Washington Post’s Kurtz calls paper’s op-ed page “left-leaning” — even as it features mostly right wingers.

The mainstream media takne as a whole acts as a center-right institution that supports the status quo on key issues (see Newsweek stunner: Why the “status quo” establishment media’s coverage of global warming is so fatally useless, Part 1 and Part 2).  That’s why one of the great triumphs of conservative messaging has been selling the myth of the “liberal media” (see “Working the Refs”).

That triumph of myth over reality has, among other things, helped guilt the media into giving equal time (and beyond) to the most extreme conservative views even when they spread disinformation on subjects they have no expertise on whatsoever.  Nowhere is that clearer than in the once venerated Washington Post (see WashPost goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months “” on climate science and WashPost recycles another denier WSJ op-ed, this time from coal apologist Bjorn Lomborg. Funny how two new senior Post editors came from the WSJ.

Last week, Think Progress had a story revealing just how successful conservatives have been at selling this myth:

In an online chat earlier this week, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz defended Fox News’ conservative orientation by saying there is a “distinction” between Fox’s opinion shows and news programming. “Just as you have to make a distinction between The Post‘s news pages and its left-leaning editorial page,” said Kurtz. As Jamison Foser pointed out at the time, the idea that the Post’s op-ed pages are “left-leaning” is laughable. As if to prove that point today, the Post’s op-ed page features columns by two former Bush speechwriters, “Obama’s biggest critic,” and a former National Review editor:

Washington Post opinion page 1/29/10

Business columnist Robert Samuelson also has a piece saying that the Obama administration’s “blunder” of pushing for health care reform has caused “business planning and the willingness to expand” to suffer. The print edition of the Post also has a short item from liberal Eugene Robinson. This isn’t the first time that the Post has loaded its op-ed page overwhelmingly with conservatives.

Kurtz is actually a pretty good journalist.  So when he starts repeating conservative talking points, you really understand just how bad progressives have botched their messaging.

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12 Responses to Washington Post’s Kurtz calls paper’s op-ed page “left-leaning” — even as it features mostly right wingers.

  1. Howard Kurtz was a good journalist–20 years ago. He’s been repeating conservative talking points for quite a long time now.

    See .

  2. Dennis says:

    With the likes of Will, Krauthammer and Gerson as regulars on the Post Od-ed page, Kutz’s claim is easily shot down. I recently wrote a letter to the editor to the Post (naturally not published) about Will’s 1/24/10 column where he argues that Obama needs to be more “moderate.”

    As “evidence” Will cited (among other things) the recently “discovered” reference in the IPCC report to a non-peer reviewed report on the Himayalan glaciers. Will called it “another dollop of evidence of the seepage of dubious science into policy debate.”

    In my letter, I pointed out that the reference had been there for over two years for all to discover and that, if perhaps people like Will would behave a little more moderately themselves –actually read the IPCC report and ask questions of the authors before declaring something “dubious science” — then perhaps there would be less need for anyone to be moderate.

    As anyone who has followed this topic knows, the reference was buried in the “case studies” section of WGII and had no bearing on the scientific basis part of WGI. But the Post lets Will fan the flames of extremism with outrageous statements like “dubious science” without ever speaking directly to the sources or checking the facts. And, in a great irony, he’s arguing for moderation along the way.

  3. Chris Dudley says:

    Hum…. Perhaps that is why the Washington Times is failing. It’s niche has been filled by the Post.

    [JR: I had thought the same thing. This may be by design. I may do a post on this.]

  4. mike roddy says:

    Just as the Times is no longer the publisher of the Pentagon Papers, so is the Post no longer the one that broke the Watergate story. Both would decline these scoops now.

    The financial reasons for this are unclear to me, though the Telecommunications Act certainly had a role. All we can really do is Insisting on calling people on their lies. Educated reporters tend to be timid and fairminded as personalities, hence the reflexive two sides habit. Right wing megaphones exploit this, and follow the strategy of repeating a lie often enough that it takes on its own momentum- e.g. the “liberal media”. Newspapers and TV stations have never been predominantly liberal.

    Other lies such as “The science isn’t settled” etc. need to be pointed out and attacked. Joe, unlike almost all reporters you do this well- a necessary and sometimes messy job. The lies of the extreme Right are pretty obvious, and it’s not as if we have to research and discover them. Courage is the main quality needed these days.

  5. Mike says:

    Uh, the Editorial page Kurtz is speaking about is not the same as the Op-Ed page you are talking about. “Op-Ed” literally means “opposite of the editorial page.” The Post’s Editorial Page does indeed lean to the left on Climate, as Kurtz pointed out, even though its Op-Ed page is conservative on environmental issues, as you and Think Progress observe. So criticize the Op-Ed writers, but make sure you are on more solid ground before going after Kurtz. If you are going to get on a high horse about newspaper coverage you should at least get your definitions correct.

  6. George says:

    Op-Ed is an abbreviation of Opinion – Editorial. The Op-Ed page of the Post took a hard right when neocon Fred Hiatt was put in charge of the editorial page.

  7. In a totally uncharacteristic spasm of looking things up, I discovered rather to my surprise and chagrin (the latter because I did not previously know any better) that Mike #5 is technically correct about the definition of the “op-ed” page:

    I cannot addres Mike’s other points in #5; perhaps it is the case that the “real” editorial page of WaPo “leans left”. Given, however, that said “real” editorial page is for all intents and purposes nothing more than the otiose excuse FOR the op-ed page, it remains less than obvious whether Kurtz’s claim is false, or merely irrelevant: it is the op-ed page that everyone attends to.

  8. Mike says:

    George, you should look up these things. Op-Ed is not an abbreviation of opinion-editorial. According to Merriam-Webster (, Op-ed means opposite of the Editorial page.

    This distinction is not meaningless. Kurtz said that the Editorial page leaned left (and it does, appropriately, on climate issues). For that, Kurtz was slammed in this blog as “repeating conservative talking points” based on the fact that many Post Op-Ed columns lean to the right. That is an unfair criticism, since Kurtz simply was not talking about the Op-Ed page, he was talking about the Editorial Page. This critique of Kurtz would be like criticizing the Sports Editor for a Style section article about the Nationals.

    Hiatt has been the Post’s Editorial Page Editor since 2000. Since then, the Editorial Page has not been shy about criticizing climate change deniers, and has come out in favor of ACESA and other climate action. For your criticism of Kurtz to hold water, you need to produce an Editorial (NOT an Op-Ed) that is unreasonably to the right on climate issues. You will not be able to do that, so you owe Kurtz an apology.

  9. Doug Bostrom says:

    I’m wondering how Kurtz gets to “left” via editorials reflective of a generally conservative assessment of climate science? I’ve not heard of the Post straying from the IPCC worldview.

  10. Marc Perry says:

    Awesome! Just awesome :)

  11. Molnar says:

    Dean Baker has been calling the Post “Fox on 15th Street” for some time now. I’m amazed at how rarely experts in one field (say, science or economics) realize the uniformity across all disciplines with which the mainstream press promote right-wing fiction masquerading as fact.

  12. Howie called Jon Stewart “left-leaning” on Monday, too.