Since the Washington Times took on controversial journalist John Solomon as executive editor in January, Solomon has undertaken great PR efforts to claim that the conservative paper is becoming more “balanced.”
“It’s going to be about being fair and balanced and accurate and precise,” he proclaimed in January. “All of our journalism will seek to be fair, balanced, accurate and precise,” he reiterated in his “Seven Guiding Principles” in February.
On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Thursday, Solomon was asked if his recent move would alter the conservative tilt of the Times. Solomon replied that he “checked” ideology at the door years ago and now restricts politics to the Times’s op-ed pages and not news:
You know, I’m not an ideologue. I’ve been a journalist my entire life. I started at age 17, and I checked any ideology and any political thoughts I had at the door so that I could be a journalist that people could listen to each day and trust my work and not suspect any of my motives. That said Washington Times has had a great reputation as a conservative newspaper on its editorial and opinion pages. That’s where it belongs.
On national TV, Solomon assures the public that the Times will remain “fair.” But he tells a different story to other audiences. U.S. News reported last week on his comments to the conservative Heritage Foundation:
Readers of and workers at the conservative Washington Times can breathe easier now. New Editor John Solomon, who toiled at the Washington Post for a year and before that at the AP, says he didn’t drink the Post’s Kool-Aid. “I didn’t get the bug.”
On C-SPAN, Solomon said ideological talk will be restricted to the opinion pages. If that were the case, why did he allow a baseless article claiming the military “fears” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to be published in the news pages?
The promises of “balance” don’t end there. In February, the Times announced it would remove some of the “hard-line conservative rhetoric” that was common in the paper. “The quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage),” the new style guide said. But on Wednesday, the Times’ editors ran a story mentioning “homosexual marriage“:
McCain associates told The Washington Times that his operatives are not going to work behind the scenes to eliminate the party’s calls for constitutional bans on abortion and homosexual marriage before the GOP convention in September.
The Times has some more work to do before its reporting becomes “fair, balanced, accurate, and precise.”