Froomkin on White House Briefing

In Sunday's Washington Post, the paper's new ombudsman, Deborah Howell, writes that The Post's political reporters don't like my column. She states that the column is "highly opinionated and liberal" and concludes that it should no longer bear the name "White House Briefing," because the title may lead some readers to think it is the work of the paper's reporting staff. Such a belief, Post political editor John Harris told her, dilutes the credibility of the newspaper.

Regular readers know that my column is first and foremost a daily anthology of works by other journalists and bloggers. When my voice emerges, it is often to provide context for those writings and spot emerging themes. Sometimes I do some original reporting, and sometimes I share my insights. The omnipresent links make it easy for readers to assess my credibility.

There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny. I was prepared to take the same approach with John Kerry, had he become president.

This column's advocacy is in defense of the public's right to know what its leader is doing and why. To that end, it calls attention to times when reasonable, important questions are ducked; when disingenuous talking points are substituted for honest explanations; and when the president won't confront his critics -- or their criticisms -- head on.

The journalists who cover Washington and the White House should be holding the president accountable. When they do, I bear witness to their work. And the answer is for more of them to do so -- not for me to be dismissed as highly opinionated and liberal because I do.

-- Dan Froomkin

By washingtonpost.com |  December 12, 2005; 1:07 PM ET  | Category:  Journalism
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Comments

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Froomkin is right. At least he's not Bob Woodward.

Posted by: Mike | December 12, 2005 01:31 PM

Froomkin provides a valuable service for those who want to have several perspectives available to them; I hope the Washington Post will continue to support him. A well read citizenry is a must.

Posted by: Barbara | December 12, 2005 01:36 PM

Froomkin puts the rest of the paper to shame.

Posted by: paul | December 12, 2005 01:39 PM

Froomkin turned me on to looking in all sorts of spots for my info. I've read and watched transcripts of press briefings, read articles by journalists with whom I was not familiar, found sources of info that were unknown to me because of links and things I've read in Froomkin's column. Sending people to many different sources for their information and pointing out when the media is unable to get real answers to important questions is the opposite of bias.

Posted by: tamar | December 12, 2005 01:43 PM

Why would the credibility of the Post be endangered by a column that is largely populated by links to and discussion of stories filed in the print edition of the Post? Of course Dan Froomkim links to outside sources, but typically the first link in each subject heading is to a Post story. Why, in Deborah Howell's opinion, is Dan's column of lesser value than other Post columnists? He simply provides an overview and analysis of the day's news regarding the executive branch of government. I agree with Dan's rebuttal - if there is any bias in his column, it is a biased towards accountability. What really damages the Post's reputation is when you have famous reporters like Bob Woodward bad-mouthing special prosecutor's Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation while failing to disclose their own involvement in the case.

Posted by: Brad Thomson | December 12, 2005 01:44 PM

Amen. Froomkin is indeed right. I applaud his approach and wish more reporters, print and media, would follow it. Keep it up Mr. Froomkin. I read your column everyday.

Posted by: Harry | December 12, 2005 01:45 PM

Uh, yeah, I meant print and broadcast media. Good thing I'm not a reporter. Oh boy.

Posted by: Harry | December 12, 2005 01:46 PM

The reporters offended byt the column and title should get over themselves. They're probably most offended that he points out their failures to do their jobs. Boo Hoo. They can go cry on Bob Woodwards ring.

Posted by: Richard Taylor | December 12, 2005 01:48 PM

Froomkin is my favorite columnist at WaPo. His public documenting of the foolishness of this administration is essential, and he offers a nice break from the obvious conservative bias of Cheney's friend Krauthammer, Hiatt, Broder -- and, yes, Cohen (though he's a great writer...). It's called White House Briefing because that's what it is -- he can't help it if this White House is a day-to-day farce.

I support Dan Froomkin and I tell others to read him, too.

Posted by: Seth Sonderling | December 12, 2005 01:50 PM

People who read this column regularly understand precisely what it is---a compilation of info and stories. I find it similar to Kurtz Media Notes. I do think he's right that the administration should be taken to task and seldom is. I use the links he provides from all points of view to read what is being said completely. I would hate for the name to change because people don't understand what it's all about.

Posted by: Robin | December 12, 2005 01:51 PM

I thought Ombudsmen were appointed to resolve vague issues, not contribute to them?

Removing the title of his invaluable digest "White House Briefing" isn't going to do anything except introduce vagueness about the column's subject.

What would you then call it? "Dan Froomkin's 'Cooking with Walnuts'?"

Posted by: John | December 12, 2005 01:51 PM

Frankly, Dan Froomkin is the one must read of the Washington Post. Constant attempt at 'balancing' stories leaves analysis in the dust. The Washington Post continues it's rightward tilt. Maybe we should all just accept whatever any administration says and not bother with nasty old questions at all. After all, those in positions of power never lie or have anything but our best interests at heart.

Posted by: John Lease | December 12, 2005 01:51 PM

I would love to hear some examples of things in Dan's column that the Post WH reporters don't like. I think that would give a much better insight into their concerns and motives.

Personally I believe their concern is more about his occasional criticism of them then it is about any confusion that he is a White House reporter. I suspect that the success of his column may be a factor as well and there are some bruised egos.

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 01:51 PM

I have never believed the White House Briefing to be the work of Post White House reporters, mostly because Mr. Froomkin specifically differentiates between those reporters and himself. I'm not quite sure what a "conservative" version of this column would look like, but I think it would be a disservice to readers to force what is already impartial into a "liberal" category for the purpose of appearing "balanced."

Posted by: Claudia | December 12, 2005 01:52 PM

My husband and I are news junkies...we take the two Denver Dailies, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Economist, Newsweek and more. Neither of us miss a day of White House Briefing. It provides a good (at least as goood as the WH will allow) snap shot of what is happening around the White House. Like many others, we are sad when it is not posted. Please support Dan Froomkin and let him continue informing the electorate.

Posted by: Barbara Bath | December 12, 2005 01:52 PM

If the President and his staff believe in the
policies they implement, they should be willing to explain them and to discuss concerns intelligently and with respect to dissenters. Thus far they haven't. If pointing this out is a "liberal bias" then many more people are "liberal" than they thought they were. Mr. Froomkin -- change the column's name if that makes people happy, but don't stop doing everything else that you are doing. A side note: I wish you good luck and health for your wife and new baby-to-be.

Posted by: Gary Goldberg | December 12, 2005 01:58 PM

What else would Froomkin's column be called? 'White House Briefing' is an apt title for a compilation of the daily news put forth by and about the White House. I think that the ombudsman should concern themself with other headlines in the Post, as these seem to provide fodder for other media hawks that scream about liberal bias in the Post.

Posted by: Brian Arneson | December 12, 2005 01:59 PM

Froomkin's White Hosue Briefing is without a doubt the most useful feature on post.com. Df does what the rest of the reporters covering this White House, or any WH, any subject, should be doing: Challenging assertions, citing contradictions, and generally acting as a critical thinker rather than a frightened stenographer worried about losing access, IE Bob Woodward although I am sure he is not the only craven so-called journalist working at the Post.

Kurtz's Media column, for example, could benefit from some of WH Briefing's frankness, honesty, and lack of fear of making uncomfortable the next cocktail party conversation with the incestuous milieu of power borkers and their court historians.

The fearful bleating of the Post's editors that WHB may make them look "liberal" is tyipcal of exactly what is wrong with corporate media in general and the Post specifically.

Note to Post Eds: Challenging the claims of authority is not a form of liberal activism, IT IS YOUR JOB! TRY DOING IT!

With some notable exceptions, mostly on the .com pages, WH Briefing does, in fact, put the rest of the Post to shame.

But Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org) is still the gold standard.

Posted by: db | December 12, 2005 02:00 PM

I read Mr. Froomkin's column every day. I don't see how someone could honestly say he thought he was at the WH briefings. Froomkin would ask follow up questions!
Keep up the good work.

Posted by: JM | December 12, 2005 02:00 PM

Where do I go to file a complaint about the ombudsman herself?

Froomkin is a must-read for me. I can't imagine there are people who think it's factual reporting -- anyone savvy enough to read his fascinating column is surely savvy enough to differentiate between opinion and fact.

Howell's attempts to create problems are unappreciated. Funny that she doesn't take Howie Kurz to task for his conservatively biased column. An actual, impartial ombudsman would be nice. When should we expect one?

Posted by: Tammy | December 12, 2005 02:06 PM

I was astounded that the Ombudsman felt the need to comment on Dan Froomkin's column. (The Post's Politics Editor ought to get busy and encourage his staff to do some good reporting.) I feel that Dan, almost single handedly, kept the Plame story alive. I also believe that a Kerry White House would have been given the same treatment (i.e., "Froomkined"). So, what's the big deal?

Posted by: bmschumacher | December 12, 2005 02:07 PM

Dan Froomkin's column is a "must read" for me here in MN. Too many editors try to artificially "balance" news coverage. Dan already links to a wide range of blogs. I do not want the format of his column to change in any way. Way to go, Dan!

Posted by: Jessie | December 12, 2005 02:07 PM

White House Briefing keeps me sane, informed, and riled up. Change the title if you want to, "a rose by any other name..." etc. But don't change the content, because it's just right exactly as it is. And geez Louise, don't feel the need to "balance it out with a conservative blogger" who will tow the party line because that just reeks of "well if someone is actually holding the party in charge accountable, then they must be from the opposing party" and that's faulty logic.

Posted by: Frank Higgins | December 12, 2005 02:09 PM

Mr. Froomkin's "White House Briefing" is one of two features that I am sure to check every day at washingtonpost.com. When he goes on vacation, I get upset because it forces me to weed out pertinent pieces of news on the president by myself. I think his goals of scrutiny and transparency are admirable and should be championed by the Post's editorial board as well as its ombudsman.

Posted by: BGH | December 12, 2005 02:10 PM

Froomkin does a marvelous job with this column. Too many other reporters--including those at the Post--seem just ti repeat what they are told. Froomkin does that openly, with links to his original materials, but in addition he has the guts, and integrity, to check the statements of his sources. If that is liberal bias I'm all for it.

Posted by: JLR | December 12, 2005 02:11 PM

Froomkin's White House Briefing is consistently the most interesting column on the Washington Post webpage.

In general he is provides a wide variety of views and respects readers enough to let them think their own thoughts. However, when he does provide his views, they are far more insightful than the typical Washington Post cookie cutter reporting of providing brief synopses of both sides and adding very little to the spin. Real reporting includes trying to look behind the obviously self-serving statements of those in power - isn't that partly what the Washington Post used to be famous for?

I read the entire NY Times and Washington Post on a daily basis, as well as various newsmagazines, but have never had a column I so look forward to as Froomkin's.

Please don't change anything about his column.

Posted by: Rick | December 12, 2005 02:12 PM

For my first act, I will channel W. via the "voice" of Deborah Howell.

First, there are straw people...

"Some print journalists don't like Dan. They say, we should set a timetable for changing the title, photoshop his picture, and maybe add a conservative voice to drown out the OBVIOUSLY liberal chatterbox. We should - cut and run - on his column."

Then the homey finish...
"That would send mixed signals to our elected officials. Presidential administrations of recent history have tried to break our will. Make no mistake. The will of the newsreading public will not flounder and it can not be broken. We will always choose on the side of holding those in power accountable for their words - and their actions."

Eh, maybe not so good.

We really would like to know how Dan's column doesn't do at least one of the following 1) treat administration news with the full skepticism that the WP's WH reporters should be handling it or 2) keep the WP's WH reporters on their toes

Posted by: Steel Max | December 12, 2005 02:13 PM

How can anyone who reads the column equate accountability with liberalism? The quintessential Froomkin column ran a few days ago; it was called "Fact Checking the President". It was composed almost exclusively of links to news stories in which the reporter noted discrepancies between Bush's picture of Iraq and more disturbing pictures of Iraq provided by people who are actually there. Another column, "Checking the Hard Facts" talked about claims Bush made regarding the progress in Najaf and Mosul, which can't be verified by regular reporters because it's not safe enough to travel there, but which is contradicted by a few intrepid reporters and sources in Najaf and Mosul. If Bush distorts the truth, and there's a lot of evidence that he does, bringing attention to facts and distortions isn't liberal, it's holding the President accountable. Before we can agree or disagree with the President we HAVE to know what facts he's working from - and when his "facts" on Iraq contradict the facts of the people who live or work in Iraq, then we have to know that before we choose who to believe. That's what Dan Froomkin does: he points out where Bush's facts are contradicted by others'. Then we have what we need to make up our own minds. IF more regular reporters asked the hard questions, Dan's column wouldn't be so necessary. Since they don't, Froomkin is indispensible to the informed voter.

Posted by: Sarah | December 12, 2005 02:13 PM

The Post doesn't need a "conservative" columnist to balance Froomkin. It already has one in Kurtz, who seems to delight in slamming the Democrats in Congress.

(Why does "the press" keep banging the drum about the Democrats not having a "plan" for this or that, when it is the Republicans in control of the whole of the federal government. Isn't it the Republicans who ought to have a plan? If I remember correctly, the President never even got around to a plan for Social Security reform, although he did have some nice words for other people's plans.)

Posted by: Cal Gal | December 12, 2005 02:13 PM

I agree that Mr. Froomkin puts the rest of the WP to shame. He's the only thing in the paper worth reading. Apart from its oddly anomalous strong stand against torture, the WP might just as well be Fox - a compendium of what are effectively press releases from the White House, with no questions asked. Froomkin at least asks some questions. Somehow I thought that was what journalism was all about, but now I see that to the WP, asking questions is "liberal" and therefore to be deplored. Too bad A.J. Liebling isn't around to sink his teeth into all this.

Posted by: JS | December 12, 2005 02:14 PM

Mr. Froomkin's is a fine column with little or no apparent bias. It seems that anyone who is critical, is attacked as being bias, but the two are mutually exclusive. One can be critical of the White House, while still maintaining their objectivity. Only a simple mind (that is directed to the ombudsman) would not be able to differentiate between the two. This week's story on Bush's Bubble in one of those weeklies is old news to anyone reading Mr. Froomkin's column. He should be supported by the Washington Post and by washingtonpost.com. Mr. Froomkin is often the first to ask tough questions that it would seem most political reporters are either to afraid to ask or just don't care to ask. Keep up the good work, Dan!

Drew
Astoria, New York

Posted by: Drew | December 12, 2005 02:14 PM

A day without WH Briefing is like a day without coffee.
Please tell your Post reporters that we regular WH Briefing readers are not the least bit confused by the title of the column -Mr. Froomkin has made it perfectly clear he is not acting as a reporter.

Also, it is unnerving to think that the Post thinks it needs to "balance" the WH briefing with a conservative blog. Since when is it "liberal" to put stories into context and to ask questions?
Keep it up, Dan.

Posted by: Susan | December 12, 2005 02:15 PM

And by the way, I agree with the previous poster, Howard Kurtz, is the "conservative" answer to any liberalism on washingtonpost.com (though I still take issue that Mr. Froomkin is liberal).

Posted by: Drew | December 12, 2005 02:17 PM

Any reader who is honestly misled by the title "White House Briefing" should reader the column head a little more closely, where it says "White House Briefing, Dan Froomkin, columnist." this sufficiently clarifies the column as the work of a columnist, not a White House reporter.

Posted by: BGK | December 12, 2005 02:17 PM

I enjoy Froomkin's column, but when I first started reading it, I did think that he was a Washington Post White House reporter. I think the concerns about confusion are valid, and the title of the column should probably be changed to clear up some of that confusion.

I don't think it is unfair to characterize Froomkin's column as liberal. Contrast it with Kurtz's column, which is also opinionated and critical but clearly comes from a more moderate perspective.

Posted by: Corby | December 12, 2005 02:17 PM

Froomkin's column and chats, right after the actual Post news coverage, is the main reason I visit. Your Omsbudsman might want to look up the meaning of "Forth Estate."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_estate

Posted by: B Rucker | December 12, 2005 02:18 PM

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing is first a blog, not a column, and the responsive Mr. Froomkin is open to comments, criticism and ideas other than his own from his readers. Who can ask for anything more? WH Briefing is The Preferred Lunchtime Companion in our office, as we gather in front of our computers and comment back and forth with each other about his daily compilations of WHITE HOUSE information, particularly the daily briefings. What better title is there?

Write on!

Posted by: Sally Orr Vaza | December 12, 2005 02:19 PM

His column is a most read every day. Finally an american journalist has the cojones to clean all the BS from the WH and report the facts and true.

I wish you have more like him. The WP should publish this colum in the newspaper, you will get more readers.

In the last 5 years, a lot of journalist (editorial boards also)had forgeten that their real master is the public.

Posted by: Robert | December 12, 2005 02:19 PM

I, too, read this column on a daily basis, and I find myself oddly out-of-sorts when Froomkin takes a vacation and the column is missing. However, pointing out the inconsistencies of any political argument -- whether coming from the White House or not -- is not only what the WaPo's regular political reporters should be doing, but what we all as citizens should do as well. Kudos to Froomkin for encouraging more of us to go beyond the latest spin.

Perhaps this debate is simply a reflection that Froomkin hasn't written a daily critique of the reporting about a Democratic President yet. While I normally cringe at the irony of Fox's "Fair and Balanced" motto, you could argue in that simplistic sense that the "White House Briefing" column should be able to continue at least long enough to cover that hypothetical Democratic first term. Of course, I prefer that it continue on its own well-earned merits...

Thanks, and keep up the good fight!

Posted by: D Kerstetter | December 12, 2005 02:19 PM

I also look forward to Dan's blog everyday. One stop shopping for news from and about the WH and the name makes perfect sense to me. The thing I appreciate the most is the critical analysis of all the reporting and the links it provides. Are the print reporters miffed because they think its biased?? or because its so well read? The WH even reads it and offers rebuttals! This is what all online journalism/blogging SHOULD be. Keep it coming Dan. Your blog will be sorely missed while you are off on your deserved break to be with your family. Best of Luck!!!

Posted by: Seattlite | December 12, 2005 02:21 PM

Mr. Froomkin's is the only feature of the Post - consistently worth reading. How strange that the ombudsman feels compelled to criticize him while ignoring Bob Woodward. But then, I guess some people are untouchable. If I had pulled the stunt Woodward did on my job, I would have been out on my ear. One simply does not lie to one's superiors.

Posted by: Dennis | December 12, 2005 02:21 PM

To paraphrase Bill Moyers, is demanding accountability, honesty, and clarity from a president's administration strictly liberal values? Is it "liberal" to expect competence? The world sure has changed.

Posted by: CT | December 12, 2005 02:22 PM

White House Briefing is a must read for me everyday. I would like to know from the ombudsman exactly who is questioning Dan's work and in what context. Until she can be transparent in that regard, it sounds like sour grapes or bias on her and their part.

Posted by: Monica | December 12, 2005 02:22 PM

Ever since John Harris published his op-ed admitting he went easier on Bush than Gore because the right-wing spinsters handed him more material, John Harris has been illegitimate. So for him to criticize Froomkin is suspect. Now that Harris is a muckety-muck, he'd be better off making sure his reporters don't kowtow to the power elite in DC and instead uphold the watchdog function that is so fundamental to journalism. The whole world is watching.

Posted by: Lee | December 12, 2005 02:23 PM

The rest of the Post's White House team should read the last year of Froomkin's column to see what real reporting and analysis are. Froomkin has usually been way ahead of the curve of the "establishment" media, pointing out Bush's increasing unpopularity, for instance, long before it became acceptable in conventional media to talk about Bush's high rate of disapproval. This White House has taken stage craft, as applied to the Presidency, to a whole other level. The Washington Post, and much of the media, has until recently bought that stagecraft as reality, hook, line and sinker. Frookin should be rewarded, not marginalized, for pulling the curtain back on the Bush White House propaganda machine.

Posted by: RDB | December 12, 2005 02:24 PM

Nice job af afflicting the comfortable, Dan. Including Deborah Howell and some WaPo political reporters. The concern that Mr. Froomkin should be "balanced" for his "liberal"-ism is laughable, if not appalling. A a previous reader commented, accountability is not a liberal trait.

Posted by: Ken | December 12, 2005 02:24 PM

I often rely on Froomkin and Kurtz combined to get a grasp on many of the stories of the day, and the integrity of the reporting involved. While I believe it is possible to misconstrue irreverence for liberal bias, such irreverence is just as easily mistaken for conservative bias. Context is everything. I think the Ombudsman is really tilting at windmills in this particular instance.

Features such as White House Briefing are amongst the few innovations that still garner credibility for the MSM. Disingenous Woodwards who rest on their laurels, and reserve their news for book deal profits are the greatest threat to the Post's credibility.

Each day brings yet another revelation of facts witheld from the readers by reporters... That Howell could waste her time chasing this matter is laughable.

Posted by: Garrett | December 12, 2005 02:25 PM

The Post political writers should be taking notes from Froomkin rather than criticizing his column. Froomkin has the professionalism and courage to call things as he sees them and, in my time reading his column, makes it very clear what is commentary and what is news. The "even-handedness" of the Post political reporters seems to include both sides of a given policy no matter how bizarre or indefensible one side may be. That is truly a disservice to their readers unless accompanied by facts that demonstrate the the weakness of a certain argument. It has seemed to me for some time that reporters are far more concerned with getting a seat at the table rather than getting at the truth. It is a shame that the most critical check and balance of our democracy has become so cynically political. Keep it up, Dan.

Posted by: Dan Carroll | December 12, 2005 02:25 PM

I thought the purpose of the Ombudsman was to mediate between the paper and its readers. It seems a perversion of the function for the paper (through its political writers) to be going to the Ombudsman to complain about Froomkin. I can't believe the Ombudsman paid any attention. Or perhaps I feel this way because I enjoy Froomkin.

Posted by: cia | December 12, 2005 02:25 PM

Dan's column is the first thing I open when I sit down for Lunch. I adjusted my lunch schedule so that I can get it as soon as it comes out! I even know where to get it at 1pm, even if it is not linked on the Wash Po home page.

Dan's column gives the reader a quick snapshot of all that goes around and about the white house. Sounds to me "whitehouse briefing" aptly describes it. If you want have a sentence or two about this at the bottom of the colunn but do not change the name just to show that you are balanced. Shame on the reporters who can't take the heat. I guess the lack of accountability virus has spread from the white house to these reporters and to the editors who clamor for a pseudo "balance". Call a spade a spade, blame the person who did it for what they did, regardless if they are democrat or republican. But don't dilute and discuss about failings of a democrat when you are discussing about Duke Cunningham, for example. Because of this only, I no longer trust print media, I get my news from other sources as well so that no body can fool me. I saw how many in print media recently edited out the threats posed by the Bush administration to prevent former president Bill clinton from addressing, when they discussed the happenings in canada. In short, if Dan's column is compromised or dropped, I will kiss WashPo website a sweet good bye.

Keep up the good work Dan, you make my lunch that much more tastier!

Posted by: Ravishankar Palanivelu | December 12, 2005 02:27 PM

A good dose of skepticism and a healthy disregard for the establishment is what WHB represents.

I agree with other posts that point out the obvious - Bob Woodward needs closer scrutiny than Dan Froomkin.

Posted by: lost_in_austin | December 12, 2005 02:27 PM

Mr Froomkin's articles are more useful than normal because his sources are clearly marked in the links.

Unfortunately, many articles are now published with "senior official" or "person close to the investigation" references leaving the reader with mush for facts.

The odd remark or photo may be somewhat partisan, but it seem that the specific complaint is about the title, "White House Briefing". Seeing as the articles are a briefing about the White House activities, I have to conclude that the critisms are weak; especially as there is no proposed replacement title.

Posted by: A. Webb | December 12, 2005 02:29 PM

1st - The Ombudswoman and the editor should please read carefully and notice in Froomkin's by-line that it says "SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTONPOST.COM" Anyone familiar to news reporting or news photography would know that when the by-line reads, "special to..." it implies that the writer or photographer is doing work FOR that publication but may not work for them exclusively. Perhaps they are in need of a refresher on attribution.

2nd - Dan Froomkin's column is an essential part of my daily news reading and provides a fantastic amount of content in one place for me to go to check out and read further.

3rd - Asking for accountability does not equate with liberalism... Please stop with the Republican talking points and do your job as ombudswoman and editor and have your writers do due dilligence in their reporting and not just parrot the latest press release from the Bush White House.

The MSM (main-stream media, if you didn't know) has failed the American puplic with their lack of investigation and willingness to call out this administration's lies, spin and misrepresentation of facts and figures. Mr. Froomkin is a bright light compared with the likes of others, particularly people that work ON and FOR your newspaper (Bob Woodward).

Posted by: j.cro | December 12, 2005 02:30 PM

Dan Froomkin is a voice of reason and accountability at a time when the media has little taste for asking tough questions and tackling powerful interests. The comments by the Post's ombudsman and those high-minded, objective 'reporters' who fear that Froomkin might be mistaken for one of them point out what a spineless group so many of today's journalists are. Keep it up, Dan. History will find your blog one of the great primary documents of the Bush era. It proves not everyone was blind to the truth or afraid to tell it.

Posted by: Harry in SC | December 12, 2005 02:33 PM

Note to Ms. Howell:

I have noticed that sometimes the show "Washington Week in Review" discusses some subjects that did not in fact occur during the previous week or actually have something to do with cities other than Washington. Also, I bought a Mr. Coffee product and found out that it was not in fact made by a man named "Mr. Coffee" or a company started by the same. Similar to the situation you pointed out with Mr. Froomkin's column "Washington Briefing", it is all very disturbing. Please keep up the good work.

Posted by: John in New York | December 12, 2005 02:33 PM

With regard to Ms. Howell's column, I read Mr. Froomkin's White House Briefing blog every day and I find the title to be an absolutely accurate description of the content. As such, I find her comments to be patently stupid.

As a constant reader of White House Briefing for quite a long time, I also accept and endorse Mr. Froomkin's description of his perspective as being non-partisan and pro-accountability.

I think, unfortunately, Mr. Froomkin may suffer criticisms from Republicans under the same ideology that the recently deposed Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair Ken Tomlinson used when labeling shows on that network "liberal" --namely, that any content that did unquestioningly support the president was unacceptable.

I find it disturbing that the Washingtonpost.com appears to be subscribing to the same "Tomlinson" theory or at least showing cowardice in the face of such attacks. I caution Mr. Brady that adding a so-called conservative voice to Mr. Froomkin's slot is unnecessary and would cause this reader for one to go some place else.

If Mr. Brady were to buck up his gumption, he may realize that such attacks from Republicans upon Mr. Froomkin's work should be taken as an endorsement of his effectiveness as a journalist. You should be proud to have him on your staff.

You may get weak in the knees when the Republicans gripe about Mr. Froomkin, but this reader thinks it means he is doing his job. And I have no doubt that if John Kerry were president, Mr. Froomkin would being doing the same job.

This reader would also point out to Mr. Harris that, in my mind, Mr. Froomkin has more credibility than you or any or your so-called "real" White House correspondents. You should be proud to be associated with him and the level of work he produces and I think it may be good idea if you and your colleagues were to emulate Mr. Froomkin's sensibility and approach more often.

Posted by: B. Kahn | December 12, 2005 02:33 PM

Here is the conservative prism:

Accountability = Something Bad for the Administration

Something Something Bad for the Administration = Liberal Conspiracy

Magically drop the Something Bad for the Administration (Amazing how that happens huh?) and you get:

Accountability = Liberal Conspiricy

Nice and Simple!

Posted by: B | December 12, 2005 02:34 PM

This column is the best thing on the Washington Post website and a must read. The bias accusations are pathetic - I would expect something like that from Fox "News", not the Washington Post.

Posted by: Catherine Hance | December 12, 2005 02:35 PM

Froomkin's "White House Briefing" is essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand 1. what is going on behind the headlines and 2. the greater context in which ongoing news stories play out.

The media guru Neil Postman, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, bemoaned the degradation of American discourse into a world of decontextualized information -- thanks largely to the rise of television as our predominant medium for communication.

What the Internet does best is to subvert the packaging of news that television has led to -- and Froomkin, by compiling the day's news -- from all sources online -- with links to the stories themselves, subverts that decontextualization.

No one is without bias. We are humans, and bring to the table whatever we knew before.

But Froomkin can be seen as only a "liberal" writer only because the White House he is watching, like a hawk, is a Republican one.

It is the job of the fourth estate to hold those in power accountable to the people, by reporting and providing context and even analysis. Unfortunately, analysis these days does not go far enough toward contextualizing much of the news in the light of history.

That's why, during the runup to the invasion of Iraq, 70% of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the September 11 attacks.

That's why Americans belived wholeheartedly that Saddam Hussein was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, and that he constituted a dire and immediate threat to the U.S.

That's why the Bush Administration feels free to continue to argue that -- as Scott McClellan said last week -- "we were not in Iraq on September 11" -- when, in fact, we had been bombing anti-aircraft batteries in the no-fly zones only weeks before.

A world in which both sides of every story -- always a Republican and a Democratic side -- are always presented as equally valid is very dangerous.

It is a world in which we cannot discern right from wrong, truth from lies, or fact from fiction -- because both sides are always, always given equal credence.

If our next President happens to be a Democrat, I would expect Froomkin's coverage to be equally tenacious.

And if his current coverage of this Republican Administration is to be judged, it should be judged on its accuracy, and in its fairness to the truth -- not in its perceived lack of fairness to the party that controls the levers of federal power in their entirety.

Posted by: Richard B. Simon | December 12, 2005 02:37 PM

I understand Mrs. Howell's position on Dan's column - but only agree that it appears to have a liberal leaning "tint" due to the conservative agenda dominating the news today. By reporting about the blogosphere and also including Washington Post articles - Dan does a service to the news industry by patching together numerous viewpoints and keeping our government accountable. Times are changing and the American public expects our journalists to flex with the times. I believe Dan displays this well.

I would also like to point out that I'm sure the Washington Post's reading audience has grown with the influence of Dan's briefing. I for one visit and refer friends every day. I also appreciate that Dan is approachable - with his response to numerous emails I have sent - something that escapes a number of journalists today.

With Regards,
Ted Ellis

Posted by: Ted Ellis | December 12, 2005 02:38 PM

If Dan gets a chance to hold a liberal president accountable for his or her actions (and I hope he does!) and fails to do so, the ombudsman's "liberal" tag would have meaning. As it is, Deborah Howell has proved herself as uncritical as most of the Post's other employees who appear in print.

Posted by: Nicholas Mycroft | December 12, 2005 02:39 PM

I read the White House Briefing and Media Notes columns daily. These columns are one of the few news sources that, to me, feels unbiased.

Let the journalists who are complaining go work for Faux News. I'm sure they'll be very happy there.

Posted by: Dave G | December 12, 2005 02:39 PM

viva la froomkin

Posted by: t.serowik | December 12, 2005 02:41 PM

I read Dan's column daily as well. I think the Post is looking to deflect attention from the balls its dropped with this administration. Dan's goal, it seems to me, is to inform and keep everyone honest. Maybe those who don't like his column are threatened when he hits a little too close to home? Keep up the incredible work, Dan.

Posted by: Jodi B. | December 12, 2005 02:42 PM

I've read the Washington Post since high school, when Woodward and Bernstein were breaking Watergate. As long as I lived in Washington I subscribed to the paper. Now in Denver I have washingtonpost.com. Why? Because of Froomkin's "White House Briefing."

So I read with some astonishment ombudsman Howell writing, among other things: "the Web site should remove the 'White House Briefing' label from Froomkin's column."

Nonsense. "Briefing" is exactly the right title for Froomkin's column, where news-hungry readers are in fact briefed through a host of links and Froomkin's helpful analytical framework on the day's White House reporting.

In short, it stands shoulder to shoulder (if not dwarfing) the print-edition reporters, like the irritable lapdog John Harris.

Give me the steady watchdog Froomkin any day--well, Monday through Friday. We Froomkin readers take what we can get.

Posted by: Kris Stoever | December 12, 2005 02:43 PM

It took me all of 1 reading of his daily posting that he is not a White House "reporter." Deborah and John, don't worry about how Dan Froomkin impacts your credibility. Worry about how you do.

And Dan, please let me point out: "I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny."

What about he or SHE?

Posted by: Post.com reader | December 12, 2005 02:46 PM

Out here in the 'hinterlands' of western Pennsylvania, we appreciate what Dan Froomkin is doing. He was one of the few voices keeping tabs on the Valerie Plame watch during the quiet months of Fitzgerald's investigation. Oh wait, I guess Bob Woodward was also keeping tabs - to protect his "access" to the White House which provides readers with a fraction of the substance that Mr. Froomkin's column does.

