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For the New York Post, Help Should Begin at Home

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Originally posted at The Huffington Post:

The New York Post seems to be awfully big on accountability lately.

Last week, the paper's editorial staff praised school reform in New York for creating "great accountability on all levels."

On Thursday, they slammed President Obama for signing the earmarks bill despite his reservations, citing his desire to view the bill as a "departure point for more far-reaching change" by saying, "Translation: We'll do better next time. Sorry, Mr. President. That line may work in Chicago politics, but it doesn't fly when you're in the White House."

On Friday, it was the accomplices in the Madoff Ponzi scheme that were in their sights: "This is one case that cannot be closed until the enablers -- unwitting or otherwise -- have been brought to account, too."

The Post's editors talk a big game about accountability but don't seem particularly interested in holding themselves to the same strict standards.

Three weeks ago, a racist editorial cartoon by Sean Delonas sparked national outrage when it linked the shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut with President Obama and the passage of the stimulus package.

The community response was strong. Civil rights leaders staged protests outside of the Post offices, talking heads debated the cartoon endlessly on the 24-hour news networks, and advocacy groups from coast to coast -- GLAAD included -- expressed their disgust with the cartoon and the paper that saw fit to publish it.

In a rare move, NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch printed an apology in the pages of the Post, saying he wanted to "personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted." He went on to say that, "we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community."

Sounds a little bit like trying to develop a standard of accountability. But what does it mean to "seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of the community" when the paper has such a long history of defamatory treatment of so many different communities?

That treatment seems unlikely to change. Delonas publishes inane and defamatory cartoons about the LGBT community with depressing regularity, and the paper refuses to embrace even the most minimal standards of journalism when it comes to reporting on and selecting terminology to describe our community.

I have to wonder about the folks who go to work at the Post every day. Are they hoping to make it a place that values quality journalism or fair reporting? Or do they not care about the power of the press to educate, illuminate and inform the public, and just enjoy working for a tabloid?

Whenever I see headlines like "Free to Be He-She" or "Attack of the Killer Lesbians" or "Tranny Heaven," I ask myself, are these well intentioned? Or do the people who write them approach their work with an attitude of "hey, to hell with basic journalistic standards and the implications for communities."

It's not just about the Post either. There's some guilt by association -- I can't imagine how the folks over at the Wall Street Journal feel about their own journalistic credibility when the other NewsCorp paper in town runs headlines like, "Woman To Claim 'Tranny Defense' in Murder Trial." Now that rumors have circulated that Murdoch has set his sights on the New York Times, I can't help but feel concerned about what this means for the state of journalistic integrity in the news media capital of the United States.

Close to a month has passed since Murdoch apologized for the cartoon, but we haven't seen any real change at the Post -- Col Allen is still Editor-in-Chief, and Delonas' cartoons appear on Page Six throughout the week. What is it going to take for the Post and for NewsCorp to take the concerns of the communities that they serve seriously?

The elders in my family always used to say that, "help begins at home," and it might do the Post some good to follow that advice. The LGBT community isn't the only one that's nearing the end of its patience with those who refused to accept responsibility and -- there's that word again -- accountability for their actions.

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