Scare quotes: Not just for the Washington Times anymore.
In 1994, a coalition of union and religious leaders successfully campaigned for a law in Baltimore mandating that employers with city contracts pay workers what they called a living wage. A movement was born, now among the most successful over the past decade; today, 130 cities and counties have similar living-wage ordinances.
But at the Washington Post, “living wage” still needs quotes, meaning it gets the same treatment that the Times gives gay “marriage” and “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. On Sunday, in a story about 17 student protesters arrested at the University of Virginia, the Post’s Martin Weil wrote, “The protest has been described as part of a ‘living wage’ campaign.” (Only an Associated Press story is posted on washingtonpost.com; the story that ran under Weil’s byline is not listed. Both quote “living wage.”)
The Post followed up on Monday with a B1 story reporting that the UVA protests are continuing despite the arrests. The first time “living wage” appears, reporter Jamie Stockwell‘s article calls it the “so-called living wage,” leaving off the quotes. There are also no quotes around “poverty-level” wages. We meet the phrase “living wage” five more times in the 834-word piece, none inside quotes.
Weil was not available, but Stockwell, when told “living wage” was in quotes in Weil’s piece, said, “Oh, God.” Her “so-called,” she said, was inserted by a copy editor. “That was not my writing,” she said. “It is a real campaign. It’s a national campaign to call to attention the fact that people are being paid wages that are unlivable. It’s not like [the UVA protesters] made it up.”