MediaWatch: December 1990

Vol. Four No. 12

Post Reporters Love Cuomo and Jackson, Dislike Dukakis


The sympathies of Washington Post political reporters came through loud and clear in two recent books on the 1988 campaign. In See How They Run, Post political reporter Paul Taylor explained how his personal feelings for Mario Cuomo kept him from letting go of his "Mario Scenario": "I figured the voters wanted someone who filled a room just by entering it; someone who knew the lift and lilt of a metaphor; someone whose notions of mutual obligation and shared sacrifice would be a balm for two decades of me, me, me...His refusal to take the plunge only made him more tantalizing. How many politicians of the first rank escape the clutches of their ambition long enough to ponder their worthiness?"

Taylor was also smitten by Jesse Jackson. "My guess is that no reporter -- no matter how disciplined or dispassionate -- who traveled with Jackson in 1988 will ever forget his campaign, and many of us will continue to have trouble keeping it in perspective. 'These are the sorts of things you want to save for your grandchildren,' David Rogers, The Wall Street Journal's congressional correspondent, mused to me once as we sat together on a Jackson bus. He was removing a cassette of that afternoon's Jackson speech from his tape recorder."

In Pledging Allegiance: The Last Campaign of the Cold War, former Post political writer Sidney Blumenthal criticized Dukakis for not being liberal enough on defense and foreign policy. "Dukakis' campaign was delighted with the effort to keep dangerous new thinking to a minimum....His conventionality led him to accept the deeply ingrained shibboleths that had kept the Democrats on the defensive for decades. He wound up operating on the premise that the Cold War was not over and he had to demonstrate his bona fides as a cold warrior."