Posted by: Independent Pittsburgher | December 12, 2005 02:46 PM

who else actually quotes, sometimes at length, the daily white house press gaggle?

who else (on your white house beat) links to a story covered by the 'left' and 'right'?

who else tries to hold this administration accountable? (in the WaPo or elsewhere)?

and, lastly, with the likes of Krauthammer, Will, Cohen, and their ilk, some perspective from stuff other thatn the far-right is kinda welcome.

oh wait... maybe Dan should be more like Bob Woodward, and worry more about the bottom line, and his own profile, instead of holding your criminal american executive (and legislative) cabal to account

hey Deborah, we all know you ahve to do your corporate dance, but tell those fine folks on the white house beat to do their job or risk getting plowed over by a real, critical journalist.

keep up the good work, dan

-dave

Posted by: dave in toronto | December 12, 2005 02:47 PM

Out here in the 'hinterlands' of western Pennsylvania, we appreciate what Dan Froomkin is doing. He was one of the few voices keeping tabs on the Valerie Plame watch during the quiet months of Fitzgerald's investigation. Oh wait, I guess Bob Woodward was also keeping tabs - to protect his "access" to the White House which provides readers with a fraction of the substance that Mr. Froomkin's column does.

Posted by: Independent Pittsburgher | December 12, 2005 02:47 PM

Go Dan! Kick the democrat president's butt, when we have one. Don't kiss every bottom for a buck like Woodward.

SH

Posted by: SH, Philly, PA | December 12, 2005 02:49 PM

I enjoy reading Dan's work every day. I find it informative and engaging, plus it provides links that I can find additional information on the subject. Nothing's parsed from a reporter or editor's viewpoint. Change the name if you want, but keep Dan's column the way it is. Those complaining reporters need to spit it out in the open and explain what their problem with it is. To be an anonymous source is not a highly regarded trait in my book.

Posted by: jenniferm | December 12, 2005 02:49 PM

It's interesting to observe the Ombudsman for the Washington Post fall into the classic "ad hominem" rhetorical fallacy. Ms. Howell's issue appears to the _motive_ for Mr. Froomkin's critical perspective, and the equation seems to be that, since his perspective on the Bush administration is critical, he must be "liberal." Isn't the only valid issue whether his views--or those of the sources to which he refers--are accurate? Aren't there self-described conservatives who make similar criticisms of President Bush and his policies? Mr. Froomkin seems to me to be an example of honest journalism, and the Post needs more of it, not less. Mr. Froomkin won't be receiving any favors or special access from the Bush administration, and I trust him much more because of that.

Posted by: Robert | December 12, 2005 02:50 PM

Froomkin wrote, "There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column."

Against whom should he direct his irreverence? Should he make irreverent comments about bills passed which the Democrats sponsored and signed into law? Should he be irreverent about Democratic judicial, cabinet and sub-cabinet appointments? Should he be irreverent about the way Democratic policy regarding Iraq has been planned and executed? Should he be irreverent about the planning and execution of Democratic fiscal policy? Should he be irreverent towards those in power, or those out of power?

Posted by: Bubba Ram Dos | December 12, 2005 02:51 PM

John Harris is threatened by Froomkin because Harris is transparently pro-Republican. Harris should go work for Fox News.

Posted by: dgbm | December 12, 2005 02:52 PM

By appearing on the washingtonpost.com site, Dan Froomkin ADDS to the rapidly declining credibility of the Washington Post. The Post is lucky to be associated with Froomkin. He provides a fantastic service to your readers. His daily anthology is essential reading for those interested in the chief excutive of the federal government. I have never read Froomkin as either liberal or conservative. His "agenda" is to pursue and promote ACCOUNTABILITY. (That used to be what all reporters, journalists and editorialist were concerned with.) I often get the feeling that with ad space to fill and new books to sell, well, the quant notion of "accountability" is often relegated down the list of priorities at the Washington Post. The WaPo's criticism of Froomkin only reinforces that perception.

Posted by: Bum in Atlanta | December 12, 2005 02:52 PM

Each afternoon, I look forward to spending 15 minutes getting my daily briefing. As a liberal, I thoroughly enjoy reading a critical analysis of the Bush White House, but I expect that if we were to have a change in leadership that Froomkin would be just as critical, as would I.

Posted by: Rishi | December 12, 2005 02:53 PM

As a politics/news junkie Dan Froomkin's White House Breifing is my crack.

Posted by: Matthew G. | December 12, 2005 02:53 PM

Froomkin's WH Briefing is day in day out the best part of the Washington Post - a pity that it is only online. Would the little boy who said the Emperor Has No Clothes be labelled "liberal" - I would think it is truth telling. Currently there is ample material for real "investigation" that WP reporters could sink their teeth in (Dana Priest is doing a good job), but so much of the news seems just to be reporting from talking points. I don't consider Froomkin an investigative journalist but more as someone providing analysis and pointing out contradictions through his links to original source. He was the first in the MSM to report on Bush's bubble during the Social Security Town Meetings that were invitation only and rehearsed questions, all paid for by taxpayers. Now Newsweek brings it up. I would call his function more as a "watchdog" and I am certain that it would apply to Democratic administrations.

Posted by: Phyllis Sato | December 12, 2005 02:54 PM

Dan is my favorite columnist in Washington Post Website. Infact he is the sole reason for my logging on to Washingtonpost.com every day. If he were not there, I will probably visit the site once in a while. News I can get from Reuters, with a publication like Post, opinions and analysis is what I am looking for. Also, I love the various resources Dan mentions, as a result my political reading and IQ have gone up a notch. May be other washington Post reporters are a tiny bit jealous.

Posted by: Neerja In DC | December 12, 2005 02:54 PM

Somebody has to try to keep people honest. Rather than look to change Froomkin's column title, approach, or style, how's about we take a closer look at the reporters who are complaining about him. As Woodward can probably tell you, they're just worried about their access, which begets them fame, which begets them book deals, which begets them forture, which begets them a place in the news that they are supposedly covering not participating in (See the WP stories on Brian Williams today--12/12/05).

Froomkin has more guts and interest in true objective reporting than anybody else out there. You know, sometimes there actually are right and wrong sides to an issue--something most other journalists have forgotten in their way-misguided attempts to present every story in equal balance--and Froomkin is smart, professional, and brave enough to know that and write about it.

It's good that Deborah Howell and the Post Editorial board are finally looking inward, but how about a editorial critical of Woodward or some of the lap-dog White House reporters who didn't blink an eye when Bush and his cabal were ramming the falsified justifications for war down our throats eh?

Leave Froomkin alone to do the people's business.

Posted by: TruthMaker | December 12, 2005 02:54 PM

I'm a big fan and I always look forward to reading your daily column/blog.

But, due to the blog nature of White House Briefing and the conclusion a new reader might conclude from the all-encompassing title, changing the name may be appropriate. However, changing the critical tone of the Bush Administration in the WHB is not appropriate. A concurring tone is best left to those who know best - White House reporters.

Posted by: Another Dan | December 12, 2005 02:54 PM

How can Harris say this with a straight face after the Woodward revelations?

"John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset -- our credibility" as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column "that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display.""


Face it, John, your paper has very little credibility left. Or has Woodward been fired without any public notice?

Posted by: Holden Caulfield | December 12, 2005 02:54 PM

The new Washington Post's omdudsman appears to embody
all that I find so innane about a majority of journalists
these days. These people are more concerned about being
"balanced" than about reporting a story as they see it. Mr.
Fromkin is an exception. If anyone needs to be replaced
it should be the ombudsman herself.

Posted by: disgusted | December 12, 2005 02:54 PM

Harris and you have it backwards: Froomkin adds to the Washington Post's credibility. I never thought of him as liberal only as an authentic purveyor of finding the truth, seeking to hold the White House accountable as only a small minion have the courage to do, unsplicing the spin of the Bush administration's sludge pipe of relentless propaganda. (I ain't no liberal either!, don't you dare.)

I also take offense at your statement: "Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" ... Why don't you name them? How many are there? Why won't they come forward? Who are your sources? ...

Since you asked, the only complaint I have is that the link to Froomkin's WHB doesn't appear on the web homepage automatically every day. Sometimes it's hard to find. Could this be because you're trying to bury it?

The stuff in Froomkin's column, frankly - there's no place else to get that kind of information in the detail he provides, with quotes and links. Certainly not in the WP print edition. Somebody's gotta keep score.

Posted by: Howie | December 12, 2005 02:55 PM

Froomkin Uber Alles !!!

Posted by: Taxpaying Citizen | December 12, 2005 02:55 PM

Repeating the talking points of the administration may well be a form of objectivity. But I fail to see how the American people benefit by our major news organizations being nothing more than an "objective" conduit for propaganda.

Froomkin's column is the primary reason that I read washingtonpost.com.

Posted by: Richard Russell | December 12, 2005 02:55 PM

I agree with Matt G - Froomkin is my crack, as well ...

... and the day they need to add a "conservative blogger" to his column is the day they need to add Atrios to George W's column or Daily Kos to Charles K's ...

Posted by: Exiled in CT | December 12, 2005 02:56 PM

How typical of today's media: The ombudsman writes about what the Post's reporters think about their readers, rather than what the readers actually say. There once was a time when an ombudsman was the intermediary between the readers and the paper. Now, sadly, the ombudsman simply exists so that the elite writers can tell the readers what we think.

Tell you what, Ms. Howell, as soon as Mr. Froomkin's White House Briefings stops being just about the most popular feature of washingtonpost.com, change it. To his credit, I have no idea if Mr. Froomkin is a liberal. But I do know that he poses the questions that today's timid, access thirsty media celebrities no longer have the guts to ask.

Posted by: adam | December 12, 2005 02:56 PM

I also find that a nice complementary blend to Dan Froomkin and Howard Kurtz is Dana Milbank's Washington Sketch. When Dan and Howard are off, I end up hopping that Dana wrote something to help satisfy the "urge". (It would be nice of Dana had a daily blog.)

Posted by: Leon | December 12, 2005 02:56 PM

Here is what the problem is:
"Some Post reporters don't appreciate that links are put on the Web site to what bloggers are saying about this or that story -- especially when the bloggers are highly negative."

There is a difference in people being negative and people pointing out inaccuracies. If they are negative, so what!!!!! There is, I believe, an organized effort out in the web world to portray news stories that don't fit some opinions in a bad light. That is politics in 2005 whether we like it or not. Ignore it, newspaper people!!!!

If bloggers are pointing out inaccuracies in reporting--embrace it!!!!

Posted by: Missourian | December 12, 2005 02:57 PM

The question is, is he fair? Yes, he is liberal. But so what?

Why is there such a sense of false equivalence at the Post and elsewhere? I mean the sense that objectivity and impartiality consist solely of ensuring an equal number of positive and negative statements?

That is not objectivity, or impartiality, or anything else any reporter should strive for. Most conservative commentators, some dishonest, some unfair, and some fair, don't even pretend to be impartial. Yet every single voice who is not right wing must somehow be balanced by a conservative.

This double standard is the result of hard work by many conservatives over many years, and it cheapens the Post to yeild to it.

Posted by: Chris | December 12, 2005 02:57 PM

Froomkin's column is one of the best columns available for summaries of the
various goings on in the WH and Washington.
It is the best anthology in print and one
of the main reasons I read the Post every
day.

Posted by: James Tynes | December 12, 2005 02:57 PM

Froomkin's column is a great one-stop roundup, one of the best things on the WP website. The vaunted standards of "objectivity" by WP reporters have been so compromised by Woodward and the cozy relationship the Washington press corps has with its sources that Froomkin's approach shines by comparison.

Posted by: sms | December 12, 2005 02:57 PM

Froomkin is great!! He's a pit bull, and we don't have many left these days. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that DF would be just as critical and probing to a White House run by a Democrat, Independant, Green, Whig, Muppet, etc.

The sooner the "liberal" boogeyman stops being bandied about the moment anyone questions policy (or lack thereof), the better.

Remember, WaPo, it's okay to ask questions.

Really.

Posted by: Nate | December 12, 2005 02:58 PM

Repeating the talking points of the administration may well be a form of objectivity. But I fail to see how the American people benefit by our major news organizations being nothing more than an "objective" conduit for propaganda.

Froomkin's column is the primary reason that I read washingtonpost.com.

Posted by: Richard Russell | December 12, 2005 02:58 PM

Keep up the good work, Dan! Frankly, your blog would be MORE interesting to me if it had MORE of your own assessments and comments in it, and less of the other reporters you quote at length.

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 02:59 PM

First, let me voluntarily declare that I am a conservative. Let me add, however, that I am also a rational empiricist who appreciates the reporting found in the NYT, WP, and on NPR (but don't let the RNC know or my party membership might be revoked).

I enjoy both Froomkin and Kurtz's columns on almost a daily basis and, as many have attested, miss them sorely during any hiatus.

Froomkin may or may not be liberal, but he is certainly professional - a trait that should matter far more than ideology when judging reporters.

Posted by: Pragmatist | December 12, 2005 02:59 PM

Since when is it "liberal" to observe the president and his administration closely, and "conservative" to look the other way? Froomkin rightly reminds us all, including the current adminstration, that our "CEO" president works for us, not the other way around.

We're not the employees, we're the stockholders.

Posted by: Ellen in Newport Beach | December 12, 2005 03:00 PM

I wouldn't miss Dan's column on a bet. He provides such a welcome respite from the cacophony of the right-wing noise machine. As a lifelong liberal who has suffered in increasing frustration at the utter lack of a voice - of a response to counter that noisy bunch and their campaigns of disinformation, Dan provides a service the mainstream media long ago sold out on. The lack of accountability of the president, lack of oversight of this Congress, and the far too cozy relationship of the White House, Congress, and the MSM compels the intelligent reader to be thankful when reading a column like Dan's.

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 12, 2005 03:00 PM

Dan, Please forward all of the above comments to the Ombudsman. I will certainly
Stop reading the Washington Post if they start to filter your column!

Jim Snowden
Sgt. Major (Ret.)

Posted by: James Snowden | December 12, 2005 03:01 PM

The ONLY reason I visit the Washington Post website is DAN FROOMKIN's Whitehouse Briefing. From there, I may move to other columns and articles. But if it weren't for DAN FROOMKIN I wouldn't even bother visiting the Washington Post online. Without Froomkin, I certainly wouldn't have the WaPo bookmarked for my daily visit.

Deborah Howell and John Harris' reaction to Dan Froomkin's Whitehouse Briefing CONFIRM what his readers have known all along: He's doing something RIGHT!

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 03:01 PM

Best column on the Website. Period.

In the interest of "balance" many of the Washington Post types refuse to correctly identify a lie as a lie or a dodge as a dodge. Froomkin is absolutely right on the money with most of his criticisms of the people currently in power.

At least he isn't trading his credibility for "access" as a certain reporter who shall, of course, remain nameless. (*cough*Woodward!*cough*)

Posted by: J. Crozier | December 12, 2005 03:01 PM

Dan Froomkin's is one of the most readable columns available. Everything is supported by links. He is as accountable to his readers as the President should be to this country. If the "real reporters" at the Post are upset by his column it must be because they are thin-skinned, or because they aren't doing their jobs.

Posted by: julia heavey | December 12, 2005 03:02 PM

I'd like to add my comments to those of my fellow bloggers regarding Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" column. I too consider it "must-read" material, and I never fail to make reading his marvelous column an integral part of my daily schedule. I do not consider Mr. Froomkin to be "liberal"; rather, he's the closest thing to "fair and balanced" in terms of political reporting that your website has....

Mr. Froomkin makes a point of providing the provenance for all of the links he includes in his daily column, and if trying to hold this--or any other--Administration accountable for its actions is considered "liberal bias," then so be it. His articles on the continued policy of the President's advance-team regarding inclusion of only like-minded individuals as spectators at Presidential events, and the refusal of the White House to let the President's Press Secretary to speak candidly, openly and honestly with reporters on the White House beat, should be noted and considered fair game for any and all political observers and/or writers.

I do not find the title of Mr. Froomkin's column at all confusing, nor do I think that it, or his work, infringes on the turf of the political reporters who work for The Washington Post's Print Edition. I respectfully ask that you continue to allow Mr. Froomkin to conduct his fine work for the online edition of The Post in the manner that he has done since the inception of his column. He performs a valuable public service for all readers, but especially for "political junkies" like me, who have little time to go hunting for all of the materials he so helpfully consolidates into one fine daily column. WE NEED OUR DAILY "DAN" FIX!!

On a personal note, I too offer my congratulations to Dan on the impending birth of his baby, and my best wishes to him and to his family for the best of holiday seasons. Thank you for taking the time to read this....!!

A loyal fan --

Posted by: Anne | December 12, 2005 03:03 PM

I read the Washington Post for two reasons: White House Briefing and The Fix.

Posted by: Gabe | December 12, 2005 03:03 PM

I think any confusion is on the part of the Post's White House reporters, who seem to think they have any credibility to lose.

Posted by: Chris Armour | December 12, 2005 03:05 PM

Even when I have been too busy to read everything else in the morning, I never miss Froomkin's column. I know the difference between his "White House Briefing" and ABC's "The Note."

Perhaps Ms. Howell is too new to understand her position. Or perhaps she thinks she is working for the Washington Times.

Thank you, Dan, for your columns!

Posted by: LJP | December 12, 2005 03:06 PM

I agree, this column brings me to the Washington Post website. Fantastic column - don't change a thing.

Posted by: Emily Braman | December 12, 2005 03:06 PM

Geez, seems that Dan wins this fight by knock-out!

Froomkin and Kurtz offer a unique and high quality product to the online readers. Who cares about the title of their columns? The content is first class, and that's what matters.

Posted by: Emilio | December 12, 2005 03:06 PM

If the Washington Post takes ANY adverse action against Dan Froomkin and his "Whitehouse Briefing" it will be cutting off its nose to spite its face.

In the wake of the WaPo's failure to provide sustained coverage of the infinite legal/ethical crises in the federal government (including but not limited to pre-war coverage, Plame investigation coverage, and, oh yeah, Bob Woodward's 'ethical malfeasance'), the last thing the WaPo needs to do is hassle the only guy anywhere near the place who places a value on ACCOUNTABILITY in government!

Posted by: The Big Hurt | December 12, 2005 03:07 PM

Froomkin's column is the best feature of WaPo online. Please tell the White House reporters to aspire to his level of analysis.

PS: Please put Woodward out to pasture since he is only a negative presence at WaPo.

Posted by: Jim Willigan | December 12, 2005 03:07 PM

To Ms. Howell: I find your criticisms of Dan Froomkin's columns both disturbing and troubling. Mr. Froomkin seems to be the main one at the Post.com who tries to hold this Administration accountable for its words and its actions. Criticisms by White House journalists at the Post who have failed through 5 years to hold this Administration accountable hold little weight with me. In fact, Mr. Woodward is a fine example of exactly what has been wrong with media coverage of this Administration since September 11th - spending more time in bed with this Administration than seeking to air its dirty laundry. I fear the mainstream media, under the influence of the power brokers, has abrogated its responsibilities to the American people and to the people of the world. While this made sense for a brief period after September 11th, the continuing exploitation of this pathetic media refusal to ask questions when questions are urgently needed has led to the failure to address abuses such as Abu Ghraib, the CIA renditions, and the deaths now being caused by this Administration's insistence on disastrously ineffective ideological approaches to the struggle against AIDS. Why aren't Post reporters addressing these issues more aggressively rather than passively accepting the pronouncements of a repeatedly discredited White House, which in turn has shamed the United States before the world. Before you seek to attack Mr. Froomkin, please turn your criticisms on yourself and your colleagues who have failed to live up to the standards of journalism of the past. Would that there were more modern versions of Edward R. Murrow out there today who dared to ask the tough questions.

Posted by: T Brown | December 12, 2005 03:09 PM

I'd say "Ditto" to the comments above, but I think that word has already been taken by a group of folks.

I enjoy reading Dan's column every day, and hate when he takes a break from writing it.

Deborah Howell is just flat-out wrong. When did it become liberal to point out factual errors, undo official spin, and approach the news with the idea that there truly are facts as opposed to just sides of a story? Where did we ever get to the point where journalists disregard the concept of facts and become unquestioning stenographers?

The answer here is not to add a conservative columnist. That's insane. You take Dan - a neutral, albeit critical, voice and "balance" his voice with one from the far-right? That's not balance, it's tilting.

I'd have liked to have read Dan's column during the Clinton years - I'm 100% sure his reporting during Lewinsky, Gays-In-The-Military, the Health Care Debacle, TravelGate, etc. would have caused lots of heartburn for that administration.

Perhaps Deborah Howell's ink could be used more properly. I've got an idea for next week's column, since she obviously can use the help. In a recent "The Fix" posting, Chris Cilliza's editor amended his column. Why? Because this editor thought that Chris'list of recent Congressional scandals featured too many Republicans as opposed to Democrats. So, the editor decided to add in some older Democratic scandals - facts be damned.

Maybe that should be the new Post motto. It'd look great on the masthead.

"Facts be damned" - Anonymous

Posted by: DBJ | December 12, 2005 03:09 PM

Froomkin's blog acts as a central clearing house for critical reporting. Without it, these referenced articles are like lone voices in the wilderness. Bound together in his column, they provide a very powerful resource. It's the very essence of the value of the Internet, to gather individually reported tidbits into a central theme to provide a coherent total picture that counterbalances the propaganda. Which is then accessable to the masses. I can't think of a more fundamental service then Froomkin provides to journalism, and helping to sustain our democracy, a la the responsibility of the fourth estate. With the pervasiveness of Fox News, Clear Channel, and 'talk' radio coupled with the layoffs of new reporters to boost newspapers' profits, Froomkin may end up being the last place we can go to access this stuff.

Posted by: Paul | December 12, 2005 03:14 PM

Does anyone else feel like the ombudsman has just called us all stupid? It is completely obvious to anyone who reads Dan's column what his column is about, there is no confusion. We're not idiots, we can read and comprehend, and we know the difference between Dan and White House reporters.

Dan doesn't take whatever Scott McClellan dishes out and repeat it verbatim, he actually analyzes the news and provides references to support his work in the way of plenty of links. Dan Froomkin is one of the few journalists who still treats his readers as though we have reading skills and want more information. He's the only columnist I know of that makes it exciting to read about political news. His frankness and quest for accountability set his work apart from opinionated editorials and dry news. He backs up his opinions with research, keeping himself and his own work accountable to his readers. There is no other column like his.

As for the "highly opinionated and liberal" accusation, that's unfair. Any watchdog organazition will earn the liberal monikor simply because we currently have a conservative president. If we had a liberal president, Dan would suddenly get the "highly opinionated and conservative" accusation.

Dan's column is something the Post should be proud of and should promote, not something the ombudsman should interfere with.

Posted by: Mary K | December 12, 2005 03:15 PM

I print and take Dan's column with me to launch every day. Even on vacation in Africa, I make sure I locate an internet cafe where I can access it. The ombudsman's attempt to meddle with Dan's invaluable work is unacceptable. Keep it coming Dan, and best wishes to your family.

Posted by: Julius Wamey | December 12, 2005 03:15 PM

I concur with the comments above, and am truly surprised that this column, which draws me to washingtonpost.com and led me to tell others that it is ten times better than the New York Times on the Web, would draw comments like those made by the Ombudsman. I have never thought that Mr. Froomkin was a Post reporter (he's always been very clear about that). While I thought his column was always about the media briefings at the White House when I first started reading it (since most of them were, in fact about those briefings) it soon became very clear to me that the column often went beyond those briefings.

Frankly, the most valuable thing his column has done for me is to introduce me to the transcripts of the White House media briefings. Before his column, I didn't know such things existed.

Don't tamper with Mr. Froomkin's column, please.

Posted by: R.C.M. Scott | December 12, 2005 03:15 PM

Howell's attitude is a perfect, albeit depressing, example of everything that's wrong with the media today. She thinks that any commentary has to be "balanced" without any regard to the merits of what's being said. What if the president really is incompetent? What if one party actually controls all three branches of government? What if 60% of Americans think their president is doing a bad job? How far should the media go to preserve its artificial balance? Should they flat-out lie? Should they ignore, say, 50% of the negative stuff they should be reporting? This is all just another game of blame the messenger.

And Howell's proposed solution is absurd. Since Dan's column takes a critical view of the White House, I guess the balancing "conservative" column would do what, exactly? Not approach things critically? Ignore the facts? Maybe it could post links to the RNC and White House press releases every day. Other than embarrassing conservatives and the Post, I'm not sure what that would accomplish.

Posted by: Andy | December 12, 2005 03:16 PM

What DBJ said:

"Perhaps Deborah Howell's ink could be used more properly. I've got an idea for next week's column, since she obviously can use the help. In a recent "The Fix" posting, Chris Cilliza's editor amended his column. Why? Because this editor thought that Chris'list of recent Congressional scandals featured too many Republicans as opposed to Democrats. So, the editor decided to add in some older Democratic scandals - facts be damned."

WaPo editors are being cowed by the powerful--from within and without. Witness Howell's risible and facts-be-damned ombudsman reporting on Froomkin.

Posted by: Kris Stoever | December 12, 2005 03:18 PM

I concur. Froomkin's "White House Briefing" is:

* crack to me
* a 'must-read' every day
* nearly the sole reason I come to the site every day
* always at or ahead of the curve
* terribly missed the days he's away

Posted by: Bill | December 12, 2005 03:18 PM

The Washington Post is fortunate to have Dan Froomkin on their website. I have never read him as a 'liberal', and as someone who's no longer in DC every day, I appreciate having his insight and context available on issues that affect our lives.

I am dumbfounded that in this day and age the WaPo ombudsman, of all people, would use unsourced references to WaPo 'political reporters', complaining about 'somebody's unhappiness. For a newspaper who built a reputation on speaking truth to power during Watergate, this is a new low. Maybe it's becoming too uncomfortable at WaPo to have an intelligent commentator being read by an intelligent readership, who then wonders why most of the rest of the paper's reporting is no longer newsworthy.

Froomkin is no liberal -- he's reflecting what the average, aware American is saying to himself as he looks at this Administration -- 'How are they getting away with all that, and why doesn't anyone care?'

Posted by: Clare | December 12, 2005 03:19 PM

If the Washington Post had any sense, they'd be praising Mr. Froomkin for the excellent, must-read column that he writes, not using the obsbudsman to slam him with straw men.

Ms. Howell, I suggest you stop worrying so much about White House talking points and start worrying more about Mr. Woodward, whose journalism free work is dragging this paper into the toilet. Not to mention the many, many lame stenographers you have on staff who do a fine job of reciting those talking points, but a terrible one on fact-checking, accountability or actual balance: Exactly the type of work done so very well by Mr. Froomkin.

Posted by: Daily Reader | December 12, 2005 03:19 PM

A rose by any other name, right? Call it whatever you want to, but Dan Froomkin's column is a major reason this site is my primary news source (Media Notes Extra is another). He's providing a vital public service, and one that "real reporters" aren't adequately giving us. He may have a certain edge to his writings, but his readers know that he would use the exact same approach if there were a Democrat in the White House.

Posted by: Justin Gaines | December 12, 2005 03:21 PM

For my money, Froomkin is the best thing about the Washington Post, and possibly the best single news blog on the internet. The nice thing about Froomkin is that you have no doubts about where his loyalties: he sides with the ordinary reader. In these days of all-too-cozy relationships between the media and the government (did someone mention Bob Woodward...?) Froomkin is a throwback to the days when a reporter actually held the government's feet to the fire. I have no doubt he'd be doing the same if the Dems were in the White House. No wonder the Post's whipped-puppy political writers don't like him.

It's also probably why Ms. Howell doesn't like him. I've noticed for some time that these so-called "readers representatives" are actually stalking horses for the interests of the publisher. They only pretend to advocate for the reader and certainly don't interact with the readers much. Her column is so hidden from the readers of the online Post you'd need a hunting dog and a Ouija board just to find it.

Posted by: Brent Zenobia | December 12, 2005 03:22 PM

Finding out that Dan Froomkin isn't technically a WaPo journalist just makes me think less of the WaPo itself.

Posted by: Mike | December 12, 2005 03:24 PM

I join in the chorus of readers singing Dan's praises. I would never have stayed a loyal reader of wapo.com, and never have found the wonderful daily chats and Kurtz's media notes, without Fromkin's column.

Personally, I was much more confused about Dana Milbanks switch to acerbic observational commentary, than about Dan's WHB.

The content is clearly in the opinion section, and clearly marked as a blog on the home page. The about WHB box has a personal sounding comment from Dan himself, there is no way to mis-read this info as WH reporter's coverage.

In addition to that, there are detailed explainations by Dan in his chats at least once every couple of months based on a posted question about his afiliation, with the paper, or if he sits in at the briefings or whatever.

If only more purveyors of info in the MSM dished out the links, (often directly to the source of the info itself) being commented on.

I can do the leg work of reading more details myself, and making my own informed jusgements, after getting my daily (and SOURCED) Briefing from Dan.

Don't let them get you down, Dan! And my very best wishes to you and your family.

Clifton House

Posted by: C House | December 12, 2005 03:25 PM

To the Ombudsman:

I was amazed to see you attack Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing Column. Mr. Froomkin is doing what I thought all reporters were trained to do, i.e. examine the statements coming from the White House either directly or in other news sources and see if these statements are supported by facts. It is inconceivable to me that at a time when everyone is trying to figure out if the White House lied us into war, that you would attack the Post's only clear voice on the side of truth, not spin.

Perhaps your regular White House beat reporters are concerned because their sources are upset that someone is actually looking for the facts and not accepting whatever pabulum the sources are dishing that day.

Wake Up - Dan Froomkin's reporting is what journalism is supposed to be.

Posted by: Ruth Best | December 12, 2005 03:26 PM

I am a daily reader of Froomkin's column/blog. Froomkin is extremely insightful and analytical, always searching for accountability and transparency. He has said multiple times in his live discussions that his approach would be the same regardless of the political affiliation of the president. He demonstrates each day his intelligence and command of the many subjects and sources involved. I have no reason to doubt that the structure of his column/blog is apolitical with regards to party affiliation. It is a pity that the ombuds and the people referred to in her column as being at odds with Froomkin's work are being so short-sighted and simplistic. If anything, it is a missed opportunity that Froomkin is not featured in the print version of the POst and that the lessons he expounds upon daily are not better integrated by the reporters who cover the White House!

Posted by: Boston | December 12, 2005 03:32 PM

The assumption that Frromkin is liberal is a symptom of unfortunate reasoning: Criticizing a member of one party without equally criticizing a member of the other party (who may be completely extraneous to the conversation at hand) equals partisanship.

I can't remember any time Froomkin has endorsed or criticized any specific matter of policy from a partisan view. When he does criticize, it is usually an analysis of what somebody has said. How is that partisan?

If somebody is unresponsive or misleading, and has a long track record of being so, how is that partisan? It has nothing to do with the specifics of their political beliefs. Neither does criticizing it.

Would the conservative counterpoint blog they want to create simply try to claim that the administration is open and informative in it's communication? Basically lying? How does that even the scales?

Posted by: Doug | December 12, 2005 03:32 PM

I am a daily reader of Froomkin's column/blog. Froomkin is extremely insightful and analytical, always searching for accountability and transparency. He has said multiple times in his live discussions that his approach would be the same regardless of the political affiliation of the president. He demonstrates each day his intelligence and command of the many subjects and sources involved. I have no reason to doubt that the structure of his column/blog is apolitical with regards to party affiliation. It is a pity that the ombuds and the people referred to in her column as being at odds with Froomkin's work are being so short-sighted and simplistic. If anything, it is a missed opportunity that Froomkin is not featured in the print version of the POst and that the lessons he expounds upon daily are not better integrated by the reporters who cover the White House!

Posted by: Jill | December 12, 2005 03:33 PM

As a life long conservative, and a former Republican since 2000, I find Dan Froomkin neither liberal nor conservative. I find him honest, candid, thoughtful and accurate. The same goes for William Arkin and his "early warning." Both are essential reading for any person who wants to be informed, and wants something beyond the ill-informed hate speech that dominates both the left and right.

Posted by: Paul | December 12, 2005 03:33 PM

I'm addicted to Froomkin's column. My day isn't complete without reading it. Thank you Dan and thank you The Washington Post for making this insightful column available.

Posted by: Nick K | December 12, 2005 03:34 PM

When I read Dan Froomkin's posts I get the happy sensation that I'm hearing from someone who is fearless and genuine. Sadly, I get that no where else. Where else can you find someone encouraging journalists to step up to the plate? I can't help wondering about his detractor's motivations....

Posted by: SMX | December 12, 2005 03:36 PM

Cheers for Dan Froomkin and for White House Briefing. I read Ms. Howell's column yesterday and wanted to scream for so many reasons. What DOESN'T she get wrong here? She misuses her position by channeling the editors. She fails to appreciate the real value the Internet brings to both the WaPo and its readers. (Hey, did you know the Web's purpose is as a great place to post long documents like presidential speeches?) And, of course, she miserably misconstrues Dan Froomkin whose loyal and well-deserved readership no doubt surpasses any possessed by the vaunted "political writers" she anonymously cites. We are loyal to Froomkin not because he represents any partisan viewpoint but because he uses his critical faculties to assess what those in power do and say--faculties so gravely lacking in the timid, "he said/he said" news stories we have come to expect from most of the WaPo staff writers. Dan, keep doing what you are doing, you are a must-read for so many of us. And, Ms. Howell--please go back and take the course you missed, Ombudsmanship 101. Maybe, like Viveca Nivak, you can ask for a "do-over." You are supposed to be our voice, but if we could we would say, "you're fired."

