From The “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: The Washington Post Plays Partisan Politics With A Headline, And Can’t Even Do It Competently

Once again I will begin by saying that those who deny the partisan bias in the mainstream media against President Trump (among other topics) deserve contempt, either for their lack of perception of the obvious, or for their atrocious citizenship. The last metaphorical rotten journalism gun choking the public with smoke was September’s effort by the New York Times and two of its reporters to continue the smearing of Justice Kavanaugh, a story quickly buried by the Ukraine phone call impeachment plot. (I know, I know, I never got my promised post up on Kavanaugh II. But I will, if it takes until December…) The latest, this time by the Washington Post, is pure res ipsa loquitur. Let me break it down:

I. From the New York Post:

A “high value” target believed to be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died in a US raid in Syria Saturday, according to multiple news reports. Baghdadi was targeted in a strike by US Special Operations forces, three US officials told ABC News. One of those officials told ABC that it is believed the ISIS leader detonated a suicide vest as the ground raid was carried out in the northwestern city of Idlib. Defense Department officials told the White House Saturday it had “great confidence” that Baghdadi was killed in the raid, Newsweek reported, citing Army sources.

This is an undeniable achievement by U.S. forces of the type that the previous President claimed great credit for, and received from the news media without hesitation.

II. Reporting on the terrorist leader’s death, some headline writer at the Washington Post naively played it straight, as if the Post was a real, trustworthy news source. Referring to Al-Baghdadi as “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-Chief” in the obituary heading. Oooh, can’t have that! It will make casual readers assume that the Trump Administration did something praiseworthy!  So the foolishly objective headline writer was dispatched to the Kids Post section, and new headline was appended:

That means President Trump just killed a religious scholar! Oh, he may have been austere, but that’s no reason to kill him! Trump’s a monster!

This was so misleading and blatantly absurd that it didn’t remain for more than a couple of hours. Ultimately the Post settled on…

That’s better, but it omits the little detail that the man was a terrorist, like, for example, Osama Bin Laden. The first headline was the right one; unfortunately, it might have benefited President Trump.

III.  The Post was caught red-handed. Tweeted muck-raking journalist Glenn Greenwald, no friend he either to the mainstream media or President Trump…

Democrats, Washington Post, mainstream media…Greenwald properly lumps them all together. Charles Glasser wrote,

The Washington Post changed their headline on the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi THREE times: First, he was “terrorist-in-chief”. Then he was “an austere religious scholar”. (I doubt the Post will disclose the conversations that led to that). Now it reads “extremist leader.” Another self-inflicted legacy media wound. Keep blaming “dumb people”, “privileged white men, “deplorables”, Trump…anyone but themselves.


This headline was no accident, nor was it rushed. In fact, the original WaPo headline was “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief” and they changed to “austere religious scholar.” That shows a certain amount of contemplation. They got so much flak for the “religious scholar” designation that now they’ve settled on “extremist leader of Islamic State,” a still-tepid description for a man so vile and sadistic. It makes one wonder what the present-day editors of the WaPo would make of Hitler’s death if they had to report it all over again: “Animal-loving vegetarian with ambitious plans dies tragically”Or Stalin’s: “Former seminary student who became leader of a great nation is deeply mourned”

IV. Social media has taken up the challenge: the Post’s headline-writing style has now become a game. Here are some of the recent entries:

Nero, emperor who helped Christians bring light to Rome, dies at 30.

Genghis Khan, accomplished horseman and indefatigable traveler, breathes his last.

John Wilkes Booth, noted thespian, dies at age 24.

Charles Manson, club leader and motivational speaker, dies at 83

Mussolini, community service volunteer renown for getting the trains to run on time, dies at 61.

Mao Zedong, who saved 20-45 million of his own people from having to suffer through the struggle of existence, dies at 82.

Jim Jones, passionate community organizer and religious leader, dead at 47

Alphonse Capone, prominent liquor distributor, boxing promoter and supporter of St. Valentines Day activities, dies prematurely at 48

V. The problem is that, as Jack Nicholson says before his character’s meltdown in “A Few Good Men,” this isn’t funny, it’s tragic. The mainstream media no longer makes an effort to protect its credibility and trustworthiness, so devoted it is to pandering to the Trump-loathing market, and to doing what it can to undermine the President and the Presidency.

