Wash. Post called out for needlessly scandalizing Elizabeth Warren's past work in bankruptcy law

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

On May 22, The Washington Post published an article detailing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) work as a lawyer while she was also teaching, drawing mostly upon information Warren provided on her website and supplemented with additional Post reporting. While the article contained valuable information about Warren’s past career, the Post was criticized for its framing of the story, which seemingly attempted to scandalize the compensation Warren received as a bankruptcy attorney.

Warren’s campaign released a list of 56 cases that she had worked on, revealing undisclosed information about an aspect of her career that she doesn’t often discuss in public. Warren previously disclosed 13 cases she was involved in when, according to the Post, she “came under pressure from her Republican opponent and the news media to discuss her legal work” during her 2012 Senate campaign. The Post also independently found that “a wave of Warren’s legal work came in the early 2000s as manufacturing companies whose products contained asbestos were forced into bankruptcy by waves of personal injury claims.” The article also described Warren’s work consulting “for more than a dozen committees representing claimants and creditors in these cases, often in partnership with the law firm Caplin & Drysdale, for an hourly rate of $675.”

Digging into candidates’ career history is important in educating voters about them ahead of a presidential election. However, many media, political, and other figures were critical of the article -- particularly the headline's focus on Warren’s fee of $675 per hour.

Adam Serwer, The Atlantic​

Soledad O’Brien, Starfish Media Group

Jared Yates Sexton, political commentator

Matthew Miller, MSNBC analyst

Keith Ellison, Minnesota attorney general

Brian Beutler, Crooked Media

Jason Linkins, ThinkProgress

Qasim Rashid, Virginia Senate District 28 candidate

Josh Marshall, TPM

Journalist Helen Kennedy

Dan Baer, Colorado U.S. Senate candidate

Ben White, Politico

Bishop Talbert Swan, pastor

Harry Litman, The Washington Post

Parker Molloy, Media Matters

Matt Fuller, HuffPost

Jessica Mason Pieklo, Rewire News

Journalist Tom Watson

Podcast host Aaron Mahnke