The Washington Post

Politico’s media criticism criticized, No. 5

Fifth in a series of articles on Politico’s story “To GOP, Blatant Bias in Vetting.”

These are the first two paragraphs of “To GOP, Blatant Bias in Vetting,” a story by Politico stars Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen regarding alleged bias in the coverage of the two key players in the 2012 presidential race:

On the front page of its Sunday edition, the New York Times gave a big spread to Ann Romney spending lots of time and tons of money on an exotic genre of horse-riding. The clear implication: The Romneys are silly rich, move in rarefied and exotic circles, and are perhaps a tad shady.
Only days earlier, news surfaced that author David Maraniss had unearthed new details about Barack Obama’s prolific, college-age dope-smoking for his new book, “Barack Obama: The Story” — and the Times made it a brief on A15.

I’ve included the links from the story for a reason: This lede makes direct references to two stories that appear in the New York Times and it contains two links as well. Do those links take you to the New York Times stories in question?

No. They route to, respectively, a Politico topic page on Ann Romney and another Politico story on Barack Obama’s drug use as a youngster. Other links in the story take the reader back to other Politico content; I can’t find a single link to non-Politico journalism in the entire thing, even though it’s a piece of media criticism.

The self-centered linking approach bespeaks a larger ill in the Politico story. That is, it attempts to case-build about media treatment of Mitt Romney without really surveying the mediascape. It appears as if the reporters just checked out a few front sections of the Washington Post and the New York Times and decided they had a story.

They have a lot of company in the execution of facile media generalization. Any time you turn on the pundit box, you can hear people talking about how the “media” underplayed this and the “media” overplayed that and the “media” senationalized the other thing. Quite often they’re referring to one or two stories that offend their political leanings. Very rarely do they stem from what’s necessary to make such claims: Hours and hours in Nexis and other databases, looking at everything that’s been written and broadcast on the topic. If VandeHei and Allen took that plunge, they’ve done a good job of hiding its results.

VandeHei declined to comment.

Read the whole series!

No. 4: What about the positive Romney stories?

No. 3: Of pot smoking and bullying.

No. 2: So the Washington Post overplayed the bullying thing? How’d Politico deal with it?

No. 1: Politico’s media criticism, translated.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.