We Want the Washington Post to Be More Than an Official Echo Chamber

Washington Post reporter Paul Kane proffered what blogger Matthew Yglesias aptly called a “full-throated defense of journalism-as-stenography.” Kane had been criticized by Media Matters that he had quoted Sen. Olympia Snowe (R.-Maine) as saying that Barack Obama’s use of the filibuster-avoiding budget reconciliation tool would make it “infinitely more difficult to bridge the partisan divide” without noting that Snowe had backed budget reconciliation when it was used by George W. Bush.Asked in a WashingtonPost.com chat to defend himself against this criticism, Kane responded:

I’m sorry, what’s to defend?

Someone tell Media Matters to get over themselves and their overblown ego of righteousness.We reported what Olympia Snowe said. That’s what she said. That’s what Republicans are saying. I really don’t know what you want of us. We are not opinion writers whose job is to play some sorta gotcha game with lawmakers.

It’s a little dismaying that we have to explain this to professional journalists, but what we want them to do is to examine official claims and put them in context. It’s not clear why society would need the kind of institution that Kane thinks he works for; if we want to find out what Olympia Snowe said, we can sign up for her RSS feed.

See Extra!: “Meet the Stenographers: Press Shirks Duty to Scrutinize Official Claims” (11-12/04), by Steve Rendall.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.