• Stop the WaPo Whoppers!

UPDATE – May 2014:

Although the Washington Post did not respond to our request to publish a truthful follow-up editorial, SAVE’s campaign had three important outcomes:

  1. When the Battered Mothers Custody group held its conference in May 2014 in Washington DC, the Washington Post did not provide any editorial or news coverage of the event.
  2. Numerous persons joined SAVE’s protest of the misguided Betsy Karasik editorial — see listing of articles, below.
  3. During the past year, Glenn Kessler (aka, The Washington Post Fact Checker) published two columns casting doubt on AG Eric Holder’s claim that domestic violence is the leading cause of death among young African-American women, and on President Obama’s claim that one-in-five college women are victims of rape.

SAVE thanks the Washington Post for improving its accurate and balanced coverage of the domestic violence and sexual assault issues.

ACTION ITEM:

Send an email to Doug Feaver, the Post reader representative, at readers@washpost.com. Or call Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth at 800-627-1150 (messages are accepted 24 hours a day).

Politely tell her that the Post’s credibility on the domestic violence issue has become severely damaged because a number of its recent articles are partisan, devoid of factual content, and likely to harm future victims.

Request that the Post rectify the harm by publishing an editorial that acknowedges these shortcomings, and affirms the Post’s commitment to basic journalistic principles of accuracy, balance, and fairness, as well as sensitivity to the needs of victims.

THE FACTS:

When it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault, the Washington Post’s coverage has become partisan, neglectful of the facts, and harmful to victims.  In the  process, the Post has cast aside basic journalistic notions of assuring balance, maintaining objectivity, and verifying sources. Now it’s time to say, Stop the WaPo Whoppers!

These are three examples of the paper’s blunders and bloopers:

1. Sad Hoax: Conference Shines Light on Plight of Battered Mothers Seeking Custody by the Washington Post Editorial Board.

The Washington Post Editorial Board ran a May 11, 2013 column in support of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference. The editorial was biased and withheld important information from its readers:

1. In 2005, the Public Broadcasting System did a documentary, “Breaking the Silence,” based on claims made at the BMCC. Thousands complained the program’s statements were false and the overall tone was biased. On January 4, 2006 , PBS Ombudsman Ken Bode finally admitted, “I found the program to be so totally unbalanced as to fall outside the boundaries of PBS editorial standards on fairness and balance.”

2. Was the Post unaware that one of the conference’s main speakers, Barry Goldstein, had his law license suspended by the New York Appellate Division for making “dishonest, false, or misleading statements” in connection with a previous Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference?

3. The Post editorial noted that victimized mothers, “are bankrupted and punished for fighting for their children.” But why did the Post omit mention of victimized fathers who have also been “bankrupted and punished for fighting for their children”?

All told, the claims made by 10 prominent persons closely associated with the Battered Mothers Custody Conference have been summarized, analyzed, and refuted. This important fact was never mentioned in the Washington Post editorial.

2. Harmful Double-Standard: Sex Between Students and Teachers Should Not be a Crime by Betsy Karasik.

For months, the Washington Post has been railing against sexual assault in the military, calling for a sanctioning system outside the normal chain of command. But when teachers rape their under-age students, the Post editorialist argues offenders should not have to face criminal sanctions.

These liaisons with teenage students “were all consensual in every honest meaning of the word,” Betsy Karasik happily exclaims. SAVE staff have known of many students, male and female, who have been seduced by their teachers. Few, if any of these students later described the experience as “consensual.”

And just imagine the firestorm of ridicule and protest if the Pentagon made the claim that military sexual assault cases involving adults were really “consensual in every honest meaning of the word”!

Betsy Karasik’s bizarre editorial is certain to be harmful to future victims of sexual assault who come to doubt that the criminal justice system will take their complaint seriously.

OTHERS JOIN OUR PROTEST:

3. Partisan Hit-Piece: Ken Cuccinelli’s Family Law Stance Won Him Support by Ben Pershing.

It’s one thing to endorse a candidate for office. It’s totally different to turn yourself into the public relations arm of a political campaign. Sadly, that’s what the Washington Post reporter does in his effort to discredit Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s bid to become the next governor of Virginia.

Among other things, Pershing took Cuccinelli to task because he was one of three state attorneys general who did not sign a letter urging federal lawmakers to reauthorize a particular version of the Violence Against Women Act. Pershing did not bother to inform his readers that leading women’s groups such as the Independent Women’s Forum, Concerned Women for America, and the Mommy Lobby strongly opposed the version of VAWA that many of the other attorneys general endorsed. This omission made Cuccinnelli appear to be callous to the needs of domestic violence victims.

We’re confident that Mr. Pershing is destined for a bright future as a K Street political consultant. Until then, Pershing needs to work harder to depict the issues in a balanced and fair manner.