Liberal Media Watch: June 7, 2009, An Unusually Good Day for THE WASHINGTON POST and THE BALTIMORE SUN

–Richard E. Vatz

On local radio and television periodically and in a class I run consistently, I respectively engage in and teach Media Criticism.

The fact that liberal biases inhere in most newspapers doesn’t mean: 1. that all newspapers are liberal; 2. that generally liberal newspapers are liberal throughout; or 3. that there are no surprises on a day by day basis.

Let me begin by saying that one of the most liberal daily metropolitan newspapers in the country, THE BALTIMORE SUN, has two – two – fairly conservative pieces on their op-ed page today: long-time journalist Len Lazarick’s “Vaunted StateStat Falls Short of Real Accountability” which critiques the inadequacies of the Maryland Democrats’ StateStat plan that which purports to evaluate government programs, and Jerusalem resident Aron U. Raskas’ “Settlements Are No Threat,” a critique of the Obama Administration’s Israeli settlement policy, a piece almost as good as Charles Krauthammer’s “The Settlements Myth” of June 5, 2009.

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I simply recall no two such conservative lead pieces in the SUN on a given day. In a future blog I shall share some of the depredations of erstwhile SUN editor Dianne Donovan and her acolytes — the spiking of Ron Smith’s column last Friday is just indefensible, and they have offered no defense, so maybe they felt guilty and produced today’s pieces as repentance — but, today, let me just say “Good Show.”

On THE WASHINGTON POST side, let me just say, “Better Show.”

First of all, leading the Metro page is simply one of the best pieces I have read on one of the most neglected topics I know: “Killers Fear This Woman,” an article by reporter Keith L. Alexander on a tremendously fearless prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines, and how she takes on dangerous defendants and their intimidation tactics. (If only all prosecutors were as brave, maybe folks in Baltimore City, for example, could be a little reassured.) I cannot do this prosecutor justice, but this piece certainly does. Read it, please.

On the editorial page are two exquisite conservative articles which, like the SUN, lead the page – am I dreaming? The first, monthly POST columnist Robert Kagan’s “Woodrow Wilson’s Heir,” unmasks the false assumption that President Barack Obama’s “nice guy diplomacy” (not Kagan’s term) has historically worked or is likely to currently work. For those conservatives who like President Obama personally but think his foreign policy idealism will come a-cropper, this is as thorough a piece for which one could wish.

The second, George F. Will’s “Have We Got a Deal for You,” details the conservative position on why one of the reasons The Obama Administration’s GM policy is doomed to fail is its liberal politicizing of the economy. The article argues and provides compelling evidence for the proposition that Washington mandates through unintended consequences will create “…economic autarky – the end of international trade, and of prosperity.”

(The journalistic world has not been turned upside down: there is also the WASHINGTON POST “Outlook” piece, “My Choice,” an essay explaining University of Alabama at Birmingham medical student Rozalyn Farmer Love’s coming to terms with being “pro-choice.”)

The journalistic question is whether today’s turnaround is an aberration or whether these newspapers understand the responsibility to exercise disinterested journalism.

I would just hope that journalists and editors at the POST and SUN, particularly the latter, take some pride in the quality their pages reveal today. One day does not a trend make, but a journey of one thousand miles must begin with a single step. For the SUN the journey may be a couple thousand miles.

–Professor Vatz teaches an advanced course, Media Criticism, at Towson University

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