The over-protective Washington Post

Yesterday, Barack Obama delivered a speech about the economy. The Washington Post headlines its story about that speech as follows: “Obama Cites Grim Economy At Start, as Past Presidents Have.”

The Post’s readers long ago grew accustomed to the paper’s zeal for defending Democratic politicians in the body of its news stories. Thus, one would expect that, very early in its story about Obama’s speech, the Post’s cheerleading reporters (here Michael Shear and Michael Fletcher) would point out that, in bad-mouthing the economy, Obama was following past precedent.

But this time around, the Post is so committed to defending Obama that it does so in the headline. Pro-Obama headlines are nothing new at the Post, of course, but this is the first time I recall a headline that attempts so heavy-handedly to pre-empt criticism over a collateral issue — the past practices of newly elected presidents.

I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last such headline from the Post.

Just as striking as the headline’s defensiveness is the lack of need for it. The economy clearly is in bad shape, and no serious person would criticize Obama for noting its “grim” condition.

So the Post not only intends to protect Obama, it plans to over-protect him.

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