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Opinion: Columnists

Stop the Post presses, please

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Noemie Emery,Columnists,The Washington Post,Analysis

A day after the Grahams sold the Washington Post to -- gasp -- an outsider, Ruth Marcus gave voice to her grief, saying the blow was so overwhelming that people called her all day to see how she was feeling.

Kathleen Parker said that the Grahams were family. On Friday, Eugene Robinson checked in, thanking all of the Grahams for giving themselves to the universe.

What none seemed to know is that one reason the paper had to be sold is that everyone there has become self-reverential, in love with themselves and the thought of their mission, when in reality they churn out unexceptional product for a paper which isn't that good.

And their praise of the Grahams -- all of the Grahams, even the ones who have not been outstanding -- resembles that given the Crawleys on the beloved soap "Downton Abbey" by their butler and housemaids. The Dowager Countess went below stairs to Ruth Marcus' book club! What further joys can life hold?

There are other reasons for the recent descent of the paper, one being that its political coverage, its main source of pride, and its raison d'etre, has lately been falling apart.

It used to be like the old Brooklyn Dodgers' "Boys of Summer," but now there's barely a tall tree left standing: Dan Balz on a good day may be Jackie Robinson, but Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, and Roy Campanella are gone.

The old stars have died or moved on, and none have replaced them. Eli Saslow swooning over the toned and tan chest of Barack Obama as he emerged from the surf on his winter vacation has never been quite the same thing.

And then there's the matter of left-wing correctness, which lately has run wide and deep. The Post had to be pushed belatedly and half-heartedly into coverage of the Kermit Gosnell trial -- which one Postie dismissed as a "local crime story."

But it then gave star treatment to one Wendy Davis, who looked pretty in pink while defending very late-term abortion, which most civilized countries outlaw as barbaric, and most people -- including women -- oppose.

Gay issues rank low in all polls on the list of concerns that most voters think urgent and critical, but the Post seems to think otherwise. Every third day or so, it seems to lead the paper on the upper-right-hand side of the page one, in the prime place of honor, its coverage overdone and incessant, as well as one-sided and hectoring.

Perhaps this is one reason its circulation has dropped like a stone, as hectoring coverage of a non-vital issue is just the ticket to draw readers in. One Post reporter told the paper's ombudsman that supporters of traditional marriage were on the same moral plane as racists of the civil rights era, and had no right to expect their views to be treated respectfully.

With reporters like this, you should know you're in trouble, and you're also in trouble when you don't realize your page-one stories read like a Chris Buckley parody.

The Saslow piece became an instant cult classic, as did a Philip Kennicott piece on page one of Style that depicted the Occupy camp on McPherson Square as idyllic small village, while it and other Occupy enclaves were riddled with disease, filth, and violence.

With stories like these, you're a target of ridicule, not an institution worth saving. The paper has a splendid op-ed page, which may be its salvation. But it is otherwise truly time to move on.

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Noemie Emery

Columnist
The Washington Examiner