The WaPo ombudsman publishes an exchange between a reporter and a reader about the paper’s coverage of gay marriage. The report is interesting for the reporter’s unapologetic rooting for a pro-gay stance, and lecturing the reader about what conservatives “ought” to believe — all while asking the ombudsman that he remain anonymous.
The reader writes in to make this complaint:
The overlooked “other side” on the gay issue is quite legitimate, and includes the Pope, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, evangelist Billy Graham, scholars such as Robert George of Princeton, and the millions of Americans who believe in traditional marriage and oppose redefining marriage into nothingness. . . . Is there no room in The Post for those who support the male-female, procreative model of marriage?
The reporter responds:
The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the “view of the world” that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law.
The reader responds:
Contrary to what you say, the mission of journalism is not justice. Defining justice is a political matter, not journalistic. Journalism should be about accuracy and fairness.
Good journalism also means not demeaning conservatives as “haters.”
The reporter does not seem to agree:
As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn’t marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?
Of course I have a bias. I have a bias toward fairness. The true conservative would have the same bias. The true conservative would want the government out of people’s bedrooms, and religion out of government.
Oh, thanks for telling us what the true conservative would want — because you so deeply understand the true conservative!
The ombudsman then gives a totally unsatisfying peroration, in which he says the paper needs to understand conservatives better — then proceeds to reinforce what the reporter says: it’s all about fairness, and reporters care so very much about fairness; why it’s in their blood! — while showing zero understanding of the conservative view that he claims reporters need to understand better.
What is most interesting about the whole thing, to me, is that the reporter wishes to remain anonymous in the column. I can understand why the reader doesn’t want to have his views revealed in the pages of the Post. He just got compared to a racist. He’s the “bad guy.” Why let the paper slam his name?
But the reporter was being refreshingly if arrogantly honest, presumably under his own name, in the emails. Yet his pride in his position doesn’t extend to publicly revealing his name. Now why would that be, do you think?
I, for one, am curious as to the identity of the reporter — and if the reader stumbles across my post and wants to send me the reporter’s name, I will happily protect the reader’s name while publishing the reporter’s. Email me at patterico AT gmail DOT com.
Just don’t be surprised if the paper or reporter publishes your name in retaliation. There’s fairness and there’s getting even, and which do you think the paper will see as the higher goal in this situation?