Posted by: abc | December 12, 2005 03:37 PM

I am surprised by the omsbudsman's criticism of "White House Briefing" as a liberal column. In my experience reading it daily over the past two years, I find it anything BUT. Dan frequently links to blogs and articles on both sides of the fence in an effort to uncover "the truth" on behalf of his readers. It's an invaluable service, and one that more reporters and columnists should emulate -- not criticize.

I agree with earlier posters that Dan (and his unofficial counterpart, Howie Kurtz) have opened new worlds to me and turned me on to invaluable sources of information and thought-provoking discusssions from across the political spectrum. What's more, both almost always accurately characterize the articles, opinions, etc. they link to. It's an admirable quality, but one that's not as common as you'd hope among other sites that perform a similar "information gathering" role.

Dan is the primary reason that Washingtonpost.com is an essential part of my daily information diet. Please don't screw that up by messing with his column.

Posted by: Eric | December 12, 2005 03:37 PM

Washington Post, Washington Times.....what's the difference?
One is owned by a right wing Messianic America Hating nutjob and the other one isn't.

Posted by: OxyConservative | December 12, 2005 03:37 PM

Mr. Froomkin's article is important. He offers an unwavering, clearly stated look at an administration that too often effectively distracts the rest of the national media. Mr. Froomkin should not be criticized, but applauded. The political reporters at the Post should read Froomkin's column daily for true insights, compelling thoughts and, perhaps, hints to what they should be covering. Dan Froomkin is an important asset to the Post.

Posted by: Tom Cornell | December 12, 2005 03:39 PM

Froomkin towers above the rest of the post's columnists. Of course, the Post political reporters don't like what he writes because the contrast makes it obvious just how careerist and weak-kneed their efforts are.

Posted by: ftm | December 12, 2005 03:39 PM

Dan's column is the one colunm of the Washington Post I read regularly, every day. If I don't see it readily accessible on the home page (which is often)(guess I now know why!!), I look for it.

I get gaggle info (where else would I get it??) I get info on many top stories that are rarely or barely covered anywhere else either at the Post or in the MSM, for any length of time, relating to Bush, the White House and Administration policy.

While having a healthy distain for both parties (I'm a life long Democrat who is inching closer and closer to becoming an Independent, due to the Demo's complete ineptitude at blowing opportunities that keep falling in their laps over and over and over again), I certainly don't sense a major bias in Dan's briefings. I'm absolutely certain that if the Bush Administration were Democratic he'd be reporting with the same interest in transparency and accountability as he does now.

All I sense is healthy curiosity regarding a President who refuses to have Press Conferences on a regular basis, who will only speak to crowds of pre-screened, pre-approved people, an Administration who seems to feel that it can and will get away with whatever it wants to and generally does, thanks to the lack of vigourous questioning from both the press and the Democrats who are both equally to blame for enabling this sort of disgraceful behavior to continue.

I don't see what the problem is with the title. The column specifically deals with White House issues and events in which the President is involved. What else would you call it??

I find Howell's criticism of Dan sad in the wake of Woodward's embarassing blunder. And I'd have to wonder if she doesn't have anything better to do.

At any rate, I can guarantee you if Dan's column disappears, becomes harder to find, or is made to change in any way, I will immediately cease to read anything at Washington Post.com.

Keep up the good work Dan, and stay true to yourself.

Catherine

Posted by: Catherine | December 12, 2005 03:39 PM

Those sensitive political reporters should spend more time fact-checking and investigating and less time as stenographers for the White House.

Posted by: Bart in Afton | December 12, 2005 03:39 PM

I always find it humorous how quickly people are to label someone as liberal when they demand accountability from President Bush. I've read WHB since about 2002 and have found Mr. Froomkin's comments to be well balanced. If he disagrees with the president, he should be able to say so without being called a "liberal." By that standard, George Will has been quite liberal recently with his columns concerning the "evolution" problem in Kansas. WHB is a must read for those who want to keep up with all the different views on politics, not just the liberal side. Thanks Dan for pulling it together for us, your readers appreciate it, even if some of the political reporters at the Post don't.

Posted by: Shane S | December 12, 2005 03:41 PM

Dan's insights into the White House are great! Maybe the rest of you guys can become real reporters and eye the line from the White House little more skeptically. I have never seen a group of folks in the White House be wrong about almost everything that they say in connection to the war. Dan is the best!

Posted by: Greg Rice | December 12, 2005 03:41 PM

Time for a new Ombudsman!

Posted by: San Fran Daily Reader | December 12, 2005 03:42 PM

Everyone above me has stated it well... I don't need to repeat it all except to say that Froomkin's column is the one column that I read daily. The main reason for that is he asks the questions I want to hear and demands a certain level of accountability, rather than regurgitating the spin from all sides. If seeking out clarity, truth, and the real deal is a liberal trait, than color me a liberal.

On the web, page impressions count. When the New York Times went to Times Select, they lost me as a reader. I can get the headlines anywhere -- the talented columnists that bring insight to the headlines are what attract me to my news sources. Don't mess with Dan.

Posted by: Kristin | December 12, 2005 03:43 PM

Froomkin's blog is the main reason I read the WP. It is an addiction and on the odd days that he does not post, things seem somehow incomplete. Please don't get rid of this great feature.

Posted by: Priya R | December 12, 2005 03:44 PM

I visit the Washington Post's website solely because of Dan Froomkin.

Posted by: Brooklyn Daily Reader | December 12, 2005 03:45 PM

Ms. Howell lacks something Mr. Froomkin has -- skepticism. She uncritically reports that "some" WaPo reporters don't like the column, without exploring why they might feel that way, what interests they have that might be affected here, what role the Froomkin column serves, how it differs (as a column, duh) from the reporters' jobs.

Ms. Howell reports that Froomkin's column is "liberal". It's not. It's SKEPTICAL. I realize that the newspaper that publishes Fred Hiatt's editorials and Bob Woodward's stories probably doesn't value SKEPTICISM any longer. Maybe she and her bosses need to consult Thomas Jefferson, who thought a skeptical press was necessary for democracy. And yes, skeptical means questioning the current administration, something the Post newspaper really ought to do more often.

Froomkin's column is the first place many of us turn-- even before we read the headlines. That's because we know he'll present the news from the WH with skepticism, not mere stenography. I hope Ms. Howell learns some of that from him, and starts examining her colleagues' complaints with a bit of skepticism.

In fact, how about we start a movement to replace Ms. Howell, who so lacks the necessary skepticism, with Dan Froomkin, who has proved that he's cowed by no one, even his own bosses? He at least realizes that his real loyalties are to the truth and his readers.

Posted by: aliase | December 12, 2005 03:46 PM

I'll put it as simply as I know for the prima donas at the Post - your own credibility is on the line every day that ANY White House gets away with the intimidation we've seen these last five years. You should all go buy Dan's lunch and thank him for keeping you honest. And employed. And before you get mad at him, try reading the column. I don't find much opinion here, in fact, I don't find enough opinion here, but I find an amazing collection of what's being said and most importantly, what was missed. Too bad you're apparently missing so much. And hey, here's a thought for how to handle this administration: we don't care if McClellan never answers a question, keep asking!

Posted by: Sharon | December 12, 2005 03:48 PM

It's sad that the WP has lost its way. In the proud days of Mrs. Graham, the paper was a "must read" that presented the truth, no matter what the government threatened. These days,the paper seems consumed with political correctness--why? Ms. Howell's Sunday column read like it was ghost-written by Rupert Murdoch. Please keep writing the White House Briefing, Mr. Froomkin. It's truth--and Washington needs MORE truth, not less.

Posted by: joan | December 12, 2005 03:49 PM

I would read Dan Froomkin no matter what his column is called. If the rest of the MSM were as courageous as Dan, the world might look a little different today.

Posted by: Denise | December 12, 2005 03:49 PM

Would this column's detractors prefer that we believed the administration's (any administration's) offerings at face value?

Posted by: Travis | December 12, 2005 03:50 PM

I read the ombud's article and had to re-read it --- was she talking about Dan Froomkin's column? Huh? I hate it when someone quantitates their information with "some" --- forget some --- who are these people that she says are complaining? If they really are WH reporters, then their complaints say more about them than Dan Froomkin. I think the ombud should find some real problem to correct and leave Dan alone.

Posted by: Albuquerque Froomkin Fan | December 12, 2005 03:52 PM

Dan Froomkin provides direct reporting of often behind-the-scenes machinations in the White House.
Bob Woodward, by comparison, provides only a prostituted point-of-view.

Froomkin IS what Woodward WAS.

In no other place can I find the depth of reporting provided by Foomkin. He goes behind the headlines and biased "news" clips of the major media, especially television "news".

And, his reporting about the mannikin mannequin masquerading as the White House press secretary is both hilarious and valuable.

Thank you, Dan.
"White House Briefing" is a most accurate and apt title for your column.

Posted by: HJW in Washington State | December 12, 2005 03:52 PM

I echo everything written up to this point. I would only add that:

(1) Unlike a lot of Froomkin's defenders, I am not liberal, and I still find his digest a daily must-read;

(2) Froomkin links to all of the articles he excerpts. If he allows his personal opinion to show in an introductory or conclusory sentence, I still have the option to check on his opinion myself by going to the article. That is an advantage that on-line media enjoys over print, and a crucial one, I believe, because it counter-balances any inherent bias from the author. Accountability is a wonderful thing;

(3) I only hope the ombudswoman takes the time to read all of these comments. Perhaps they will persuade her not to listen only to the political beat journalists from the Post's print division.

Posted by: Alex | December 12, 2005 03:52 PM

The Washington Post needs to immediately offer up examples of what makes Dan "liberal." If it can find examples of him advocating an agenda or given policies, then so be it. If it is criticism of the president and his inconsistencies, or his attitude toward the press, or his actions towards the free flow of information in general, then they need to step back and ask how in the world questioning or criticizing the government became "liberal" instead of, say, JOURNALISM. Froomkin's columns are invariably filled to the brim with facts and links to direct evidence, whereas Howell's a column contains not one shred of any such thing.

Posted by: jesselee | December 12, 2005 03:52 PM

White House Briefing is a must in my daily reading because it links to so many other sources.

Is the Post going the way of other papers - NYT comes to mind - in desiring to sugarcoat the news or slant it to an admiration of all things administrative or GOP? Heaven forbid!

As long as there are Dan Froomkins working in the media, there is a hope that questions will be raised and concepts examined.

There may be a need for cloning.

Posted by: Joan | December 12, 2005 03:52 PM

Ombudsmans... Jeesh. The cluelessness shows how far journalists haved moved away from their original mandate--to be effective watchdogs. Now you have a paper's reader representative announcing that performing that task is akin to partisanship.

The outcry here has been so encouraging. Let Frromkin be Froomkin.

Posted by: David Edelstein | December 12, 2005 03:53 PM

Whatever the title, just put Froomkin on the homepage and I'll read it. Without him, I'll look elsewhere.

Posted by: Geoff | December 12, 2005 03:53 PM

Dan, I want to add my support to the dozens of posters before me: I find your column interesting, useful, indespensable, and full of integrity. Keep it coming!

Posted by: Athens, Greece | December 12, 2005 03:54 PM

I find it tasteless and very unprofessional for the Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, to single out for criticism Dan Froomkin's work in her column of Dec. 11. I notice that Ms. Howell does not cite even one example of factual errors or erroneous statements on Mr. Froomkin's part. In fact, the entire controversy seems to be a belief by the Post's national political editor, John Harris, that the title is confusing. To whom does Mr. Harris believe the title is confusing? Those of us that have been reading Mr. Froomkin's column for years understand that he is not a White House correspondent. We simply appreciate the inclusive and interesting nature of his column: a place where we can read a world's worth of information condensed into a lunchtime's worth of reading. Is Ms. Howell's column the work of someone who is supposed to fairly mediate a grievance? Hardly. It reads more like a personal attack of Mr. Froomkin and his fine work.

I read Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing every day that it is posted. Frankly, it is one of the best things about post.com.

Posted by: Kay Decker | December 12, 2005 03:56 PM

This is so frustrating. One would assume the Post wants readers that are intelligent, analytical, and driven to be informed. Then their ombudsmen declares that she and others at the Post feel their loyal readers are too foolish to recognize the difference between Froomkin's work and that of the reporting staff. If I wanted my intelligence to be insulted, I'd just watch Fox News or pay for TimeSelect.

Mrs. Howell - I'm sure I'm not the only person that discovered all of the great content and writers available at WaPo.com through Mr. Froomkin's (and/or Mr. Kurtz's) daily column. Regardless of what perspective you feel Mr. Froomkin brings to his work, shouldn't you just be pleased with that and leave it be? Sigh - I guess not.

Posted by: Kevin C | December 12, 2005 03:58 PM

I'm astounded and appalled to read of this development at the Washington Post. Do you do this sort of thing often?

Dan Froomkin writes a fair and honest column that contains much highly useful information, but even if this were not so would it be reason for an "ombudsman's" reprimand?
I support Froomkin's column the way it is. My only regret (in addition to seeing this pathetic censorship) is that the Post doesn't have ten Froomkins.

Posted by: Craig Squires | December 12, 2005 04:00 PM

I love Froomkin and need a daily dose of his column. With that said, although I agree with a lot of what he writes, I do feel he is opinionated and left leaning. He may compile an anthology, but he does pick the excerpts, arranges them in a wonderfully artful way and provides a narrative. In the interest of full disclosure, I too lean left ...

Posted by: Alex Lieber | December 12, 2005 04:00 PM

I count on Froomkin to do excatly what he does so well: hold up the processes of interaction between the press and the white house for scrutiny, scrutiny with a sharp eye for inaccurate rhetoric on both sides. That he talks with an insider's dead-pan is welcome to me. It is the voice of experience, wit, & clarity. The point out hypocrisy is not partisan, it is closer to patriotic. Keep up the exceelent, dispassionate work; the ombusman needs an ombudsman.

Posted by: macaulay | December 12, 2005 04:00 PM

I also consider Dan's column a "must read". He unabashedly cuts through the crap found in most MSM accounts of this administrations' horrific behavior of the past five years.The problem with Dan in the newsroom has more to do with jealosy of his undeniable popularity and the continuing decline in size and influence of the "old school" newsroom.His elevator is on the way up, their's on the way down and it's hard to swallow.
It is their own fault.If they acted more like reporters and less like stenographers trying to keep their access to the right Washington dinner parties intact we would all be much better off, not to mention better informed.

Posted by: Byron | December 12, 2005 04:01 PM

It warms my heart to see so many others write about how much they love Dan's column. Talk about a daily must-read! He *is* the best thing about the Washington Post's website, and not a weekday goes by without me clicking several times on his "Briefing" link to see if it's been updated. If I were in charge, I'd spend much more of my time concerned about reporters not informing editors about their involvement in a major story, and then openly commenting on the story in the media with obvious bias.

Posted by: Jason | December 12, 2005 04:01 PM

I can't really add much to this (Dan Froomkin 587, Deborah Howell 0) but to say that if the WaPo tries to muzzle him in any way he will surely take the show (and his audience) on the road. There is a hunger for this type of questioning of the crap that we are fed. The beauty of it is, he does it with words that are already on record, in public.

Posted by: juaniflaco | December 12, 2005 04:01 PM

I was incensed when I read Ms. Howell's column yesterday.

The underlying theme of Dan Froomkin's columns is that the media has largely not been supplying information about the current administration. Readily available but uncomplimentary information is not reported. Instead the press has been satisfied with accepting non-answers to important questions while following any story line provided by the White House public relations machinery. Post reporters are more concerned with maintaining access to "senior administration officials" than truthfulness and accountability.

This is not a liberal/conservative issue. Conservatives are entitled to accurate, concrete information. It is not even a political issue. We have a government that actively avoids public accountability. This is contrary to the interest of all Americans.

Froomkin's column is meticulously documented by links to sources. Any reader is free to dispute the validy of his assertions or conclusions. I've yet to send a comment to him and not receive a response. He is a must-read for me, my family, and friends around the country every day.

Ms. Howell should spend more time reading Dan's blogs and less time listening to gossip from jealous reporters.

Posted by: M.L. Moore | December 12, 2005 04:01 PM

I'll stick up for Froomkin as well; he is pro-accountability versus partisan, and any irreverance from him is in line with the best political cartoonists, who apply a skeptical eye to any party line, regardless of who is in power. The columns by Kurtz and Froomkin are must reading for me every day, and provide an unparalled round-up of what major newspapers, magazines, pundits and blogs are saying about the major issues of the day. Both columns always showcase a wide range of opinion, and the hyperlinks allow anyone to read the full context of the quotations they use. Had I the time to blog full-time, I would aspire to the depth, range, thoroughness and even-handedness that Kurtz and Froomkin consistently demonstrate. Considering both men generously engage in spirted, weekly online chats, they often address their critics directly (and they even respond to readers' e-mails). Although Froomkin's column is now clearly labeled "opinion," I think it's fair to question the title "White House Briefing," even if, as Froomkin correctly states, no regular readers are confused, and he does indeed break stories as well. I do not think it is fair to label him a partisan, however. Had Gore or Kerry beem elected, I'm sure this would be clear to everyone. When it comes to online blogs and chats, The Post is far, far ahead of any competitors in terms of sheer volume, quality, depth, and transparency (Downie's online chat about Woodward was exemplary, for instance, down to him correcting himself). Please build on this considerable and distinctive strength versus discouraging it.

Posted by: Batocchio | December 12, 2005 04:01 PM

In the words of my Romanian colleague, Laviniu Tirca, "Ken, you people do propaganda that really puts the former Soviet Union to shame. It's incredible, really!" We were discussing the amazing success of the current administration and the Republican party at completely bamboozling the general public. They do this not only with impunity, but with active help from the fourth estate. I responded that the difference between US propaganda and that of the former Soviet Union was that in the case of the latter everyone knew it was propaganda.

Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" provides my daily dose of reality and honesty. To me, Dan Froomkin IS the real heart of the Washington Post.

Posted by: Ken Anderson | December 12, 2005 04:01 PM

It saddens me deeply to see the Post attacking the one decent reporter they have left. If Ms. Howell and others want to label Dan's column as "liberal", they at least owe it to us to back their claim with examples and facts, i.e. practicing journalism. Please, tell us what you are talking about! Don't make an accusation without backing it up; you work for a newspaper for crying out loud. I, and all of Froomkin's loyal readers, stand by him 100%. Thank goodness we have one journalist who is willing to question authority and hold our leaders accountable. Thank you, Dan!

Posted by: Joel | December 12, 2005 04:03 PM

Reporters, including those of the Washington Post, should take a peek at Froomkin's column to see the obvious news that they miss. I can't wait until the column is posted daily. It's a shame that Froomkin isn't a "reporter," because he'd do a much better job of getting at the truth.

Posted by: Andy | December 12, 2005 04:04 PM

I read Froomkin every day. WP White House reporters are just ashamed they have been coopted.

Posted by: Melanie B | December 12, 2005 04:05 PM

Dan Froomkin's column is one of the few sources of real news and insight as opposed to spin and propoganda in the MSM. Sadly, standards for journalists have gone way down at the Post and the NYT, but Froomkin has not succumbed.

It's the one column at the Post I fee I must read, and I get anxious when it's late or not there.

Change the title of the column? Is that perhaps another one of Donald Rumsfeld's epiphanies, like changing the word "insurgent"? Puh-leeze.

Posted by: Lev Raphael | December 12, 2005 04:06 PM

I am old enough to remember reading I.F. Stone when I was young. I read "Liberal Opinion Weekly" and several daily papers. Froomkin is essential because he digs under the piles of political propaganda and bloviations of those in power to find some facts. Please keep it up to remind me that I am sane.

Posted by: Big Grandmam Sonoma County,CA | December 12, 2005 04:07 PM

I haven't noted any special "liberal" bias to your column. I suspect those who call it so are simply find your column insufficiently obsequious to the White House it covers - to which I would say: Keep up the good work! ;-)

Posted by: KarenJG | December 12, 2005 04:10 PM

Froomkin for mouthpiece of the year.
You can take the rest of the Washington Post--like Broder and Cohen and that old maid Hoagland---tie 'em with a ribbon and throw 'em in the deep blue sea.

Froomkin to the contrary, the Washington Post hasn't been relevant since Reagan's savings and loan scandal.

Posted by: Harry 3 Lime | December 12, 2005 04:11 PM

Given this Administration's practice of rewarding access to reporters who give favorable and uncritical reporting, I view it as an ASSET that Froomkin is not an Official White House Reporter. And the fact that he documents his claims with supporting material shows that his arguments cannot be dispelled lightly. I agree with and support his response and appreciate his version of unvarnished honesty. As to balancing Froomkin with a conservative version, well, that would pretty much be reading most of the MSM.

Posted by: John in Baltimore | December 12, 2005 04:11 PM

'White House Briefing' is by far my favorite part of the Washington Post or the washingtonpost.com. I am a subscriber to the print addition and browse the website at lunch at work.

I do not consider the column 'highly opinionated.' It does have a unique voice, but that is the nature of blogs. I also would not characterize the column as liberal, but rather as skeptical. That skepticism essential to good reporting is sorely needed in the press these days.

The readers of the washingtonpost.com are sopisticated enough to understand that Froomkin is not a reporter, so I don't see how the column hurts the credibility of the Post. What does hurt the Post's credibility is its continued association with Bob Woodward, who apparently lost his own healthy sense of skepticism long ago.

Posted by: Russell | December 12, 2005 04:12 PM

If one were to have only Froomkin's column as a record of the actions of the Bush White House, one might be fooled into thinking the news media had not completely abdicated their responsibility to the public. Unfortunately, he stands as a notable exception. I find it hard to believe that anyone who reads his column could seriously challenge that assertion. Is Ms. Howell perhaps a marionette for Post advertisers who chafe at Mr. Froomkin's links to other websites? This whole situation is so bizarre that it points to some such sinister motive.

Posted by: Gabriel Fry | December 12, 2005 04:12 PM

Mr. Froomkin is a journalist who questions and fact-checks the official line, which is why I read him everyday. It is telling and quite sad that this action of independent media analysis is necessarly labeled "liberal" by the Post. It should be labeled "journalism".

Posted by: John in Oakland | December 12, 2005 04:12 PM

I too am addicted to Dan Froomkin's column and would deeply regret it's absence. Reading his column I am remined of a comment made by Ted Kopple to the CBC's "As It Happens" on the day of his last show that too often the MSM is caught up with what is new and doesn't spend enough time on what is important. The White House seems to be effectively manipulating the MSM because of this while Froomkin is one of the few columnists who continues to look for answers to questions asked yesterday rather than settling for new questions to ask tomorrow. Keep up the great job, Dan!

Posted by: Willy | December 12, 2005 04:12 PM

Looks like we now know who insisted on hanging the the large "Opinion" tag on Froomkin's blog and its seperating it from other online content on the front page. A suspicious mind might also find a correlation between this and the late posts it has often had over the same 2-3 week period.

IMO, Froomkin has found a way to present online journalism and tidbits from the web in an *entertaing* mix. He's been very focused recently in the dissonance between stated policy and actual facts coming out about the current administration. The Post polictical reporters are likely threatened in part because of his popularity, and partly becasue he's doing his job better than they have recently. Someone has to hold this administration accountable for what we can charitably call "evasion". The daily briefings have become a laughable excercise in avoiding any tough questions.

Posted by: Chris | December 12, 2005 04:13 PM

Mr. Froomkin is doing a valuable service for readers, like me, suspicious of many Post writers' coziness with the Administration. How can we tell the truth from their spin? At least Froomkin gives us some context for their stories.

Posted by: Elaine | December 12, 2005 04:16 PM

I suspect that the Post's political reporters don't like Froomkin's column because he frequently points out obvious questions that they are not asking. I find Froomkin's column a daily necessity, and I'm relieved to read that someone associated with the paper shares my view that the White House press corps by and large does not do a good job.

Posted by: LeisureGuy | December 12, 2005 04:16 PM

Howell's column is unintentally revealing about the clash between the old media and the new within the confines of the WaPo. It's quite pathetic to hear the print siders clinging to their vestiges of self-importance. As we all have learned in recent weeks, it's not about the reader for the MSM. It's about the so-called journalists. It's about their "titles," their lunch companions and future book contracts. Plug in your choice of bad example. Meanwhile, instead of a real ombudsman, Howell is so inside this culture, she doesn't even realize how inside she is. Witness this column. She truly lacks the perspective or independence to fulfill the requirements of her position.

Posted by: Vin Hill | December 12, 2005 04:16 PM

Personally, I tend towards conservative convictions, and truthfully I do find Froomkin's column bruising in many regards. However, making the jump to "liberal bias" seems to me to be too big a leap without supporting evidence. As appropriately indicated in the column title, the subject of Froomkin's writing is all things White House related. As such, his coverage will inevitably lead to displaying criticism of the Bush White House. However, the only way a substantiated charge of bias- liberal or otherwise- can be made with any reliable and concrete evidence is by comparing his current White House coverage to the coverage of a democratic White House. Certainly he pulls no punches in assembling criticism of the current administration (I can attest), but lacking any basis for comparison there is no reason not to take Froomkin at his word- that he is simply doing due journalistic diligence in taking an administration to task. Until a democratic White House (and yes, we will have to simply wait and see), criticism of Froomkin without relevant evidence is itself simply conjecture. The recent Ombudsman's opinion appears similar to the slew of omnipresent media bias charges leveled on all sides that only goes to obscure good journalism that seeks to constantly compare current developments against an objective factual record (generally an enterprise that involves criticism).

If the ombudsman would provide a clear example or two as evidence of liberal bias, than I would certainly consider changing my opinion on this matter.

As an aside, I don't consider this topic as meriting the attention of an ombudsman (at least beyond their personal advice to an editor) when there are a number of recent issues raised about the role of journalists and the methodology of journalism (some directly involving the WP, some indirectly). The ombudsman occupies a singular role (which theu have been specifically selected for), and I would be eager to have one weigh in on these "big picture" topics rather than acting as a conduit for what came off as the beef of WP White House beat reporters. I find it slightly annoying, as a reader, to see so much time of media outlets being consumed by how they are perceived. Yes, I realize perception matters- However, I also think good journalists should stand upon good journalism- an informed reader, given a large enough sample size from a particular reporter (or media source), can identify good journalism (i.e. a story by Walter Pincus connotes, to me, a high level of journalism). I think the White House beat reporters should take this to heart- Trust the readers. We can come to informed conclusions. Honest.

Posted by: Nathaniel | December 12, 2005 04:16 PM

I finally "got" how important Froomkin's column and approach is with his coverage of the Plame Affair.

His column was THE ONLY PLACE I KNOW that kept the watch up on this very important story--one apparently important enough to the Dept. Of Justice?

Look, he was hounding this story long after I was interested, but now, looking back, I am so glad he did.

It's hard to imagine a "conservative" version of this column, are we looking for a weird kind of "spy vs. spy" dichotomy?

The conservative movement has discredited itself. Know who told me that in his past 8 or 9 columns? George Will.

More Froomkin & Will!
-Very Disgruntled with MSM in a Southern Red State.

Posted by: Tony in Durham, NC | December 12, 2005 04:20 PM

I spent the first 30 yrs of my life in DC, moved here about 12 yrs ago. I rarely ever note any liberal ideology in this column, what I do see is him actually reporting on what the President said or did, and what others think about it. This is something that the actual Post White House correspondents USED TO DO when I lived there; maybe he should be a reporter. Keep up the great work Dan, I read your & Mr. Kurtz everyday.

Posted by: Dave, Orlando | December 12, 2005 04:21 PM

It seems to me that Froomkin's column is the Cliff's Notes edition of the Washington Post, with some outside material added in for emphasis. If the Post's reporters are fearful of having their own work underscored and regurgitated, perhaps they should refrain from writing stories that are interesting. It seems to me that writers such as Froomkin are the welcome opposite of the immediate post 9/11 reporters that feared to tread anywhere near controversy, or for that matter, truth.

Posted by: Don H, in Fergus,Ontario | December 12, 2005 04:22 PM

Dan Froomkin's daily posting is my lure to the Washington Post. While I do consider myself a Democrat, I seek objective reporting and do not want to merely read an opinion. Froomkin may flavor his post with an occassional insightful remark, but it always serves to succinctly summarize the sources he is linking to. The real value in Froomkin is that he brings together a whole host of disparate news stories related to the White House that would otherwise be dispersed throughout the paper without connection. His article is properly understood as a launching point, not an end in itself.

Posted by: Howard Covitz | December 12, 2005 04:22 PM

I can only agree with everything that has been said by the other readers. Froomkin's column is superb, there is some good writing at WaPo.com but WHB is certainly the most informative.

I read a lot of international media from here in the South Pacific but this column is among the very best.

Keep up the good work Dan.

Posted by: Weston Heys | December 12, 2005 04:23 PM


Froomkin's column is one of the few things we can read in the daily press that actually reports the truth about the white house. The fact that Mr. Froomkin does not follow the "Democrats claim earth is round, polls disagree" pseudo-neutrality that is the norm in political reportiong should be celebrated, not criticized. Mr. Froomkin is a credit to his profession.

Posted by: B.M. Smith | December 12, 2005 04:24 PM

Keep up the good work. Don't change your on-line column. Its the only reason I come to check out Washington Post.com!!!!!

Posted by: Patrick | December 12, 2005 04:24 PM

Froomkin's a far superior reporter, just based on his gathering and presentation of information to break through spin, than the paper-bound boomer dinosaurs of the Venerable Washington Post Newsy-Papery Thing.

Heck, Wonkette's better than half those got-my-money-so-ferget-the-rest dinos.

Score: Froomkin: 1,000,000 - Ombudsman - Nil.

Posted by: Wibbles The Frog | December 12, 2005 04:25 PM

Jeesh, i was gonna contribute my own, "Froomkin, you're the bomb" but it seems that space is at a premium.
Get the feeling that folks are thoroughly fed up with the slimy neocons soiling the landscape at WaPo?

Posted by: John DAlessandro | December 12, 2005 04:25 PM

I actually a little astounded at the ombudsperson's supported notion that the title of Mr. Froomkin's column could damage the credibility of the Post.

Everything about the column enhances the credibility of the reporting done here. And what, pray tell, would be the conservative equivilent of a watchdog? A sleeping dog?

Posted by: John Swearingen | December 12, 2005 04:25 PM

After the disaster of the Woodward dissembling about Plamegate, it's sad that the biggest thing the WP can find to criticize in its own reporting is a column that actually discusses the White House without regurgitating whole the White House spin machine.

Posted by: Ron | December 12, 2005 04:26 PM


I sent the following to the Ombudsperson:

I'm missing something in the criticism of Dan Froomkin's blog on washingtonpost.com.
It's one of the few features I read daily and, objective or not, is a
pleasant contrast to the newspaper's own homogenized political
coverage. It would be a pity if the Website were to become as bland
and conservative as the newspaper.
I think John Harris, the political editor, needs to worry more about
the challenge to the Post's credibility from Bob Woodward's recent
travail than the title of Dan Froomkin's blog.

Posted by: truthman | December 12, 2005 04:26 PM

I enjoy Froomkin's writing and roundups but I think the admirable goals he outlines above are, almost by definition, "liberal." In the best sense of the word.

Today's conservatives don't want to operate in the sunlight.  They don't like transparency.  Accountability?  Ha!!

The irony is that "liberal" is somehow seen as a pejorative.  "Conservatism," at least as is being demonstrated by the current administration and ruling elite, is what should be held in contempt for its total disregard of our traditional democratic values.

Posted by: Steve | December 12, 2005 04:27 PM

To me, the ombudsman's piece is an indication of what is wrong in journalism today. That is, there is this knee-jerk reaction for "balance", as in, idf there is preceived "liberlism" in one piece, it must be countered by a more "conservative" piece. As Paul Krugman pointed out many months ago, if the Bush Administration comes out tomorrow to say "the earth is flat", the newpaper headline will be "the claim is flat: here are arguments from both sides"! Instead, it should be "BUNK"!, which is what Froomkin would say.

Does that make him liberal? I don't think so. Does he need to be balanced? I think the answer is obvious.

Posted by: James | December 12, 2005 04:31 PM

You don't need a right-wing balancing act you already have Howard Kurtz

Posted by: Ray Kerr | December 12, 2005 04:31 PM

Froomkin asks the questions that need answers. His column is one of the increasingly few that do this. It would be a grave disservice to WP readers to curtail his contributions.

Posted by: viral | December 12, 2005 04:32 PM

Rename this column in the name of political correctness, if you must, but this column is THE reason I visit the WP every day. Dan is funny, thoughtful, and extremely informative. I have no doubt a Kerry presidency would have gotten the Froomkin treatment, and I would have read it every day (I voted for Kerry... but believe agree deeply that accountability and transparency are more important than the cocktail party alliances that seem to pervade the journalistic mainstream these days).