In this it really is “the enemy of the people,” and democracy, and an informed electorate, and, ultimately journalism itself. And those who overlook the obvious implications of fiascos like this one are deliberately, or negligently, participating in the deconstruction of the United States of America.

40 thoughts on “From The “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: The Washington Post Plays Partisan Politics With A Headline, And Can’t Even Do It Competently

  1. I have come to think of Trump’s “enemy of the people” description of the news media as the equivalent of Reagan’s “Evil Empire” line. Let’s hope it has as much ling-term power…

      • “Tell us how you really feel.”

        How I really feel (per somewhat-less-than-objective observation) could be tethered to islamophobia faster’n you can say Nathan Phillips-n-Jussie Are Innocent

    • While the western ear hears a ton of connotation inside the term “religious scholar” leading the western mind to think, “introspective”, “thoughtful”, “spiritually minded”, and therefore the headline is grossly irresponsible in its skewing of how rotten Al Baghdadi was, two things can be true at once.

      He WAS an *islamic* religious scholar. He studied the Koran in depth and applied the teachings of the Koran to their ultimate end. So, the headline, while wrong due to the connotative associations of the readers, actually isn’t wrong when taken to it’s logical and denotative (within the context) end.

  2. They should have followed their own headline on bin Laden: “Osama bin Laden killed: Leader of terrorist group al-Qaeda was 54.”

    The first headline with Terrorist-in-Chief reads like a joke; I suspect that was NOT his official title. It deserved changing.

    Settling on “dies,” however, begs the question: “of what?” Undiagnosed prostate cancer? Mass-shooting at his workplace? Existential ennui?

    They should have gone with “killed,” like with bin Laden.

    However, if they thought that he might not have been “killed” in the raid, but committed suicide, they should have avoided a one-word description. Better: “dies in possible suicide during military raid.” Maybe even better: “dead after U.S. attack on ISIS base.”

    [Found OBL headline in a comparison of the coverage here: I am presuming it is accurate in its details. Not cited for commentary, as I have not read it.]


  3. I saw a screen grab of the “austere religious scholar” header earlier today on The Social Media Network That Shall Not Be Named. I assumed it was either a parody from an Onion or Babylon Bee wannabe or propaganda from some whack-job conservative website.

    I never thought for a moment that even the WaPo would actually “run that baby.” (who gets that reference?)

    Color me gobsmacked. Even for the WaPo, this is a new level in shitheadedness. BTW, I claim copyright on that term, not having seen it here before.

  4. It’s been disturbing and yet darkly amusing watching the left downplay this and even moderately rehabilitate Al Baghdadi.

    All because if Trump does something it is automatically bad.

        • I’m saying that by his own words he’s forfeited any adulation. He–and you–can not expect him to be praised for a deed he’s made a point of saying a president deserves no praise for.

          His choice. HIs need to attack President Obama for anything and everything has led us here. Trump–and–you are just going to have to live with his shitty choices.

          • He said that as a private citizen, as did many others. The media thought Obams was a God. Now the media acts like a snark. And its Trump’s fault? Everyone knew Trump said that?

          • But that’s an obvious rationalization. Journalists are pledged to be objective, not to even the score. It doesn’t matter what Trump said now or before. The facts are facts. Moreover, if Presidents get credit for what is accomplished on their watch, and they do, then the rules don’t change because the current President once criticized the norm when he wasn’t President. You can make the point that Trump is doing what he criticized Obama for doing. It’s not the news media’s job, however, to stop him from doing it, or frame the facts so he doesn’t get the same kind of credit every other President has.

            Short version: your argument makes no sense, V.

