As many of you know, newspaper subscribership has plummeted, driving many newspapers out of business as they are unable to generate a profit. I can't say that I like the direction journalism has taken in the past decade or so, where stenography seems to be the focus rather than reporting. All the same, I don't think the demise of newspapers is a good thing, and have on occasion considered restarting my Post subscription in order to support the institution. Unless things change dramatically, however, I don't see ever going ahead with doing so. The reason is simple -- the Post is no longer a newspaper for which I have any respect.
For starters, the Post has decided that it wants to be nutty conservative (I guess so it can compete with the Washington Times), and has grabbed neocons aplenty to go with a stable of run-of-the-mill conservatives. Just to be clear, I was fine with George Will. And I could tolerate the off-the-wall ruminations of Charles Krauthammer, as one neoconservative at least allows you to keep tabs on their thinking. But to those the Post has added Bill Kristol and Michael Gerson, and Fred Hiatt has revealed himself as a full-fledged neoCon as well. There are others as well (here's a mostly complete rundown), and apparently that's insufficient, as they are complemented by frequent guest columns from additional "luminaries" of the conservative world (Sarah Palin of all people had a nonsensical appearance just this week).
The Post's recent decision to fire Dan Froomkin was also rather troubling, as he actually is a reporter in the traditional sense of the word. He was willing to challenge both the Bush and Obama administrations when their actions deviated from their words. Just as importantly, he challenged others in the media when they failed to do their jobs. I guess that made him unpopular with the Post's management, but he was very popular with its readers, for good reason.
The most recent brouhaha concerned the Post's pay-for-play scandal, whereby the Post's CEO and publisher, Katharine Weymouth sought to sell access to Obama administration officials and to her own reporters and editors. I think this one speaks for itself.
And in yesterday's paper, Gerson wrote a scathing article condemning Justice Ruth Ginsburg for favoring eugenics through abortion. The problem with his writing of such vitriol is that Justice Ginsburg said nothing of the sort. The man said in his column that the Ginsburg quote should not be taken out of context, all the while omitting the last three sentences from the quote, i.e., the ones that provided context. Here was the question Ginsburg was asked:
Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid abortions for poor women?Here's what Gerson says her response was:
Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae -- in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.Here's the actual response Justice Ginsburg gave in her answer:
Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong. (empahasis added)That alone would be an enormous problem, compounded by the fact that he basically stole the misrepresentation from other conservative hacks (one, Jonah Goldberg, got his misrepresentations printed with the L.A. Times, while the other, Ben Domenech, is a well-known conservative blogger).
I actually wrote the ombudsman for the Post about the Gerson article, asking at what point the Post feels an obligation to, you know, fact check the material that appears on its editorial pages. The ombudsman politely and promptly responded, informed me that he handles the news pages, and indicated that my complaints are best delivered to Mr. Gerson (e-mail address provided). I suppose the response I got shouldn't surprise me, but it still disturbed me -- the Post allows columnists to publish their opinions without regard to the truth. I understand the opinion page should be held to a different standard than the news sections, but what the ombudsman's response tells me is that the only standard is what the author says it is. Perhaps that's the norm for the opinion pages these days, and the Post is just following along, but that doesn't make it right.
In sum, between the right-wing slant and the questionable practices, the Post has left me with no desire to offer it my financial support ever again.