With a story in today’s Metro section, the Washington Post’s coverage of the Allen-Webb race has fully descended into farce. In “Will Sen. Allen’s Cowboy Boots Fit Virginia Voters? Detractors Call Cowboy Image a Shtick,” reporter Michael Shear devotes 1,302 words to the question of George Allen’s footwear.
Shear reports that “Allen’s detractors” make fun of his fondness for all things cowboy. “To them, it screams phony,” Shear writes. Shear quotes one such detractor who says, “With all due respect, I know cowboys. I grew up with cowboys. I have nephews who bull ride. I’m sorry, George, you’re not a cowboy.”
And who is that detractor who was ready with such a nice, quotable soundbite? Why, it’s none other than Steve Jarding, a top adviser to the Webb campaign.
A little later, there’s another quote from a detractor who says, “I put on a Superman outfit for Halloween. It didn’t make me a superhero.” And who is that detractor? Well, it’s Jarding, too.
Still later, Shear reports that “some minority voters panned the image of Allen on horseback at the Buena Vista Labor Day parade.” One detractor is quoted as saying, “He may have wanted to be a cowboy, but there weren’t a lot of cowboys on Santa Monica Boulevard.”
And who is that detractor? Darned if it’s not Steve Jarding again. In fact, Webb’s senior advisor is the only detractor quoted in Shear’s article, which features positive quotes from two present and former Allen staffers, plus one Allen fan.
Not long ago, the Post’s ombudsman, reviewing the paper’s coverage of the “macaca” incident, concluded that, when viewed as a whole, the coverage “looked like piling on.” It’s a good thing that’s over, isn’t it?