            • I suppose she deserves credit for not doing as some of my lefty acquaintances have done. You could have counted down from twenty and you would have not reached zero before the time my feed went crazy with posts that can be summarized “GWB set this all up by going into Iraq in the first place, no credit to a fellow Republican for doing something that shouldn’t have had to happen in the first place.” A few appended stuff to the effect of the blood of the victims of ISIS is on GWB’s hands and/or the blood of the children who died in this raid is on Trump’s hands. Trump gets the credit, same as Obama got the credit for taking bin Laden down, but both men had a lot of help, most notably from the special forces who actually executed the mission. That said, I think Trump actually pushed this, whereas I think Obama just stood back and let Leon Panetta, et al. run things until an opening came to take OBL out. I think Mike Pompeo and company were being a lot more aggressive behind the scenes with friend and foe alike than Hillary was.

              I also think this is a masterpiece of political stage magic by Trump. Last April he led everyone to believe the wheels were still in motion before, out of nowhere, dealing the Syrians a deserved strike for chemical warfare against their own citizens. In this case he led everyone to think the US was pulling out of Syria and ending its commitment to the area, letting Russia and Assad have a free hand. Of course ISIS sneered at him as just another fake redliner like Obama and let their guard down. This was what followed while the Democrats were suddenly tut-tutting about him not being pro-war enough. He caught Nancy and company flat-footed, and all they can do now is shake their fingers at him for not telling them sooner. As if they all didn’t know that if you want a surprise birthday party to stay a surprise, there are certain people you DON’T tell. Is there any doubt that if he’d told the Gang of Eight well in advance there would have been an “anonymous leak” that revealed just enough to scrub the whole operation? I have no doubt, because I honestly believe that the Democratic Party, in particular the leaders and the so-called “squad,” put diminishing the president above this country’s interests, even its security interests.

              This was no small operation, either. Trump’s speech was justifiably light on details, but he mentioned 8 helicopters being used. I don’t know which ones, but, as a military buff, I can tell you that the Blackhawk carries 12-14 troops and the Chinook carries up to 36, and those are probably the ones used here. You’re probably talking between 100-300 men, depending on the mix, and depending on whether those 8 also included non-troop carrying escorts like Apaches. This was not one of those lightning quick, high-risk raids. We went in with overwhelming force, and the Russians and Syrians were wise enough or cowed enough to stay the hell out of our way. Oh, and afterward an airstrike paved the place over so it wouldn’t become a radical Muslim shrine. Hope they included some wine and bacon.

              However, the best the WP can say is that an “austere religious scholar” who started life looking to live quietly as a religious studies professor, died in this. Never mind the fact that he was a murderer and a rapist. Never mind that he was a destructive and narrow-minded thug who’d shoot you if your beard was too short or you sang a few notes. Never mind he killed a female humanitarian worker in cold blood and burned a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage. As far as they’re concerned he’s just some gentle, studious guy who had to take up arms because the US was taking his country apart, What’s worse, the left falls for this hook, line, and sinker. It’s so much easier to think when you let someone else do it for you.

          • Even if I were to totally agree about the adulation (which I don’t — rightly or wrongly presidents always get most of the political credit for events like this), he surely doesn’t deserve opprobrium or to have the event turned into a political weapon against him by a supposedly unbiased media.

            Let’s be honest here — You’re using whataboutism to justify unethical and wrongful conduct. Own it.

        • No.

          However, he made his wishes clear in 2012. Absent an apology to President Obama–just as public as the insult–I shall hold him to the standard he set for other presidents.

          • So, you think he was wrong about Obama.

            So, you will adopt his “wrong” standard and apply it to him so you don’t have to give him credit according to your own “right” standard.

            I don’t know. I think there is something to be said for Trump’s earlier quote, but I also think that it is simplistic enough that it does not admit of legitimate distinctions between the two events that might be made.

            I would not want to adopt such a standard as my own.


            • He decided on a standard when he wanted to attack someone. Should he not be held to it now that the shoe is on the other foot? Could anything be more fair? Are his own words never to have consequences? Did someone hold a gun to his head and force him to be an asshole on twitter?

              Is anything preventing him from saying he was wrong and apologizing to President Obama?

              Let him lie in the bed he made and hope the next president has the good sense to only apply standards she’s willing to live up to.

              • Nonsense. If his standard is wrong, as you have admitted, then it would be wrong to follow it. To follow a wrong standard, which you know to be wrong and didn’t follow before, just because it can be used against the person who promulgated it, is an act of spite, not principle.

