Post Slants Left - Even into the Grave
Even death isnâ€™t a great equalizer at The Washington Post. Two of Americaâ€™s most well-known economists died in 2006 â€“ John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman. But there the similarities ended.
Galbraith, who the Post called â€śa preeminent symbol and source of liberal political thoughtâ€ť was deemed worthy of three news stories totaling more than 4,000 words. Although the Post credited Friedman with â€śtireless advocacy of unfettered free marketsâ€ť that â€śreshaped the nationâ€™s economic policies,â€ť that earned him just 1,169 words and one news story, despite a Nobel Prize.
In fact, Galbraith cropped up in the Friedman obit that devoted two paragraphs to criticism of Friedmanâ€™s attitudes. It even quoted Galbraith biographer Richard Parker, who blamed Friedmanâ€™s â€śpassionate calls for financial and securities market deregulationâ€ť for having â€śno small role in ushering in the half-trillion dollar S&L fiasco of the 1980s and the deeply corrupt Wall Street stock market boom of the 1990s.â€ť
Contrast that with Galbraith. The Post ran obits on him two days in a row â€“ a short one of just 377 words in the April 30 edition. The May 1 issue made up for that short shrift and devoted another 2,044 words and included a hint to the Postâ€™s devotion, as well. The obit, written by Bret Barnes, described Galbraith as â€ślong overlooked for a Nobel Prize, he received from Clinton in 2000 the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. governmentâ€™s highest civilian honor.â€ť Both left out how left-wing Galbraith really was, as previously reported by the Business & Media Institute.
Then there was the Friedman obit by Patricia Sullivan and Carlos Lozada, who said this about his success: â€śawarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Sciences in 1988. He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.â€ť
That comparison could leave readers wondering about the disparate coverage, unless they had read the worshipful piece on Galbraith in the May 8 Style section. The story, by John F. Harris, detailed how Galbraith and fellow â€śliberal intellectualâ€ť Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. lived as neighbors and friends for decades.
But not-so-hidden in the Style article was Galbraithâ€™s connection to the top brass at the Post â€“ first Phil Graham and then Katharine Graham. The piece quoted Schlesinger saying â€śWe all grew up together.â€ť He was â€śreferring to the overlapping circles of accomplished friends in Cambridge and Washington that he and Galbraith had in common.â€ť Those included columnist Joe Alsop, Kennedy aide and Harvard Dean McGeorge Bundy and, of course Phil Graham, â€śonce the publisher of this paper.â€ť
Later in the same story, it described how Schlesinger and Galbraith were at a meeting in New York when they heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. They were meeting with â€śKatharine Graham and the editors of Newsweek.â€ť
While Friedman was discussed by columnists Steven Pearlstein and Robert J. Samuelson, the Post also had one, by Schlesinger, about his friend Galbraith.