It was a veritable stupid slogan convention. Brian Stelter of CNN, whose motto is “Facts first,” played host to Martin Barron of the Washington Post, which officially adopted “Democracy Dies in Darkness” as its first slogan in its 140-year history on Feb. 22, 2017. Donald Trump had been in office scarcely a month when the paper of record figured it had him sized up.
In the brief clip that follows, Baron affirms that the slogan “created in response to the Trump administration” is not going away “notwithstanding what [sic] the accusations that people made against us.”
Those accusations were leveled from within in June of this year after the paper published a 3,000-word attack on a private individual named Sue Schafer over the costume she wore to a Halloween Party two years earlier. In an op-ed titled “Why Did the Washington Post Get This Woman Fired?” New York magazine provided the background for the Post piece:
In 2018, Schafer attended a Halloween party at the home of Tom Toles, the Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist. The basis for Schafer’s costume was topical. NBC had recently fired Megyn Kelly after she said, on the air, that she didn’t understand why it was necessarily considered racist for people to wear blackface as part of a Halloween costume. Schafer, who is white, decided to lampoon the anchor by dressing as Megyn Kelly-in-blackface. … The day after the party, Schafer called Toles and apologized for what she had worn.
But the damage was done. The holier-than-thou Post’s mission to stamp out racism wherever it reared its ugly head had cost Schafer her reputation and career.
“The Post has stood behind this story in the face of a backlash from readers, who left overwhelmingly hostile comments in response to its story on The Post’s website,” As LU contributor Hans Bader noted when the story broke, adding “but many reporters were horrified by it, especially older, less ideological staffers”:
No one I’ve spoken with at the Post can figure out why we published this story,” said one prominent reporter at the paper. “We blew up this woman’s life for no reason.”….
“My reaction, like everybody, was, What the hell? Why is this a story?” a feature writer at the Post told New York. “My second reaction was, Why is this a 3,000-word feature?”
Maybe boss Marty Barron can explain his reasons for allowing this story to run and how it advances democracy. (RELATED: It is wrong — and corrosive — to conflate ‘unfavorable news’ and ‘fake news’)