Monday, November 15, 2010

The Washington Post editorial page is total garbage

And the wonderful Kate Graham must be spinning like a top in her grave.

I first started reading the daily newspaper when I was 11 years old. Luckily, we lived in the Washington area, so my first real experience with a paper was with the Post. When I was 14 or 15 I started delivering it as a paperboy.

I wrote for my high school paper and served on the managing board of my college paper, where one of my first official acts was to redesign it to mirror the Post's layout. As an adult, when I was having delivery problems with my paper, I wrote to the publisher, Donald Graham (Kate's son), who wrote a nice letter back.

As I traveled and moved to other parts of the country I was shocked by the precipitous drop-off in quality from papers like the Post and the Times to those in the next tier.

I started getting the paper's weekly edition delivered to me in Chicago so I could get top quality political analysis and some of the smartest editorial writing in the industry. Later on I made it part of my morning online ritual every day to catch up with the news in the Post.

I've seen All the President's Men more than a dozen times and I read, loved (and listened to the audio version of) Katherine Graham's memoir.

So it is with dismay and sadness that I see what's happened to the Post's editorial page in recent years. It really has been hijacked. I wasn't sure why, but they seemed to print just about anything from just about any right-wing political hack. I assumed they were desperately trying to shed the liberal label. I've recently come to learn it's mostly due to Fred Hiatt, who runs the editorial page there.

The latest and maybe last straw came this weekend in a ridiculous op-ed they printed from two washed up, fake-Democrat political has-beens -- one is a Fox News analyst and the other was the genius behind Jimmy Carter's malaise speech (which makes him, what, 80?) -- calling on Obama to resign. A shameless piece of garbage intended solely to shock and grab a round of cable news headlines.

This piece in Slate captures it perfectly. Allow me to excerpt:

Fred Hiatt, the insufferable editor of the Post's opinion pages, seems to believe that people hate his section because he has clung with fearless integrity to his support for invading Iraq—WMD or none, operational ties between Saddam and al Qaeda or none—and because the section's overall politics are to the right of the beliefs of the average reader of the Washington Post.

Actually, the reason some of us despise Hiatt and his section is that he consistently chooses to print dishonest garbage, composed by disingenuous partisan hacks, lobbyists, or lobbyist-hacks. The Post opinion section is not a place where serious thinkers work through the issues of the day; it's where professional propagandists float their newest lies, slogans, and unsubstantiated nonsense, to see if they can get them to bob into the political mainstream.

It's a sad, sad time for print journalism.

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