Intent vs. Impact: Unfair coverage in MD gubernatorial race

Here’s the text of a letter to the editor of the Washington Post that I just sent this morning.  

By consistently restating non-news about polls, fundraising, and negative accusations (such as Donald Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign), the press too often amplifies the voices of the rich and powerful, making it difficult for voters to stay engaged and for grass-roots change to occur.
Yesterday’s article about Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous in the paper yesterday is a case in point. The positive effect of the headline “Civil rights still drive Jealous in run for Maryland governor” was immediately undone by the bolded caption next to his picture: “Ben Jealous (D) has consistently trailed Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in fundraising and in polls.”* I could immediately feel my interest in the article dissipate as I essentially learned from the paper that Jealous was not a viable candidate while at the same time seeing yet another free shout-out to the governor. These two things in an article that was supposed to be profiling the Democratic nominee for governor!
When compared with the caption this morning for Gov. Hogan, the unfairness is even starker. Hogan’s positive image is only reinforced by the sentence next to his photo: “On the trail and as Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan (R) has billed himself as an everyman.”
The Post has been faithful in its mission to speak truth to power in calling out our current president’s daily lies. It is time for the Washington Post to take this commitment further and to take careful note of when it is still amplifying well-funded voices that are already loud enough instead of raising up those that deserve to be heard above the fray.
*I now see that the online version of the article about Mr. Jealous looks different from the print version.

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