How The Washington Post lost this longtime subscriber
The disdain this paper has for its readers makes me feel like a sucker for paying for it.
If there’s one thing people know about Joe Biden’s personal life, it’s his connection to tragedy and loss.
Just a month after being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, Biden’s wife Neilia Hunter Biden and the couple’s infant daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident while out shopping for Christmas presents. Their sons, Beau (3) and Hunter (2), survived the accident but were critically injured in the wreck. And 43 years later, Beau Biden, who had a promising political career of his own as Delaware’s attorney general, would die from brain cancer.
No matter how you feel about now-President Biden’s policy positions or actions as a leader in government, it’s always been understood (and mostly respected, with the repeated exception of the Trump campaign, to nobody’s surprise) by the press and opponents alike, that the tragedies that shaped Biden’s life were off-limits. That used to be the case, at least.
Biden is a devout Catholic, and he regularly attends mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville, Del. The cemetery near the church also happens to be where Neilia, Naomi, and Beau are buried. As Biden leaves mass, he will often stop by the graves to pay respect to his lost loved ones. While a number of mainstream media outlets have tried to paint his trips to Delaware as hypocritical or nefarious and on the scale of former-President Donald Trump’s regular yet extravagant trips to his properties (where he would charge the federal government absurd amounts for golf cart rentals and rooms), it’s never quite stuck. After all, the problem with Trump’s trips had less to do with the fact that he was away from the White House and much, much more with how he was scamming taxpayers out of millions of dollars.
After all, what are they going to do? Mock him for visiting his family’s graves?
Turns out that the answer is yes, and it was the final straw in something that’s been a long time coming. Yesterday, I unsubscribed from The Washington Post.
Post White House correspondent Annie Linskey decided to use Biden’s dead family members as the punchline for a snarky joke about Biden’s legislative agenda “dying in Washington.” It was sick. It was ghoulish. And even setting those criticisms aside, it would still be a pretty egregious violation of basic ethics about editorializing.
In a 1 week span in July, Linskey wrote or co-wrote three pieces for the Post. The first noted that the delta variant was causing an unexpected spike in COVID-19 infections across the country. The second piece, published three days later, lashed out at the White House for seeking “to place blame” for the wave of infections “elsewhere,” and calling it a “new political threat to Biden and his agenda.” In other words, he needed to do something. The third piece explained that in actually doing something, emphasizing the importance of masks and urging people to please get vaccinated, Biden was “confusing” people who thought the virus was mostly behind us.
Yes, the problem posed in the third article is addressed by reading the second; the problem posed in the second is addressed by reading the first. But rather than connect these dots for readers, Linskey treated all of these as baffling blunders on part of the president. And if you look at the string of articles that led up to those, you’ll see the same exact concept play out. In one instance, she wrote that the Biden administration was not “following the science” because it didn’t take into account the has-nothing-to-do-with-science views of labor unions when implementing CDC recommendations.
Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Post, is the richest man on earth. Forbes currently lists his net worth at $187.3 billion. My $100 per year for access to the paper will not make a difference to him or anyone else at the paper, but still, I felt the need to do something.
The problem is not limited to Linskey. The Washington Post’s post-Trump political coverage has been a monstrosity.
Just yesterday, the paper ran a story that showed just how giddy its journalists are at the prospect of Trump running for office again.
And then there was the time last month when Washington Post White House bureau chief Ashley Parker compared Trump’s attacks on the free press with… Biden not taking questions from them one time. Yes, Biden did take questions during the event she was complaining about, but even if he didn’t, that’s hardly an attack on democracy.
She responded to criticism with a snarky tweet telling people to “#BeBest,” a line from Melania Trump’s odd anti-online harassment campaign.
There’s also Manuel Roig-Franzia’s recent profile of former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch that included the line, “She is 42, slender, with penetrating dark eyes and a sharply defined jawline. By now she’s gotten used to being called a ‘gun hottie,’” before explaining that she is, in fact, more than just a “gun hottie.” [note: I only found a single instance of anyone referring to her as a “gun hottie” on Twitter before that article was published. So… ok.]
“She dismisses the label as an attempt to diminish her and undermine the fact that even though she relishes talking about gun policy, the overwhelming majority of content she produces is about other topics, including election law, foreign policy, gender identity and criticism of pronouns used by transgender people, to name just a few.”
And these are just a few of the recent issues on the news side. Don’t even get me started on the awfulness of the paper’s opinion section. And so I unsubscribed.
When right-wingers get upset at the press, news organizations will bend over backwards to make them feel better. They’ll load up the opinion sections with people on the right, they’ll host softball interviews to promote an insurrection-supporting Senator’s book tour. When people on the left are upset about bad coverage, though? They respond by mocking us with, to quote Ashley Parker, “#BeBest.” They take our readership and support for granted as they gradually become Breitbart Lite. Well, no more, at least not from me.
There’s a much larger story to be told about the disdain mainstream media outlets have for left-leaning audiences, but that’ll have to wait for another day.