By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
The Washington Post apparently doesn’t care how ridiculous it looks as it embarks on the process of destroying Ken Cuccinelli and other Republican candidates for top statewide offices in Virginia.
After Cuccinelli won the gubernatorial nomination, the Post stories looked like press releases from the Democratic Party. The front-page online Washington Post headline proclaimed, “Virginia GOP leans far to the right, nominating staunch conservatives.” The summary of the story by Laura Vozzella said, “After election losses, state Republicans are largely resisting advice to move to the middle.”
“Democrats made it clear that they view the GOP ticket as too extreme,” the Post reported, in a follow-up story. This is the way the Post views the GOP ticket. And this is the way the Post wants readers to view it, too.
The extreme rhetoric apparently includes Cuccinelli’s statement, “Our country was founded on the belief that our rights don’t come from the government, they come from our Creator. The Constitution was set up to limit the size and scope of government, not the liberty of individuals.”
There is nothing new here, in terms of the paper’s coverage of politics. But despite losing readers and money, the paper still carries some clout among those unaware of how media bias works and how the paper demonizes conservative Republicans. It is important to document this bias as it is taking place so that the Post is aware that the public understands these media tricks.
Fortunately, the Cuccinelli campaign recognizes the problem and is fighting back. Cuccinelli campaign manager Dave Rexrode said, “…we need to break through the biased and unfair actions of Washington, D.C.’s largest newspaper.”
“Over the past few months,” he explained, “The Washington Post has launched numerous misleading and false editorials attacking Ken Cuccinelli. They are basically taking the Democrats’ talking points and turning them into editorials.”
The presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Terry McAuliffe, “appears to have The Washington Post in his back pocket,” Rexrode pointed out. He also talked in detail about a push-poll that was nothing more than the paper’s “next attempt to attack Ken and prop up Terry McAuliffe.”
In a column headlined, “Ken Cuccinelli must say whether he’d still pursue tea party agenda if elected governor,” Post columnist Robert McCartney demanded that the candidate accept the label of extremist, which is how the paper wants to depict him. He said Cuccinelli “is trying to distract voters from the very positions that made him famous,” insisting that “In his acceptance speech Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum, Cuccinelli made only brief, passing references to his antiabortion position and his unsuccessful fight as attorney general against health-care reform.”
This is the “passing reference” to abortion: “It also means defending those at both ends of life—protecting the elderly from abuse as well as the unborn. We should encourage a deep and abiding respect for all human life.”
Rather than duck the issue, this is an unmistakable addressing of the abortion problem.
On the matter of “health-care reform,” which is what the Post calls socialized medicine, the fact is that Cuccinelli led a successful legal fight against Obamacare and a federal judge ruled in his favor. However, the Supreme Court ultimately decided on spurious grounds in favor of the law. Hence, the battle to repeal it rests with Congress.
At the same time, Cuccinelli says, “While states are severely constrained by federal law, I believe that state governments can reform their markets in ways that allow more competition and better choices for consumers. As Governor, I will pursue changes to open up Virginia’s markets, attract the nation’s best medical professionals, improve patient safety by modernizing the health care information systems, and get timely, accurate information to families and businesses to empower them to make the best possible health care decisions.”
Rather than running away from the issue, Cuccinelli is addressing this one, too.
McCartney claimed that Cuccinelli had led a high-profile battle as Attorney General against “environmental protection,” making him out to be a proponent of dirty air and water. In fact, as noted by his own website, Cuccinelli’s record is clear:
- He sued the EPA for illegally creating a cap-and-trade scheme to regulate the gas we all exhale as a danger to human health;
- He stopped the federal Office of Surface Mining from attempting to shut down coal mines in Southwest Virginia; and
- He sued the EPA for its unprecedented and illegal attempt to regulate storm water as a pollutant in Virginia.
In regard to the latter, Cuccinelli won the case and the EPA backed down. The Post itself admitted the decision was a “victory” for Cuccinelli and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which signed on to the suit and was dominated by Democrats angry with the EPA.
On the matter of personal disclosure, Cuccinelli opened eight years of tax records—a total of 225 pages—to the media. McAuliffe refuses to release his tax returns. Instead, he has issued “abridged tax information,” which conceals sources of income, for three years.
“During the 2012 presidential election cycle,” the Cuccinelli campaign points out, “The Washington Post ran a number of articles and editorials calling on Mitt Romney—for the sake of transparency—to release his tax returns.”
The Cuccinelli campaign noted these examples:
- “Mitt Romney’s Contemptuous Attitude Toward The Importance Of Public Disclosure Is Increasingly Troubling.” (Editorial, “Mr. Romney’s Secret Life,” The Washington Post, 4/23/12)
- “Mitt Romney Owes The Public A Look At A Substantial, Representative Series Of His Tax Records.” (Editorial, “The Romney Standard,” The Washington Post, 1/22/12)
- “…As Much As Mr. Romney Might Want To Limit Disclosure To A Year Or Two, That Would Be Unfortunate.” (Editorial, “Mr. Romney’s Tax Returns,” The Washington Post, 1/19/12)
- “Tax Information Could Be Especially Revealing In The Case Of Mr. Romney And His Extensive Investment Income, Which May Be Why He Has Been Reluctant To Release It.” (Editorial, “Mitt Romney’s (Still) Secret Money,” The Washington Post, 1/12/12)
- “Now Mr. Romney Has Doubled Down On This Lack Of Transparency…” (Editorial, “Mitt Romney’s Secret Money,” The Washington Post, 12/26/11)
The Cuccinelli campaign says the Post’s argument then was that the public deserved a full picture of Romney before casting their votes. It asks, “Shouldn’t the same apply for Terry McAuliffe?”
McAuliffe himself had said to Romney, “If you have nothing to hide, then release the tax documents.”
For the Post, McAuliffe and his questionable sources of income and controversial business deals must be concealed and protected. On the other hand, Cuccinelli must be savaged for being open, honest and aboveboard about his finances and views.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.