Wash Post Lashes Out Against 'Militant,' 'Provocative,' 'Bizarre' Conservative Candidate

The liberal Washington Post, which for months has been running a seemingly endless series of attack pieces on Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate, appears to have moved on to a new target, the GOP's choice for Attorney General. On Thursday, the Post featured a column by Robert McCartney on nominee Ken Cuccinelli and included this ominous headline: "Cuccinelli: In your heart, you know he's to the right of right."

For the benefit of readers outside of Virginia, Cuccinelli is a pretty standard conservative. He's pro-life, pro-Second Amendment. He's taken positions in support of lower taxes and restraining spending. Certainly, he's no moderate. Referring to him as "very conservative" would also be fair. But, according to McCartney, he's a "militant conservative" and someone "who's so ardently conservative he makes [Republican] gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell sound like a mealy-mouthed moderate."

In an editorial on Wednesday endorsing Cuccinelli's Democratic AG opponent, the Post used the same hyperbolic, scary language. The unsigned editorial derided Cuccinelli, who is currently a state senator, as a "provocative hard-liner," someone who supports "far-fetched initiatives" and holds "bizarre and incendiary ideas." The paper generally found his campaign "worrying."

The D.C. newspaper appears to have belatedly decided that Cuccinelli is a threat. Including Wednesday's editorial, the Post has run three pieces in four days on the so-called extreme nature of the candidate's conservatism.

Among the alarming statements McCartney raised is that Cuccinelli "said in 2003 that homosexuality is just plain wrong." After noting that many Virginia voters are focusing on the more high profile governor's race, the columnist worried, "As a result, although Virginia has turned more moderate this decade, there's a good chance it will put a militant conservative in a high-profile office in Richmond while many voters are looking the other way." [Emphasis added.]

McCartney ominously added, "Cuccinelli built a political base in southwestern Fairfax by actively cultivating support from social conservatives, including religious groups and home-schoolers."

He closed the piece by repeating his warning of the threat that the state senator poses to Virginia: "Many believe Cuccinelli's district has changed enough that he couldn't be reelected as state senator in 2011. By then, though, he might well be pushing his convictions from a more influential perch."

Proving just how well the Post can coordinate its attacks, the paper's editorial on Wednesday struck almost the exact same tone:

Given his sometimes bizarre and incendiary ideas, we worry that Mr. Cuccinelli would drive qualified and nonpartisan lawyers away, transform the attorney general's office into a staging ground for his pet peeves and causes, and make it an object of ridicule in a state where it has enjoyed a long run of respect.

On Monday, staff writer Amy Gardner wrote a piece on Cuccinelli's bid to be elected attorney general. She reported surprise that someone so right-leaning could have a lead in the polls: "Democrats and other critics alarmed about a possible Cuccinelli win not only because he is different - but because few of them thought it possible."

Over the past few months, the Post clearly has tried to insert itself into Virginia's governor's race. Starting in August, the paper ran 12 articles in 11 days over a thesis McDonnell wrote two decades ago about marriage and the family. With three Cuccinelli attack pieces in four days, readers can only wonder if the liberal paper has found a new target.

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