'Independent Newspaper' Wash Post Endorses Democrats in 22 of 26 VA Races

The Washington Post, which features the motto "An independent newspaper" at the top of its editorial page, endorsed Democratic candidates in 22 of 26 races for the November 3 elections in Virginia. In addition to supporting the Democrats running for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, the paper on Friday, Saturday and Sunday weighed in on the state's House of Delegates races and picked 19 Democrats and only four Republicans.

The Post, which for months has been attacking Bob McDonnell, the GOP's nominee for governor, also relied on very personal, angry attacks against most of the Republicans in the House of Delegates races. On October 23, the paper editorialized that Delegate Bob Marshall is "the author of off-the-wall legislative antics that even members of his own Republican Party regard as clownish." [Emphasis added.]

His opponent, meanwhile, is a "sober, sane Democrat." On October 25, the paper's editorial page also deemed Chuck Caputo to be a "sober, sane Democrat" and complimented fellow party member Mark L. Keam as a "thoughtful, serious community activist."

Republican Thomas Greason is a "glib businessman who believes you can slash taxes while simultaneously improving schools and roads. A neat trick, but not one that occurs in the real world." Republican Timothy D. Hugo" is one of those peddlers of fiscal flim-flam who rail against tax increases..."

The reoccurring criticism on most of the Republican nominees is that they are opposed to tax increases. In the October 23 editorial, the Post complained, "...Most Republicans have fallen into lockstep with their party's gubernatorial nominee, Robert F. McDonnell, whose fanciful transportation plan would do little to deliver a 21st-century transportation network."

Thomas D. Rust, one of the few Republicans to receive the Post's blessing, was described as playing a "constructive" role in securing funds "that many in his own party opposed." The unsigned editorial chided the other GOP candidates for being "publicly opposed to raising taxes to deal with [transportation issues]."

Certainly, the editorial page is the place where opinions should be expressed in a newspaper. And the Washington Post's editors can endorse whomever they like. But, when the paper picks 25 Democrats in 29 races, when it produces 12 stories in 11 days on a thesis that Republican gubernatorial candidate McDonnell wrote 20 years ago, readers can be forgiven for doubting whether this news outlet is really "an independent newspaper."

Additionally, claims, such as the one by Post staff writer Amy Gardner on October 21, that it wasn't the "goal" of the paper to help Democratic candidates, become less believable.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.