If the ombudsman is interested in the reputation of the paper, the real need is to get your journalists to be accountable to readers and editors instead of their sources. It's not just Woodward, either. This is the fundamental problem of American journalism- not a Left/Right bias- but an Access bias.

Posted by: Eli Brennan | December 12, 2005 04:32 PM

I hope that if changing the name of WHB would solve The Post's concerns it will be done, ending the matter.

If that is not enough, I would be interested in hearing Ms Howell on the question of what it is about the current state of conventional White House reporting that has made the WHB a must-read for so many.

Posted by: David Rosenak of Portland OR | December 12, 2005 04:33 PM

I read these posts first then went back to read Howell's original article. What an unprofessional poorly written article. First it seems to be a straightforward piece about the differences between the web site and the print edition, then suddenly withouth any warning "Many reporters don
't like Dan Froomkin" What!?! Where did that come from. Stylistically there is no segue, and it reveals that the entire editorial is just a way to attack Dan Froomkin. Wow I would hate to work in that office. Its like somebody putting up a notice in the break room "Please make sure you clean up all dishes after lunch, and by the way Janine in accounting has B.O."

Very poorly done Ms. Howell. I hope the sheer number of posts here will convince you that your editorial was a very very bad idea. You've actually ruined the credability of John Harris. Holy backfire!

So I hope the staff at the Post have learned to keep you away from a typewriter for the time being.

Posted by: Marco | December 12, 2005 04:33 PM

Any charge that Froomkin is biased against the administration can be answered by pointing out that he reports facts uncovered by other journalists, and that the facts are biased against the Bush administration. It takes a lot of faith and separation from reality to believe anything that Bush says.

Posted by: Wayne | December 12, 2005 04:35 PM

Mr. Froomkin,

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you and your excellent work. (Like any addict I'm shaky at the prospect of withdrawal).

Posted by: Sincere devotee | December 12, 2005 04:35 PM

Dan's column is the only news that I read on a regular basis; Life is short, you only have time for the good stuff.
I'd like to add my voice to the seemingly unanimous opinions so far. This is amazing---even in the amazon reviews of a product I know is good there is at least one dissenter with something bad to say. Where are those opinions here? Could it be that those with dissenting opinions don't read anything that may challenge their existing assumptions of the world? Oh, wait. Maybe that's me since Dan's is the only news I read on a regular basis. But maybe not, since I am joining in the chorus of positive sentiments towards White House Briefing.

Dan, thanks for everything you do! May you continue for as long as you are able!

-Jay

Posted by: Jay Hann | December 12, 2005 04:36 PM

I look forward to Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing. The Washington Post reporters who disparage Mr. Froomkin's work, only diminish themselves. Unfortunately, much like Mr. Bush, these reporters and this ombudswoman, are likely to pull their skirts even higher in outraged perturbation.

Posted by: Dave Marks | December 12, 2005 04:36 PM

When I was growing up in this town there was I F Stone who in his own way was the first 'blogger'. Stone published his own newsletter out of his house and was beholden to no one. Most of Stone's scoops came from reading the official record and putting it out for the public to read.

It seems to me that Mr Foomkin is practicing this same style of journalism - presenting what our 'public' servants are actually doing in their own words - not the whispers into a reporter's ear.

When is MSM going to take the courage is insist that sources identify who they are?

Until we see that kind of honesty from reporters, we must rely on Mr Froomkin to present the true words and who said them.

Wasn't there a time when journalism meant who, what, when and where? Mr Froomkin gives us that.

Posted by: Ted K | December 12, 2005 04:37 PM

Invalid criticism, for the reasons Dan Froomkin mentions above. Would think journalists would think twice before labeling someone. Who's next? Dana Priest? Walter Pincus? Gotta get past labeling someine "liberal" for writing something critical of Bush. As far as Froomkin, his column has become the first thing I look for after scanning headlines. Glad he's doing what he's doing.

Posted by: Ed in Texas | December 12, 2005 04:38 PM

Mr. Froomkin:

Stand fast you indispensable bastard.

Posted by: Waldo Lydecker | December 12, 2005 04:38 PM

Does anyone else find it fascinating that Froomkin's Column (which I adore) and Howard Kurtz's (also a daily must-read)follow nearly identicial formats (Comment-Link-Excerpt) and while Froomkin may be slightly to the left, Kurtz is even more obviously to the right (his wife is even an employee of the RNC). Yet when one of them is singled out for criticism by "post reporters" it's Froomkin's?

And I am I incorrect in recalling that when Dana Milbank wrote a column mocking the Democrat's investigation into the Downing Street Memo, the Post defended him by saying "columnists are expected to be opinionated" ?

Posted by: Mike G | December 12, 2005 04:38 PM

Would that Mr. Froomkin's detractors of whatever stripe had the ability to write a daily column as interesting to read. Plus, I derive as much from his concrete links as his alleged slant and eyebrow-raised asides. No doubt most of Froomkin's fans could give a hoot what you entitle him (after you've given him a raise). My only request is that on those suddenly-bereft days Froomkin takes off, you attempt to find someone to do the same job with as much panache.

Russ Rodderback
Las Vegas Nevada

Posted by: RussBBinVegas@aol.com | December 12, 2005 04:39 PM

All of the points I wanted to make having already been made quite eloquently by what seemed like hundreds of Dan's readers, I'll just add my support here.

Dan, you rock - you could single-handedly make me pay to view on-line material should the Post follow NYT's example.

Keep up the great journalism, and thank you.

Posted by: Aida | December 12, 2005 04:39 PM

Quit drinking Karl Rove's kool-aid WaPo! Froomkin (and the blogosphere) is the antidote to such sheer shillery. He is the one adult who can take away the punch bowl of "access intoxication".

We are sick of the icky aftertaste of premasticated MSM vomit and we're not going to take it anymore! For what it's worth--the TV set went out the window too.

Posted by: neokneme | December 12, 2005 04:40 PM

Original sent to: ombudsman@washpost.com


Yes Deborah,

I am very familiar with your papers ongoing efforts to hide the truth about the GOP administration (a-la Bob "junkyard dog" Woodward) and the stringent vetting done to make sure that stories are written to be as favorable to the Bush administration and GOP controlled Congress as possible.

Your paper is the very symbol of the GOP effort to suppress democracy.

Now of course, you want to undermine the one consistently honest voice on your website... Yes yes that makes perfect sense... Because unlike the White House, the GOP controlled Congress, and their controlled propagandistic media shills... Froomkin consistently tells the truth.

You of course cannot go back and call him a liar, because he is not... So you have to find other ways to suppress him, dilute him, undermine him, or otherwise reduce his effectiveness in getting he truth out.

Republicans are indeed pathetic.

Posted by: Richard Quick | December 12, 2005 04:41 PM

I don't read Froomkin often enough to comment on his work, but I do check the WashPost editorial comlumns every day. On the day Ms Howell (and John Harris) were all aflutter about liberal bian in Froomkin's blog, the featured Post editorials were written by: George Will, Jim Hoagland, David Broder, Fred Hiatt, and Condoleeza Rice. Today's featured writers are Broder, Hiatt, Sebastian Mallaby (whose reference to John Kerry as "Benedict Arnold" last week has not, to my knowledge, attracted the attention of Mr Harris or Ms Howell), and William Raspberry. The only thing missing was the fevered histrionics of Ch. Krauthammer (psychiatrist, heal thyself) and Richard "the Democrats are as much to blame as the Republicans even though they have no power" Cohen. I really miss Mary McGrory and Marjorie Williams.

Posted by: Jim | December 12, 2005 04:43 PM

Dan Froomkin's column is the best thing in the Post and the only reason I visit the web site. He holds the journalists covering one of the important beat in the nation to the highest standard of their profession. That they frequently fall short is no a reason to spank the messenger.

Posted by: James | December 12, 2005 04:44 PM

I am a seven day a week subscriber of the Post's print edition. Dan Froomkin's online column is my only daily must-read. It was my pleasure to write to the Ombudsman to let her know that if Dan's column is altered I plan to cancel my subscribtion.

Accountability is not a bias. I would be deeply ashamed to continue being a Post subscriber if the Post added a so-called "conservative" version of Dan's column.

Posted by: Modthinglet | December 12, 2005 04:46 PM

I don't read Froomkin often enough to comment on his work, but I do check the WashPost editorial comlumns every day. On the day Ms Howell (and John Harris) were all aflutter about liberal bias in Froomkin's blog, the featured Post editorials were written by: George Will, Jim Hoagland, David Broder, Fred Hiatt, and Condoleeza Rice. Today's featured writers are Broder, Hiatt, Sebastian Mallaby (whose reference to John Kerry as "Benedict Arnold" last week has not, to my knowledge, attracted the attention of Mr Harris or Ms Howell), and William Raspberry. That's eight Bushites to one lefty, by my count.
The only thing missing in these two days was the fevered histrionics of Ch. Krauthammer (psychiatrist, heal thyself!) and Richard "the Democrats are as much to blame as the Republicans even though they have no power" Cohen.
I really miss Mary McGrory and Marjorie Williams.

Posted by: Jim | December 12, 2005 04:46 PM

Dan's column is the single biggest reason I visit the WaPo site. So, holding a republican administration accountable is an inherently liberal activity? The fact that the beltawy MSM has been cowed into believing that by Rove, Mehlman and their amen corner is the biggest reason we are in the midst of the worst administration ever.

DO YOUR JOBS

Posted by: Kevster | December 12, 2005 04:47 PM

It's finally happened. The gatekeepers have become as dimwitted as the conservative watchdogs. It is unbelievable to me that Dan Froomkin's column is quesitoned in this manner. The one's that must be questioned are those in positions of power who can make decisions detrimental to the public they supposedly serve. Froomkin doesn't always convince me but I'll take his frankness and insight over sycophantic transcribing any time.

Posted by: Sergio Galindo | December 12, 2005 04:47 PM

Dan is one of the most entertaining and forthright observers there is.Maybe if there was some transparency in this lying White House, he wouldn't sound so harsh.

Posted by: Paul Hughes | December 12, 2005 04:48 PM

Thanks to the White House reporters for giving Dan Froomkin more attention! Smart move guys!
Oh and they're wrong. He's great.

Posted by: John Shea | December 12, 2005 04:49 PM

Froomkin offers the greatest degree of transparency at the Post. Ms. Howell should focus on getting Woodward a severance package.

Posted by: andy | December 12, 2005 04:50 PM

2 things:

1. Froomkin fact-checks official statements and looks for inconsistencies between what the administration says now and what it said earlier, with inconvenient facts put inbetween. (eg, "anyone who leaked will be fired" or "karl rove did not leak").

2. When will the Post explain why it is necessary to have anonymous, laudatory quotes about the administration?

Quick... convene a panel on blogger ethics.

Posted by: Elwood | December 12, 2005 04:50 PM

Dan, obviously there's more going on here than just the ombudsman doesn't like your column title. You went nuclear and got your loyal readers to post hundreds of pro-Dan messages. (Including one from me at 3:16.)

What are you going to do with these messages of well-deserved support? Why did you need them? I'm a big Froomkin fan but I'd like to know we're not being used here. That is, that we haven't just played out our role in your contract negotiations, or a bet made over lunch.

Posted by: Andy | December 12, 2005 04:51 PM

Dan Froomkin's column provides clear links to content, directly quotes and sources his material, which then allows me to decide for myself what to think. Ms. Howell, on the other hand, labels Mr. Froomkin as a "liberal" with no supporting evidence, and tells me what to think about Mr. Froomkin's column. I certainly know who I'll spend my time paying attention to in the future, and who I won't.

Just one question WP - is an "ombudsman" by your definition a person who lacks the ability for critical thinking that used to be a requirement for good journalism?

Keep up the good work, Dan. You have a lot of fans out there.

Posted by: Tracy | December 12, 2005 04:52 PM

I am always stunned when a journalist holding the powerful to a standard of accountablitlity is considred to be bias. I always thought they were just doing their job. Dan, thank you for taking on the responsibility of a journalist and doing your job well.

Posted by: Susan | December 12, 2005 04:52 PM

Perhaps the Post should consider changing its name, since readers might confuse "Post" meaning the paperis affiliated with the United States Postal Service.

Posted by: keleidescope | December 12, 2005 04:52 PM


Dear Ombudsman,

So there we have it. Have ever seen so much feedback, and so quickly? There should now be no question that Froomkin is one of the very top reasons why ANYONE reads the WaPo. And please, somebody tell me when having an opinion was a bad thing? Oh yeah - when you're not Ann Coulter, I guess.

Give Froomkin a raise and start thinking about retiring some of the whiny, overpaid and dull conservative columnists. I disagree with another reader about David Broder, however. While he's conservative, I enjoy reading him and often agree with his arguments, and he's not afraid to criticize the WH - unlike Krauthammer et al.

But back to the topic at hand: FROOMKIN RULES!

Posted by: Jean-Pierre, Montreal | December 12, 2005 04:54 PM

I know the problem.

I know the problem.

The rest of the WaPo is a briefing BY the White House, whereas is briefing us ABOUT the White House.

So the other reporters are uncomfortable that readers who have, in recent years, come to expect loyal stenography from the WH by the WaPo, get confused.

How could any column have the words "White House" without and not place loyalty above reporting?

I have a suggestion. Could the public editor take up the option of changing the rag's name to something that would also be less confusing:

Like "White House Post"?

Prof

Posted by: Prof | December 12, 2005 04:56 PM

One really must wonder if Ms. Howell reads Dan Froomkin's column regularly. Her column comes off like some autocratic principal who beats up on an innovative teacher because his "colleagues" are jealous of his popularity with students and their parents.

Dan Froomkin is what brings me to the Post's Website every day. If I only had time to read one thing, it would be White House Briefing.

My only criticism of Mr. Froomkin is that he feels entitled to taking weekends off, the occasional sick day, and family leave when his first child is born. Has he no idea how we all suffer when his column is missing?

Long live Dan Froomkin!

Posted by: Pat in Media, PA | December 12, 2005 04:56 PM

I believe both Froomkin and Kurtz consistently produce excellent online columns that embody the best virtues of the journalistic tradition.

I am also conservative and a registered (if disillusioned) Republican and feel I must applaud the exemplary tone of the vast majority of my fellow comment posters.

The issue here is not bashing and partisanship but standing up for an intelligent critic whose work enlightens everyone who takes the time to read it whatever their political persuasion.

Posted by: Pragmatist | December 12, 2005 04:58 PM

Anyone calling him/herself a reporter or journalist that was working for the Washington Post in the lead up to the Iraq War needs to find a new job. They go after Froomkin? Give me a break. Tell us again about the weapons of mass destruction, you losers.

Posted by: "Other Reporters" | December 12, 2005 04:59 PM

I can hear the Post reporters whining and crying all the way out here in Seattle! And no wonder, either. Froomkin is a must-read at WaPo and the only one for me (print or online). I am with the many who feel lost on days he does not post. His writing is comprehensive, energetic, engaging and ALWAYS respectful of his readers. Compare that to Bob Woodward who has NO respect for his readers. He sees them only as a potential 28.95 hard cover sale. I also agree that WaPo political reporters could learn much from reading Froomkin. I suspect they know this and the professional jealousy chaps something fierce...

Posted by: MelTui | December 12, 2005 04:59 PM

If Dan Froomkin were liberal, he'd have told us how he feels about the Bush Administration's plan to privatize Social Security. Instead, he told us what Bush' said and did to sell his plan, what the plan was (to the extent that it was defined). Most important, he told us what economists and demographers and other politicians said about Bush's plan (and provided links to that information) so that we could study the issues ourselves and have well informed opinions. That's liberal?

And it's call the White House Briefing because it's a collection of continuing stories about the daily activity of the White House. Sheesh!

Posted by: sozzy | December 12, 2005 04:59 PM

Change the title, change the format - whatever, just keep Froomkin on the WaPo website! I would even pay to read it daily (which is not true of the NYT). Not sure why people think it's liberal, though. I'm conservative and very much appreciate Froomkin's work - how astonishing...in our black and white, and red/blue world, some of us still learn from the Other Side!

Posted by: SAF | December 12, 2005 04:59 PM

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing is consistently the most interesting column on the Washington Post webpage, is the single biggest reason I visit the WaPo site.

If the Ombudsman wants to make herself useful, she should find out why Bob Woodward lied to everybody, and concealed his role in Plamegate.

Posted by: Carol | December 12, 2005 05:00 PM

My mother loved me, as did my father, but they both were very demanding and sought from me and my siblings only the highest standards of truth, candor, behavior, forthrightness, integrity, effort and intelligence. That also is what we readers should expect from the press and media, but, they are mostly a thing of the past in this current era of mega-media conglomerates where business is more important than information, analysis and truth. I even enjoy reading well argued, documented and written arguments by those I strongly disagree with. But Dan Froomkin's column is of a very high standard, only opinionated in that he seeks to illumniate and inform, and if the other WaPo politcal reporters, omsbudsmen and editorial staff have a problem with a superior colleague in their sister publication (WPNI), then tough. Merit is so ofetn talked about, but it sure is criticized when we run into it face to face. Obviously Dan Froomkin is making some poweful people unhappy or uncomfortable, but so be it. I am appallled that the WaPo is anything other than delighted with the success of Dan's daily must read, given the glut of other lesser things available on the internet across the world. If you fire him he will just become even more well read at some other publication! The truth will out, and he outs it well.

Posted by: P Greenough | December 12, 2005 05:00 PM

Dan Froomkin poses tough questions, sheds light on subjects the administration would rather stay in the dark, and reports what actually happened not what the administration says happened. How in the world could anyone mistake him for a Post White House reporter?

I guess in a world where an archconservative senator criticizing the president is considered liberal so could Mr. Froomkin's column.

Posted by: Norm | December 12, 2005 05:01 PM

"John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, [...] Froomkin writes the kind of column 'that we would never allow a White House reporter to write.'"

Yes, exactly, and that is the PROBLEM. How sad that people like John Harris think they represent any form of authentic journalism and let some delusional sense of righteousness lead them to criticize those who really do.

You've been exposed, JH, and attacking the messenger is only dragging you deeper into Woodwardian muck.

Posted by: db | December 12, 2005 05:01 PM

Vive le Froomkin! Truth and transparency, his stated top priorities, are mine too. Too many journalists are riding in chauffeured vehicles and clearing six figures, I suspect. I'm one who's never done either and never will or want to. I can't wait (actually, I could wait decades) for a WaPo "conservative" counterpoint. I suggest it be called Hail to the Chiefing.

Posted by: realist | December 12, 2005 05:02 PM

Apart from Dana Priest's recent scoops, Dan Froomkin's column is about the only reason I regularly read the Post. My only regret about Froomkin's excellent daily column is that it is not included in the print edition.

Posted by: Phil (DC) | December 12, 2005 05:02 PM

I don't think Ms. Howell could be more wrong than to call White House Briefing 'liberal and highly opinionated'. I think, perhaps, many in journalism have forgotten that one of a journalist's primary functions is analying the veracity of the statements that are made by our elected officials and their appointees.

White House Briefing is the nexis where Froomkin deftly illustrates a variety of White House related print in a manner that allows readers to make their own analysis. If White House Briefing makes this administration seem hypocritical and out of touch, perhaps they are hypocritical and out of touch. Blame your own analysis.

The day WaPo adds some partisan hack to WHB will be the day they ruin it, and they'll infuriate the hundreds of thousands of dedicated daily readers; starting with my entire political discussion group. The 14 of us here in MA range from liberal to conservative. We all recognize the importance of White House Briefing and we all know that it is written under the heading 'OPINION'. That is quite enough for those with the ability to read English to understand that the column may feel opinionated to some. Everyone I've turned on to White House Briefing has become an instant addict. Please don't mess with success. I already read David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan, and I have no desire to read an angry Charles Krauthammer clone.

Posted by: Vivek K. Jha | December 12, 2005 05:02 PM

Mr. Froomkin represents Liberal Bias? How can anyone accuse him of such when he does such a thorough job of pointing out the alternative viewpoints of both sides of the political fence...
Where is the lack of "balance" that Dan's critics allude to? Is the accusation that Dan refers his readers to liberal websites? If so, the argument is patently ridiculous - as even a cursory scan of his writing would demonstrate. Are "The Drudge Report" & "Instapundit" liberal blogs? If not, how can anyone accuse Froomkin of bias when he consistently refers his readers to both the liberal and conservative points of view re. issues analyzed and discussed - not to mention the numerous links to US government sites like the GAO & the White House home page?
I can't afford to scour the newspapers & websites as I used to due to my new job: I'm so grateful that washingtonpost.com features such a columnist as Dan who points me in directions which allow me to make my own decisions re. the depressing world of politics from both conservative & liberal stances (not to mention RADICAL points if views!) Heck, I'll read his column even were the washingtonpost.com to stupidly insult Froomkin's readership via the addition of some 'conservative' counter-columnist - but I'll nevertheless feel revolted about the organization's pathetic lowering of itself to the He Said/She Said retortage & editorializing that has so crippled the objectivity of the MSM and ruined the respect of informed US citizens once had for news organizations.

Posted by: Voracious Reader in NJ | December 12, 2005 05:03 PM

Everyone has already pointed out the benefits of Froomkin and the problems with certain other political beat reporters. I'd just like to add that between Kurtz and Froomkin, I can get a daily dose of the major stories from the major news organizations, along with a good overview of the opinions.

Posted by: Mathias | December 12, 2005 05:04 PM


In much the same way that the tv news media does not understand that Jon Stewart and the Daily Show are giving us TRUTH with their thorough and opinionated analysis, the Post newsroom and omsbudsman do not understand that Dan Froomkin's work provides a much needed context and behind-the-scenes look at the news from Washington.

Please don't change anything. WHB and your reporters online chats are my FIRST stops at your paper and provide me a better insight into the days events than I often get from the front page "balanced" reporting.

Posted by: Joy in Minnesota | December 12, 2005 05:04 PM

I don't think Ms. Howell could be more wrong than to call White House Briefing 'liberal and highly opinionated'. I think, perhaps, many in journalism have forgotten that one of a journalist's primary functions is analying the veracity of the statements that are made by our elected officials and their appointees.

White House Briefing is the nexis where Froomkin deftly illustrates a variety of White House related print in a manner that allows readers to make their own informed analysis. If White House Briefing makes this administration seem hypocritical and out of touch, perhaps they are hypocritical and out of touch. Blame your own analysis.

The day WaPo tries to add some partisan hack to WHB will be the day they ruin it, and they'll infuriate the hundreds of thousands of dedicated daily readers; starting with my entire political discussion group. The 14 of us here in MA range from liberal to conservative. We all recognize the importance of White House Briefing and we all know that it is written under the heading 'OPINION'. That is quite enough for those with the ability to read English to understand that the column may feel opinionated to some. Everyone I've turned on to White House Briefing has become an instant addict.

I already read David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan, and I have no desire to read an angry, right-wing Charles Krauthammer clone.

Posted by: Vivek K. Jha | December 12, 2005 05:07 PM

In the interest of fair disclosure: I have the "White House Briefing" bookmarked, and return to it on almost a daily basis.

The Chicago Times of Los Angeles (aka LA Times) recently reported on the decline in sales/readership of major newspapers, fingering the Internet as the culprit. In one 2,000 word article, the paper manages to avoid any discussion of the relationship between quality of content and declining sales.

This should surprise no one. The LA Times has had numerous references to this years decline in movie ticket sales, without seriously providing context. Does anyone remember going to a multiplex last spring and watching the endless promotions for coming attractions? They were uniformly recycled TV shows (Bewitched), recycled comic books (Fantasic Four), and recycled movies (Mr. and Mrs. Smith; War of the Worlds). Were the paper to provide this contextual information, the 6% decline in ticket sales makes perfect sense.

Television viewership continues to decline, which the LA Times dutifully reports. Having retired the long-time TV critic who used to provide context, the paper failed to remark upon the wholesale abandonment of Saturday nights to repeats, with a similar stategy of replacing new shows with repeats on Friday nights. Without this contextual information, the readership is left to accept the broadcast media's insistance that cable programming is responsible for the decline in broadcast's viewership.

One aspect of journalism that print media can excel at is providing context: more than just the sound bite/spin that can be squeazed into a 90 second broadcast story.

However, journalism in the 21st century appears to be regressing to mimeograph technology: the reporter as stenographer. To paraphrase Jack Webb: "Just the spin, mam."

What the Washington Post allows Dan Froomkin to do is provide that context. Unlike a blog where the writer expresses their views, Froomkin reviews what other journalists have reported about a story, with links back to the source material.

Deborah Howell states that Froomkin's "White House Briefing" is highly opinionated and liberal. Doesn't this sound like a certain White House spokesman accusing anyone who is the least bit critical of Bush 43 as being a liberal in league with Michael Moore?

Traditional news reporting is in danger of making itself irrelevant, in the same way that GM is on a course to make itself irrelevant. Instead of providing products that excites consumers, GM is embarked on firing workers. Studios are embarked upon the same self-destructive path: no compelling new product, just tired repeats from the past. Broadcast television airs repeats during regular programming periods, even during sweeps, and as a result, viewership continues to decline.

Newspapers are conglomerating and cutting staff, providing less and less useful information: for those in Southern California, the LA Times now provides less national content, and fewer and less diverse opinions in it's editorial pages, than the San Diego Union (a notoriously right-wing paper for over 50 years). Readership is in decline at the Times, and tracks the decline in the number of experienced reporters and range of writers in the editorial pages.

Print media has the time to provide context ... their next deadline isn't likely to be 17 minutes from now. And while the White House Briefing appears as a Web-only feature, it does act to provide context for the reportage that does appear in print.

The news media in general have failed America in it's political reportage over the last 5 years. This deceptive Bush Administration stated that we had to go to war because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. What weapons? And that Iraq had a key role in 9/11 terrorism. What role? Judy Miller, Armstrong Williams, Bob Woodward: reporters more interested in keeping lucrative contacts than reporting. Had Woodward been more interested in reporting than his next book deal, and had the Washington Post been more interested in investigative reporting than it's own commercial interests, perhaps over 2000 Americans would still be alive.

Ah, but is so much easier to accuse someone of being a liberal than to do any real reporting. Isn't it, Ms. Howell?

Posted by: from Southern California | December 12, 2005 05:08 PM

Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" is the ONLY column that brings me back to your website day after day. I don't always have a lot of time during my busy day to check all my favorite blogs and news sites so this column is often my only daily source for White House-related news. It's kind of like my own personal daily briefing... Hmmm... I wonder why it is called "White House Briefing"? Mr. Froomkin, you have my support 100% and I will keep reading your column faithfully. And look at all of these comments--Washington Post, you better be paying attention here...

Thanks,
Mark in Oregon

Posted by: Mark | December 12, 2005 05:09 PM

Those political reporters at The Post upset with Froomkin are the same ones who support Woodward. They see nothing wrong with operating as telegraph machines connected to the White House. Reporters do more than type what they are told to.

Posted by: Terry Green | December 12, 2005 05:09 PM

I'm surprised and displeased with Deborah Howell's opinion of Froomkins column. I'd invite her to broaden her perspective and look at the column as the breath of fresh air that it is. His column helps give the rest of the paper credibility. Froomkin's column is the one thing I routinely read.

Posted by: wendy in St Paul | December 12, 2005 05:09 PM

Is this meant to be Froomkin's Holiday Bonus?

Just let us continue to enjoy enjoy his column. Personally, I look forward to his coverage of the next Democratic administration.

He's a skeptic. A charming, smart, humorous reporter who is not afraid to look under the royal bed.

Posted by: desertwind | December 12, 2005 05:11 PM

Here's my rebuttal to the so-called WaPo political reporters: Jeff Gannon. Anybody want to address that particular 800-lb. gorilla sitting in your laps when you were supposed to be covering all things political, including the White House?

These same political reporters are tut-tutting about Froomkin, but failing grossly to report on the propagandizing of all administration policy; there's been virtually nothing in the way of follow-up on Gannon, or on Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and other payola recipients story, millions of dollars gone walking and nothing to show for it save for jokes on The Daily Show. No digging for any of the unifying connections between these people who are mouthpieces for this administration (and the links are there, if reporters actually look).

Let alone stories like Rendon and Lincoln Groups, worth tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, which received merely passing coverage by WaPo's political reporters. (Billmon at Whiskey Bar has done a far better job, for crying out loud.)

To these so-called political reporters I say stick to your own knitting; you're already bordering on irrelevance if you can't or won't report.

Posted by: RayneT | December 12, 2005 05:12 PM

Well said, Dan.

This very sort of truth-based analysis was dearly needed and sorely lacking as well in previous administrations, and I look forward to it for years to come in future administrations, be they Republican or Democratic.

Keep up the good work!

Now, if you only had an ombudsman of comparable quality ...

Posted by: Paul | December 12, 2005 05:12 PM

Dan Rulez. WaPo gets it backwards again. They want to improve their credibility, fire Howie and put Dan on page one.

Posted by: SSquirrel | December 12, 2005 05:12 PM

I find the new ombudsman's comments about Dan's column pretty disturbing. Um, has she even READ his posts?

Dan's column is the first place I turn for political news because he does such a great job summarizing the major stories covered in other media outlets. I greatly appreciate that he holds politicians (and reporters) accountable for what they say and do. I would like to see the WaPo columnists do the same.

I'm increasingly disgusted by the mainstream media. They are too worried about pleasing advertisers and contributors to report any actual news.

Posted by: Stephanie Augustyniak | December 12, 2005 05:13 PM

I would like to point out that, unlike MSM reporters' un-named sources, Dan's sources are unabashedly "linked-to" to backup his opinions.

Posted by: Fairfax | December 12, 2005 05:13 PM

Okay, we've said waaay too much nice stuff about Dan; the WP is going to get the idea to charge people to read him (and consign him to oblivion like Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich).

Posted by: Chris | December 12, 2005 05:13 PM

Dan Froomkin's 'White House Briefing' is the one must read column for me on Washingtonpost.com - from there I go to Howie Kurtz's 'Media Notes'. Why isn't the ombudsman complaining about Howie if she's complaining about Dan? Where's the balance here? ;) If not for Froomkin, I wouldn't visit wapo.

Take him away and you lose a reader here (yes, I won't even come back for Howie). I also refer many folks to him.

Vive le Dan!!!

Posted by: Rebecca Schumacher | December 12, 2005 05:14 PM

Mr. Froomkin, Without your reporting, I would have zero reason to ever look at WaPo.

It's that simple, and WaPo's executive managment would be wise to sit and read, several times, the following:

http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_firedoglake_archive.html#113442242607540843

Peace,
UL

Posted by: understandinglife | December 12, 2005 05:15 PM

Dan brought me to the WasingtonPost. No other reporter did. I agree with all the other people who responded that this is a case of bruised egos.

And, if I were in Dan's position, I'd be a hardpressed to be as fair as he is when it comes to this administration.

He does a very good job of making a synopsis of other online articles. His column is a White House Briefing as it only concerns itself with _briefing_ the reader on _news_ about the _White House_.

I now read the Press Briefing transcripts on whitehouse.gov. I am ashamed of some the questions asked. I'm even more ashamed of the questions not asked. If the white house press corps actually did their job, they wouldn't have to be so defensive or derisive.

Posted by: Scott Neumann | December 12, 2005 05:15 PM

This reminds me of NPR misreading Bob Edwards' popularity with his audience.

I hope WP will take all these comments seriously and rethink what they have said and written.

Dan Froomkin is a must read!

Posted by: Muriel | December 12, 2005 05:16 PM

I've read the Washington Post all of my adult life and have been an avid visitor to the washingtonpost.com for years. WHB is one of the BEST articles in either the print or the online edition. I read it daily and encourage others to do so as well. I'm sorry the Post's political reporters don't like the column; frankly it makes me think less of them.

Posted by: Susan in Md | December 12, 2005 05:17 PM

Mr. Froomkin's White House Briefing is a must-read for me everyday. It's a great column and it is bewildering to me that it faces criticism of any kind from the ombudsman. By linking to conservative and liberal bloggers, conservative and liberal columnists and most importantly, by linking directly to primary sources, Mr. Froomkin provides his readers with the tools necessary to make their own judgments.

Keep up the fantastic work!

Posted by: Andy C | December 12, 2005 05:18 PM

Several of the comments here refer to me, and many others confuse the issues raised by Deborah Howell's column. As the Post's political editor, I'd like to respond, in the interest of being as clear as possible about how we view our own work, and the concerns about "White House Briefing" in the Post newsroom.

The first issue is whether many readers believe Dan's column is written by one of the Washington Post's three White House reporters. It seems to me--based on many, many examples--beyond any doubt that a large share of readers do believe that. No doubt there are some who enjoy the column for precisely this reason. If I worked outside the paper, I might presume myself that a feature titled "White House Briefing" was written by one of the newspaper's White House reporters.

Given that there is such confusion, the question is whether this is a problem. For me it is a problem. I perceive a good bit of his commentary on the news as coming through a liberal prism--or at least not trying very hard to avoid such perceptions. Dan, as I understand his position, says that his commentary is not ideologically based, but he acknowledges it is written with a certain irreverence and adversarial purpose. Dan does not address the main question in his comments. He should. If he were a White House reporter for a major news organization, would it be okay for him to write in the fashion he does? If the answer is yes, we have a legitimate disagreement. If the answer is no, there is not really a debate: washingtonpost.com should change the name of his column to more accurately present the fact that this is Dan Froomkin's take on the news, not the observations of someone who is assigned by the paper to cover the news.

