“Centrists” Oppose Rice Nomination

Reader Richard Banyard pointed out this remarkable paragraph in the Washington Post’s story on the vote in the Senate on Condoleezza Rice’s nomination:

Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

“Centrists”?? Mark Dayton? Robert Byrd? Carl Levin? And Tom Harkin?? These are some of the most far-left politicians who have ever served in the United States Senate. At the Post, “centrist” apparently means “someone who isn’t any more liberal than we are.”
DEACON adds: The only centrist on the list is Evan Bayh. And I suspect that his vote against Dr. Rice is best understood in the context of the possibility he will run for president in 2008. Perhaps we are witnessing Bayh’s transformation into an ex-centrist, in the Al Gore tradition.
UPDATE: Reader Jack Carrel points out that the Post has now removed the word “centrists” from its article. I assume this was the result of our pointing out the absurdity of the characterization. But there is no indication of any correction, no acknowledgement that the change was made. So go the mainstream media.
FURTHER UPDATE: Reader David McGuire has more, which casts doubt on the competence of the Post:

You will be interested to know that I e-mailed Chuck Babington about his “centrist” Democrat comments in this morning’s Washington Post. Amazingly, this is how he responded:

Thanks for writing.
You will not find this quote in my article:
“Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).” You (and many others) are victims of a cut and paste job that rearranged paragraphs in order to attack the story. You can read the real article on Washingtonpost.com. I’d be happy to respond if you want to take it from there.
again, thanks,

I then went back to the Washington Post website to cut and paste Mr. Babington’s “real” article. The fourth paragraph of his article reads precisely the same way that the quote above reads. Either someone is writing articles using Mr. Babington’s byline, or Mr. Babington cannot even remember what he wrote on the same day he wrote it! It is absolutely amazing that a political writer at one of the major newspapers in the country believes he can somehow deny writing a paragraph that appeared on the official website of a newspaper only a few hours before. Mr. Babington has met the blogosphere, and he has lost BIG TIME.

The more you think about this, the weirder it gets. Babington’s reference to “rearranging paragraphs” makes no sense; the issue is not the order of the paragraphs, but the adjective “centrist.” How can a reporter deny that he used that term only a few hours after his article appeared online, and confidently refer to the WaPo web site for the correct version–at a time when the original “centrist” Democrat reference is still there? The only explanation I can think of is that Babington had directed that the adjective “centrist” be removed, but it hadn’t happened yet at the time he replied to Mr. McGuire. If correct, that explanation reflects very poorly on Mr. Babington. The most charitable interpretation of these facts, as far as the Post is concerned, is incompetence.
ONE MORE UPDATE: The Post article, still bylined Charles Babington, has now been completely rewritten. It now covers both the Senate vote on Dr. Rice and the Judiciary Committee vote on Alberto Gonzales. The paragraph referring to Senators Dayton, Harkin et al. voting against Dr. Rice has now been deleted in its entirety. There is still a reference to “centrists,” however. The article now says:

As in Tuesday’s day-long debate on Rice’s nomination, yesterday’s criticisms came not only from liberal Democrats but also from more centrist or independent members who have backed the Bush administration on key issues.
For example, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) voted against Gonzales’s confirmation even though he had voted in 2001 to confirm Ashcroft, a staunch conservative and an irritant to many liberal groups.

So the Post now tells us that in both the Rice confirmation vote and the Gonzales vote, Democratic oppositon came in part from “more centrist or independent members who have backed the Bush administration on key issues.” No indication, however, as to who those “more centrist or independent” Democrats might be.
God only knows what the Post will print in its hard-copy version in the morning.
The mainstream media are in complete disarray. They have no idea what hit them, they can’t cope, and their habitual dishonesty is now on painfully public display.
ONE MORE, CAN’T RESIST: Reader Mike Chittenden got a copy of tomorrow’s Post; he writes:

I just checked Page A1 of today’s Washington Post. The paragraph in questions reads:
“Some of the most critical Democrats were centrists from states that President Bush won or nearly won in November. Their comments came as recent polls have shown growing public disenchantment with the situation in Iraq.”
The article then goes on to mention “liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer.” Dayton and Bayh are mentioned later in the article, after the jump. Others were then mentioned, including Kennedy and Levin. Lieberman, Feinstein and Salazar are mentioned as praising Rice. The quote in question does not actually appear in the print article.

Yet another version. There are ostensibly some “centrists,” but the Post no longer claims that Sens. Dayton, Byrd, Levin and Harkin are among them, and, in fact, there is no hint as to who the “centrists” are. Stay tuned; there may be a second print edition yet to come with one more effort to get the story straight.
AND FINALLY: The truth, maybe. Charles Babington has emailed ouur reader David McGuire to admit that he was wrong:

You are quite right… The website folks updated the morning story after the vote, and combined some paragraphs… I should have read over their shoulder, my mistake. I did get them to fix it. The story i wrote for the morning paper did not use “centrist” to describe Byrd, Harkin, etc…
Thanks for the heads up . cb

If this version is accurate, anonymous staffers at the Post revise articles written by the paper’s reporters and inject their own political views into the paper’s characterizations of members of the Senate. One way or the other, the Post obviously needs to get its act together.
OK, ONE MORE: Reader Cyrus Sanai finds Babington’s explanation plausible:

I noted with interest your point about the C. Rice story. I was a summer reporting intern at the Post between my first and second year of law school. After you file a story, the editors feel free to add whatever slant they
feel like to the copy without telling the reporter. It is possible that Babington did not call these Senators centrist, but the characterization was added by an editor.

So at the Post, at least, liberal slant is added anonymously by unknown editors who are completely unaccountable–in public, at least. This is not exactly how the Post and other MSM outlets present themselves when they brag about their accountability, credibility and “professional” standards.