The same reader wins two straight weeks! In this article, he writes about the Washington Post’s internal dissent about covering Michelle Rhee. Jo-Ann Armao, the editorial writer, was a Rhee fan. Bill Turque was the reporter who covered Rhee, fairly and without bias.

He writes:

I won “COMMENT OF THE DAY (SO FAR” last Saturday,
in an article Dr. Ravitch wrote of the same name about
that COMMENT.

I’m gunning for “BEST COMMENT” two Saturdays in a row here.
[Editor’s note: Sorry, it is not Saturday.]

Here goes…

Jo-Ann Armao has a proven history of re-writing and softening
former education reporter Bill Turque’s criticisms of Rhee… without
either the knowledge, permission, or prior input of Turque.

For her part, Rhee was livid at Turque’s coverage, and consequently
refused to talk to Turque, and directed all D.C Public Schools
staff to do likewise.

Well, WaPo education reporter Bill Turque
wrote the following regarding Editor Jo Ann Armao’s bias
in favor of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle
Rhee (Turque’s criticism made the initial print and on-line
editions… the parts that were later re-written by Armao are
in CAPITALS):

Turque: “THE CHANCELLOR IS CLEARLY MORE
COMFORTABLE SPEAKING WITH JO-ANN, WHICH
IS WHOLLY UNSURPRISING. I’M A BEAT REPORTER
CHARGED WITH COVERING, AS FULLY AND AS FAIRLY
AS I CAN, AN OFTEN TURBULENT STORY ABOUT THE
CHANCELLOR’S ATTEMPTS TO FIX THE DISTRICT’S
PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

“THIS JOB INVOLVES CHRONICLING MESSY AND
CONTENTIOUS DEBATES BASED IN BOTH POLITICS
AND POLICY, AND SOMETIMES PUBLISHING
INFORMATION (that Michelle Rhee) WOULD RATHER NOT
SEE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN .

“JO-ANN, ON THE OTHER HAND, SITS ON AND EDITORIAL
BOARD WHOSE SUPPORT FOR THE CHANCELLOR HAS BEEN
STEADFAST, PROTECTIVE AND AT TIMES, ADORING. WHERE
THIS GETS COMPLICATED IS THAT THE BOARD’S STANCE, AND
THE CHANCELLOR’S OBVIOUS RAPPORT WITH JO-ANN
ALSO MEANS THAT DCPS HAS A GUARANTEED SOFT LANDING
SPOT FOR UNCOMFORTABLE AND INCONVENIENT DISCLOSURES —
KIND OF A PRINT VERSION OF THE LARRY KING SHOW.”

(1/27/2011)

Ouch! A supposedly objective pillar of U.S. journalism—the
very entity that brought down a corrupt president—now
” HAS A GUARANTEED (Michelle Rhee) SOFT LANDING
SPOT FOR UNCOMFORTABLE AND INCONVENIENT DISCLOSURES —
KIND OF A PRINT VERSION OF THE LARRY KING SHOW

Dem’s fightin’ words!

Well, Jo Ann was non-plussed by this characterization, and
without Turque’s knowledge or consent,
had the last sentences re-written & greatly condensed for the later print and
on-line editions thusly:

“Where this gets complicated is that board’s stance, and THE
CHANCELLOR’S obvious RAPPORT WITH JO-ANN MEANS THAT DCPS WOULD
PREFER TO TALK TO HER THAN ME.”

(again, the part BELOW that Armao rewrote/condensed is in CAPITALS…
note how Armao excised the pointed adjective “OBVIOUS”… to make
Armao appear more objective that Turque believes she is.)

Again, this alteration was printed as if Turque himself wrote the
Above words (in CAPITALS), when it came from Armao’s keyboard
without any prior permission and input from Turque… to the public,
this misleading at best, despicable at worst.

Other sections of Turque’s piece were similarly watered down by
Armao. This was a huge story during January and February 2011.

As a pro-union teacher out her in L.A., I could go on at length about
my problems with the L.A. Times coverage of education.
Don’t get me wrong. Occasionally, its coverage is fair and
accurate, but at other times, most of the coverage is…
well, let’s not get into all that here.

However, the problems with bias at the L.A. Times pales
In comparison to such an action on Armao’s part. She
deliberately misled people into thinking Turque wrote
words that he did not.

Regarding the Turque/Armao WaPo controversy, Robert
Pondiscio of Core Knowlege put it best at:

http://blog.coreknowledge.org/2010/01/28/who-censored-the-washington-posts-rhee-item/

Regarding the Armao rewriting / censoring, Pondiscio states:

“Having spent the better part of my career in journalism, I was
thrilled to read Turque’s original blog post, and delighted the
paper showed enough respect for its readers to lift the curtain
on its processes. By explaining the behind-the-scenes
machinations and showing how powerful people maneuver
to affect coverage and spin perceptions, they were treating
readers like grownups, holding both Rhee and the paper
itself accountable.

“But what happened? Why change the story?”