People in the newsroom want to end this confusion. We do not want to spike his column--or at least I don't. It might be the case that he would be writing similarly about John Kerry if he were president. But I guarantee that many people who posted here would not be Froomkin enthusiasts--or be so indifferent to the concerns I raise--in that case.

In his comments, Dan pleads with reporters to stop complaining about him and start doing more to hold the White House accountable. The reporters on the Post's White House and political teams every day push through many obstacles and frustrations to do precisely this kind of accountability reporting--as I'm sure Dan would agree. But these are the very same reporters who are raising objections to "White House Briefing." The confusion Dan's column unintentionally creates about the reporter's role has itself become an obstacle to our work.

John Harris
National Politics Editor

Posted by: John Harris | December 12, 2005 05:18 PM

I read Froomkin's column everyday and I often click on many of the links he has sourced. I feel it is a great tool to find out what other reporters and bloggers are talking about. In my opinion, it is often tough on the President, but mostly due to the lack of openness and accountability in the present administration.

Keep the White House Briefing running and thank you Dan.

Posted by: John Hodson | December 12, 2005 05:18 PM

I also sent an e-mail to Deborah Howell in support of Dan Froomkin's column.

I want to know who at the Washington Post doesn't like his column? Bob Woodward, perhaps?

Of course after reading Deborah Howell's bio, it's ironic she's from Texas....guess she views Froomkin's column through a Bush-lovin-conservative-lense.

Please spare us the liberal bias crap.

Posted by: Harpers Ferry | December 12, 2005 05:19 PM

Hi,

I've in Davis, CA. WaPo on-line is one of my regular links almost solely because of Dan Froomkin.

I've noticed that he has really gone after the Administration pretty hard recently, and I believe for good cause. Accountability and honesty are fundemental to a representative democracy.

Posted by: Ron West | December 12, 2005 05:19 PM

I suppose someone should criticize Froomkin, so let me be the one.

He takes entirely too much time off, denying us his column on a regular basis. Sometimes we are forced to read the news ourselves and make sense of it on our own. It is a travesty.

I think the new title of his column should be "Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing, When He Isn't Having Kids or Something"

Posted by: wallpaper | December 12, 2005 05:19 PM

I guess they have a different standard when columnists like Jim VanderHei or Dana Milbanks slant to the right. It seems they have no problem with that. You can be too "liberal" but never to right wing for the Post.

Posted by: Ian Brewer | December 12, 2005 05:21 PM

Amen. I only wish Mr. Froomkin WERE a White House reporter.

I don't want the Post to change a thing about Mr. Froomkin's column. Why ruin a good thing?

Perhaps those that are critical of Mr. Froomkin need to examine their own motives first before they attack Mr. Froomkin.

I submitted the following nomination on the Time person of the year website. Maybe these Froomkin critics are in the same category as my infamous quartet?

My suggestion is for the infamous quartet of:

Novak - Miller - Woodward & Novak

Their style of reporting or lack of reporting has seriously damaged the credibility of the journalism profession at a time when the world most needs a credible, free press.

On second thought, perhaps the back cover is a far more suitable place for them than the front cover.

Yes, I think the front cover should honor those journalists who risked life and limb to uncover the truth and report it to the world rather than to those who worried only about the risk of losing social contacts, prestige or material for their next book.

Posted by: pmorlan | December 12, 2005 05:23 PM

After reading Deborah Howell's comments, I have to say to her that I'm disgusted by her position.

To be blunt, she's wrong and all the reporters who complained about Dan disgust me as well. It's difficult to see how they can claim to be journalists after such an episode as this. However, it should not be surprising that they will complain about Dan and others like him given their arrogance. One can only guess that their frail little egos are bruised after receiving some negative commentary about the pathetic way in which they have been performing their jobs.

Here's a suggestion for all these journalists who like to complain about receiving negative comments: DO YOUR JOBS PROPERLY AND MAYBE YOU WON'T BE SEEN AS BUFFOONS THAT LACK ETHICS AND CREDIBILITY!

One would think that after Judy Miller, Bob Woodward, both Novaks, etc that the rest of the press might just get a clue! Sadly that seems to not be the case.

It's our country's loss...

Posted by: Christopher Fitch | December 12, 2005 05:23 PM

In response to John Harris's concerns that reader incorrectly believe that Dan is one of the Post's White House reporters, I can say that I did have that impression the first time I read his column... for about 30 seconds. If the post wants to know if it's readers are confused, then survey your readers and find out.

Posted by: John Hodson | December 12, 2005 05:23 PM

You know what, Mr Harris? You just crammed your foot even deeper into your mouth.

Posted by: Fairfax - again | December 12, 2005 05:24 PM

The following comments were sent to the ombudsman:

I disagree with your take on Dan Froomkin's online column. It is critical and Froomkin's voice is strong, but it's not necessarily liberal. By labeling it and him as such, aren't you contributing to today's polarized political climate -- where anyone who engages in critical thinking and analysis, any who challenges authority, is reflexively put in a box and dismissed? -Sam K., Emmaus PA

Posted by: Sam | December 12, 2005 05:24 PM

I agree with all who have gone before me in this thread. It is pathetic that any political reporter could complain about Dan. My only complaint is he hasn't yet been able to get the so-called reporters(in name only) to actually demand answers from the White House Press Secretary. They should be ashamed of themselves. I include all media in this, not just the WaPo. By the way, I thought the column was a column and therefore allowed to have a "voice." The Ombudsman really needs a refresher course in ombudsmanship! Perhaps listen to her readers as opposed to the reporters who are not(by definition) doing their job of covering the White House!

Posted by: Seattle Reader | December 12, 2005 05:25 PM

Keep up the great work. It was one of the few things on the web I look forward to reading every day.

Also, I agree you shouldn't take time off, it kind of ruins my day.

Posted by: John Wykoff | December 12, 2005 05:25 PM

Ms. Howell is worried that Dan Froomkin will keep her from getting invited to the best parties and events, by pushing the WaPo to the left. Her worry is not unfounded, however it is Woodward and his misty relationship with the truth she should be complaining about, not our friend Dan. WHB is one of the few places in current political reporting where truth speaks to power. With other reporters attached firmly to the posteriors of the Bush administration, we in the reading public deserve a source of truthful information and links in order to obtain facts and opinions about issues affecting our dialy lives. This Swiftboating attempt is undignified and inappropriate; Dan does his job and gives us what we want. Clearly, from the above, Howell does not. Get back to work, Deborah, and let's not have any more whining, young lady.

Posted by: zennurse | December 12, 2005 05:26 PM

Nothing new here, except to add my voice to those who enjoy reading someone who isn't incestuously "embedded" in the White House.

Last Thursday I watched a press conference in which Scott McClellan repeatedly commented about the White House belief that the air marshals acted correctly in shooting a passenger in Miami. Quote: "But the air marshals that were on this flight appear to have acted consistent with the extensive training that they have received, and that's important to note." This, when the investigation was less than 1 day old, and there were already conflicting reports on the air marshals actions!

I was waiting for someone, anyone, to stand up and say "Well, Scott, now that you have reversed your policy on not commenting on ongoing investigations...could you address what the President will do if Rove is indicted next week?" But not a peep.

I wish someone at the WaPo could understand the growing belief that the WH press corps is transforming itself into a bunch of tired lemmings, broken down by constantly butting up against WH stonewalling, or even a collection of sycophants afraid of offending their host, or gasp, being labled a "liberal."

Posted by: RickBoston | December 12, 2005 05:26 PM

Judging by the amount and veracity of the comments I've come to one conclusion.....Mr. Froomkin can sleep very well tonight.

Posted by: Paul | December 12, 2005 05:27 PM

John Harris wrote that many of us think that Dan is one of the three White Reporters. I don't see it. In addition, if he is a white house reporter wouldn't he be asking questions at the press briefings? He doesn't. He writes on what other people have asked or have not asked.

As for the 'liberal prism,' I just don't know how to respond to that. John obviously wants to see it that way; he will find the evidence to support such a belief. Good for him. I read John's column and see it as written through a 'conserative prism.' Big deal. You're human, accept it.

Posted by: Scott Neumann | December 12, 2005 05:28 PM

Rest easy, Washington Post reporters -- we get it. We KNOW you're pro-Bush.

Helping get us into the war was enough to burnish your Republican cred. You don't have to bash Froomkin too.

Posted by: mercury | December 12, 2005 05:29 PM

John Harris says: "Dan, as I understand his position, says that his commentary is not ideologically based, but _he acknowledges_ it is written with a certain irreverence and adversarial purpose."

Way to get a confession from the suspect, JH. Care to suggest a sentence for the crimes of "irreverence and adversarial purpose"?

Again, you are missing the point, which is that REAL journalists challenge what they are told, place it in context, and don't just shovel it onto the front page.

As has been noted, the President is a conservative republican, so who is a WH columnist supposed to direct their irreverence toward?

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 05:29 PM

I don't know what I'd without your column. You are on top of everything that is of interest to me and I download a number of your columns and "ref cites" for my grandchildren to read one day. Walter in Miami.

Posted by: wjwassoc@hotmail.com | December 12, 2005 05:29 PM

Add my name to those who consider this the best blog in the country. Dan is doing what reporters should be doing. Many of the articles written by people like Harris are so bent over trying to give equal time that they fail to report the truth. (Some people say that the sun will rise and some say it won't.) He should be published in the print edition.

Posted by: John Calhoun | December 12, 2005 05:30 PM

There could be no clearer evidence of the DC media's cluelessness than the comments about Froomkin's column in that public editor piece. Froomkin undermines the Wapo's credibility????? Actually calling the White House on its nonsense, connecting dots that a 4 year old could connect with a little thought, pointing out "inoperative" statements (i.e., lies) from the powerful-- isn't that the heart of what a "credible" political journalist does? I did not realize that Froomkin's column had no connection to the "credible" world of Woodward et al. Everything makes more sense now. And if "liberal" (which Froomkin supposedly is) means pointing out obvious falsehoods when spoken by our nation's leaders, then the Wapo is going to mess around and give the term credibility (there is that word again) it has not had since the so-called conservatives set out to discredit it years ago.

Posted by: Jeff | December 12, 2005 05:30 PM

Dear Mr. Harris,
It is interesting that you can "guarantee that many people who posted here would not be Froomkin enthusiasts" if he were writing about a Kerry administration. Sadly, you reveal your own bias, your lack of understanding of the Froomkin column, and a profound lack of appreciation for the Froomkin reader.

Posted by: Dave Marks | December 12, 2005 05:30 PM

Contrary to what we might be led to believe by the constant repetition of the phrase 'liberal media bias,'(by whom, I wonder, other than the supposedly liberal media...) the reason there is a Consitutional right to a free press is not to present a 'balanced' view of politics, but to provide a check against governmental power.

The First Amendment is not about making sure that every point has a counterpoint, but about shining a light on what the government is doing and saying as a way of holding the it accountable to the people.

This is what Froomkin does, and he does it, not by expressing his opinions or bias, but by presenting facts and information about what the administration says and does.

The White House press corps, on the other hand, seems to think that its function is to help the Administration deliver its talking points effectively. Why Ms. Howell chooses to side with the latter version of journalism against the former is the real scandal here.

Posted by: Alan | December 12, 2005 05:31 PM

Okay...Summing up the above:

Froomkin is great!
Froomkin should not have to change his title!
Bush must be criticized at all costs!
Froomkin is not liberal!
(Not that there is anything wrong with being liberal).
No conservative needs to be hired to balance Froomkin!

Sounds like you folks like Froomkin because he IS liberal.

Seriously, if it is entitled "White House Briefing" and begins usually with a critique of the latest White House Press Briefing...it is logical for readers to think Froomkin is reporting from the White House.

Froomkin is liberal, and does whack the Bushies regularly. And that is his right.

But why not change the title, and remove any possible confusion?

The passionate resistance evident here to any change, however minor, suggests a strong bias ("Push back, Push back") common to the right/left blog wars.

Posted by: Peter | December 12, 2005 05:32 PM

"White House Droppings", "White House Unbriefing" or "Chief Executive Re-Cap"... I really don't care what you call it, I'll still read it.

Froomkin provides a valuable service to readers of WP.com who can appreciate someone thoughtfully sifting through all the stories/press releases available in the media to point out some that are particularly significant or revealing about what the chief executive officer of our country is doing - good or bad. Wake up Ombudsman, this is the future of how people want their news delivered, it is not a threat to those hard working journalists who report it.

Posted by: Scott in DC | December 12, 2005 05:32 PM

This controversy has now been noted at Editor & Publisher! Which is another must read if you like Dan's column. (And it sounds like one or two people here do.)

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/index.jsp

Posted by: Richard Kimble | December 12, 2005 05:33 PM

Froomkin is doing a great job. Keep up the good work, Dan!

Ms. Howell: Please reread your job description. As the ombudsman you are supposed to be the READER's representative, not the representative of the newsroom stenographers of the print edition crew. Journalism is about reporting the facts, which is what Froomkin does, not about "he said she said" reports that don't correlate what "he" and "she" said against the actual facts.

Posted by: quake | December 12, 2005 05:35 PM

Dear WaPo: Please fire Dan Froomkin. That way I can know for sure that you're intent on flushing the little credibility you have left down the toilet, and never have to waste the effort to separate the reporting from the stenography, the wheat from the chaff.

Or, alternatively, don't be so bloody stupid.

Posted by: Nick S | December 12, 2005 05:36 PM

Mr Harris' comment is appreciated, but color me doubtful. He tells us he reads Froomkin as coming from a liberal bias, but I would suggest to Mr. Harris the obvious- that he is read this way because addressing the truths of this administration and the facts on the ground in DC, any conservative will bristle at all the bad news. If Dan Froomkin is causing problems for other reporters, I believe it has more to do with the truth emerging in the pages of the Washington Post and that the paper is percieved as less of a Bush shill than it has been historically. If WaPo reporters "can't handle the truth", they should either learn from Froomkin or move to a small town paper where they can be the big fish in a little pond. It is beyond my realm of belief that this has anything to do with the name of Dan's column; rather, this has everything to do with office sniping and petty jealousies and competition. With the multitude of issues swirling in Our Capitol, I would expect the management at the Washington Post would tell the children to go sit in the naughty chair and get over themselves.

Posted by: zennurse | December 12, 2005 05:38 PM

Why don't you just get rid of Deborah Howell instead.

Posted by: Michael C. Gredell | December 12, 2005 05:38 PM


It's not about 'liberal' or 'conservative'.

It's about facts and the truth.

Apparently the people complaining don't want the truth told.

Posted by: JB (not John Bolton) | December 12, 2005 05:39 PM

Even a cursory glance at the column is enough to assure anyone that Froomkin's column isn't a news article. 'White House Briefing' is no more misleading than 'Washington Sketch' or any number of other titles used on the website. Maybe every column and article that questions anything about the current administration should be linked in flashing red letters, with a little skull and crossbones next to it?

I have news for the ombudsman: People are still going to have a problem with White House Briefing no matter what it's called. But in a time when even Republican pundits are waking up and beginning to scrutinize this President, the word "liberal" is no longer a useful brush which which to tar dissenters. Leave Froomkin alone.

Posted by: Travis | December 12, 2005 05:40 PM

In response to John Harris

" this is Dan Froomkin's take on the news, not the observations of someone who is assigned by the paper to cover the news."

And therein lies the whole problem with the today's mainstream media. Covering the news also means pointing out when statements are made that are contrary to verifiable facts. When a Republican states that 2 + 2 = 5, it is not liberal to point out that 2 + 2 actually equals 4. It is good reporting! Either your reporters in to newsroom are too lackadaisical (Dana Priest excepting) to do anything beyond he said she said stenography or your editorial constraints are designed to pull the paper toward Fox "News". Either way the problem is with your newsroom and not Mr. Froomkin's writing.

Posted by: Norm | December 12, 2005 05:40 PM

Of course Deborah Howell is wrong about Froomkin's column. This is one of the best things going for either the printed or the web Post enterprise. And yes, it is a White House Briefing. (It's also the only column of the Post that I check regularly). Instead of finding fault Deborah should be putting in a word with the powers that be to give Dan a raise. He deserves it.

Posted by: Leigh Hauter | December 12, 2005 05:41 PM

I read the Washingtonpost everyday and I think Froomkin's column is one of the best the paper has. He's informative, funny, and provides a broad perspective by linking what other news organizations are saying. It's a highlight in my week and please leave it alone!

Posted by: Echo Park | December 12, 2005 05:42 PM

Dear Dan,
I must tell you that your column is the only thing I come to the post to read. I find it offensive that the (so-called) reporters are complaining about it, (jealous of the hits the column gets?) As I wrote to the ombuds(woman) yesterday, I find your posts to be incredibly informative, and you always provide important links that contain valuable information. You actually make up for all the egregious reporting done by others at the Post. As for transparency, I find your work and integrity above reproach. How dare those reporters criticize your column, when they themselves are the masters of NON-DISCLOSURE....Take for instance, Jim VandeHei...who has been writing article after article about the CIA leak investigation, with a right leaning slant. Has he disclosed ... that his wife is a former congressional staffer for Tom DeLay. Apparently that makes her a Republican. We "could" assume from that, many of Mr. VandeHei's sourcing's are from "right wing ideologues" WHY...has Mr VandeHei never disclosed this? All those times he appeared on MSNBC and other news outlets to display his upcoming articles NEVER ONCE has he disclosed, this VERY pertinent information. I think ALL of the DC "insider" reporters need to do some VERY SERIOUS soul searching......The bloggers are WAY ahead of them on disseminating information. After the Woodward debacle, the Post had better think twice before doing ANYTHING with your column...unless of course they want to lose more readers.

Posted by: PattyLou | December 12, 2005 05:43 PM

I check in online for this column everyday during my workday and I can't rest until it's finally posted. When I read the whole thing, I email it to my son and we discuss every last word. Somedays I have to wait longer than other days when there are "technical difficulties."

So let me get to the point and say what I really mean: if the WaPo pulls this column, I'll picket! I'm sick to my stomach over Bob Woodward and the rest of bushbuttkissin' media establishment. I enjoy this column (and Tina Brown's too) and it better stay up! Are we clear?

All ya'll political editors who should be doing their job of speaking-truth-to-power-and-not-kissin'-republican-butt. By the way, I saw Fredd Hiatt on that CNBC/Russert show on Saturday and he could use a personality and emotion transplant.

Again, most WaPo political writers and editors should take a lesson from Froomkin.

Posted by: Nancy from Philadelphia | December 12, 2005 05:43 PM

When I read Howell's column I was thunderstruck. Like many others, I read the Washington Post primarily for Froomkin's column. Her notion, echoed by Harris, that there is confusion over the name of the column, is ludicrous. My major complaint about Dan's writings is that often the newspaper's technical staff can't get its act together such that when searching for "Froomkin," the response is zero articles. I often have to try several times before the right page comes up. I am tempted to wonder if Howell or Harris is behind this frequent glitch. Even Rove wouldn't stoop that low to discredit someone.

Posted by: Paul Alper | December 12, 2005 05:45 PM

As I read all the comments above, all I can say is "ditto."

The press is supposed to uncover what's going on in order to enlighten the public. There are lots of reporters who need to remember this. Dan definitely is not one of them. He is the best thing about the WaPo.

Posted by: Kristine | December 12, 2005 05:45 PM

I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Harris's latest post. While it is true many of the people reading here would probably not read Froomkin in the event he was critical of a domocratic white house (echo chamber, anyone?), he would have a new set of enthusiasts in such an event. I believe many reporters are best served by focusing their priority on comparing the factual record to political developements. If they focus on this, they don't need to worry as much about how their work will be ideologically percieved. I realize White House reporters would feel threatened by a tag of liberal bias (thus possibly complicating their ability to collect information in an ultra-competitive environment), but I would caution against being held hostage by a need to be percieved as nuetral. I realize the political landscape evolves slowly relative to the news cycle, but if storys focus on comparison to objective facts (as closely as possible), they will fulfill a responsibility towards producing good journalism (regardless if they are seen as liberal or conservative at the time of publication).

Posted by: Nat | December 12, 2005 05:46 PM

Perhaps this White House really does engage in a vast disinformation campaign. Perhaps Bush, McClellan, and Cheney often distort the truth. Perhaps the White House does work hard to weed out any dissenting voices. Perhaps the Washington Post is so fearful of right-wing ambush that they are sure to include balance (aka biasing) their hard news to appease would-be critics. None of those suggestions are beyond the realm of possibility.

Thank heavens for Dan Froomkin. His column is hardly liberal. Shame on the post for confusing critical of the administration with critizing the administration. We need way more of the former and embarassingly, Froomkin's column is often a lone voice in the Washington Post's wilderness.

Posted by: David in KY | December 12, 2005 05:47 PM

Keep up the good work, Dan! You are so right, somebody in the press needs to hold the politicans feet to the fire.

Posted by: Ray Brosinska | December 12, 2005 05:49 PM

Mr. Fromkin,

Please don't let them change your title. Every time I'm on the WPost website, I always look for your column first because you do offer many perspectives. And I agree with your assessment that the presidency should be open to scrutiny, and especially the Bush one because he is not forthright, seems a bit dim on occasion, and cant' get away with acting like the king with no clothes. I think it's insulting for him to give nicknames without expecting one in kind, say for instance dumb bunny or something close that.

Posted by: Calixta | December 12, 2005 05:50 PM

I disagree with the conclusion that Mr. Froomkin's regular column dilutes the Washington Post's credibility. On the contrary, unlike some of the Post's and other newspapers' political reporters, Mr. Froomkin appears to have no personal conflict of interest with the subjects he covers. The public has become increasingly aware of the compromises and quid pro quo exchanges some journalists make or appear to make with the subjects they cover in order to obtain their stories. The White House has contributed to this atmosphere. Froomkin's "metacoverage" appears to have the benefit of avoiding these problems. Plus, any reader would or should know he is not a White House Reporter.

Posted by: Thomas Gannon | December 12, 2005 05:50 PM

Mr. Harris' response may be well intentioned, but it reads as smug and condescending. Please do not presume to know what our political beliefs simply because we are fans of Mr. Froomkin. If you persist in believing that Washingtonpost.com readers are too dimwitted to determine if Dan is a White House reporter, then by all means, change the name of his column. But you all will be better served to look at the larger issues being brought to light by this entire incident. Dan is obviously filling a void that Washington Post readers are not getting from traditional political reporters. Why is that? What can you all do to fix that?

Posted by: Rachel | December 12, 2005 05:51 PM

Mr. Froomkin is spot on.

His column is a breath of fresh air. He tells it like it is and doesn't sugar coat.

If John Kerry were President today, Mr. Froomkin would be just as tough on Kerry as he is on Bush.

The post Ombudsman is way off on this one and should apologize.

Posted by: Mary (New York, NY) | December 12, 2005 05:51 PM

Mr. Harris writes, among other things, "People in the [Post] newsroom want to end this confusion," referring to Froomkin's status regarding WH reportage.

Nonsense. Harris must live and move in a bubble. The only people who complain about the WHB to Harris live in the bubble too. Or is that an echo chamber?

The only real confusion I sense is confusion in the Post newsroom about the meaning of meaningful political reporting.

Oh, and I like Dana Priest too. And I also emailed Yardley's top-ten 2005 books to, like, everybody.

Posted by: Kris Stoever | December 12, 2005 05:52 PM

I don't understand the credibility concern. Anyone who actually reads the column should know that it is a compilation of works by others.

I read Froomkin's column to find out what is being said in other publications, without actually having to read all those other publications. Did it occur to Ms. Howell that eliminating Froomkin's column would force loyal Washingtonpost.com readers to go to other sites and news sources to find the information? Shouldn't your goal be to attract readers, rather than drive them away?

Posted by: Marianne | December 12, 2005 05:53 PM

I cannot believe this is happening to Dan but then again WaPo is part of the Neocon establishment and went to the dark side a long time ago. I can assure you that Harris and Howell got their marching orders direct from the Whitehouse - Cheney's office to be presided - followed up by one those famous Rove calls that everyone will conveniently forget in the future.

Posted by: Yara | December 12, 2005 05:54 PM


Froomkin is in trouble.

Foomkin, you have been noticed by those in control. Robert Scheer at the Los Angeles Times recently learned that it is not wise to criticize the controllers. They will fire anyone who pretends to demand the old-fashioned version of truth.

In the new corporate world of "fair and balance," truth, it seems, lies somewhere between what two pre-screened pundits have to say.

Ethics, wisdom, getting the story right are so 20th Century. So Dan, get on the bandwagon and march to victory with the winners...through Baghdad, Tehran, and Pyongyang! And you will be rewarded...or not (there may not be any money left).

Posted by: Valeo | December 12, 2005 05:55 PM

The editors and DC reporters called Froomkin out, and hit it spot-on. I am tired of "Froomkin's voice," and his position and (unintentional) posing as a Washington Post DC "briefer" -- which is the Post's fault, not his. It certainly did lead me to believe the Post was out to get Bush at all costs. I mean, if you believe Karl Rove is responsible solely for the Plame game (and you want to wade through five to six Web pages of this type of intense insider garbage, that, as we all saw, led to no evidence so far of CIA-outing), and that Bush/Rove is Satan, and that Bush is responsible for the destruction of the Garden of Eden, Froomkin is your "blogger." But WH Briefing? Take the name off and put Froomkin out in the liberal blogosphere where he belongs. By the way, Dan, Kerry didn't win, so we won't ever be able to test your claim. Any other straw men to toss?
--chim

Posted by: chim | December 12, 2005 05:55 PM

Mr. Harris--Sorry, you're out to lunch. Mr. Froomkin's column is the only thing that still gives the Washington Post any integrity whatsoever. Given the downward trajectory of the Post over the past decade, however, it's not surprising that you don't see this. Or your "editors" or "reporters".

Posted by: wufnik | December 12, 2005 06:04 PM

It is entirely typical for a knee-jerk Bush fanatic to make a statement that dissenters believe "Bush/Rove is Satan and that Bush is responsible for the destruction of the Garden of Eden" and then in the next breath howl against the use of straw men. Forget straws, you should have that beam in your eye checked out.

Posted by: Travis | December 12, 2005 06:04 PM

Froomkin needs 'balance'? Please. Let me know when there's going to be a page that balances the WaPo editorials, which insists that the Iraq War was a great idea, as is phasing out Social Security, and any Democrat who opposes or criticizes either idea isn't being helpful.

Reporters, if you don't want to be criticized, here are some steps:
1. Check your facts
2. Don't re-use sources who lie to you
3. Don't help political figures craft their strategy by telling them stuff you won't tell the public.
4. If you are personally involved in a story, refrain from commenting on it publicly unless it is to reveal your own involvement. Your goal is not to emulate Woodward or Miller.
5. While we're on Woodward, you're not "in the business of keeping secrets"---you're in the business of uncovering the truth and telling the public.

Posted by: JoshA | December 12, 2005 06:08 PM

Based on this pathetic attempt at a retort, John Harris should be reprimanded by the Washington Post for an obvious smear campaign against one of the few honest voices at the paper.

Deborah Howell, a recent hire by the WaPo, should fare no better. As a Minnesota native, I'm completely aware of the very conservative positions of her former employer - the Saint Paul Pioneer Press (a.k.a the Washington Times of the Midwest). It appears that this conservative disease within the WaPo, and journalism as a whole, remains unabated. I'll be reading....

Posted by: Matt in D.C. | December 12, 2005 06:08 PM

Harris: "credibility"? You chose the wrong word there, didn't you John? Laughable and cowardly. Howell: You should be ashamed of yourself. Contemptible.
Froomkin: Surely you can get another gig somewhere where they'll appreciate you?
I agree: This does not bode well for The Washington Post.

Posted by: dan in new york | December 12, 2005 06:08 PM

I don't think anyone cares about whether or not the name is changed or a banner sized OPINION piped across the top.

The thing people are rofl over is that ANYONE, much less journalists who supposed read from a critical perspective, would read Froomkin's pieces as reported pieces rather than op pieces.

They are also scratching their heads over why pointing out poor journalism and vapid Administration text messages is somehow equated with being liberal. So Chuck Hagel and John Murtha are liberals? While Jack Abramoff is a conservative? So pointing out anything "bad" about Abramoff = a need to have a "conservative" voice to balance?

What tripe is that? Ad hominem arguments indeed!

It is not a "liberal" vs "conservative" approach to point out bad writing or complaints about poor reporting either.

If reporters are getting too cozy with sources and dispensing with critical analysis in favor of stenography, just so they keep "insider access" that is neither a conservative nor liberal matter - it is a broad issue that affects the industry as a whole. For reporters to have "the vapors" bc someone points out that there pieces lack logical coherence or evidence of independent questioning is silly.

When, for example, a piece about the Viveka Novak/Luskin et al situation makes no effort to provide any kind of critical analysis to the dutifully re-typed "sources close to Luskin" statements about exoneration, that is pretty pathetic.

OTOH - I am all for having good even handed critical reporting. But for the Post and other media outlets to not only let politicians teach their reporters to heel, but then supply the prong collars for those that nonetheless engage in independent efforts, is disheartening.

Questioning WTH people in the Administration are ACTUALLY SAYING about torture - that is not a liberal frolic and detour - the most conservative conservatives in Europe are questioning those same things. It is a matter of trying to get the truth out. The fact that the Administration has become so synonymous with untruth does not mean exposure of those untruths is suddenly somehow a liberal function, to be equally balanced by conservative cover up efforts.

Absolutely, if you feel the site needs a name change do it. If you think, however, that anyone who is reading with an analytic mind is swayed by the

"oh, it's liberal to say that it looks fishy that Kidan & Abramoff's Casinos made a 250,000 catering payment to a mob connection and there never seems to have been an event catered"

well, they aren't.

All you have to do to regain credibility is exercise independent, objective, analytic reporting. Not delete a weblog. Not continue to promote access and soundbites and stenographic excellence.

Conversely, eliminate anything you want and you will never recapture your crediblity as long as you continue to promote access, soundbite and stenography.

Your call WP.

Posted by: Mary | December 12, 2005 06:09 PM

Well after reading Harris' and Howell's posts on this topic, apparently Dan's column will soon be renamed

"Philistine Drivel"

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 06:10 PM

I would like to add my support to the rest.

Doesn't Howell know that the public are hungry for facts. Dan's work feeds this need. His humour is a bonus. He treats his readers as though they have a functioning brain.

Personally I hope someone sees the response here about his work and offers him double his salary to come work for them. The Washington Post doesn't deserve him.

Also perhaps if the "real" reporters are reading these messages they might have the grace to feel ashamed since they obviously don't fulfill the needs of the readers they pretend they serve.

Posted by: Curious | December 12, 2005 06:10 PM

It's simply astonishing that after the Woodward fiasco someone is actually targetting Froomkin.

Astonishing.

(When will Woodward get fired?)

Posted by: ethan | December 12, 2005 06:12 PM

I read Froomkin's column almost everyday and never believed that he is a White House reporter. He certainly never said or gave the impression that he was a White House reporter.

However, I'm not surprised by the criticism of Froomkin from his colleagues and others from the right. The Washington Post like most media entities are, in fact, mouths of the corporate establishment who are natural allies of the Republican party primarily. The whole "liberal media" is a myth created to hide the corporate agenda.

The Washington Post staff for the most part has have acted as warmongers and advocates for the Bush Administration since 9/11. Consequently, it is not surprising that they resent critiques from the Internet media as well as bloggers who gleefully point out their obvious failures.

Posted by: Simone, Miami | December 12, 2005 06:12 PM

So many have already voiced their support.
I noticed "Jim" mentioned Mallaby's sneak attack on John Kerry in an article about Wal-mart. I wrote to Ms. Howell about that and received no response. And yet she chooses to tell us readers that "some" reporters and editors are uncomfortable with Dan's supposed liberal bias. I still can't get over how "liberal" has become a dirty word in American political discourse, but that's beside the point. I agree with the other posters that Dan is about accountability and not partisanship.

About the title: a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So go ahead, change the title. Just don't try to change Dan. (although I suspect if he were pressured to back off posting criticisms of the White House administration, he'd leave)

Posted by: Anne Dickson, CAN. | December 12, 2005 06:13 PM

Go Froomkin! Rah! Rah!
It's time to return to real journalism and beat the opposing team.

Posted by: Suzanne (Auntie Suzi) | December 12, 2005 06:13 PM

Please, how insecure are these Post political reporters. They should be thanking Froomkin instead of complaining about his column. If not for his column I may never had read many of their stories. I tend to agree with the seniment expressed by many here, maybe these reporters should try doing their job of reporting what is going on at the WH instead of simply printing the daily WH talking points.

