On Friday, the Washington Post unveiled the first part of a “virtual museum” devoted to outgoing President Barack Obama, but ducked questions about why it didn’t include much negative content.
Washington Post Communications Manager Jennifer Lee sent an email to reporters promoting the project which would be “providing an in-depth look at Obama as a leader in five parts,” and invited questions. However, when contacted by The Daily Caller, the paper and website public relations manager ducked questions regarding it.
“Thank you for reaching out,” Lee wrote in a brief statement. “At the end of every presidency, The Washington Post assesses the implications for both the president and for the country.”
Lee claimed, “The difference this year is that we have designed our project for the mobile, social media age.”
But there are many differences between The Washington Post’s examination of the Bush legacy and the Obama virtual museum. The former wasn’t published until January of 2009, while the Obama project is being launched in the spring of 2016, nine months before the president leaves office.
And the series on Bush included mostly criticism. As an example between projects, the headline for the “George W. Bush: Image Abroad” section noted that he “was greatly tarnished by the unpopular war in Iraq.” The “Obama in Africa” story only contains one critical sentence: “There is a palpable sense that he remains a symbol of hope, despite the fact that Obama’s Africa policy on trade, development and health care had been criticized for not being as robust as those of his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.”
The Washington Post PR manager ignored a question on why the beer summit essay didn’t mention that many African-Americans were upset that Obama invited a white police officer who they viewed as making a wrongful arrest of black scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. to the White House. She also didn’t respond to the observation that the Obama electorate article wrongly substituted African-Americans for blacks, while using data from a US census analysis. Black voters also referred to Americans from Haiti, Jamaica, and other non-African countries.
The Crime, Justice and Race article only briefly notes that Obama “hasn’t reached the number of clemencies Clinton granted, he has given the largest number of commutations to date — 248 total.” It never specifies that Obama has issued far less pardons than both Clinton and Bush, and that it wasn’t until 2014, two years after his re-election, that Obama issued the vast majority of his commutations.
The Post ducked questions asking if future installments would explore controversies such as his low record on job creation, misstatements regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack and his attorney generals’ failure to prosecute many white collar crimes committed by Wall Street. “Will there be an article on how Obama reportedly ‘sided with banks accused of racism against blacks?'” with a link to a related Mother Jones article was ignored.
As the Washington Examiner reported on Friday, the Post’s virtual Obama museum was received with “praise and uneasiness” by assorted journalists, and that it appeared to be “less about education, and more about heaping fawning praise.”
Mollie Hemingway, Senior Editor for The Federalist tweeted that ThePost “answers the question, ‘What can we do to discredit ourselves as irrationally in the tank for Obama-ism?'” Weekly Standard senior writer Mark Hemingway bashed the virtual Obama museum as “more cult worship than journalism.”
In contrast, the Washington Examiner noted that Montreal Gazette Design Editor Susan Ferguson tweeted that it was “jaw-dropping” and was giving her “premature separation anxiety.” Sunstruck editor-in-chief Caleb Downs called it “awesome,” adding, “This is what journalism in the internet age can be.”
Washington Post journalists were “full of pride“, the Washington Examiner round-up observed, and quoted staffer tweets referring to it as “incredible,” “well worth your time,” “really cool” and “REALLY BIG.”
The Washington Post ignored a follow-up email asking, “Is this something that you plan every four or eight years?”