              • He doesn’t owe President Obama a thing, anymore than Obama owes GWB anything for constantly dumping all the blame for every damn problem the US faced on his doorstep, or owes the GOP anything for saying “you need to ride in the back of the car,” or owes the families of those two officers murdered in NY and the five murdered in Dallas anything for sowing racial dissension and police hatred.

                What you are attempting here is the worst kind of schoolyard whataboutism. I also wouldn’t refer to the next president, whoever that might be, as a “she” just yet. Fauxcahontas is the only one with a reasonable shot, and Trump would eat her for breakfast in a debate.

              • Should he be held to his own wrong standard? No.

                Should his comment be thrown in his face? Absolutely!

                Ask him why he is now taking credit for the work of the soldiers on the ground. He may say because he is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces if he is fast on his wits; but don’t be surprised if he slips up and explains how he was there, and witnessed it, and even pulled the trigger himself. Then, Schiff will try to impeach him for telling a lie to the American people, AND ALSO for killing someone in cold blood.


              • valkygrrl,
                It doesn’t matter one bit whether Trump was correct or incorrect when he wrote, “Stop congratulating Obama for killing Bin Laden. The Navy Seals killed Bin Laden.”

                Everything about your argument is an unethical tit-for-tat rationalization.

                IF, and I do mean if, you ever said or wrote one word against Trump for his statement and said Obama deserved the credit then you’re now wielding an unethical double standard which should reveal you’re own hypocrisy to yourself.

                In my humble opinion: Neither President Obama or President Trump deserve the credit for executing the missions we are talking about; however, they BOTH deserve the credit as President of the United States and Commander and Chief for ordering the mission to be executed.

                • On May 2, 2011 the day Osama Bin Laden was killed Jack wrote the following…

                  “It is nothing but sour grapes, a lack of graciousness, a deficit of respect, and general unfairness for Rush Limbaugh or anyone else to begrudge the President of the United States a victory lap when a complex operation under his authority finally achieved justice for the 2001 terrorist attacks after ten frustrating years.”

                  Oh, Shut Up, Rush.

                  To anyone that refuses to give President Trump his victory lap for the operation that killed Al-Bagh-Dadi, I say to you all, “just shut the fuck up”.

  5. All of this media and lefty shitheadedness notwithstanding, let’s hear it for the people who tracked down and killed that arrogant asshole. No easy task in a hostile, shithole part of the world. And no casualties and no wrecked secret helicopter.

    A Muslim convert acquaintance thought highly of Osama Bin Laden because he lived austerely. Sheesh. I wonder if CAIR was involved at the Post headline department.

  6. Regardless of the label they use, “dies at 48” is a bit precious, no? Technically accurate, perhaps, but certainly lacking in one particularly salient detail.

    • Yes, I noticed that, too. Apparently no amount of backlash could shock the WaPo into a fair and accurate headline. “Dies at 48,” indeed. No doubt he was surrounded by loved ones in his final moments, too, like High Explosive, his longtime business partner, and Bloodshed, the love of his life.

  7. Three jeers for the WaPo headline. Three cheers for US Special Ops. May their successes multiply. Couldn’t care less about political credit.

  8. Jack wrote: “I have come to think of Trump’s “enemy of the people” description of the news media as the equivalent of Reagan’s “Evil Empire” line. Let’s hope it has as much ling-term power…”

    This is so complex and so hard in many ways. To dismantle the errors of perception and understanding which make up our perception and understanding! We become the subject of our own ‘inquisition’ as we investigate our complicity in lies and deceptions! And at the same time the ‘counsel for the defense’. Bear with me, I will make an effort to explain.

    To declare the Soviet Union an ‘Evil Empire’ is a grotesque projection. That means the projection of the ‘shadow’ of a hidden and obscured realization that what we see in the other is something about our own self. Most everyone grasps what a psychological projection is, and it is one of the most useful understandings within interpersonal dynamics. But let me get right to the point so that what I am trying to point out is clear from the start:

    America sold itself out. There is no *external enemy* to focus on, no one to blame, no one to attack, and no way to avoid the truth. The ‘sell-out’ became manifest and evident in the 1970s, more or less. At that time the economic strength of the dollar — the strength of a real wage — began to be undermined. It was possible for a man to support a family prior to this time. It was possible for a woman to remain at home and to care for children. This changed. Through Machiavellian manoeuvres. I think this is where the *event* of ‘globalization’ began: a recognition among America’s industrial classes that they could seek manufacturing workers in far-off places and pay them far less. This is where the transfer of America’s manufacturing base to the third-world began. It eventuated in China as everyone knows.