Posted by: Dean | December 12, 2005 06:13 PM

What is striking to me is that Ms. Howell and Mr. Harris seem to have declared war on Mr. Froomkin without giving him the opportunity to assauge their concerns. If the real complaint is perceived confusion as to whether Mr. Froomkin is a "White House reporter", my question is whether anyone ever broached this subject with Mr. Froomkin or his editors before personally and publicly attacking him, his beliefs and his credibility in the Ombudsmen column of the Post? Mr. Froomkin stated that he was "happy to consider" ways to telegraph that he was not a Post White House reporter. So why was that option not explored before publicly smearing him as someone who "dilutes" the Post's credibility? It would appear that conclusions about Mr. Froomkin and his column were published without much thought or research and were based upon relatively uninformed opinion - perhaps the "highly opinionated" label is more appropriate to those wielding it.

Seems to me that Mr. Froomkin is the only one with clean hands in this. He has remained dignified, professional, and has tried to stay above the fray. He was forced to defend his column, but he has said nothing nothing negative about Ms. Howell, Mr. Harris, or anyone else at the Post. I commend his restraint.

Posted by: gallery place | December 12, 2005 06:14 PM

Please, how insecure are these Post political reporters. They should be thanking Froomkin instead of complaining about his column. If not for his column I may never had read many of their stories. I tend to agree with the seniment expressed by many here, maybe these reporters should try doing their job of reporting what is going on at the WH instead of simply printing the daily WH talking points.

Posted by: Dean | December 12, 2005 06:15 PM

For those of us "outside the Beltway", Dan Froomkin's column offers great insights on current issues, from many sources. It's one of the columns I look forward to every day.

Peter
Sierra Vista, AZ

Posted by: Peter of th Desert | December 12, 2005 06:15 PM

(1) Dan Froomkin's column serves a very valuable service. It is unique in the "major" papers. (2) I fail to see how anyone who has an 8th grade education or more could misunderstand the nature of the column. (3) Doesn't the ombudsman have more to do with her time than chase this bogus issue? Apparently Bob Woodward and his cohorts can't tolerate some probing scrutiny of the WH. (This whole witchhunt reeks of entreched privilege in fear of innovation and accountability.)

Posted by: Thomas Butch | December 12, 2005 06:16 PM

Whew. Lot of good comments. Well-deserved.
I took immediate issue with Ms. Howells's comments, and still do. The last thing the Post needs is a "conservative blogger" for purposes of balance. It's not about balance; it's about accountability. Dan is blessed with attitude and sensibilities and smarts. He cuts through the BS and for this I am grateful. After reading a column or two, people who don't get what WHB is all about are probably not the market for this particular take on reality.

Posted by: Sharon | December 12, 2005 06:17 PM

Want to know why we need Froomkin? Read this:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007193.php

-

Posted by: Hank Essay | December 12, 2005 06:19 PM

I couldn't care less what Dan Foomkin's column is called, but I think your editors may be missing a subtle point. The column isn't just about the President-- it's frequently about the White House Briefing. And McClellan and the reporters questioning him are an interesting cast of characters in their own right.
I've never confused Froomkin with a staffer at the White briefing, but thanks to him I have a lot more insight into who those staffers are, the nature of the questions they ask, and how ultimately their reporting does or does not reflect what transpires on any given day. Bravo, Dan! Not all of us can be C-SPAN junkies to watch these briefings live.

Posted by: Diane | December 12, 2005 06:20 PM

I am disappointed with both the tone and substance of the newsroom backbiting relayed in the ombudsman's oolumn. Perhaps if Mr. Harris and his colleagues were doing a better job of holding the White House accountable, rather than embellishing the line-of-the-day, they would be less defensive. Dan Froomkin's column is excellent and unfortunately unique among those journalists who supposedly cover the White House. I propose the WH briefing be changed to WH "analysis." This would not only be accurate but would confront his so-called colleagues in the newsroom with the shallowness of much of their own work.

Posted by: Steve Ponder | December 12, 2005 06:21 PM

Dan, I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read what your ombudsman had to say.

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: John in Missouri | December 12, 2005 06:21 PM

For a foreigner with limited time Froomkin is the one essential daily source to american politics.
And maybe it should be said that for a lot of american reporters journalistic ethics look a lot like a coffin.

Posted by: Jan, Denmark | December 12, 2005 06:25 PM

Oh my god. If the Post gets rid of Dan Froomkin, or muzzles him, it will be the worst thing that could happen to the paper.

Froomkin follows up stories that the main pages ignore. He asks questions that the "reporters" don't ask. He's the only person I see at the Post covering the news from the reader's point of view, rather than being a lapdog to whichever Anonymous Source has favored the "journalist" with his or her lies, half-truths, and innuendo.

If the Post wants to hire a "conservative Froomkin" and give him/her a daily column, fine, go for it. Though I believe Froomkin when he says that he'd go after a Dem admin just as hard.

The basic problem is that the current White House has a contempt for truth, fairness, AND THE MEDIA that is unprecedented. Even Nixon's people didn't dare as much because they didn't think they could get away with as much.

And yet the media have proved themselves professionally bankrupt. It's the consciences of those failed journalists that motivates their attacks on Froomkin.

Posted by: Andy Lowry | December 12, 2005 06:25 PM

The sheer volume of responses has hopefully illustrated the folly of Howell's and Harris' comments on WHB.

WHB is the must-read column for me on WaPo.com. I have read it now for over a year, and am thrilled every time. Froomkin not only provides a comprehensive anthology, but fills the gaps where they exist, and points out - usually painfully obvious - flaws in the media coverage of the White House.

Froomkin's tenor reflects what he has to work with. A more honest, transparent and open White House would not require fact-checking and multiple repeats of the same question without a response. Harris should point the finger at himself, because WaPo's political coverage of this WH has been average at best, and could learn something about journalistic insight from Froomkin.

I am deeply concerned by the chilling effect by Howell as the ombudsman. There are plenty of problems in US journalism at the moment. To focus on Froomkin is laughable, but also extremely worrisome, bespeaking the continued efforts by people to quench dissent and honest analysis.

Posted by: Roland | December 12, 2005 06:30 PM

Froomkin's work is the antithesis of that which repeats and repackages White House talking points without verifying, questioning, contrasting or clarifying the administration's point of view. Dan's many links lead to a broad perspective on topical issues. I am a more informed person for reading his column.
I sense complaints against him are sour grapes. Please do not censor his voice.

Posted by: Cee | December 12, 2005 06:31 PM

Here's an idea Dan:

To keep readers of WPNI from confusing your column with the political reporters at the paper, start each column with daily "marching orders" for the real political reporters. Besides, if they were asking the hard questions themselves and getting real answers, they'd probably pat themselves on the back for putting your column to rest.

Posted by: Drew | December 12, 2005 06:31 PM

The sheer volume of responses has hopefully illustrated the folly of Howell's and Harris' comments on WHB.

WHB is the must-read column for me on WaPo.com. I have read it now for over a year, and am thrilled every time. Froomkin not only provides a comprehensive anthology, but fills the gaps where they exist, and points out - usually painfully obvious - flaws in the media coverage of the White House.

Froomkin's tenor reflects what he has to work with. A more honest, transparent and open White House would not require fact-checking and multiple repeats of the same question without a response. Harris should point the finger at himself, because WaPo's political coverage of this WH has been average at best, and could learn something about journalistic insight from Froomkin.

I am deeply concerned by the chilling effect by Howell as the ombudsman. There are plenty of problems in US journalism at the moment. To focus on Froomkin is laughable, but also extremely worrisome, bespeaking the continued efforts by people to quench dissent and honest analysis.

Posted by: Roland | December 12, 2005 06:31 PM

I often spend a good deal of time every morning reading other publications only to arrive at "The White House Briefing" and learn that Froomkin has read every one of those AND has analysis on them. Froomkin does a lot of heavy lifting for the Post, day after day after day. He is amazing.

Maybe it takes a strong ego to do the job of journalism these days, I don't know. But, there are plenty of prima donnas in your business who seem to worry more about their image and relationships than asking tough intelligent questions, collecting facts, and reporting with integrity. When their behavior undermines the public's right to know about the operation of American government - everyone has reason for outrage. Given the recent failures within journalism to do responsible work, the political reporters and editor sweating the title of Froomkin's column "dilutes the credibility of the newspaper."

Posted by: Steve in Washington | December 12, 2005 06:32 PM

If you dolts mess with Froomkin, I'm through with you. Elderly Preacher

Posted by: G J Adams | December 12, 2005 06:38 PM

Good reporting is not found often at the Post these days, and Froomkin is a welcome relief.
You other reporters don't like that? Get with it. Stop whining. Do your job, and REPORT.

Posted by: lanya | December 12, 2005 06:40 PM

When you actually take a look at the definition of the work liberal such as: "open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values" or "favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms" when did this every become a "bad" word?

But we all know what emotions this lable is supposed to provoke. You picked a particularly tough target Ombudsmen -- because most of what Dan write are quotes of other people and links to the original source. I don't think he's biased at all. But he certainly seems to have a better functioning memory vs. the "reporters" at the Washington Post.

He is willing and able to point out the many flip-flops, half-truths or outright lies of the Bush administration and I am sure would be happy to be an equal opportunity offender for any other administration Republican & Democrat.

Dear Mr. Froomkin if you every find your work environment to be too hostile. Consider setting up your own column. We'll google for you -- in case the Post tries to hide the truth -- Bob Novak style :-)

Posted by: Mark Pratt | December 12, 2005 06:40 PM

john harris:

"the title invites confusion. it dilutes our only asset -- our credibility."


translation:

froomkin is being disloyal.

his column column points up our deficiences in reporting and reminds readers that there are othere credible sources available to them apart from articles by our political reporters.


statement:

apart from pincus, the washington post political reporters and columnist have no credibility with me whatsoever.


how could anyone take harris' complaint seriously?. what kind of reader would be coonfused for more than a minute or two. and if confused momentarily , what could possibly be the negative consequences?

oh, i get it. karl has been complaining to harris.

has harris ever confused readers by, say, omitting relevant facts he knew that a source would be unhappy or an editor might lodge a complaint?


sophistry, like this from harris, is the common stuff of internal organizational debates and is intended to diminish and discipline an individual member of the organization. you see the same sophistry in corporations and universities.


with political reporting especially, the behavior of editors like harris has had disasterous consequence on the acuity and crticial nature of what gets reported, especially from this white house.

having "disciplinary actions" like this hanging over your head is precisley why the washington post political reporting staff engages in the mushy, timid, butt-sniffing political reporting they do.

and it is why the post increasingly fails to serve the public need for critical information about government.

this matter, of course, will be resolved by conflict-avoiding editors who will sever the baby's body and declare the problem solved.


i would add:

it speaks very poorly for the new wapo omnsbudsman that she would support this kind of undermining of froomkin.

Posted by: orionATL | December 12, 2005 06:43 PM

Add me to the legion of Froomkinites. He is carrying on a grand tradition that's nearly been lost in the onslaught of Pravda-style "reporting" in the Era of the Mighty Republican Wurlitzer.

Oh, those pesky FACTS! They really get in the way of the propaganda.

If you change anything about White House Briefing, it should be only this-- PUT IT HIGHER ON THE FRONT PAGE.

Posted by: Sandia Blanca | December 12, 2005 06:43 PM

The comments posted here pretty much confirm the points that John Harris, Deborah Howell, and others are making. The Left loves Froomkin because he bashes Bush and other conservatives. Froomkin claims he just seems like a liberal because he's holding the administration accountable. He says he'd do the same for a Kerry Administration. Why then did he rarely bother to challenge the Democratic candidate in the campaign? And why does he so seldom challenge and hold accountable the country's many powerful liberals?

Posted by: steve | December 12, 2005 06:46 PM

I read Dan Balz's political discussion today and someone mentioned the three reporters (Miller, Woodward, Novak) who all are in trouble now for covering up for their sources rather than informing the public. Balz replied, "I don't agree that this all has to do with is protecting access. That may be a partial motivation for some of those involved, but there are other reasons for what happened. Also, I think each of these cases is distinctly different."

I think this shows the disconnect from what your readers see in much the same way as John Harris' comments above.

Here's what your readers see: We see the "news" sections bending over backwards to present "he said, she said" journalism, often relying on anonymous sources. We are looking for more. Much more. We want you to start talking about context. We want you to start analyzing the veracity of your sources. We want you to understand why the Plame story is totally and completely a story of the White House and the Press.PLAMEGATE COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT A COMPLIENT PRESS CORPS.

This is not about party affiliations. How many times do we have to say this? You just make automatic assumptions that anyone bashing Bush is a liberal-commie who hates the US. Does it occur to you that the country functions better when you challenge the power stuctures like you are supposed to?

We just want you to do your jobs, and Froomkin is the closest we get on a day-to-day basis.

Posted by: Joy in Minnesota | December 12, 2005 06:46 PM

Mr. Harris - I do want to say that I find it refreshing that you took the time to address this thread of comments. I suspect you decided to respond because of the volume of comments and a bit of a one-sided outpouring to the ombudsman.

I do have a bit of an issue (and I suspect many others do as well) when you write, "I perceive a good bit of his commentary on the news as coming through a liberal prism--or at least not trying very hard to avoid such perceptions."

What would be your examples of his liberalism? And, don't you give yourself quite a bit of wiggle room with that statement? How does one try very hard to avoid those perceptions? And, finally - have you considered that your perception of his comments might be colored by your own political beliefs or at least by the intense reaction your reporters and their sources have to his column?

You ask - "If he were a White House reporter for a major news organization, would it be okay for him to write in the fashion he does?"

Why not? Can you give us reasons why that would be the case? What specific examples can you give us as to why his columns violate White House reporter norms? From the perspective here, it is because he is singularly focused on taking apart White House talking points and other administration talking points. What's wrong with that?

Lastly, I want to follow up with a question I asked above. I suspect I might want to ask it of you. Were you the editor who "balanced out" Chris Cillizsa's post about corruption? If so, why? What he wrote was factually correct. If you weren't that editor - do you condone that action?

Posted by: DBJ | December 12, 2005 06:46 PM

"Dilutes the credibility of the newpaper"... was she being serious? The only credibility that newspapers have is when they are seriously attempting to find and report the truth. And by that standard, Froomkin is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. If the fragile flowers in the administration and the newsroom can no longer take criticism, perhaps they should try other lines of work.

And if the Washington Post wants to join the government propaganda payroll and silence all dissenters, we readers will just go to alternative media and the newspapers can go the way of the dinosaurs. Your choice.

Posted by: lj | December 12, 2005 06:47 PM

I have one ...no,no, two things to say about Ms Howell.


"Tar and Feathers!"

Posted by: Kathi | December 12, 2005 06:49 PM

Well, even if I am unwittingly aiding Mr. Froomkin's contract negotiations, I still want to add my voice to the chorus of support for his work. The fact that so many avid news readers seek out Dan Froomkin's column as a must read of every week day is evidence enough of the quality of the content. There is a lot of competition out there. Judging by today's responses to the critique on Sunday, a number of people go to the WP's website to seek out Dan's column as a quick reference for what to read - this is a clear advantage for the paper and all it's reporters. You can put up a mountain between the Post's reporting staff and the web site's columnists and blogs - call the column what ever you like, but the Post should consider it a gift that they have Froomkin and a dynamic website with daily briefings and blogs to drive even more readers to the paper.

Posted by: renee | December 12, 2005 06:53 PM

"The confusion Dan's column unintentionally creates about the reporter's role has itself become an obstacle to our work.

John Harris
National Politics Editor"

Not if you and your reporters really did their work.

And don't be so presumptuous as to state that if Kerry were in office, Froomkin's readership would dry up. That's a weak assertion and insulting to your readers.

Rather than attack Mr. Froomkin, see how you can create a better paper with him.

Posted by: Mike Angelini | December 12, 2005 06:53 PM

One more point:

Hey, Steve, how dare the POWERFUL LIBERALS bash that poor, weak, defenseless Bush Administration-- its control now limited only to the three branches of government, plus the vast majority of the corporate media. Poor babies!

Posted by: Sandia Blanca | December 12, 2005 06:55 PM

If the WaPo political reporters think that Froomkin's readers assume that he is a WH correspondent, is a newsroom reporter, or are "confused" about this, then the problem rests with the reporters, not Froomkin. Obviously they are poor at understanding the written word. It is apparent from the information Dan provides in the intro to his website that he is not pretending to be a member of the WaPo reporting staff, or a WH correspondent, and the intent of his column is clearly stated. The reporters' negative comments are as much an insult to Dan's regular readers as they are to Dan himself. I have been reading the reporting in the WaPo re: the Plame affair, and it is often laughably bad. VandenHei is perhaps the worst of the crew. His and others' articles are often mere gossip and spin fed to them by "anonymous sources", rather than sound reporting. Dan's column is well-written and educational. He gets an A+ from me. Your polical "reporters" are a mediocre lot, and with a few exceptions, largely deserve a B- to an F. No wonder they are uncomfortable with Froomkin.

Posted by: anon | December 12, 2005 06:55 PM

Froomkin is literally the run-away first place resource on Washingtonpost.com. Instead of carping about his work, the print version should be giving him a column.

The WaPo has been truly disappointing at times over the past 5 years, and columns by Charles Krauthammer outrage on a regular basis. Froomkin is a much needed dose of honesty.

Posted by: Gary Reilly | December 12, 2005 06:55 PM

Clearly, the local readers of the print version of the Post are missing out; Mr. Froomkin's column provides an overview of the White House unmatched in any medium. Should the Post editors decide to re-package WH Briefing in a more distinct packaging, I only hope that it will just further elevate the degree of attention which should be paid to Froomkin's fine efforts.

Posted by: mfcramer | December 12, 2005 06:58 PM

Copy of my letter to the Post Ombudsman:
I was dismayed to read your column this Sunday, December 11, 2005, entitled "The Two Washington Posts".

Without providing any examples to make your case, other than to mention the opinion of John Harris, the political editor, you claim Froomkin's column is highly opinionated and liberal. You mention "political writers" in the plural, without providing any other sources.

I am a paid subscriber to the Washington Post, meaning that I receive a daily paper at my door. I consult the Washington Post website every day to read Dan Froomkin's column, Monday through Friday, and often to read Howard Kurtz's column that isn't always printed in the daily paper. I also often browse the most commonly emailed articles.

On the contrary, I have no problems distinguishing between the fact that Dan Froomkin works for the online portion of the Washington Post and that he is not a White House reporter. I know this because he often mentions this in his column. He is very clear about the role of the column and its purpose.

I am a good example of someone that uses both the hard copy and the website to be an informed member of our country. Both versions provide critical information and meet different needs.

Howell's column comes across as sniping between editors, not as a service to Washington Post readers.

Dan Froomkin's column provides a vital service to the Washington area community. Froomkin provides updates on issues that aren't provided by other Washington Post journalists. He also poses questions that should be asked of the people that work in the White House, regardless of what party is in power.

I hadn't planned on sending a response to Howell's column until I read Froomkin's response posted today, Monday, December 12. All I can say is that I agree wholeheartedly with his response.

I do feel that your column in Sunday's paper might have reflected your own personal bias and not the needs of the Washington Post reader. I read Michael Getler's ombudsman column every week and I miss it. He was always fair and responsible with his opinions and seemed to evaluate concerns from readers carefully, without resorting to easy labels. I didn't always agree with his opinion, but I respected his judgement. Hopefully I can come to expect that from your own column in the future.

Posted by: Jill, subscriber in DC | December 12, 2005 06:58 PM

I grew up reading the Post and now live way outside the Beltway. A few observations:
The paper has slipped in every way in the past 10 - 15 years. A shame.
The reporting/editorialzing over the past five years is something the reporters and editors of the paper will have many years to look back at and cringe over.
Dan Froomkin is one of the few bright spots in an institution that has let itself become coopted by a group who cynically -- but accurately -- recognized that the Post would sell its soul for access.
Dan Froomkin is the exception to this dismal state of affairs.
I know many others such as myself on the West Coast that read wapo.com only because of Dan.
Ms. Howell would be well advised to take a long hard look at herself, her biases and those of the Post before starting in on Mr. Froomkin.

Posted by: fbg46 | December 12, 2005 06:59 PM

I'm ready to pick up a pitchfork and a torch (metaphorically). Does anyone know if writing the adverisers would help?

Posted by: Shosha from Denver | December 12, 2005 07:00 PM

Mr. Harris's comment here is very revealing. As many readers have remarked, apparently the Bush enthusiasts at the WaPo consider truth, honesty, and accountability to be liberal values. And maybe they are these days.

Because he is not a reporter, Dan Froomkin is free to connect the dots and tell the truth about Bush's disasterous administration. He doesn't need to curry favor with White House sources who want to use him as a mouthpiece for their deceptive messages.

Dan's on the side of truth and justice, and that makes Bush Kool Aid chuggers at the WaPo very nervous. The truth about Bush is so bad that even hinting at it makes you a liberal biased kook.

Fine. I've read every comment in this thread and 100% of the comments - from readers - are positive and wildly enthusiastic about Dan. Add me to the list.

Posted by: Brad Corsello | December 12, 2005 07:01 PM

Please, how insecure are these Post political reporters. They should be thanking Froomkin instead of complaining about his column. If not for his column I may never had read many of their stories. I tend to agree with the seniment expressed by many here, maybe these reporters should try doing their job of reporting what is going on at the WH instead of simply printing the daily WH talking points.

Posted by: Dean | December 12, 2005 07:04 PM

Every day, I read my news online, and these days I go first to the Washington Post. Today, I was so busy that I missed my usual news time. So, dashing to the computer when I should be starting to cook dinner, I told myself, "I'll just read Froomkin and then go straight to the kitchen." What should I discover but that Dan is under fire from "the political reporters at the Post"!

Please. For those of us who closely follow White House politics, Dan's column is the first stop. Because he's not a political reporter, he is not beholden to anonymous sources, and is therefore free to challenge the man behind the curtain. We need more, not less, of the likes of "White House Briefing."

Attack Dan at your peril, Washington Post.

Posted by: Beth | December 12, 2005 07:05 PM

As the New Journalism World Order plays out, I predict that Dan Froomkin will still have a job and the complainers at the Post will be left in the dust. He is the future.

Posted by: former MSM journalist | December 12, 2005 07:06 PM

Jaysus, I would think after the Woodward debacle that the WP would value someone who isn't a stenographer for the Bush administration.

Turns out I'm wrong.

2100 dead and no shame in falling down on the job.

Pathetic.

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 07:06 PM

It's a sad testament to the Beltway-bound mentality of John Harris that he (plus the WashPo's ombud) sees Froomkin only as liberal and opinionated when in fact his work is gimlet-eyed, critical and candidly sourced. Good reporting is not giving credence to lies to counterbalance the truth. Washington hardens its journalistic players into tolerating a level of BS that would kill the rest of us by methane alone. Any other country's thought leaders would have committed rhetorical hari-kiri over the rush to war in Iraq by now, but the majority of reporters and opinion-writers who assumed good faith on the part of the war criminals currently in the White House have yet to make an apology. How wonderful would it be to read an apology for uncritical pre-Iraq war reporting and opining comparable to that made by Richard Clarke over 9/11 lapses?

Posted by: Jason | December 12, 2005 07:08 PM

Wow, the new ombudsman is off to a great start. This is really tragic. Of all the pathetic nonsense going on at the WaqPo, who do you single out but the one source I go to for some intelligent analysis and clearheaded logic. And to employ the "L" word as though it were some kind of sickness -- a sad day for a once-great newspaper.l

Posted by: Richard Burke | December 12, 2005 07:09 PM

What a fine compliment for your column, Mr Froomkin, opinionated and liberal all at the same time.
The ombudsman must speak for us all, so keep up the good work.

Posted by: Pleno Jure | December 12, 2005 07:11 PM

Hmmm... Deborah Harris is from Texas... GWB is from Texas... Karl the Turd uh "Blossom" is from Texas... Is HArris from Texas too? is it a conspiracy???

Balancing Froomkin with a conservative version... Wouldn't that be all the WP staff political reporters??? You need more???

Is Harris afraid of losing his invitations to dinner with Karl?

Posted by: Skeptic | December 12, 2005 07:11 PM

And--could you just clarify for us: what exactly would a "conservative" blogger do differently?

Posted by: Beth | December 12, 2005 07:13 PM

Steve asked earlier why Froomkin doesn't take on the powerful liberals. First, what powerful liberals. Second, the title of the opinion column/blog is the WH Briefing. Thus, his job is to discuss the WH, not ... minority leaders.

Posted by: Matt | December 12, 2005 07:13 PM

For me, Froomkin is a breath of fresh air, one of the very few print journalists willing to consider that perhaps the emperor is not, in fact, wearing clothes. Objections to his work may, I fear, have their origins in the White House. I read my local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, then browse the web for intellectually honest analysis of what's really going on. Froomkin is on my daily must-read list.

Posted by: Judith | December 12, 2005 07:15 PM

I feel sorry for all the readers of the Washington Post print edition... they never get to read Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing"

Posted by: Reader | December 12, 2005 07:17 PM

Like (apparently) a whole lot of other people, I read the Post online primarily *because* of the invaluable Dan Froomkin. And I follow up on a lot of the links he provides. I read the news stories, too--many of them because Dan links to them. I've never been confused for a moment about what Dan is doing or why it's so valuable to me. And, by the way, the complainer(s) can't have it both ways: if Dan's "bias" is so obvious, then nobody is going to confuse him with an "unbiased" political reporter. Keep up the good work, Dan--whoever is in office.

Posted by: LaBougie | December 12, 2005 07:19 PM

This is my second post here today.

Froomkin is certainly a reporter -- he reports on the reportage. In a media-saturated enviroment, this is very important.

But "White House Briefing" is part news, part media criticism, and part analysis. It's a new paradigm for a new medium -- and, again, it is invaluable.

Mr. Harris, I propose two solutions:

1. Give Froomkin the title of analyst.

2. Give Froomkin a White House press pass.

Posted by: Richard B. Simon | December 12, 2005 07:19 PM

Mr Harris

It may seem unbelievable to you, but many of us out here Conservatives,Independants and Democrats, are just a bit fed up of how reporters who should be looking out for our interests, and the country's interests seem rather to be looking out for the interests of this particular White House.

The country and it's people, all of its people, will be here long after this White House is no longer in power, and the country and it's people will have to bear the brunt in the future of the decisions being made today.

I wonder how many of your readers are Democrats or as you call them liberals. I'm not one of them, but if I were I would be seriously thinking of changing my reading habits since you don't think liberals should have a voice. I didn't think it was good policy for a business to insult it's customers. Saying that, I don't think this column is liberal and biased. I don't vote for any particular party, but for the integrity of the candidate and I don't view this column as biased.

Posted by: Curious | December 12, 2005 07:21 PM

Since when does our communication on the blogs, whether hosted by the WaPo or anyone else, need a Commissar of Political Propriety?

Posted by: doug | December 12, 2005 07:26 PM

if "unbiased" reporters did their job by asking the same sorts of questions of the White House that Dan poses in his column (for example follow up questions on Bush's comment to bomb Al Jazeera instead of asking if he is going to show up in Texas for jury duty) maybe your reporters would garner the respect that many of your readers have for Dan Froomkin. Having Bob Woodward on your payroll and then writing an article on how Mr. Froomkin hurts your credibility just shines an enormous spotlight on the obvious hypocrisy of your paper.

Dan Froomkin and Helen Thomas should be awarded a journalistic "Medal of Courage"

Posted by: Chris | December 12, 2005 07:26 PM

I always look for Mr Fromkin's column first. I rely on him to guide me through the maze of mainstream media's posturings and tedious reporting. He does a real service.

Post reporters who complain about his column need to focus on doing their own job (much) better. Without Fromkin, this site has zero credibility.

Posted by: Mag | December 12, 2005 07:26 PM

After the headlines, Dan's column is my first read. It's about the best thing in the paper. He's expanded my horizens, filled my "Favorites" list with other news sources, and keeps my blood pressure up when I read how the White House has no regard for public discourse and does its best to keep people uniformed.

Keep the name, it's accurate. Better yet, assign him to the White House as a reporter and let him keep doing what he does best: getting at the real story. Then the column will really be the "White House Briefing."

Tom Burke
Riverhead, NY

Posted by: Tom Burke | December 12, 2005 07:27 PM


Dan Froomkin rocks!

Posted by: Alma Evans | December 12, 2005 07:31 PM

the principal reason this reporters don't like "White House Briefing" is because nobody read them and Dan Froomkin have a lot reader.
pleas don't cut the column it become a funny, entertainment and very informative source for a lot people.
all this stuff sound like a censorship., don't you people are the most free press in the world ?

Posted by: rdc | December 12, 2005 07:32 PM


The lady is all wet. Mr Fromkin is one of the few reporters who provide links that a reader can use to fact check his column. He is my favorite read on the net today.

Posted by: Daniel Anderson | December 12, 2005 07:32 PM

I was *offended* by Deborah Howell's comments that Froomkin is liberal. Why should his political leanings one way or the other have anything to do with whether he does a good job covering the White House? Is his blog liberal? No - it's critical of the President - something journalists these days have forgotten how to be. Since when is demanding accountability "liberal"? Howell's comments were totally out of line and she should be ashamed of herself.

Posted by: Tampa Reader | December 12, 2005 07:35 PM

Bob Woodward holds back information about an important investigation into the leaking of a CIA agent's identity as a result of the Bush Administration's attempt to stifle a critic to the run up to a war that has needlessly and wantonly killed approximately 40,000 people that we know of -- calls Fitzgerald a junkyard dog for investigating the matter -- and Froomkin is called to the plate by the WaPo ombudswoman because his views are too slanted to be considered objective and so she feels that the WaPo should distance itself from him and the poor WaPo reporters don't like his output.

The fourth estate, in the greatest country that has ever existed, is unfortunately, unbearable staffed by failure. Go Froomkin! And quit going on vacation.

And Ms. Howell, please go on permanent vacation and take boilerplate Woodward with you.

Posted by: Val | December 12, 2005 07:35 PM

One of the best things that Washington post.com did was to hire Dan Froomkin. This column is a must read for me every week day. There I know I can read an honest and forthright column that will allow me to link up to the many different articles and blogs that I would not otherwise do. His fact checking puts all other columnists to shame. In Dan's column I know that there will be no spin on anything but truth and honest reporting which is something that I really appreciate and something I thought the Washington post would also be proud to have on their web.
To say that I was very disturbed by what Ms. Howell wrote is putting it midly. If I had the power I would say fire her. She would like to destroy the very best that the post has to offer its readers. Honest, fair and truthful columns other that the spoon feed spin that some of the others keep giving us. And why on earth would you change the tittle of your column? That is a stupid statement. Leave everything as is, you never change a successful column, the readers will not stand for it.
To Mr. Froomkin I say, keep up the good work, we all admire your objective options and articles and miss it when you are on vacation. I know of no other person who would upon leaving for vaction leave a list of columns, blogs and other things for us to read and look up while your away. You are one of a kind. And I send my congratulations on the expected arrival to your home. Please find a way to let us know what the good Lord will bless you both with, girl or boy. I think we would all like to know. And that is because you have gained the respect and admiration for the work that you do that the readers genuinely care for you and wish you and your family the best.
Mrs. Helen M. Putera Pennsylvania

Posted by: Helen Putera | December 12, 2005 07:35 PM

It is clear to anyone who spends two minutes glancing at this blog that it is a compendium of reporting and opinion from a wide variety of sources. Is Froomkin opinionated? So what? All columnists and bloggers are opinionated. Anyone who finds the opinions not to his or her taste is free not to read them. I personally find the blog to be an invaluable source in gathering items from a number of different places, most of which I wouldn't find on my own. I add my voice to those respondents who have referred to Bob Woodward. Compared with the ethical issues stemming from his dual roles, this is a tempest in a teapot.

Posted by: Don Lamp | December 12, 2005 07:38 PM

"It seems all of the complaints could be easily fixed by one of those annoying disclaimers that are pervading society for the benefit of stupid people/ideologues: "This independent column is written by Dan Froomkin, who is, for the really dense out there, NOT a political reporter at the paper. Thus opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Washington Post, John Harris, Dana Milbank, Michael Fletcher, or even Jim VandeHei, as crazy as this may seem."

http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlDC/online_media/ombud_sides_with_stupid_hits_wh_briefing_29313.asp

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 07:40 PM

Mr. Froomkin's column is THE column that got me started reading the paper (online) everyday. I read a wide selection of columns and articles on a given day and Dan always picks up something I missed. As far as a bias is concerned, it seems to be biased only against dishonesty. Keep up the good work; I know I'll keep reading.

West Point, NY

Posted by: Max | December 12, 2005 07:41 PM

dan froomkin's column gives
us some hope that us journalism has not lost its way.

Posted by: don mackay nova scotia | December 12, 2005 07:41 PM

I am astonished at John Harris' comments, which have only poured more gasoline on the fire. Person after person has posted here that we are well aware that Froomkin isn't a White House reporter, and yet Mr. Harris concludes exactly the opposite. If you can't even get the facts straight when they're dangling right in front of your nose, how in the world are your readers supposed to trust your reporting about anything else? It sounds to me like you've already made up your mind, and don't want to be confused by the facts. I suppose in your book that doesn't constitute bias, either.

