That Fleeting Moment the Washington Post Covered a Democratic Socialist Fairly   

All Marc Elrich has to do to get fair coverage is lose.

Down a thousand votes on election night, lefty incumbent Marc Elrich was a sure goner. At the Washington Post this was cause for celebration, but the paper played it cool, even classy, graciously ushering its nemesis into certain retirement.

Two years ago Elrich was up for reelection as county executive of Montgomery County, Maryland, an influential jurisdiction of slightly over a million residents, located just outside the nation’s capital. To have a democratic socialist like Elrich governing right under the Post’s nose, smack dab in the heart of its coverage area, was an affront to the paper. An affront that was now finally coming to an end.

In these halcyon hours after the Democratic primary (which is the election that matters in deep blue Montgomery) the Post could finally let its hair down and come clean to readers. It turns out Elrich wasn’t the monster the paper had spent the past four years making him out to be. Also, people liked him.

The day after the election it felt like there’d been a jailbreak of Elrich supporters, with no less than five of them favorably quoted in a single Post story, something that was unthinkable before the primary, when the paper had trouble finding anyone with something nice to say about Elrich. After polls closed, the Post also promptly informed readers that the county’s pandemic response under Elrich made it “a leader in the country”; whereas pre-election the paper had gone to lengths to avoid mentioning Elrich’s pandemic leadership, which over 75 percent of Montgomery residents approved of.

The day after the election the Post also expressed more than a passing interest in the tsunami of money and ads unleashed on Elrich. Much of the unprecedented funding came from the deep pockets of Elrich’s once-again rival, David Blair. A wealthy businessman with a checkered history, Blair gave a record $6.4 million to his own campaign (which raised an additional $400,000).

On top of these funds, a billionaire techie and Blair’s real estate buddies pumped another $1 million-plus into the race. They did so via two super PACs, hilariously named “Affordable Maryland” and “Progressives for Progress.” The former PAC was created by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz of San Francisco, who seeded it with $500,000. The latter was chaired by Washington Property Co. president Charles Nulsen, who gives alike to Democrats and Republicans. (Speaking of Republicans, Blair was one until around the age of 35. He lied about this, as did the Postat least by omission.)

Between Blair and his wealthy allies, an avalanche of over $8 million was barreling down on Elrich, a 72-year-old grandfather and former elementary school teacher. These are “sums of money that would be impressive even in a Maryland gubernatorial race,” wrote David Lublin of Seventh State. To fight back, Elrich, who participated in the county’s public campaign finance program, had a comparative pittance of just over $1 million.

In this David versus Goliath fight, the Post wasn’t just siding with Goliath, in some ways it was the real Goliath. It was the Post’s own attacks on Elrich, often quoted word-for-word, that Blair and his rich allies supercharged with millions of dollars’ worth of ads. Then to seal the feedback loop, the Post reported on the Post-inspired ads, using them as a news peg with which to attack Elrich anew.

The Post only gave Elrich a meaningful chance to weigh in on the funding disparity once voting was completed. “Not much you can do when they’ve got that much money,” a deflated Elrich told the paper, as he sized up his impending loss. “That is a fundamental problem with politics when money becomes speech.” And with that, the Post ushered Elrich off stage to make way for its beloved Blair.

The only flaw in this well-heeled putsch was the failure to secure a few dozen more votes. As a recount unfolded in the following days and weeks, Elrich’s 1,000-vote deficit narrowed, then turned into a 32-vote lead. And just as suddenly as the Post’s glasnost had appeared, it vanished.

Elrich was now “a divisive figure” once again. In fact “an increasingly divisive figure.” And his against-all-odds win somehow represented “a chastening” from voters, since it was only “by a gossamer margin.”

Elrich was also “without a mandate from voters.” The Post reported this as fact, then quoted exclusively those who agreed. “Marc clearly does not have a mandate to lead,” said state Senator Cheryl Kagan, an ardent Blair supporter. “[V]oters did not give him a mandate, and that should inspire some humility,” said Adam Jentleson,[1] who ran the anti-Elrich super PAC funded by the Facebook billionaire.

But Elrich did indeed have a mandate, a strong one. He earned it by defying the golden rule of American politics – He who has the most gold wins – not once but twice. In addition to 2022, Elrich was also wildly outspent by Blair in 2018.

And there’s another reason Elrich has a mandate: His entire time in office, five years and counting, he’s put his head down and governed well, without flash or drama. Voters see this, although not in the pages of the Post. The paper hasn’t even informed readers that Elrich is running for a third term, despite his announcement over three months ago.

If the Post is able to defeat Elrich in 2026 – third time’s a charm! – it won’t be all bad news for Elrich. In fact it’ll be good news, quite literally. That’s because the moment Elrich loses, the Post will tell the truth about him.


[1] Jentleson has since gone on to become chief of staff to Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who unabashedly supports the genocide in Gaza. Like his boss, Jentleson has also taken aim at the left, publicly scolding Democrats for withholding their support from President Biden over the issue.

Pete Tucker is a journalist based in DC. He writes at