Washington Post Should Have More Conservative Voices, Ombudsman Argues

Patrick Pexton, ombudsman for The Washington Post, rebuked the paper Friday for having no conservative news columnists. The article comes amid heightened accusations of media bias due to the presidential election. In August, The New York Times public editor also charged his publication with having a liberal bias.

In the emails and letters he receives, Pexton pointed out, one of the most common complaints is that almost all of the Post's columnists in news positions (as opposed to the editorialists who appear in the opinion sections) write with a liberal bias and none have a conservative bias.

"With the exception of Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza, who cover politics in a nonpartisan way, the news columnists almost to a person write from left of center," Pexton wrote.

Pexton then proceeded to list all the Post journalists who write from a liberal point of view and concluded that it is reasonable for conservatives to feel disrespected.

"Is it any wonder that if you're a conservative looking for unbiased news -- and they do; they don't want only Sean Hannity's interpretation of the news -- that you might feel unwelcome, or dissed or slighted, by the printed Post or the online version? And might you distrust the news when it's wrapped in so much liberal commentary?" Pexton complained.

Marcus Brauchli, executive editor for The Washington Post, disagreed.

"Between the columnists on the editorial page and the commentators on the news pages, I believe The Post offers readers a balanced perspective," Brauchli told Pexton.

Pexton suggested that the Post focus first on providing news without a liberal bias and, if it wants to continue providing commentary on the news, it should add more conservative voices to its staff.

"The Post should first be about news without slant. If The Post wants to wrap its news in commentary, fine, but shouldn't some of those voices then be conservative?" Pexton concluded.

In August, Arthur Brisbane, outgoing public editor for The New York Times, also complained about his publication's liberal bias, writing that "this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times."

Jill Abramson, executive editor for NYT, said she disagreed with Brisbane, but believes that people in New York may view issues differently than the rest of the country.

"In our newsroom we are always conscious that the way we view an issue in New York is not necessarily the way it is viewed in the rest of the country or world," Abramson said.

Some media outlets have also been criticized recently for not covering the Obama administration's misleading statements on the recent al-Qaida attack on a U.S. embassy. The attack led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. citizens.

Administration officials initially claimed the attack was part of a spontaneous demonstration linked to an anti-Islam YouTube video. Newsweek recently discovered, though, reported that intelligence officials knew it was a terrorist attack shortly after it occurred.

In a Friday editorial for Newsweek's The Daily Beast, columnist Kirsten Stewart complained about the "media herd" "fretting" over Mitt Romney's taxes as the Obama administration continued to mislead them on the situation in Libya.

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