The Washington Post positions itself as a “must-read” daily almanac of the political class – a reliable source of information and insight regarding all things electoral.
That goes double for congressional elections, since the Post is the “hometown paper” of the federal government’s company town.
As such, the Post can be expected to follow congressional contests with a rigor and clarity that exceeds that of talk-radio and talk-TV, right? Wrong.
On Sunday, in a report on the certainly significant decision of Republican Dede Scozzafava to suspend her campaign for the open congressional seat in New York’s 23rd district, the Post reported: “With this New York district holding the only congressional election in an off-year cycle, much of the nation’s political attention has gravitated here to the state’s remote crown, an area so close to the Canadian border that highway signs are in English and French.”
That’s some fine writing by the Post’s political team.
Unfortunately, it’s wrong.
The special election in upstate New York is not the only congressional contest that will be decided Tuesday. In fact, it may not even be the most important special election that will be decided on Tuesday.
On the same day that New York 23 votes, a parallel special election will fill an open seat representing California’s 10th district.
We all understand that newspapers make mistakes.
But this one by the Post is particularly unsettling – both for what it says about the degeneration of political journalism in the United States and because of the false impression it creates reflects a broader disconnect in the discussion of the November 3 election cycle.
The New York State race has gained outsized coverage for two reasons:
1. Local Republican leaders nominated a moderate candidate to replace Republican congressman John McHugh, who jumped party lines to serve as the Obama administration’s Secretary of the Army. That sparked a revolt by conservatives in New York state and nationally, which ultimately forced Scozzafava out of the running. Republican leaders who backed her have now rallied behind Doug Hoffman, a Republican who is running on the Conservative Reporters love insider-the-party fights, and this has been a good one.