Len Downie Bias Watch: Elections No, Selections Yes

Washington Post executive editor Len Downie, who refuses to vote in elections so as to preserve his journalistic neutrality, has taken sides in another contested event that his newspaper covers. According to the NCAA tournament-picking contest on his newspaper’s Web site, the once-monastically objective Downie is in the bag for Greg Oden and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

What else can be learned about Downie’s biases? He almost never sides with the underdog: Upsets are uncommon in his bracket, with a Final Four of two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2′s. His preference for the favorites put him on the wrong side of the biggest news story of the tournament’s first day, picking Duke over Virginia Commonwealth.

But it’s the upset picks, when they do show up, that are more suggestive. Downie picked aggressively against the University of Virginia, a team the Post covers closely, predicting (incorrectly) a first-round loss to lowly Albany.

Downie apparently favors bombastic veteran coach Bob Knight, having (incorrectly) picked Knight’s Texas Tech team to upset Boston College, and likewise having (incorrectly) picked Indiana, Knight’s former employer, to be upset by Gonzaga.

Then again, both of those games were 7-10 matchups–the one kind of game where Downie always picked the upset. Afflict the somewhat comfortable, and comfort the mildly afflicted.

As of early Friday evening, Downie’s picks had him in a tie for 7,760th place in the contest.