Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Washington Post & S.F. Chronicle; Appearance of Fairness vs. Bias Pride

Re: WashPost Backs Out on Freedom Walk | NewsBusters

I am not a fan of the Washed-up Post, believe me, but I have to say that they are exercising a bit of consistency in their about-face.

When I heard about the paper's pullout due to keeping "its appearance of neutrality," I figured that its publishers were practicing typical media monolith disingenuousness. I checked the website of the annual D.C. gay celebration --"Capital Pride," it's called -- and thought I would find the Post front and center among the sponsors. To my amazement, it was not.

I then embarked on a Google search using the phrase "sponsored by the Washington Post." The results were, again, surprising; indeed, the Post, true to its word, did not have a record of sponsoring events that some might point to as proof of bias one way or the other. Most of the links were to online chats or workshops or conferences "sponsored by the Washington Post." There were events the Post sponsored for minority and gay journalist groups, but the groups themselves were not demonstratively partisan in themselves.

But why was I amazed at the Post's forthrightness? Because I live in San Francisco, where the annual gay pride parade -- the largest event year in and year out -- is sponsored by, among other companies, the San Francisco Chronicle. In fact, the Chron even has at least one hot pink delivery van emblazoned with the slogan, "We Come Out Every Day." As Dave Barry says, "I am NOT making that up." Apparently, the Chron not only doesn't mind if you think it's biased, they think bias is their responsibility.

It just goes to show you when it comes to bias, there is bad (Post), and then there is worse (Chronicle). I guess this could be responsible for the air of superiority resulting in that line in the Watergate movie All The President's Men, when Hal Holbrook Jason Robards, playing Post editor Ben Bradlee, jokes with Woodward and Bernstein about 'selling old weather reports to the San Francisco Chronicle.'

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