Edward Wasserman, the dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, laments the elimination of The Washington Post‘s ombudsman position:
No matter how the job is structured, ombudsmen generally please no one. While journalists complain that they’re quick on the trigger and unsympathetic to the pressures of deadline-driven news production, outsiders say they’re too soft, and lack the spine to challenge their own employers over the most vexing new practices.
To that is joined now the criticism that they’re simply obsolete. That’s a point The Post itself endorsed when it noted the profusion of tough media commentary from unaffiliated online critics, implying there was no longer a need for The Post itself to weigh in as well.
That’s an interesting point, but I didn’t hear any corresponding commitment to cooperate with these outside inquiries. And I can’t imagine The Post deciding that in light of the ramped-up coverage of Capitol Hill by Politico, The New York Times and others, it need no longer cover Congress.
The Washington Post recently analyzed the results of a poll showing that, even post-election, Americans continue to trust Obama more than the Republican Party. The Post‘s article stated, reasonably: “The poll suggests that the election, while perhaps a vote against the status quo, was not a broad mandate for Republicans and their plans.”
This interpretation did not sit well with The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto, who countered with the following head-scratcher: “So how is it that the GOP does so badly in the poll? The obvious explanation–well, obvious to everyone except the Post’s reporters–is that the voters did give Republicans a mandate but don’t trust them to carry it out.”
Hm. Taranto, showcasing some vintage righteous indignation here, could not disagree more with the Post‘s claim that the election failed to constitute a Republican mandate. No, he counters, the truth is that the GOP’s House takeover (as well as its gains in the Senate) is due entirely to voter schizophrenia. For someone so obviously troubled by perceived leftist condescension — elsewhere in the same article, he decries “prog[ressive] smugness” — the man really knows how to pander to his conservative base.
In tribute to Taranto’s eternal wisdom, I will now buy a new car that I fully expect not to work.