot and national expectations, Northam should be receiving the lion’s share of the Washington Post’s scrutiny.
Instead, we have a hard-hitting but singular editorial from the Washington Post — which we contrarians might (and do) argue is designed to even up the scorecard rather than truly refocus the narrative of what is sold to Virginians as an objective press.
Perhaps if there was a true focus — and not a series of editorials cloaked in journalism — on the issues driving the Virginia gubernatorial race, we’d have that statewide conversation that so many seem to lament. But alas… the Washington Post is captive to clickbait, and the audience they desire is mewling for screeds against Republicans — not journalistic integrity.
Of course, why should that be? After all, the Washington Post is the 800lb. gorilla both on the national and statewide stage. Under former leadership, the WaPo was proud of its reputation — even jealous — as a local newspaper of record. The Metro section and not the national press gaggle was the true meat and potatoes of the publication.
…at least, until the Washington Post forgot itself, became lazy, and eventually was purchased for a song by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos — a man with a decidedly libertarian bent who finds himself the target of a handful of tweets from the White House.
One might (politely) suggest that when welded to the left-of-center bent of the Washington Post newsroom, a perfect storm of nonsense not seen since the character smearing of then-Senator George Allen in 2006 occurs.
The Washington Post is in a position to be a newspaper of record. When it trades its reputation cheaply to swing elections, voters can either choose to accept the reinforcement of their bias or treat such information with well-deserved contempt. Such a forfeit of authenticity only feeds into the idea of a counterfeit press. After all, if it’s all propaganda? One might as well take the gentle slope of intellectual junk food rather than take reality square on.
Both reactions — confirmation bias or a contempt for institutions — only feed the cynicism that voters feel towards the media writ large. Such cynicism is only leveraged by the “fake news” from left, from the right, even our friends in St. Petersburg… and thus we enter a world where facts become currency rather than conversation. That rarely ends well.
Few organizations have the ability to change that dynamic. The rest of us must be content to point out the obvious — voters most of all.