A Good Day at The Washington Post’s “FREE for ALL”

–Richard E. Vatz

I hope on this August 21st that the discerning readers of “Red Maryland” will tolerate my playing rhetorical “little ball” and just expressing my pleasure in reading an unusually edifying Washington Post “FREE for ALL” section.

“FREE for ALL” is a Saturday Post letters-to-the-editor salmagundi whose quality varies from week to week, but this week is particularly satisfying: three important letters reflecting a conservative perspective and none out of the eighteen on the page this day reflecting a liberal one, unless you consider a complaint about the omission of a piece on the Post‘s front page of the swearing in of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, to be a liberal complaint. I don’t.

What are the three significant conservatively oriented letters?

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They are as follows:

1. The lead two letters (by letter-writers Terence Kuch and Terrence H. Scout) supporting the excellent ombudsman of the Post, Andrew Alexander, for his criticizing the Post for withholding news concerning the race of brawlers on the Metro, leading, as one writer puts it, to readers’ having to make their own assumptions.

2. An exceptionally insightful letter from the “vice president of external affairs in the Overseas Private Investment Corp. throughout the Bush administration,” Christopher Coughlin, who incredulously asks, “is it really possible for you to write a story on the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq without acknowledging the role of the Bush surge in making that exit possible?” Such an important point, one which also could be asked of Democratic politicians and journalists who ignore the lack of recognition of this outcome-changing strategy which President Barack Obama has himself ignored throughout his obsession with blaming all of his leadership inadequacies on his predecessor.

3. A letter picking up on the conservative ethic, wondering why the Post claims that drivers of cars irresponsibly driving over a flooded road were victims of the Patuxent River, “forcing” them “to drive through water.” Writer Mark Glaudemans, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, correctly and pointedly argues that such driving is not dictated by conditions, but instead reflects “a foolish and dangerous choice.”


Overall, a red letter day for the Post’s “FREE for ALL” section: critical conservative perspectives and a respite from liberal perspectives.

This is not the mirror image of The Baltimore Sun letters-to-the-editor pages, circa 2002-2008. On other days, the Post gives liberals plenty of space.

But what a joy for one day.

Professor Vatz teaches Media Criticism at Towson University

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