Accuracy in Media

Officials at the Washington Post appear to have approved an appearance by one of its reporters at a secret gathering in California where activists, including George Soros, were plotting strategy for the 2018 midterm elections.

The Washington Free Beacon revealed last week that Janell Ross, a national reporter for the Post who covers “the social and political implications of demographic change,” spoke on a panel at the Democracy Alliance event entitled “Getting the Economic Narrative Right.”

Ross appeared alongside Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the liberal Roosevelt Institute; Meg Bostrum, co-founder of the Topos Partnership, which shapes messaging for liberal groups; Javier Morillo, president of Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union; and Doran Schrantz, executive director of ISAIAH, a group affiliated with the sometimes-violent #Resistance.

The program was supposed to be kept secret but was obtained by the Free Beacon. It identified Ross as a “special guest” and a “Washington Post political reporter.”

According to documents obtained by the Beacon, the panel she appeared on addressed questions such as, “What do progressives stand for? How do we grapple with tough issues? What story are we trying to tell and how does it play out in communities across the country? How do we translate what the polls and research tell us into the compelling narrative that will build the public will to reorient our economy and combat inequality?”

A spokesman for the Post said it did not know Ross had appeared at the event until contacted by the Free Beacon and said the paper had “reminded” her that it “discourages” involvement in events that may be “perceived as partisan.”

Asked whether she had received permission to appear at the event, the Post spokesman said, “That’s all we have to say, but thank you for checking.”

Beyond that, “our understanding is that she was there solely to discuss the subject of a book she is writing independently on economic inequality,” the paper said.

The bio she provided for the event reveals the book is about “the real causes – official policy and social practice – of the yawning racial wealth gap for the [leftist publisher] Beacon Press.”

The Free Beacon reported that it was unknown whether Ross had received compensation from the Democracy Alliance, which staged the event and claims on its website to be the “largest network of donors dedicated to building the progressive movement in the United States,” or whether the organization covered the costs of her stay at the La Costa Resort, where rooms can run to $579 per night.

Such meetings are common. Both sides do them, and both sides try to achieve anonymity for the speakers and attendees and to keep the messages secret. Reporters sometimes cover the events to achieve a greater understanding of the people, parties and politics they write about.

But Ross was not there as a reporter covering the event; she covers politics for the ostensibly objective news pages of the Post. She was there to help a political party she reports on achieve victory in the next election. That she attended and the paper she works for now knows about it and has not suspended or fired her indicates the paper has accepted and approved the behavior.

As Jazz Shaw of Hot Air pointed out, this “was a meeting of some of the highest-rolling donors in the Democratic Party where their 2018 strategy to defeat the Republicans was being worked on. Nothing wrong with that obviously. The GOP does the same thing all the time. But a reporter for the Washington Post was there, not to cover the event for her paper, but to participate as a panelist.”

In short, wrote Mike LaChance at Legal Insurrection, “You can be a political reporter for the Washington Post, or you can be a progressive activist who helps Democrats win elections. You’re not supposed to be both.” 

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