Why the Silence From the Post on Black Panther Party Story?

Andrew Alexander, Washington Post, July 18, 2010

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For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn’t been covering the case. The calls increased recently after competitors such as the New York Times and the Associated Press wrote stories. Fox News and right-wing bloggers have been pumping the story. Liberal bloggers have countered, accusing them of trying to manufacture a scandal.

But The Post has been virtually silent.

{snip}

The controversy was elevated last month when J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer who had helped develop the case, wrote in the Washington Times that his superiors’ decision to reduce its scope was “motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law.” Some in the department believe “the law should not be used against black wrongdoers because of the long history of slavery and segregation,” he wrote. Adams recently repeated these charges in public testimony before the commission.

The Post didn’t cover it. Indeed, until Thursday’s story, The Post had written no news stories about the controversy this year. In 2009, there were passing references to it in only three stories.

That’s prompted many readers to accuse The Post of a double standard. {snip}

To be sure, ideology and party politics are at play. Liberal bloggers have accused Adams of being a right-wing activist (he insisted to me Friday that his sole motivation is applying civil rights laws in a race-neutral way). {snip}

The Post should never base coverage decisions on ideology, nor should it feel obligated to order stories simply because of blogosphere chatter from the right or the left.

But in this case, coverage is justified because it’s a controversy that screams for clarity that The Post should provide. If Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his department are not colorblind in enforcing civil rights laws, they should be nailed. If the Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation is purely partisan, that should be revealed. If Adams is pursuing a right-wing agenda, he should be exposed.

{snip}

Andrew Alexander is the ombudsman at the Washington Post.

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