THE BLOG

WaPo Slants Afghan News with Biased News Header

On October 27, the Washington Post reported on the resignation of Matthew Hoh, a top U.S. official in Afghanistan, in protest of the U.S. war, noting that Hoh had come to believe that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was simply fueling the insurgency.

But the editors of the Washington Post are still slanting their news coverage in a way that promotes the assumption that the United States is "combating extremism," rather than fueling extremism.

Stories on the Washington Post website about what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan - including the story on Hoh's resignation - are introduced by a "header" that says:

"The AfPak War

Combating Extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan"

In using this header on news articles about U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Washington Post editors are skewing the news, reinforcing an assumption that Matthew Hoh and other critics of the war are trying to challenge, that U.S. policy is combating extremism.

Not only does the Post's "combating extremism" header reinforce the assumption that the U.S. is "combating extremism," the "AfPak War" designation also reinforces the assumption that Afghanistan and Pakistan are "one theater" of conflict. In particular, it promotes the assumption that the war in Afghanistan is justified on the basis of promoting stability in Pakistan. Many Afghans and Pakistanis, as well as critics of the Afghanistan war, see this assumption as false, counterproductive and even offensive.

Fortunately, the Washington Post has an ombudsman. And one of the jobs of the ombudsman is to take complaints from Washington Post readers and the general public about editorial bias in the news section. It would probably take just a few keystrokes to retire the Washington Post's biased news header from introducing its coverage of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

You can write to the Washington Post ombudsman here.