Posted by: Brent Zenobia | December 12, 2005 07:43 PM

Mr. Harris

If your concern is the title of Mr. Froomkin's column, it is understandable. I am sure most readers would not have a problem with a title change to the column and an explicit statement that it is an opinion column.

Your other point about perception that the column is written from a "liberal" prism is rather subjective. It can be equally stated that the most important opinion section in the Post which is the editorial section definitely has a pro- Bush Administration and Republican party bias. Is this bias being balanced in the Post's reporting? Some readers would say no.

I don't think any of this is as important for the news media as the perception that the major news media is effectively a propaganda outlet for the Bush administration and the Republican party. This perception is being fueled by Judy Miller's false stories on WMDs in the NY Times and Bob Woodward's trashing of Patrick Fitzgerald on Larry King while not disclosing his own role in the Plame affair. What we need are more stringent standards for reporting that clearly articulates what is opinion and what is reporting, why an annonymous source is leaking and if the reporting has been independently verified for accuracy by the reporter.

Posted by: Max | December 12, 2005 07:45 PM

John Harris, you've got to be kidding?!?!? Its plain as could be that Dan is a columnist NOT a reporter! Doesn't a column equate to Opinion?? I never thought Dan was a reporter, he writes a column!! John Harris needs to study journalism... it's clear He doesn't understand the difference.

Posted by: Reader | December 12, 2005 07:46 PM


John Harris, you've got to be kidding?!?!? Its plain as could be that Dan is a columnist NOT a reporter! Doesn't a column equate to Opinion?? I never thought Dan was a reporter, he writes a column!! John Harris needs to study journalism... it's clear He doesn't understand the difference.

Posted by: Reader | December 12, 2005 07:47 PM

I read Dan Froomkin's column every day. It is a real service and the public would be much worse off were it to disappear. However, I can say that until I read Deborah Howell's column, I did not realize Dan was not a Washington Post reporter. Although he has a link to her column, he does not mention that this was her main criticism - only that she had a criticism - nor did he take any direct steps to correct that possible misunderstanding.

For a reporter who (thankfully) holds other reporters' feet to the fire, he should not be too upset when someone tries to hold his to the fire, too. That's what makes the press work (when it does)....

Posted by: JD | December 12, 2005 07:47 PM

Way to go, Froomk.

Posted by: Hieronymous braintreet | December 12, 2005 07:54 PM

Mr. Harris, instead of criticizing Mr. Froomkin for doing his job, perhaps you should suggest that your own reporters start doing theirs. If I have to read another WaPo article that just repeats talking points sent by some politician, I'll go blind. If your print reporters were doing their job these last few years, never mind your editorial writers, Froomkin would stand out so clearly as the one WaPo writer we all read first thing each day.

And perhaps you didn't notice, but "columnists" are paid to give their analysis. Froomkin actually does a better job of reporting the facts than most of your reporters, but he's also paid for analysis. You think that analysis is "liberal", but as someone said, it's skeptical. (The press, of course, is supposed to be skeptical-- it's part of the tradition of the Enlightenment, not to mention the British and American press tradition-- maybe you didn't take the History of Journalism in journalism school?)

I'm a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, and one thing we've been noticing is the better they get, the more their rivals carp and complain about their unfair advantage, which boils down to "they're better than us!" And that's what you sound like-- like your reporters, rather than improving their own work, are complaining because Froomkin is more talented, more hard-working, and more popular than any of them. You know what we call this in Colts territory? "Sore losers."

Posted by: lanlois | December 12, 2005 07:55 PM

I'd love to see a point-by-point, item-by-item comparison of items in Froomkin's column and in the News section that specifically addresses which among them are actually biased. Criticisms filled with glittering generalities and soapy specifics are the stock-in-trade of the current regime. You have problems with Froomkin? I dare you to lay out your criticisms and prepare to defend them.

Posted by: Seneca Doane | December 12, 2005 08:00 PM

Dan Froomkin is the best writer at the WP, and he should be on the front page.

For John Harris to say "that we would never allow a White House reporter to write" that kind of column, shows he is another sycophant to the White House who will never question their propaganda.

If you insist on renaming his column, how about the 'Outhouse Briefing'? With all the manure that is shoveled out of the White House daily, it would be appropriate.

Posted by: Regina Smartt | December 12, 2005 08:07 PM

Yes, I can't imagine Dan Froomkin is making you guys look good at the White House. Has anyone seen Mr. Harris having drinks with Mr. Rove lately?

Posted by: Chris | December 12, 2005 08:08 PM

Froomkin is right. After the debacle of Bob Woodward, can't you guys learn to tell the wheat from the chaff?

Leave him alone -- he does us all a service.

For those who can't tell whether he's Dana Balz or Dan Froomkin -- learn to spell.

N

Posted by: Nancy | December 12, 2005 08:10 PM

"Some Post reporters don't appreciate that links are put on the Web site to what bloggers are saying about this or that story -- especially when the bloggers are highly negative."

-Deborah Howell

poor, poor Post reporters.

I have an idea... why dont you get your venerable Post reporters, including Bobby Woodward, to list their problems with Dan's column. Then we can have an open and frank discussion. Post reporters dont like 'highly negative' criticism?

WHAT A BUNCH OF WIMPS

Apparently, they dont like negative criticism of their meal ticket - GW Bush. BUsh doesnt like negative criticism either! Seems like a nice circle-jerk that I pray Dan will spooge all over and leave you in his dust.

you really look stupid on this one, Deborah Woodward.

Posted by: dave | December 12, 2005 08:10 PM

Mr. Harris said: "People in the newsroom want to end this confusion. We do not want to spike his column--or at least I don't. It might be the case that he would be writing similarly about John Kerry if he were president. But I guarantee that many people who posted here would not be Froomkin enthusiasts--or be so indifferent to the concerns I raise--in that case."

Thank you! Now we know how badly you "misunderestimate" your readers, Mr. Harris. The truth is, if you can bear to read all these posts, that most of us want facts, fact-checking, skepticism, and clear-eyed analysis. And we'd want the same no matter who was president. You seem to think it's all about partisanship-- no matter how many have said they're conservative, or Republican. But it's not. We're Americans, and we have the right to expect a well-run government no matter who is in power. And we have the right to expect a press that isn't cowed by either party. It's amazing to me that the American people are so much more skeptical of the Bush administration than so many in the press, and have been for a long time-- we don't give him some kind of buy because he's a "down-home guy" and gives out nicknames-- or once in awhile lets a WH official leak some news chunk.

And if Kerry were behaving this way-- and literally buying off reporters with money (Armstrong Williams, anyone?) and access (what's the name of that managing editor of yours? Bob something?)-- trust me, we'd be hoping Froomkin would do his worst/best to that White House too.

It is almost laughable that after the scandal committed by your famous editor/reporter ("reporting" his own opinion on the leak investigation while somehow neglecting to tell us that he's part of it), you decide that FROOMKIN is the problem!!! Editor, heal thyself.

Posted by: bingley | December 12, 2005 08:15 PM


It's not too surprising that the "real" WaPo editors and, possibly, some reporters are upset about Mr. Froomkin. That's the way life and people are.

But he isn't misrepresented on the site any more than George Will or other columnists are, and what he does -- gather up reportage about what the White House is doing and provide some comment on it from his perspective as a columnist -- is extremely valuable.

If someone else wants to do the same thing from a different perspective in parallel to Froomkin, more power to him/her. But Froomkin is currently a jewel in the Post's crown, and one would be very upset to see it diminished by editorial fears of political retaliation.

And, by the way, congratulations and good luck to Mrs. and Mr. Froomkin on the baby.

Posted by: Tex | December 12, 2005 08:22 PM

Dan Froomkin's columns and his online discussions are my first reads on this web site. Also, I highly resent some of the Post's so-called real journalists like Harris and Howell dumping their garbage analysis and monstrous jealousy on Froomkin.

Posted by: Omalara | December 12, 2005 08:22 PM

Dear Ms. Howell:

By now you may have realized the error of your ways. I wholeheartedly agree with the many readers who wrote in in support of Dan Froomkin and his " White House Briefing ". Perhaps if you want to change his column you could use the
" White House Briefing " name for a recital of the parade of lies, distortions and evasions that come from Scott McClellan on an almost daily basis. It would also be instructive to include in the column an explanation of how the schizophrenia at the editorial board at the Post emboldened the White House to assume that the paper that once dared speak truth to power was now willing to reguritate White House talking points, afraid to actually investigate their veracity for fear of being excluded from the inner circles.
Mr. Froomkin provides a valuable service. He exposes the propaganda machine that is the White House. It is sad when political scribes, who should be Mr. Froomkin's cheering section, instead see him as some type of threat. He is exactly what is needed. The Bush administration has engaged in the most cynical abuse of the public trust that has ever been seen by this country. I can think of no more inappropriate response than to reward this behavior by silencing one who dares to challenge it. Shame on you and shame on anyone at the Post who would engage in such shortsighted and damaging thinking.


Sincerely,
Tim Eastman

Posted by: Tim Eastman | December 12, 2005 08:23 PM

Dan Froomkin reminds me of the novelist Tom Robbins. He pulls together ostensibly random thoughts and incidences and makes sense of them in ways that very few can or will do. Staff reporters would do well to follow Dan's lead on calling out the blatant hypocrisies of our government leaders.

Posted by: Ryan Thomas | December 12, 2005 08:24 PM

Your column is the first thing I look for in the Washington Post online, because you connect the dots in a way that few reporters are willing to do. Don't change a thing.

Posted by: Mary Kirtz | December 12, 2005 08:29 PM

I pay $50 a year to read Dowd, Rich, Brooks, et.al. at the N.Y. Times. I would pay $50 a year to read Froomkin's White House Briefing, too.

Posted by: wymo | December 12, 2005 08:30 PM

If sceptical = liberal then conservative = sucker. Do not be suckered. On no account "balance" a sceptic with a stenographer - Already, Bob Woodward is not the only WP stenographer. Are Brent Scowcroft and Larry Williamson liberals? They've been more critical of the Bush administration than Froomkin who has merely reported them with minimal comment.

If black is true and white is false, don't kid yourself that grey is balanced. That is lazy formulaic unthinking journalistic reflex. Being neither lazy nor formulaic does not make Froomkin a highly opinionated biased liberal.

When the administration itself is "highly opinionated" (unscientific, faith-based, pandering etc) lazy formulaic journalists can mistake fact-checking for mere counter-opinion. When they do that, they lose the balance to which they piously pretend. Please don't let the WP become more formulaic and lazy than it already is - like so much else of the US mainstream media.

Froomkin does no more than chronicle the doings of by far the worst administration in this 57-year-old's living memory. Rename Froomkin's column by all means, but otherwise hands off and please - none of the mooted "balance". As it is, the Bush administration patently has too many sycophants in the media. No more!

Finally, from my non-US perspective, why is "liberal" a dirty word in the US? As a whole, the US is in danger of disappearing off the right end of the political spectrum. And why is the office of the POTUS accorded so much respect, cut so much slack? Citizens of a democracy should be made of less obsequious stuff. All the more so when those citizens also claim to be journalists.

Posted by: an Australian reader | December 12, 2005 08:33 PM

Memo to US newspaper readers: the USA is not a religion and your President is not Jesus. Dissenting voices are not unpatriotic (quite the opposite, in fact).

Posted by: gandhi | December 12, 2005 08:36 PM

I am a liberal.

I am an American patriot.

Posted by: Kris Stoever | December 12, 2005 08:37 PM

I'm darned if I understand what the reporters think Dan is doing other than collecting what is already out there about the White House and pulling it together in a meaningful fashion for those of us who just do not have the time to go to all those sources and find them ourselves. I must commend Dan for keeping the Valerie Plame story going all those months when it didn't seem to be on the radar of anyone else. Where were the other Washingtong Post reporters I wonder? I'm thinking the Ombudsman and some of those Washington reporters should take a good look at themselves and wonder why he is so popular and they are not. Could it be that he is actually doing his job and informing the public instead of getting himself entagled with his sources? Btw, no one who reads his column on a daily basis is in the least bit confused about what he is doing. We are not as soft in the head as some of these reporters and the Ombudsman seem to think we are. Keep up the good work Dan!

Posted by: suzkin | December 12, 2005 08:46 PM

Steve said: "The comments posted here pretty much confirm the points that John Harris, Deborah Howell, and others are making. The Left loves Froomkin because he bashes Bush and other conservatives."

Does that mean the right dislikes Froomkin because he covers the many, many ways in which President Bush shoots himself in the foot? Other notable conservatives - Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Ney, Scanlon, Libby, Rove, possibly Bill Frist, and a host of others now sweating out one investigation or another - didn't create their own problems? Dan didn't do it for them and neither did liberals. These guys did it to themselves.


Steve wrote: "Froomkin claims he just seems like a liberal because he's holding the administration accountable. He says he'd do the same for a Kerry Administration. Why then did he rarely bother to challenge the Democratic candidate in the campaign? And why does he so seldom challenge and hold accountable the country's many powerful liberals?"

Perhaps because they aren't trying to thwart or otherwise circumvent the democratic processes our country was founded on? Or because they didn't lie us into a war of choice? Or because they didn't orchestrate the very transgressions they are now under investigation for?

Let me tell you: the conservative revolution is going to be remembered as a short-term phenomenon built mostly on hot air and hubris. What you're reading in the polls and, yes, in this venue, is the collective voice of the majority of Americans who are silent no longer and itching for November 2006 to begin the process of casting you all out of office.

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 12, 2005 08:49 PM

Like another reader said, Froomkin puts the rest of the paper to shame.

Posted by: Vienna local | December 12, 2005 08:52 PM

It's obvious that I'm a "Johnny-come-lately" to the avelanche of support for Dan Froomkin's popular WH Briefing column.

It's also obvious, to me, that the new Ombudsman's comments may be part of WP's Upper Mgt's effort to separate Dan Froomkin from the WP.

Reason? The same reason that always triggers the Employee Elimination Plan - Dan Froomkin has ruffled someone's feathers in the WP's Executive Suite.

As the First Responder wrote: "At least he is not Bob Woodward!!!"

Posted by: Leo Chen | December 12, 2005 08:54 PM

Given the roster of "fallen angels" from the major media outlets - Miller; Novak (R & V); Woodward, surely; Russert - the list goes on, Dan Froomkin remains true to the journalistic imperative: sort out the truth from a fog of lies. The notion that if a journalist holds the bastards' feet to the fire - well, he's just a librul partisan - is a complete surrender and absorption of what was once a free press into a one-party state's view of the media: an adjunct of the Ministry of Propaganda. Have we not had sufficient proof of how this current Administration has tried to bend, buy, and coerce news reporting to fit their particular "worldview", however disjunctive with reality this agenda happens to be? If journos had once stood up in their own era to the lies, fabrications, manipulations, etc., of the Johnson and Nixon years, why O why have they and their employers today cravenly capitulated to the imperatives of the Bush crowd? I'm sorry, but this country desperately needs not only the Froomkins, but an Izzy Stone, for God's sake, to call out the predators, liars, BS artists, and partisan water-carriers that infest today's Washington, and at least give the public a two-sided view of policy and politics in order that rationality can once again be the driver in determining where this country is going.

Posted by: barrisj | December 12, 2005 08:56 PM

As far as there being people who think Dan is a White House correspondent--this must be the same people who believe in UFO's. It's kind of hard to believe that reporters from the Washington Post are whining because somebody might think Dan is a White House correspondent: They quit worrying about Dan and do their job or be fired.

Posted by: xyz | December 12, 2005 09:00 PM

Suzkin wrote, ...
"I must commend Dan for keeping the Valerie Plame story going all those months when it didn't seem to be on the radar of anyone else. Where were the other Washingtong Post reporters I wonder?"

Snort. Smearing Fitzgerald while covering up that they got leaked to first, apparently. You've hit the nail on Froomkin's real crime. The real reason Harris and the rest of the WH reporters are upset with Froomkin is because he kept on Plame. Harris, Woodward, and the rest of the Post reporters wanted it to go away. That's why they are trying to spike his column. He did his job. They didn't. And now they are humiliated and vindictive.

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 09:02 PM

To consider a name change for Froomkin's column is infantile. To consider removing his column is jouralistic suicide. To have daily, comprehensive links to what the world of journalism is divulging about an administration loathe to divulge anything other than their carefully contrived "stories", is a national service in a barely functioning democracy. If it were just about cum stains on dresses who would care (other than Republicans)? But when it concerns an ever growing pile of corpses, American and otherwise, constant, intense scrutiny is exactly necessary. After all, it behooves all to investigate who's responsible for the pile.

The links to McClellan's ludicrous daily press briefings are enough to keep the column in place with title.
Keep your sour grapes Ombudsman, Post, White House. If you honored the responsibilities of your positions with integrity you would not be under the gun.

Posted by: Jeff Weyand | December 12, 2005 09:04 PM

Dan Froomkin's column is a must read for anyone at all interested in what is really going on in The White House, ie the entire world. It's fresh, crisp, clear writing is something I cherish, even though I am a Canadian. Mr. Froomkin, keep at it! You are providing invaluable service to all who read you.

Posted by: ghostcatbce | December 12, 2005 09:05 PM

Dan Froomkin (daily) and Frank Rich (weekly) are the two fixes I cannot do without. Mr. Froomkin is both informative and fun. Count me a Froomkinite.

Posted by: David Malham | December 12, 2005 09:06 PM

Journalist holding an adminstration accountable is not "liberal," it's common sense. Isn't that what the press is supposed to do? Froomkin's White House Briefing simply calls attention to the truth behind the talking points rather than simply rehashing them and that is why I read it.

Posted by: Chris | December 12, 2005 09:06 PM

Alleged journalist Bob Woodward keeps his role in the Plame/CIA leak case a secret for years and gets away with a slap on the wrist while Dan Froomkin's exhastively sourced and researched blog gets maligned for holding up an often less-than-flattering mirror to the White House press corps? No wonder newspapers are in such deep trouble.

Posted by: Veronique | December 12, 2005 09:06 PM

"[Brady] is considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger."

Please. All the recent nonsense over Bob Woodward and you want to tinker with DAN FROOMKIN? Please.

Have we learned nothing from the last election? The public deserves more than the psuedo-balance of someone from the left vs. someone from the right. We're tired of the shouting matches.

Which brings me to my main point: Dan Froomkin doesn't even fit the traditional point-counterpoint model, because he gives us neither left nor right. He gives us only the truth.

The only way to balance Dan Froomkin's reporting would be to counter him with a complete liar.

Posted by: BT | December 12, 2005 09:12 PM

Mr. Harris asks..."If he were a White House reporter for a major news organization, would it be okay for him to write in the fashion he does?"

Good point. In fact, here's a quote from another writer who would obviously not be up to Mr. Harris' standards:

"All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else."

H. L. Mencken

p.s. The overall quality of the comments above give evidence to the obfuscations of Mr. Harris/Ms. Howell. This is not a group which seems easily confused. Something else appears to be motivating this attack, and I suspect it lies in the usurping of the political desk's self-annointed proprietary interest in the words: "White House". This isn't about who's a 'reporter'. It's about turf.

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 09:14 PM


My,my, the powers are gettin pretty nervous about you Dan...must be doing somtehing right.
Mr. Harris please do not insult Post.com readers by presuming that you in your great wisdom understand the politcal leanings of all Froomkin readers. You pompous ass!

Posted by: sev | December 12, 2005 09:14 PM

Froomkin is another opinionated amateur like Frank Rich who diminish the reputations of their respective newspapers.

They both value attitude and perspective more than facts or strong values.

The LATimes dumped Robert Sheer recently and the WaPo and NYT should dump Froomkin and Rich.

Posted by: dave in boca | December 12, 2005 09:15 PM

" The first issue is whether many readers believe Dan's column is written by one of the Washington Post's three White House reporters. It seems to me--based on many, many examples--beyond any doubt that a large share of readers do believe that."

"Many, many examples"? You don't cite a single one. Is WaPo now anonymously sourcing reader feedback, as well as its White House reporting?

"People in the newsroom want to end this confusion." ]

Well I can certainly understand why they'd want to do that. It must be embarrassing for reporters who are credulous, incurious, and who conceal their involvement in White House scandals to be confused with someone who remembers how reporting is supposed to be done. Cultivating anonymous sources isn't supposed to be an end in itself, and journalism isn't supposed to be about uncritically repeating the Administration's talking points. Rather than fault Dan Froomkin for still doing what journalists are supposed to do, perhaps you would do better to insist those "actual" White House reporters stop being echo chambers.

"The reporters on the Post's White House and political teams every day push through many obstacles and frustrations to do precisely this kind of accountability reporting--as I'm sure Dan would agree. But these are the very same reporters who are raising objections to 'White House Briefing.'"

For the sake of your credibility, those "very same reporters" better not include Bob Woodward or Viveca Novak. And, again, perhaps your reporters would do better to do some real reporting - with context and fact-checking, rather than intellectually lazy faux "balance" - if they're upset that no one thinks they're real reporters.

As many people have already pointed out, you already do have a conservative on-line columnist: Howard Kurtz. And, as many people have already pointed out, nowhere on his masthead does he mention that his wife is a GOP consultant - how's that for a conflict of interest? How's that for not revealing possible biases in opinion?

You're right that the issue comes down to credibility. But you're wrong to say the problem is Dan Froomkin. The problem is that the Bush Administration has misled the American people consistently, constantly, and about issues vital to our national well-being. The problem is that the Bush Administration has been able to do so because the journalists we rely on to tell us the truth about issues has instead opted for compliance, complacence, and go-along-to-get-along.

The problem is the rest of the WHPC... and the editors who, out of fear or corporate self-interest... because they have abandoned the ethics of their profession in favor of soothing the powerful.

Posted by: Casey, Seattle | December 12, 2005 09:16 PM

Froomkin is another opinionated amateur like Frank Rich who diminish the reputations of their respective newspapers.

They both value attitude and perspective more than facts or strong values.

The LATimes dumped Robert Sheer recently and the WaPo and NYT should dump Froomkin and Rich.

Posted by: dave in boca | December 12, 2005 09:17 PM

Froomkin does good work. Period.

Posted by: Kobe, Ellensburg WA | December 12, 2005 09:18 PM

Dan Froomkin, Dana Priest and Walter Pincus are the ONLY reasons to ever visit the Washington Post!

When will it occur to the Post (and most other reporters these days) that when Bush insists that the color of the White House is black, they have a responsibility to either not report the comment at all (certainly if it is anonymous) OR attribute the demonstrable falsehood to the source by name - ie "Bush claims color of White House is 'black'".

What we get instead is "An anonymous Senior Administration official stated today that 'the Democrats claim that the White House is 'white' outrageously slanders our Commander in Chief and undermines his successful prosecution of the War on Terror". It is despicable that the Democrats would raise such an issue in a time of war'."

What I love about Froomkin is that he actually knows how to use Google to check facts (and point out the hypocracy of officials who qote one thing one week and the opposite thing X months later)in an effort to point out that the truth!

Posted by: Mike in DC | December 12, 2005 09:19 PM

I'm glad I've learned about Froomkin's column, thanks to this dust-up. Now I hope he moves to a paper that isn't run by doofuses.

Posted by: Fritz | December 12, 2005 09:22 PM

This is an excellent column that gives me a rounded sense of what my government is up to.Froomkins overview is what has led me to put WAPO ahead of NYT as a go to place for political information.I think you people need to take a close look at your omsbud.The critique was ill informed and out of order.

Posted by: Steve Morris | December 12, 2005 09:22 PM

Mr. Harris asks: "If he were a White House reporter for a major news organization, would it be okay for him to write in the fashion he does?"

The answer is assuredly "Yes!" As the great journalist Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) said about the role of newspapers, part of their job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Froomkin is correctly reporting the truth and also pointing out that many reporters have become syncophants to this White House.

Froomkin is the best thing the WaPo has; don't blow it!

Posted by: DrDBG | December 12, 2005 09:25 PM

I have to admit that I got a laugh out of the line:

John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset -- our credibility".

This from a paper that publishes Krauthammer and Will, and for balance throws in Ignatius?

Froomkin is the only thing the Post, in any incarnation, publishes that I read every day.

Harris appears to feel that Froomkin hues insufficiently to the party line, that party being either the Republicans or the DLC Democrats, I can't tell them apart.

Froomkin is honest, therefore he must be attacked.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree | December 12, 2005 09:25 PM


Dan Froomkin articulates a very simple and clear philosophy: the idea that journalism is about framing and asking penetrating questions. This is NOT an intrinsically liberal or conservative undertaking.

If the neutrality of asking questions needs defending here is how I would go about it:

Conservatives have come up with a clever defense of recent nominations to the supreme court which says that Roberts and Alito are not results oriented conservatives i.e. they do not come to Supreme Court with a shopping list opinions already in place. If Alito one day votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, it will not be because he is anti-abortion by conviction, but because he is neutrally applying the logic of the constitution.

Exactly the same principle applies to Dan Froomkin as a journalist - he is not a results oriented liberal- HE IS JUST ASKING QUESTIONS.

Having said this, there is clearly a political atmosphere abroad, most recently articulated by Senator Lieberman, that says asking penetrating questions of this Whitehouse at the moment is wrong.

If the Washington Post is going to make changes to "Whitehouse Briefing" in this charged political atmosphere it needs to do so in an open and articulate way that explains to readers why "Whitehouse Briefing" is intrinsically liberal. More specifically, why is asking well thought out questions of this adminstration something that needs defending?

I can quite see how journalists who rely on scoops and anonymous sources could be irritated by the fact that Dan Froomkin never goes to the White House, but guess
what, as a reader I am immensely reassured by this distance. Given the duplicitous behaviour of Woodward towards his readers -which is precisely a function of
his obligations to his sources - my addiction to Froomkin is simple: he poses smart questions like he owes nobody anything. His source is the internet, and as a scavenging aggregator he is second to none.

Finally, to ask if Froomkin would be as aggressive with a President Kerry is specious. He says he would, and given his clearly articulated journalsitic philosophy I have no reason to doubt him. At the same time he has no way of answering this criticism - he needs time to prove it. I guess this comes down to whether the Washington Post trusts Dan Froomkin? I trust him.

Posted by: Richard H | December 12, 2005 09:26 PM

dave in boca--another good reason for Froomkin to stay!

Posted by: Vienna local | December 12, 2005 09:28 PM


I can only hope that a Democrat takes the oval office in 2008 and that Froomkin continues to demand transparency from him or her and call them on the carpet when it is denied.

Will the Post political reporters then call him too 'conservative' for their tastes?

'Liberal' and 'conservative' mean something. They are not code for 'agrees with me' and 'disagrees with me.' If WPNI believe's Froomkin's blog title is misleading, have him print a nice little disclaimer before every post. His is one of the *few* blogs on the Internet that is named in a way that accurately describes its purpose.

Posted by: James Diggans | December 12, 2005 09:29 PM

"The Web is a wonderful place for The Post to put newsprint-eating texts and documents, such as presidential speeches, and other information, such as congressional votes, that readers want."

Zzzzzzz

Ms. Howell: Ctrl Alt Del

Posted by: jshibley | December 12, 2005 09:30 PM

Dan Froomkins is amongst the last of his peers who gives news straightforward....

Mr. Harris, take notes!

Posted by: Darlene | December 12, 2005 09:33 PM

Sheri Rogers saw:

"Let me tell you: the conservative revolution is going to be remembered as a short-term phenomenon built mostly on hot air and hubris. What you're reading in the polls and, yes, in this venue, is the collective voice of the majority of Americans who are silent no longer and itching for November 2006 to begin the process of casting you all out of office."

Sweeeet

Posted by: Calvin | December 12, 2005 09:36 PM

The Post has White House reporters?

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood | December 12, 2005 09:36 PM

Froomkin is absolutley invaluable not jus to liberals but to anyone wanting to quickly find the news and opions on anything going on in the Whitehouse. I eagerly await it each day and pass his name on to many who do not read the Post but are looking for a clear window into Washington. Long may he wave!!!!

Posted by: Paul matzner | December 12, 2005 09:37 PM

Froomkin is my favorite WaPo columnist, and he would be regardless of which party was in the White House. I would expect that he would be tough on government corruption & spin BS regardless of which party held the strings of power.

Posted by: Paul Groening | December 12, 2005 09:38 PM

Ms. Howell calls W.H.Briefing "highly opinionated and liberal". Mr. Harris says "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset - our credibility as objective news reporters". Others might call W.H.Briefing "an accountabitliy moment" where those in power are held accountable to the rules of the democracy game. "objectivity" is for Zombies, the walking dead. Give me a living, passionate advocate of our national principles. More power to Mr.Froomkin.

Posted by: EC | December 12, 2005 09:38 PM

Now here's what John Harris posted over at Huffington Post earlier today on the topic. Maybe he posted here, too, but this thread is getting pretty long and I didn't see it right off the bat. Apologies if it appears here twice.

From Harris: "Since my comments about Dan Froomkin in Deborah Howell's ombudsman column have attracted some attention, I'd like to briefly respond.

"Howell quoted me accurately. I believe that Froomkin's column invites reader confusion with its title: "White House Briefing." Dan is a columnist on contract for washintonpost.com. He does not cover the White House for the Post. Dan has never represented himself inaccurately, but it bothers me that readers often do not make the distinction.

"The criticism of The Post's White House reporters is badly misplaced. Our team there reports and writes in an aggressive and fair-minded way, and their work regularly scrutinizes and when appropriate challenges White House assertions. I do not think anyone regularly reading the work of Jim VandeHei, Peter Baker, or Mike Fletcher could honestly make the opposite case. As news reporters, they give up the right to voice ideologically colored opinions. I'm all in favor of attitude in certain stories, but not so much or so often that it would give readers occasion to wonder whether the reporters fundamentally regard themselves as supporters or opponents of the president, or any other politician.

"This is what I meant with my reference to "credibilty" as news reporters.

"It seems plain that Dan's voice, though well-informed, belongs in a different category. He thinks of himself as mostly an analyst, but it seems to me that he comes at the news from a recognizably liberal perspective. As a columnist he is entitled to be as expressly opposed to Bush as he wants. I just don't think this what readers of any ideological perspective would really want from a White House beat reporter. This does not seem so complicated to me.

"As the Post's national politics editor, by no means I am eager to "silence" Froomkin, as some posters have alleged. I admire how he has establish a name and audience for himself on the website. I just do not think the webesite should have a column that casual readers could naturally assume from the name is written by one of the Post's White House reporters.

Posted by: JohnHarris on December 12, 2005 at 02:27pm


Mr. Harris,

I don't understand why you think readers assume Mr. Froomkin is a reporter. He is quite adequately listed with columnists under "Opinion."

In fact, within his column there is a box that explains neatly what it is his blog attempts to accomplish. The fact that he does it exceptionally well is to the Post's credit.

There is no need to defend your accomplished reporters. We read them, and quess what? Just by the words a reporter chooses to use paints a story, and political tendencies rise to the surface, often within the second graf.

Your argument that Mr. Froomkin should not be considered a reporter is flawed, for we know he is not a reporter. He is an insightful writer, who manages to produce exceptional blog content day in and day out. No small potatoes, and far more useful to us readers than the Post's editorial machinations.

Posted by: lynda on December 12, 2005 at 07:26pm

Write away, Mr. Froomkin!

Posted by: lynda | December 12, 2005 09:39 PM

Dear Mr. Harris:

I would appreciate it if you will consider my complaint and perceptions as much as you have considered those of the "3 White House reporters" on the Post staff.

I have been confused.

You wrote: If I worked outside the paper, I might presume myself that a feature titled "White House Briefing" was written by one of the newspaper's White House reporters.

I came each day presuming that news articles written by purported White House reporters were, indeed, written by reporters. But the evidence was to the contrary. My confusion only grew over weeks and months as I read the content of those articles.

Now your own posting has cleared things up for me.

While you are removing "White House" from the name of Dan Froomkin's column (or is it "briefing" that people don't like?), could you also make appropriate changes to reflect that the news articles are written by White House recorders?

That will make their titles consistent with the work that they are producing.

Thank you.

A Real Reader, not an Envious Recorder

Posted by: Real Reader | December 12, 2005 09:40 PM

I have to admit that I got a laugh out of the line:

John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset -- our credibility".

This from a paper that publishes Krauthammer and Will, and for balance throws in Ignatius?

Froomkin is the only thing the Post, in any incarnation, publishes that I read every day.

Harris appears to feel that Froomkin hues insufficiently to the party line, that party being either the Republicans or the DLC Democrats, I can't tell them apart.

Froomkin is honest, therefore he must be attacked.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree | December 12, 2005 09:44 PM

This column has been around under the name White House Briefing for too long for me to believe that any concern about confusion could possibly be sincere.

Posted by: Sara B. | December 12, 2005 09:52 PM

I don't think readers have misperceptions but it might be that it is a manufactured excuse to water down Froomkin's impact by adding a conservative blogger and changing the graphics (like bad lighting of liberals who appear on FOX). As if liberals aren't about as watered down and stomped on already.

