If you think The Washington Post comes to any Virginia election with an open mind and an objective approach, I have some macaca to sell you. Anyone who runs as a Republican statewide in the Old Dominion has to prepare to be blasted as a troglodyte.
And if that Republican is conservative, it's open season.
The man with the bulls eye on his forehead right now is Virginia's attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who has become a national conservative hero for opposing Obamacare's mandates on state governments in court. He's one of those tea-party candidates that the "nonpartisan" Posties cannot stand. Cuccinelli is running for governor this year, opposed by Terry McAuliffe, a fundraiser extraordinaire and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's the consummate Washington insider, and as a result, the darling of The Washington Post.
The Virginia gubernatorial campaign has attracted exactly zero stories from the broadcast TV networks this year. (On the contrary, they have an endless fascination with Chris Christie, President Obama's favorite Republican. That's not coincidental.) But Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center has studied the newspaper coverage this summer not only in The Washington Post, but in three other influential Virginia papers -- the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Roanoke Times and the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. He has found a barrage of coverage making a mockery of the concept of "news reporting."
1. Cuccinelli has received far more negative coverage than his rival, but stories on both are primarily negative. It's become obvious that political reporters are looking for attack-of-the-day lines.
In a campaign dominated by each candidate's negative assessment of their opponent, Terry McAuliffe has received three times as many negative news stories (66) as positive ones (21). But that doesn't compare with the overwhelmingly dark spin on Cuccinelli, who received only four stories tilted toward a positive angle, and 95 stories accentuating the negative, or a 24-to-1 ratio. On the editorial page, the anti-Cuccinelli slant continues, with seven positive articles to 78 negative ones.
This isn't journalism. It's character assassination.
2. Cuccinelli is regularly described as a conservative candidate, which is not just fair but also useful. The reader should know his ideological bent. But how is it that his rival apparently is non-ideological? There were 26 "conservative" labels attached to Cuccinelli in news stories and editorials, but the four newspapers could not muster a single "liberal" label for McAuliffe.