Washington Post Admits Democrats 'Near Panic,' But Downplayed Midterm Struggles

The Washington Post on Wednesday highlighted Democratic campaign e-mails for the 2014 midterms, admitting that liberal politicians are sending out "frantic" warnings about potential losses in the House and Senate. Writer Ed O'Keefe reasoned, "With Democrats expected to lose seats in the House and slipping behind Republican opponents in key Senate races, a sense of frustration and near-panic would be understandable." 

Based on front-page stories in the Post over the last month, readers might not know that Democrats are in trouble. In fact, one might think that liberal politicians are looking at numerous opportunities. In a span of just four days, the Post featured two front-page stories on the Kansas Senate race. Republican incumbent Pat Roberts is currently trailing a left-leaning independent, Greg Orman. A September 29th headline touted, "A political enigma transforms Senate race: Upset of Roberts in Kansas could decide majority." 

On September 25, the paper reversed the focus and noted bad news for Republicans: "Longtime GOP senator in scramble to hold his seat: Roberts's reelection at risk as Kansas voters say he has fallen out of touch with state." 
Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is trailing in Georgia, but the Post on September 4 blurbed, "Sam Nunn's daughter tries to work his old centrist magic." 

The article by Colby Itkowitz sympathetically began: 

Four decades after [Sam] Nunn’s first Senate run, with the political middle all but dead in Washington, his daughter, Michelle, is trying to revive — and inherit — that image.

Another front-page story, this one on September 19th, made sure readers knew just how smart celebrity (and newly minted Democratic congressional candidate) Clay Aiken is:

It's not necessarily that Aiken has an encyclopedic knowledge of the issues - though the Cook Political Report, a hard-to-impress bunch, said he was "better-versed and more in-depth than plenty of state legislators we have met" - it's that he's an incredibly good listener.

"Oprah said something to me years ago, one of the first times I met her," Aiken says, aware that stories like these don't necessarily help his cause as just a regular Joe. "She said being a good talk show host isn't about being a good talker, it's about being good at listening. It's a misnomer. I think a lot of politicians think being a good one is knowing the right thing to say. I think it's knowing when to shut the hell up."        

September 17 Post story on Iowa held out hope that the Democrats can hold the open Senate seat: 

The question is whether Iowa is part of a broader political shift in other competitive states that would allow Democrats to maintain their Senate majority, even if by the slimmest of margins.

Writers Philip Rucker and Dan Balz highlighted attacks on Jodi Ernst: 

But Ernst emerged from the primary as a polarizing figure, having staked out controversial conservative positions that Democrats immediately seized upon. She expressed an openness to privatizing Social Security for younger workers, opposed a federal minimum wage, supported abolishing the Education Department and, as an Iowa state senator, sponsored “personhood” legislation stating that life begins at conception.

“That person who talked about castrating pigs is now kind of identified in voters’ minds as an extreme tea party politician,” said Geoff Garin, Braley’s pollster. “Her campaign is figuring out that that’s not what voters want, but I think it’s too late to take it back.”

The Washington Post told readers on Wednesday that Democrats are very worried. Yet, the newspaper in September played the role of Democratic cheerleader, focusing on liberal opportunities and GOP troubles.  

— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.