    As the buying power and the core wealth of the average American family was deliberately undermined, it forced women into the workplace in order that with 2 incomes the lower buying power of an average man would be off-set. This has been made to seem like a *plus* and a *good thing* but in reality it has resulted as largely destructive to the solidity of American culture and certainly the family.

    The ruling class of America — the established political class — has become its business class, and this business class has insinuated itself so thoroughly into the governing system that it results in a *perversity*. In short they sold America out. But they control the Media Systems! These are themselves huge corporations and there is the famous revolving door between corporation and government, and in this way the business class and its interests — and these are not ‘the people’s interests’ necessarily — dominate America which is highly propagandized always in favor of this class and their interests.

    So, these business decisions were made, and through them America’s social and economic wealth was substantially transferred from the people and class that created it. The loss of *buying power*, the loss of the social strength that comes to a people from basic wealth: these were cynically preyed-upon. Not by ‘Russians’ and not by Boris & Natasha, but by classes and interest-sectors within America.

    So, who is ‘the enemy of the people’? If it is possible to use these terms let’s push it forward and really come to clear and honest definitions. If the media, today, is denoted as an ‘enemy’ let us clearly state why they are the enemy. But who can do this? Can you do this Jack? Can Steve of NJ? Can AdImageJim? Can anyone writing on this Blog be capable of really seeing what is going on in the present and why it is going on?

    I suggest that the answer is a partial *yes* but also substantially *no*. Why no? Because telling the truth to oneself, when one is complicit and when one’s own falsehood upholds a ‘false narrative’ involves the self in pain! We need look no further than the distorting lie that made it seem a *truth* that the Soviet Union was an enemy and an Evil Empire when in truth the machinations of evil were being carried out domestically and by specific agents within the Nation that did not — and do not — have its best interests at all in mind. This is what happens in a corrupt society. And to correct corruption these things must be seen and understood. Media Systems obfuscate reality. They serve powerful interests and in any case they can hardly be imagined to take a stand against the structures that control them.

    We have to fast-forward to the Trumpian present: the rise of a nationalistic movement and a nationalistic instinct. This is the motive-power of ‘populism’: the recognition of having been harmed and sold-out by ‘elites’ and ‘globalizing interests’ that do not give a fig about ‘the American worker’ or the solidity of the American family. You see, this is where the entire idea of ‘treason’ and the entire base of the notion of ‘enemy of the people’ must be located.

    People have begun to see what has taken shape before their own eyes. They have been impoverished and this is evidenced by the lowering of ‘real wages’ and the real value of the dollar. They have been forced to send their women into the workplace and even then it is not possible to make ends meet: for many it is a terrible struggle from week to week and month to month. The family structure has been harmed. And the results show up in the social body. Presently, the ruling structures (the deep state) are in a crisis of reaction because the popular mind, if only as a glimmer, begins to understand what has been done to America’s social body, and this deep state, this régime that substantially controls the dissemination of view/perspective/ idea is doing everything in its power, and in conjunction with its own intelligence agencies, to counter the tide of awareness: to discredit it, to turn it back, to keep it from solidifying in any meaningful and enduring way.

    I think that this — though I have scratched this out imperfectly and non-thoroughly — describes in a substantial sense the social and political struggles of the present.

    I have become largely convinced that *you-plural* cannot be counted on and help very little with the effort to really get clear about what is really going on in this murky, confusing present. If one is really serious about ethics I say that this must be the first order of business. I do not see that as the focus here. I regret to say that but it would be dishonest if I did not say it.

    There was not and there is not now an ‘exterior enemy’. The enemy is interior. And we all are, to one degree or another, complicit with this enemy.

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