Today's Washington Post devotes nearly 1,400 words to a new Post poll about public attitudes towards government workers. Here's the article's lede:
More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do, and more than a third think they are less qualified than those working in the private sector, according to a Washington Post poll.
But in nearly 1,400 words, the Post never comes close to indicating whether those beliefs are accurate. The only time it ever even addresses that question is this passage, in which the paper essentially shrugs its shoulders and says “who knows?” :
Government personnel officials say they are refining the way they determine the salaries of a workforce that performs thousands of jobs, from park rangers earning $21 an hour in Monticello, Utah, to NASA scientists who make $123,758 at the agency's suburban Washington headquarters.
It's a highly educated, largely unionized group whose pay is based on experience and what similar jobs in the private sector fetch. The government says it is hard to compare average public and private salaries, since so many jobs outside government are in low-paying service industries, whereas government workers tend to be more skilled.
If Ed O'Keefe and Lisa Rein, the article's authors, read their colleague Ezra Klein's blog, they'd be aware of an Economic Policy Institute paper by Rutgers professor Jeffrey Keefe, who concludes that “public employees are compensated 2-7% less than equivalent private sector employees.” Klein's post about the study appeared on the Post's site just last month, but no hint of it -- or any other data or studies -- appeared in today's article.
It gets worse.
A separate post by Ed O'Keefe on Federal Eye, the Post's blog dedicated to “covering news from across the federal government,” spends another 500 words on the poll without including any evidence that those beliefs about government workers are false. O'Keefe did reference “Heritage Foundation statistics that found … that federal workers earn approximately 30 percent to 40 percent more in total pay and benefits than private sector workers.” But he didn't mention any contradictory studies or statistics, leaving the reader with the impression that none exist.