Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Washington Post Biased Against Obama?


Obama made a major speech on race on March 18. By the morning of March 19, was covering the speech heavily with a feature article as the second story on the front page and three editorials. Within a few hours, the three editorials were gone and the article on the speech was replaced with the non-story of Clinton releasing her White House schedule (initially posted without any analysis of the released materials, just an announcement of the release). While the editorials may indeed rotate that quickly to add new content (I never noticed the turnaround speed), the decision to replace the story on the speech (considered important enough for CNN to carry live in its entirety) with a Clinton story initially lacking any analysis seems absurd (why not wait until the materials could be reviewed by reporters and an actual angle for the story could be developed before yanking the Obama story, his response to the Paster Wright debacle which dominated several news cycles?).

On Monday, March 17 (on page A-5 of the physical paper and prominently featured as the second story on for most of that day), the Post ran a story on whether Obama could win the white male vote (an odd query considering how many overwhelmingly white states Obama has won with double digit margins). This story, weak premise and all, included an accompanying sidebar that omitted factual data that favored Sen. Obama. The story's accompanying sidebar, entitled "White Men Can Jump", was supposed to summarize the race so far and present how well Sen. Obama has performed so far in winning the white male vote, but shockingly the sidebar only covered 29 of the 42 contests held to date, not discussing a significant number of Sen. Obama's wins in overwhelmingly white states like Colorado and making the race appear much closer than it is as far as the white male vote is concerned as well as generally (Obama has been ahead in pledged delegates since Iowa, ahead in total delegates and the popular vote for weeks now, has won 30 of the past 42 contests, including margins of 20% or greater in 20 of his victories, yet the Post refuses to properly designate him as a front runner in this race).

Post, why has thou forsaken Barack?

The offending sidebar in question:

A list of who has won which state so far is in the upper right corner of the following page (note that Obama has won by a margin of 20% or more in 20 of his wins so far):

If you agree that the sidebar is misleading due to its random selection of contests and the editorial decision to remove states where Obama won a sizable white male vote, please write the author at the link above and urge him to encourage his fellow employees at the Post to report on this campaign more fairly in the future. The race is not a tie, Clinton has been behind in pledged delegates since Iowa (usually parallel to the popular vote, where she is also losing to Obama).

The Post coverage on this campaign has been inherently tilted towards Clinton, who they treated as the frontrunner when she was ahead and as tied when she fell behind.