Monday, June 23, 2008


From our overstocked archives. . .

SAM SMITH, PROGRESSIVE REVIEW, 2000 - Behind the mediocre and mirthless miasma of the Washington Post lurks the quiet influence of St. Leonard the Incorruptible, AKA executive editor Len Downie. As Charlie is to his Angels, so St. Leonard is to his media minions. Only on special occasions does he step forward to issue a Postic bull, including the other day when he actually wrote the following: "As I am often reminded, journalists are people, too. They cannot be expected to cleanse their minds of human emotions and reactions to highly charged political campaigns or controversial issues. But we do ask Washington Post reporters and editors to come as close as possible to doing just that. In my own case, as some know, I no longer exercise my right to vote. As the final decision-maker on news coverage in The Post, I refuse to decide, even privately, which candidate would make the better president or member of the city council, or what position I would take on any issue. I want my mind to remain entirely open to all sides and possibilities."

If this true of Downie, it would make him the only person in the history of journalism to possess such qualities. Certainly there is no evidence of it in his paper, one of the most persistently biased journals of the nation. We recommend to him instead of such idiotic cant a more sensible goal of well-reasoned, perceptive, and honest subjectivity which, among other things, would permit the employment of actual human beings as journalists. In any case, at least one member of the Post establishment does not share Downie's view. In 1992, your editor was accosted on 15th Street by publisher Don Graham who asked whom I was supporting for president. When I told him I was backing Jerry Brown, he grabbed my arm, raised it, and shouted to all adjacent citizens, "Look I've found one, an actual Jerry Brown supporter!"


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