Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Washington Post's cunning plan

The Washington Post's coverage of the Senate confirmation of Condoleeza Rice was remarkable for its characterization of some left liberal Democrats as centrists.

The original article in the Post (via Power Line):

Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Power Line comments:
"Centrists"?? Mark Dayton? Robert Byrd? Carl Levin? And Tom Harkin?? These are some of the most far-left politicians who have ever served in the United States Senate.
Perhaps it's part of a cunning--nay, Baldrickesque--plan by the Post. If the paper classifies Levin and friends as centrists, then the Post itself is free to lean as far left as it wants and still consider itself a neutral paper. How liberating.

Note: The updates to the Power Line entry show that the Post has tweaked, then rewritten, the article in apparent response to reader criticism. And yet the paper gives no indication that the story has been tweaked or rewritten. Amazing.

And the writer of the story denies writing the relevant part of the story at all. Seems the word centrists was added by an anonymous editor. A one-time summer intern at the Post finds this plausible:
After you file a story, the editors feel free to add whatever slant they feel like to the copy without telling the reporter.
This isn't the local junior high paper. We're talking the Washington Post. These guys have won 39 Pulitzers, five in the past two years alone. What are they thinking?