For it’s masterful, in-depth and impartial coverage of the politics of health care reform, and the anti-Obamacare rally at the Capitol yesterday, The Washington Post has earned, for this news cycle at least, the more accurate name of Pravda on the Potomac.
Imagine the surprise of the thousands of people who flocked to west side of the Capitol on Saturday, as they opened up the local newspaper of record today and found not a single story on a huge rally staged in opposition to today’s expected vote on the largest expansion of government since the New Deal.
The US Park Police no longer provides official estimates on protest rally attendance, but three officers who had covered such events at the Capitol before, independently guessed the total at near 20,000 given the space that was filled. You might think that would be worthy of a word or two from the Post.
Mind you, its not that the Post wasn’t covering protest stories Saturday.
The editors at “Pravda” found room for several column inches and even a color picture of an “anti-war” rally at Lafayette Park, across from the White House. But it wasn’t really an anti-war rally, as much as a holding-company gathering of pet causes of the left, from “war profiteering” to the foreclosure crisis, with each interest group neatly given prominence on their march through town.
When the Post did find time to comment on the Obamacare rally, it was uniformly negative.
Dana Milbank, ever the even handed journalist, stated, “Outside, it got downright ugly as several thousand Tea Party activists staged a rally and then stormed House office buildings.”
Oooh. How threatening. But is it true?
Could it be that the Washington Post has lost its objectivity? Consider another reporter’s take:
“Veerle Vandecasteele strolled along the White House’s front-lawn fence Saturday, a cloudless and unseasonably warm day. ‘What a beautiful capital city this is!’ she said, explaining that she and her mother, Freeda, flew in from Belgium at midweek.. ‘I am very struck by how peaceful your protesters are — indeed, friendly,’ she said about passing ‘tea party’ activists, clad mostly in red, white and blue.”
Indeed, in the 12 blocks between the White House and Capitol Hill, a steady stream of people carried “Don’t tread on me” flags, folding chairs and coolers to the rally. The crowd covering the West Lawn included a mix of younger and older protesters as well as whole families, many with their pets in tow. One impossibly miniature dog, with a pink bow in her hair, wore a t-shirt that said, “Vote No!”
There was the man, dressed in colonial garb, who garnered a lot of attention from entrepreneurial bloggers. There was a Captain America clad protester, who became a favorite for pictures. And a young boy with his parents wore a sign around his neck saying, “I Owe What?” which earned laughs and picture requests all afternoon.
If anything, the Capitol rally resembled a concert at a county fair, boisterous, but unthreatening, with participants who were polite and well mannered as they chanted catch phrases with gusto. The most prominent chant, “Kill the Bill,” apparently alarmed the Post and the mainstream media with visions of mobs armed with pitchforks and torches.
In contrast, no one seemed to be tracking the chants of the anti-war protesters.
Such is journalistic balance in the time of Obama.
Even opponents of the Tea Party rally would admit that the most ubiquitous symbols were the American flag and the homemade signs. No one thought to enquire whether the anti-war protesters sang the national anthem or recited the Pledge of Allegiance, which the Capitol rally participants did.
Indeed, a young woman, wearing an Obama T-shirt from the ’08 campaign, asked a protester, holding aloft a cross, to please turn around so she could take a picture, no doubt hoping for some inflammatory pro-life offense. But nailed to the cross was instead, a “weeping” Statue of Liberty. The Obama acolyte retreated quickly, no doubt to uncover some other Tea Party mendacity.
To mobilize so many people for one issue on short notice, for a peaceful and respectful protest would be an unqualified success, but for the behavior of a handful of protesters who joined groups to lobby individual House Members in their offices.
These people did an injustice to the rally participants at large by their use of offensive language and behavior with African American and gay Members of the Democratic Caucus. That kind of inexcusable behavior has no defense, and deserves condemnation without caveat by all involved, in the most stringent terms.
Indeed, ad hominen attacks and disrespectful, even violent behavior, are the hallmarks of the protests on the left, from which the Tea Party movement stands in vivid contrast.
The damage done, however, is that the actions of a few have sullied the participation and message of so many, as major news outlets predictably focus only on the personal outrages visited on a few Members.
Thus the purpose and ideals embodied by the rally participants are reported as a media-created caricature that bears little resemblance to reality, but which captivates the imagination of Democratic elites, who are wholly unable to concede that opposition to their policies can be based in more than ignorance.
We are in the middle of history in the making this weekend, as Congress moves to approve a durably unpopular bill through a partisan, party line vote. Never in modern American history has such far reaching legislation been approved without support from both parties and the American people.
The rally on Saturday was the natural reaction to a political process that has “knee-capped” the social contract between government and governed. We have yet to see the impact of the fuse Congress is about to light.
But in a weekend of compelling consequence, it is incumbent upon all of us to remember how we stood up and were counted.
The Washington Post and the media at large failed – again – in their duty to impartially inform on an issue of such fundemental importance ot the future and our children.
For those of us that were there, and those that care, we will not forget.