WaPo Asks Williams Questions

As further proof that isolating a newspaper’s opinion editors from its reporting editors is a dumb idea, the Washington Post makes itself look silly with a new, but vacuous, editorial about Shawn Williams and his putative renewed candidacy to be chair of the Loudoun board. With utterly nothing new to add, the Post points its accusatory finger (the one belonging to someone named Editorial Board), and asks the following:

  • How many times was he arrested?
  • How many times was he convicted?
  • What was his blood-alcohol level in each of the incidents?
  • Did any accidents result from his conduct?
  • Any injuries?
  • When were the offenses, and have any of them occurred since he was elected to the county board in 2011?
  • When did the incidents with his wife and neighbor take place?
  • Has Mr. Williams asked that the police reports be made public?

One can easily imagine voters asking such questions. In a democracy that relies on a free press for information, one can just as easily imagine voters looking to the Post for answers. But, Mr. Board hasn’t got any, because the reporters work for someone else. Maybe that someone else has those reporters culling the public records right now. Maybe not. We don’t know, and neither does Editorial Board, because the opinion editors don’t do the journalism, and the journalists don’t write the editorials. Thus, the newspaper that broke the Watergate scandal can only ask what anyone can ask, on its editorial page, with no actual facts to add to the story.

Anyone can ask questions. That part’s easy. But when the questions come from a major news outlet like the Post, that outlet has a duty to get the answers. Alas, owing to the absurd notion that the people who report the facts ought not to be the ones who opine to us about them (as though forcing them to hide their biases equates to objectivity), Editorial Board–and the rest of us–may never actually get them.


Author: FirewallNOVA Left

I'm the voice from left of center at FirewallNOVA. Sometimes pretty far left, sometimes pretty close to center. Sometimes maybe not left of center at all. But, mostly, I'm a bleeding-heart liberal or, if not, the crowd on the other side tends to think I am. I can live with that.

2 thoughts on “WaPo Asks Williams Questions”

  1. Yes it does seem odd – if they wanted the information, and the information is out there, someone just needs to spend some time at the appropriate court clerk records offices, or online, depending on the jurisdiction and their record keeping. The list of questions could be the exact “shopping list” handed off to an investigative reporter.

    Apparently the Board person decided decided the opinion needed to be expressed ASAP.

  2. I think this illustrates the problem of having split editorial departments. The opinion editors have no say in what the reporters do. To me, that means their (the opinion editors’) views ain’t worth any more than anyone else’s. If I care what a newspaper editor thinks (and I’m not sure I do), I believe the reason I care is that they are in a position to be more informed than most of us. Beyond the reports we all get to see, they talk to the reporters. They see the full file behind a story. They might just know more than most of us are in a position to know. But, when the opinion editors are isolated from the reporting editors, what can they know that the rest of us don’t? I can read the newspapers (and other sources) as well as they can, so what possible reason do I have to care one iota about their opinions? In this particular case, they didn’t really even have opinions. They just had questions, which, if they had reporters working for them, they should have been answering, not asking. But they don’t, so this particular editorial of theirs was nothing more than literary pawing and snorting, imho.

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