Posted by: Maezeppa | December 12, 2005 09:56 PM

I am a moderate politically and have looked to Froomkin's articles for a cross-section of perspectives. Froomkin is the first thing I read in the Post everyday.

The Post management and many of their journalists seem very out of touch with reality in failing to appreciate Froomkins' excellent work.

Posted by: Patrick McGinley | December 12, 2005 09:57 PM

So let me get this straight: The Constitution, which requires accountability of our leaders to the people, is a liberal document. Those of us who believe in that document, and in a free press that holds them accountable, are liberals. A columnist who tries to hold the government accountable is liberal.

Shouldn't Ms. Howell and Mr. Harris be embarrassed, then, to have their paper be anything other than liberal?

Posted by: Avedon | December 12, 2005 10:00 PM

John Harris has posted his attack on Froomkin on a separate blog at http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/washpostblog/2005/12/john_harris_res.html

Commenters may want to let him know there what they think about his plan to turn this into a right-left battle . . . . which it is not.

Or it was not until he decided to characterize it as such.

Posted by: http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/washpostblog/2005/12/john_harris_res.html | December 12, 2005 10:01 PM

Uh, Froomkin's column is in the OPINION section very clearly. Guess the Post's Political Editor didn't get the memo...

And who's Jim Vandehei's spouse? An ex-DeLay staffer??

hmmm

Posted by: Vienna local | December 12, 2005 10:02 PM

They want to hide the truth any way they can. I wonder how long it took them to come up with this assault on Froomkin. If anyone in government is doing something wrong I want to know about it, period! I am sick and tired of the balanced approach to reporting. Bush said this, Kerry said that. I want to know who's telling the truth already. And Froomkin is way better at truth than your editorial folks, and Kurtz, and Krauthammer. If their extreme bias continues, and you hastle Froomkin for pointing out the facts, then there is no need to read your rag any longer. If all I want is Republican talking points, I can get six hours a day for free from Limbaugh and Hannity. When the facts come out and they usually do. Do you want to be known as one of the media who were hinding things to gain favor with a corrupt administration? Even Woodward should remember something about that.

Posted by: jimbobby | December 12, 2005 10:02 PM

A political writer for a national newspaper has to pen a column specifically defending his practice of linking to, among other sites, discussions which are arguably critical of the President or the press?

This column is shockingly inappropriate: how weak must the commitment to journalism be at the Washington Post to prompt a political columnist to defend the mere fact that they write about politics?

Posted by: Max | December 12, 2005 10:03 PM

Woodward could perhaps explain his ONI/reporter work around the time of, say the Tonkin Resolution, before he'd ever get to be the person his myth encompassed.

There's a Nuremberg War precedent for the WaPo and other media names to face. Enjoy limiting your travels through Europe to countries that don't uphold extradition treaties.

We're going to reach that event horizon soon. The hijacking of America didn't come by honest means, they aren't going to relinquish it honestly either.

Posted by: Mr.Murder | December 12, 2005 10:05 PM

And while we're on editors, how about getting someone other than that National Review wannabe Fred Hiatt to edit the Editorial page. The Post's unwillingness to waver from it's dogged support for the Administration's Iraq boondoggle has Hiatt's compromised paws all over it.

Posted by: Vienna Local | December 12, 2005 10:08 PM

Mr. Froomkin's column is the main reason I read the Post. He brings a balance that is not often found in much that is called news. His questions are insightful and his unwillingness to tolerate spin from either side is the best reccomendation I can make to read his work. The Post's latest ombudsman Deborah Howell has either not read his column or has her own bias and agenda. If either is correct I think the Post, to regain its integrity, should find it's self a new ombudsman.

Posted by: Sandra Granich | December 12, 2005 10:13 PM

I'm with Fritz - I'm glad to know about Froomkin now and hopefully he'll work for a paper where on ombudsman's job description doesn't include publicly pushing a political agenda. Just what, if anything, has John Harris/Deborah Howell had to say about Bob Woodward diluting the credibility of the newspaper? Dunderheads.

Posted by: Dave in IN | December 12, 2005 10:17 PM

A few observations - Harris and Howell have stated,
""Howell quoted me accurately. I believe that Froomkin's column invites reader confusion with its title: "White House Briefing." Dan is a columnist on contract for washintonpost.com. He does not cover the White House for the Post. Dan has never represented himself inaccurately, but it bothers me that readers often do not make the distinction." It appears neither Howell or Harris have a high regard for their readers intelligence - we don't seem to know what "opinion" and columnist" mean.
"The criticism of The Post's White House reporters is badly misplaced." Reference the definition of opinion again. Anyone, inside or outside WP is free to defend them.

"I just do not think the website should have a column that casual readers could naturally assume from the name is written by one of the Post's White House reporters." Reference the definition of the word columnist. Surely the Post has a dictionary around...

I find this episode sad. I can say little more in support of Dan than what has already been written. His column is top notch. What I find so disheartening is the careless use of the word liberal, Now used not to describe but to silence. Those who do not like criticism of the administration now tar anyone who points out an inconsistency with it. Moreover, the media, and apparently the Post as well, are petrified that they too might be the victim of this epithet. This has led to the absurd notion of 'balance.' It is bad enough that there is a strenuous effort to have the exact number of opinions on each side (as if we readers cannot formulate out own counter arguments to an opinion piece which we disagree), but this has now strayed into the reporting of facts. I really fear that under the current climate this might lead to efforts to "balance" slavery or genocide.

Readers (and reporters) will always complain. Have some courage, WP. Let Dan write, and your readers think for themselves.

Posted by: Eric Reinert | December 12, 2005 10:24 PM

I am curious. I just went to mr. Harris blog about this. He has the comments listed below but oddly one I posted here was skipped. Hmmm This was it.

They want to hide the truth any way they can. I wonder how long it took them to come up with this assault on Froomkin. If anyone in government is doing something wrong I want to know about it, period! I am sick and tired of the balanced approach to reporting. Bush said this, Kerry said that. I want to know who's telling the truth already. And Froomkin is way better at truth than your editorial folks, and Kurtz, and Krauthammer. If their extreme bias continues, and you hastle Froomkin for pointing out the facts, then there is no need to read your rag any longer. If all I want is Republican talking points, I can get six hours a day for free from Limbaugh and Hannity. When the facts come out and they usually do. Do you want to be known as one of the media who were hinding things to gain favor with a corrupt administration? Even Woodward should remember something about that.

Posted by: jimbobby | Dec 12, 2005 10:02:36 PM

Posted by: jimbobby | December 12, 2005 10:31 PM

It just makes my blood boil that reporters who are AWOL on the truth have the nerve to criticize someone who has the courage to write the truth.

Posted by: Jan | December 12, 2005 10:32 PM

Dan Froomkin is the most scrupulously evenhanded, intelligent, thoughtful work occurring at the Washington Post. Deborah Howell should be ashamed of herself for publishing this attack. John Harris sounds like he has been drinking too many tequilas with Carl Woodward. Political reporters at the Washington Post would do well to pay more attention to Froomkin's demand for truth, clarity, and high quality reporting. There has been too little of it on your paper lately, and this ombudsperson column is just one more proof that we need Froomkin more than ever! Howell should apologize immediately. Dan Froomkin, you're the best! I read you ever day and I learn something every week from you about journalistic credibility and nuanced political analysis.

Posted by: Jann in Paris | December 12, 2005 10:33 PM

Shouldn't it be the readers who decide who does service to them in a newspaper and who doesn't? Go on, look at all these postings. Ask your webmaster about Dan Froomkin's traffic. Or are the readers too dumb to know what's good for them?

Balanced reporting doesn't mean to recite the talking points of each side. It means to present the arguments of each side. Such an endeavor calls for the other important adjective that should accompany the word "coverage", namely "investigative".

Froomkin's column excels in providing both balanced and investigative coverage of the WH. More than that, it provides a comprehensive view of the broader attitude of both the press as a whole and the country towards this center of power and its policies. In my opinion, his column not only solidifies the credibility of the WP, but it offers an invaluable service to its readers.

I'd read Dan Froomkin's column under any name, as I currently do every day. The enactment of the proposed measure though, would be received as one more sign of the sad decadence of press independence in this country.

Posted by: Vaggelis | December 12, 2005 10:36 PM

Same criticism aimed at Bill Moyers and PBS... TRUTH = LIBERAL.

Keep it up Froomkin. Truth is in short supply in the MSM these days.

Posted by: jen | December 12, 2005 10:38 PM

Dan Froomkin asks the right questions at the right time. End of story.

If his daily column was pay-for-view, I'd be first in line to sign up, which is more than I can say for NYT Select.

The WaPo is lucky to have Mr. Froomkin on their payroll and Downie should get busy ordering-up at least ten more just like him. America deserves nothing less!

Thank you Dan Froomkin.

Posted by: JK, Petersburg, VA | December 12, 2005 10:38 PM

Do not "balance" Dan's column. He is the balance that is needed to stop the incipid chorus of "reporters" who never seem to be able to question this administration's moves and motives.

Posted by: Jill Cohen | December 12, 2005 10:43 PM

I am from Australia,(please don't hold that against me) and I have not missed one of Dans' columns since I first stumbled across it one day while looking for reports on this years state of the union. Allowing people to see a variety of reports posted within a single column is a fantastic way of allowing the reader to reach an informed decision about a subject. By showing excerpts from many other reporters you gain an insight into the opinions of both "the left" and "the right". How can giving the readers such a broad snapshot of viewpoints be bad?!?!?! Dan, keep up the good work!!!!! And if the washingtonpost doesn't want you anymore we could always use someone like yourself here in Aus!!

Posted by: Ben Edwards | December 12, 2005 10:51 PM

An ombudsman attacks a columnist because he criticizes the administration and the media?

An ombudsman should respond to the readers, not launch zenophobic attacks on anyone who points out when the emperors (Bush and the media) are naked.

Posted by: Joe | December 12, 2005 10:51 PM

Froomkin is a true patriot!

Powell is certainly not an ombudsman. Perhaps just a tool?

Harris may be a good company man, but he's either a coward (fair and balanced, my foot) and a dope (it's Opinion, remember?), or a genius (intentionally inspiring and harvesting all the great free writing in this blog as part of some new business plan).

It's sad that all of this isn't in the comics section.

Posted by: JK | December 12, 2005 10:51 PM

Federal District Judge Murray Gurfein in the Pentagon Papers case:

"Security also lies in the value of our free institutions; a cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know."

It's either that or Pravda, folks. As reporters you're supposed to go after the President, period, not divide your fealty evenly between democratic and republican parties.

Posted by: captain obvious | December 12, 2005 10:56 PM

From Howell's column.

"Harris is right; some readers do think Froomkin is a White House reporter. But Froomkin works only for the Web site and is very popular -- and Brady is not going to fool with that, though he is considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger".

Q - Would these be the same kind of readers who thought that there was a connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam? Hmmmmmm....Now I see.

Most of the readers of this website are perfectly capable of understanding that Mr. Froomkin's column appears in the opinion section and we are in no way confused by the title of the column.

I think maybe the editors need to give the WH reporters some more assignments so they don't have so much free time on their hands to go picking apart someone elses column.

If you add a conservative blogger I would expect his/her column to be just as critical of WH spin. If they aren't then you totally misunderstand the success of the Froomkin column. It is not successful for a pov, it is successful because it does not accept the WH spin at face value and then make excuses for it.

I know that Froomkin will be just as relentless when the next Democrat is elected president. And I would applaud him for exposing any hypocrisy that he sees.

I think that the WH reporters need to chill and focus on THEIR jobs instead of on a blog column in the opinion section of the website. We need you guys out there in the WH press briefings asking the HARD questions and getting the ANSWERS.

Posted by: pmorlan | December 12, 2005 11:03 PM

Mr. Harris, you damaged your credibility on your own. Your use of Froomkin as a red herring is obvious.

Even if your assertions about Froomkin were correct, you have much bigger problems. Why don't you concentrate on them?

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 11:03 PM

The only thing missing from Mr. Froomkin's column is the answers to the well considered, insightful questions he asks regarding the actions of this White House administration. I can think of two reasons why this is so. One, Dan is not an investigative White House reporter with a responsibility for finding these answers. Two, reporters covering the White House are failing to pursue these questions with any vigor.

I am willing to cut the reporters a little slack for the fact that this White House has been in lock down mode since the first inaugural address in terms of access and information. But, as Mr. Froomkin has pointed out in his column through links to reporters who are doing their jobs, if the White House is not forthcoming with information, then reporters must seek answers elsewhere, instead of simply reporting what Rove et al want them to print.

Posted by: Dan Catlin | December 12, 2005 11:05 PM

Nothing like piling on, eh? I like Froomkin's writing too.

Posted by: Jacob | December 12, 2005 11:13 PM

Dear Ms. Howell:

The WP's regular political reporters might want to consider that Dan Froomkin ctually increases the paper's credibility, with his online column, since he does not come across to his regular readers as an ideologue, but rather as a meticulous fact-checker, who will hold accountable whomever seems to need it, regardless of party affiliation. It just so happens, that right now, the Republicans, especially the WH, need it more. I doubt that adding a "conservative" blogger would really do anything to elevate the level of discourse, which is already more civilized in both Mr. Froomkin's column and in his regular online chats, than in most other interactive formats.

Many regular consumers of news have been fed up for quite some time with the MSM's apparent willingness simply to accept the Administration's and the GOP's talking points at face value. And for good reason-- just look where that has gotten us!

As for calling Froomkin's column "White House Briefing," I find the name appropriate, given that the (daily?) briefing of the White House Press Corps is more or less the column's focal point.
Mr. Froomkin gathers, and organizes, for his readers the highlights of each day's briefings, as well as the coverage of the same points in the media at large. Most of us don't have time in our daily lives
to read as much or a widely as Mr. Froomkin, and rely on him to help us stay better informed. I think I can safely say, that for most of Mr. Froomkin's readers, he is a dailiy must-read.

Having said all that, I would add that the WP does have a few political reporters who seem more trustworthy, and less vulnerable to spin, than at some other papers. However, I doubt that they are the ones who are complaining.

Karen M.

p.s. I did find your explanation of the different umbrellas/ownership of the paper and the website interesting, and clarifiying. The ownership issue aside, I do think most of the WP's online readers are at least aware that the print and electronic versions differ in content.

Also, those who wish to know more about Mr. Froomkin's background, have only to click on the link provided to learn about his journalism experience, and his work at Niemanwatch.org. Can the same be said for the WP's regular columnists?

Posted by: Karen M | December 12, 2005 11:14 PM

Deborah Howell's comments are at best peculiar.

Is she reflecting the envy of some WaPo reporters over Froomkin doing the job that they are not doing?

What is her problem?

Froomkin is doing a good job. White House Watch is an appropriate title for his columns or blogs, or whatever one wants to call them.

It looks like the editors have hired a hatchetwoman, not an ombudswomen. Can't the editors do better? On the other hand, some part of the corporate structure of WaPo has hired Froomkin. So, someone is doing their job. Maybe Froomkin makes up for all the WaPo people who can't or won't do theirs.

Posted by: Ombudwomen or ...? | December 12, 2005 11:16 PM

Thanks Dan...You rock! Love the revolutionary concept of holding a pesident accountable...too often it's "accountability lite" from the Wash press corps. Don't give in.

Posted by: Pat | December 12, 2005 11:19 PM

IMO, Dan Froomkin is the only writer at the Post who is doing his job. Is he a reporter, blogger, editorial writer?

Who cares?

He synthesizes real NEWS from many sources - news the WaP should be covering, but doesn't.

It's scary that he's considered "liberal" (not that there's ANYTHING wrong with being liberal; I'm a proud liberal myself) simply because he doesn't lick Bush's boots the way, say, Woodward does.

Whether the administration was Republican or Democrat, the WaPo needs Dan Froomkin, and I very much resent Deborah Howell's scolding tone. The Post needs more like him. If his column changes, I will have no reason to read the Post anymore. I come here to read his column and then as long as I'm here anyway, I read the rest of the news. But he is the draw.

Posted by: lily | December 12, 2005 11:24 PM

Perhaps Deborah Howell is Dan Okrent in drag, gratuitously attacking a WaPo columnist this time.

Posted by: Dessous des Berges | December 12, 2005 11:26 PM

Not to be too obvious, but this administration has already accepted the resignation (not fired!) an indicted liar. They're getting close to another one if all the hubbub about Rove can be believed.

Remember the firefighters sent to NOLA to do PR work for FEMA? The campaign to render Social Security? The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq? "We do not torture"? The WHIG? WMD, for heaven's sake? "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"? The 16 words?

With this administration, if you even want to get back to the center, you'd better criticize the White House. Otherwise you're going to have a news ticker from the Bizarro World.

I doubt you could hire someone to share a slot with Dan Froomkin; such talent, with a vision for documentary evidence and truth-telling, seems to be inching away from the WP rather than sending in a resume. If you can hire another Froomkin, I advise you to do so immediately.

Posted by: Dan Lewis | December 12, 2005 11:30 PM

I agree with all the support of Froomkin; he's smart, shares and directs us to all the important info, is fun to read and to follow.

He is what a columnist should be; if you cancel him, I'll cancel you.

Now is not the time to further reduce the waPo credibility; give the man a raise.

Posted by: Sondra | December 12, 2005 11:32 PM

I agree with all the support of Froomkin; he's smart, shares and directs us to all the important info, is fun to read and to follow.

He is what a columnist should be; if you cancel him, I'll cancel you.

Now is not the time to further reduce the WaPo credibility; give the man a raise.

Posted by: Sondra | December 12, 2005 11:34 PM

I don't think I have ever read anything in a national newspaper as sophmoric and juvenile as Deborah Howell's snippy column.

"Ohhh, know what? The other reporters don't like Dan! He just doesn't fit in. Meet me at my locker later!"

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 11:34 PM

Dan Froomkin's "Cooking With Walnuts" is the reason I visit WaPo.com during the day. Keep up the good work to keep them honest. Not just the White House but those covering it.

Posted by: Sam Ellison | December 12, 2005 11:37 PM

Also count me in the column of Froomkin supporters. His column is one of the most detailed and information-rich resources about what is going on in the White House. I find it more useful than any other feature in the WaPo for keeping up with what is happening in the Bush administration.

Posted by: Randy | December 12, 2005 11:42 PM

The Post's White House reporters, with the exception of Pincus (if Pincus is a White House reporter) have distinguished themselves as partners with the Bush Administration in justifying bogus reasons for going to war, a war which has claimed the lives of over 2,000 Americans and over 30,000 Iraqis. I am sure that Dan Froomkin doesn't like being mistaken as part of the Washington Post press corps--I know I wouldn't want to be mistaken in that way.

Posted by: David | December 12, 2005 11:46 PM

This is what I said to the clueless Mr. Harris on his page:

I am old enough to have read Woodstein word-for-word during Watergate. I recall the Post in that era with enduring respect and even fondness. Katherine Graham, Bill Bradlee, Woodward and Bernstein - they made the Post the best newspaper this side of the moon; as integral to my day as that first cup of coffee.

I walked away in the early 80's. It was a tip from a friend about Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" that brought me back to the Post over a year ago. Through him, I have come to admire Walter Pincus, Dana Priest, and even the right-leaning Kurtz. The rest are pretty much indistinguishable from the pap that has so marked the MSM since the Reagan years.

Loads of us didn't believe the hype about WMD in Iraq. We didn't believe Saddam had links to Al Quaida. We didn't support our president's war of choice. With grave misgivings, we saw our young men and women sent off to a war that should never have been fought; that would not have been fought if the press had done their job even passably. It was easy to support the kids fighting George Bush's war... but far more difficult to support He-Who-Started-It and Those-of-You-Who-Helped-Him put one over on us.

Leave Dan Froomkin alone. Or better yet, recognize the fact he has lessons to teach that others of the profession have long ago forgotten.

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 12, 2005 11:52 PM

BT wrote: "The only way to balance Dan Froomkin's reporting would be to counter him with a complete liar."

Couldn't have said it better.

Leave the man alone and let him continue doing what the rest of the MSM refuses to do.

Posted by: | December 12, 2005 11:55 PM

Go figure...more anonymous sources, Dan. It really is a shame that the lone person I see associated with this paper that actually asks the tough questions and calls out (respectfully, I should say) his peers for their general uninspired fare is himself being criticized. Spend your time fixing the real problems. I'll end with saying that I ran from the New York Times after Judith Miller and Libby and Rove and found Dan Froomkin to be a breath of fresh air. It behooved you to associate yourself with him and knowing that maybe that's not so makes me think less of the paper and not less of Mr. Froomkin.

Good day, sirs!

Posted by: Seth | December 12, 2005 11:57 PM

As a former reporter and veteran of newsrooms large and small, it's my opinion that the bleating of the sheep on the WaPo staff is nothing more than wolf poo - tinged with jealousy.

Froomkin does what any good columnist should - he puts the news into perspective and makes it more accessible and understandable to those who don't get invited to cocktails with Rummy and coffee with Scooter.

If the "White House Briefing" were a drug, I'd panhandle in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for my daily fix. Hell, I go into withdrawal when the damn thing gets posted late.

The name fits, and the style befits the times we in which we live - let it be.

Rather the seek the specious concept of "balance," a concept not even recognized as necessary until the right wing assault on the media, managers of the Washington Post, et al, should continue seek out more persons of Froomkin's talent for both the web site and the dead tree edition. There is a revolution in media taking place - don't try to throttle it - join it. Readers will flock to you.

Posted by: Jess Henryes | December 12, 2005 11:57 PM

I view Dan Froomkin as a true reporter. He connects the dots in a very basic fashion. Rather than imposing a narrative on what is now called the "news", the column juxtaposes raw source material with reporting, opinion and comment from elsewhere in a fashion that illuminates connections between events, and drives sensible debate. This makes the occasional irreverent observation all the more enjoyable.

I don't think it makes any sense at all to say Froomkin is overly "liberal". Modern America is psychotic with its need to divide the world into two groups, however, so whatever.

But even if he was -- Why on earth would you lose a strong columnist because he has an ideology? Isn't that what the selling point is for Krauthammer, Novak, etc., etc.? You might as well fire Mark Twain for being "too irreverent".

Froomkin is the most refreshing part of the Post at the moment. I agree with the commenter above. Cancel Froomkin and I cancel you.

Posted by: Bert | December 13, 2005 12:00 AM

This is one more incremental step in the WaPost's struggle to turn itself into USA Today. Remember when this was a consistently good, interesting and provocative newspaper? Way back then? Hell, Froomkin ought to be offended to be confused with the so-called official political reporters. Glorified stenographers, every one of them.

Posted by: Tony | December 13, 2005 12:05 AM

When the blue-haired ladies are no longer around, WaPo advertisers will go with them. However, an un-named source told me that it's happening already.

Dan, I salute you.

Posted by: ccmask | December 13, 2005 12:06 AM

The WPs new Ombudsman would do well to use Dan Froomkin's methods. Simply stating that WP reporters find his reporting highly opinionated and bias and calling him a liberal is not reporting. It is spin. Why not list and investigate specific claims instead of acting like the White House press secretary.

Posted by: Chris | December 13, 2005 12:06 AM

I read with disbelief John Harris's response to Dan Froomkin's post in editorandpublisher.com.
It gives a serious look into what is wrong with the Washington post today. This man John Harris seems incapable of holding a rational thoght in his head. He makes assumptions and mistakes it for facts and then starts commmenting on his own fictions addressing them as facts. How does this guy know if Dan Froomkin wrote similarly about John Kerry, we the readers would not read? Mabe he consulted a psychic and mind read all of us. He seems too sure of himself, seems like a man incapable of some serious introspection.
I would advice you John Harris, stop being a crybaby. get on with some work and do some serious journalism. If you do that you may loose some invitaton to cocktail parties in D.C., but ti will do you much good for your present non-existent reputation.

Posted by: Paul Mason | December 13, 2005 12:14 AM

This should be memorized by the WaPo's WH reporters AND the national politics editor:

"The journalists who cover Washington and the White House should be holding the president accountable. When they do, I bear witness to their work. And the answer is for more of them to do so -- not for me to be dismissed as highly opinionated and liberal because I do."

Thank you, Mr. Froomkin

Posted by: Steve J. | December 13, 2005 12:14 AM

You want balance?

Does this mean that you will hire a columinist with personal morals to balance Richard Cohen?

Or a reporter who loathes themselves to balance Jim Vandehei's narcissistic love affair with himself?

Who an Editor who can actually manage a newsroom to serve as a counterweight to Mr. Harris?

Or an Ombudsman who represents Post readers to offset the one representing the Post writers?

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 12:22 AM

Deborah Howell did a disservice by lobbing generalizations and characterizations about the purported political bent of Dan Froomkin's WH Briefing. Like many others who have already posted, I wait eagerly for my daily fix of Froomkin because he does what too few journalists have been doing lately. Perhaps the media has gotten so used to simply reporting spin and talking points that Froomkin's efforts to fact-check somehow appear to Ms. Howell to be politically-biased. Just the opposite -- fact-checking and accountability are the key elements of free press in a democracy. Leave Froomkin's column alone!

Posted by: Jacqueline | December 13, 2005 12:22 AM

Froomkin is a wonderful asset to a newspaper which has replaced the Times in my home as the paper of record. The clarity of his point of view -- the fact that he has one -- is bracing, refreshing against the often blurred landscape of reporting without context, the many misguided attempts to see virtue in both sides of issues that -- face it, say it -- sometimes have only one side.

Spin is what politicians do. We know that. Reporting is not stenography. Context is both desired and appreciated.

Froomkin's column -- change its name if you must -- is essential reading and, if I understand correctly, an amazing accomplishment for one person to assemble daily.

Posted by: John Calendo | December 13, 2005 12:25 AM

Froomkin's column is by far the best thing in the Post and one of my favorite columns anywhere. It is SO necessary to hold the president of a democracy up to searching scrutiny in the media. This president has often gotten a free pass. Thank god for Froomkin!!!

Posted by: Chris Edelson | December 13, 2005 12:26 AM

Deborah Howell has embarassed herself, her employer (WaPo) and her alma mater (the University of Texas). Does no one proof read Howell's column prior to publication?

The pursuit of accountability has NO political affiliation. Accountability is not partisan. And it should be the mission of news reporters covering elected officials to pursue accountability relentlessly. Democracy demands nothing less.

For the WaPo Ombudsman to label Whitehouse Briefing as "liberal" is not only inaccurate, it's dishonest. Howell should be ashamed of herself and immediately issue a retraction and an apology.

I never understood why WaPo critics refer to the print edition as "Fish Wrap". But after reading Deborah Howell I am beginning to see their point....

Posted by: Austin Texas | December 13, 2005 12:26 AM


White House Briefing is clearly a column. The only reason any innocent reader would confuse it with a news article is that WHB actually contains critical analysis, sourced information, fact checking and, God help us, news.

Posted by: B.M. Smith | December 13, 2005 12:27 AM

Your posts have been informative, and nothing less. We are grown up here. We can distinguish between faux news and real reporting. Your reporting is real, and I thank you for your work.

Posted by: prabhata | December 13, 2005 12:27 AM

How about calling it 'White House PR Roundup'? or 'the White House PR Digest'?

Sour grapes anyone?

Posted by: Marshall McLuhan | December 13, 2005 12:38 AM

I should be in bed asleep right now, but I'm so outraged at Howell's and Harris' comments. Froomkin's blog has been a welcome source of information during the Bush years. I turn to his column first because I know he cuts through the junk and gives me the links so I can think for myself and form my own opinion. Those at WP who criticize Dan's methods need to do some serious introspection. Dan is doing an excellent job.

* Dan adds to the Post's credibility unlike Bob Woodward who deceived his editor and the public.
* Some readers probably think the Post website and print edition are the same company. Why aren't you worried about that?!
*The Post reporters/ombudsman who don't like Dan (or other bloggers) linking to other web sites that are critical of their articles need to use it as an opportunity to practice being unbiased.

Posted by: JenniferS. | December 13, 2005 12:46 AM

Dear Mr.Harris,

If this is when you posted your elaborate, though rather "invita Minerva", position paper at the Huffington Post:
**Posted by: JohnHarris on December 12, 2005 at 02:27pm**, then let me be the first to tell you that your opening statement:
**"Since my comments about Dan Froomkin in Deborah Howell's ombudsman column have attracted some attention, I'd like to briefly respond."**, yes this opening statement, is indicative of how little you and the new ombudsman have thought before setting out to attack Froomkin's column.

Take another look at "some attention" your comments have attracted. Better yet, look at the quality, yearning for the truth, measured response and FAITHFULNESS reflected by the majority of the replies.
I suspect you can't be bothered by the numbers of readers who cared to jump in this fray. After all you've given readers no credit at all with your initial comments.

Your attempt to explain your position was badly timed-- too early or too late as the case may be-- but above all it was revealing of motives for the initial episode. You see, the more words you put into an explanation the less credibility they have.
Obviously, at the time of your post you had no idea of the outcome. As it was when you and the ombudsman embarked on this little scheme.

Now learn this, Mr. Harris, from What America Means to Me, by Pearl S.Buck:
""Every great mistake has a halfway moment,a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied"".

I leave it up to you to decide which side of the halfway moment you and the ombudsman
are, as I post this Pleno Jure, just like the many before me.

Posted by: Pleno Jure | December 13, 2005 12:48 AM

Letter to Ms Howell

Dear Ms Howell

Hope this finds you well. I hope you will see fit to inform your reporters about what I have to say:

Mr Froomkin is perfectly correct: the Media, including the Washington Post, has held no one accountable for any of the myriad failures and deceptions of this Administration. In addition, WaPo often merely transcribes the Administration's propaganda-points (or as the sophisticates say, "spin") without reflection or qualification.

If you wished, you yourself could easily come up with a dozen things this regime has done that would have instantly ended the career of any other politician in living memory. Name the politician who would be in office--who would have as much as 40% approval--when it was pretty much clear that they had in fact terrorized the American people with deceptions; had subverted the exclusive war-making powers of Congress through false statements; had, through lies, initiated a successful recruiting drive for al qaeda while allowing bin Laden to escape?

Lying to Congress about the cost of Medicare. Bush's insider trading: "The letter exonerated me" when the letter said explicitly that it was not an exoneration. Cheney swearing he'd get rid of his Halliburton options, but instead keeping them and watching the value go from $200,000 to $7 million on the strength of no-bid contracts his office arranged. Halliburtons threat to not deliver food to our troops in Iraq if a judgment against them was withheld, and no punishment happens to them. The blatant perjury of FEMA's Michael Brown in Congressional testimony. The authorization of the torture that most Americans and every single person not living in the US knows we practice, as we take over the role of world-monster once held by the Soviets. The gross mismanagement of defense on 9/11, the suppression of investigations into al Qaeda operatives before 9/11, Katrina, the multi-billions theft in Iraq under Bremer, the routine falsification of scientific data (attested too in a statement signed by 6,000--SIX THOUSAND!!! scientists), the perjury by Rice, Rumsfeld, and Tenat ("uhhh, I forgot about those other two August briefings") before the 9/11 Commission, the routine punishment of truth-tellers in the government, the removal of protections on whistle-blowers, the disabling of FOIA regulations, a whole brood of ex-Trotskyists pushing their dream of world revolution. The outing of a key player in our WMD defenses. The routine character-assassination of opponents. The happily-skipping Anthrax terrorist of 2001. Off the top of my head.

Nobody has resigned in connection with any of this, or of the literally hundreds of career-ending actions I've left out. In fact, the only people in the Administration who have resigned are people who have refused to go along with the destruction of America's power, wealth, prestige, and traditions. On balance, those complaining about Mr Froomkin should reflect and note that the Washington Post is notably Pravda-ish. Certainly much more so than it can be seen as an ally of its readers, a force demanding accountability and truth from those in power.

Thank you for your time.
(my signature)
PS By the way it is educational to read old Pravdas. You will find there, also, criticism of officials, complaints by the people of corruption, scandals in high places, etc. But in the main, they pushed the party line without unmasking it. Like here, these days.

Posted by: jim p | December 13, 2005 12:49 AM

Froomkin's the only thing worth reading on a consistent basis. 'Nuff said...

Posted by: Joe | December 13, 2005 12:54 AM

If the Post's top leadership cannot get a better handle on this than what has been articulated by Mr. Harris and Ms. Howell, then the Post (like Mr. Woodward?) is a shabby relic of what it once was.

Before someone disposes of this issue as a simple matter of balance with an off-the-shelf remedy, someone at the top needs to think real hard, perhaps even consult with the ghosts of journalists past, and see that Dan Froomkin's column hews to the highest journalistic values by promoting a deeper knowledge of White House workings and real public accountability.

Dan Froomkin is why I started going first to the Post and rarely to the New York Times. I say leave it all just as it is.

Posted by: Wart in KY | December 13, 2005 12:55 AM


I'm sorry to post again, but as I watch the pretty much universal rejection of the Ombudsman's (sic) column, it occurs to me that the problem isn't only with unfounded criticism of Dan Froomkin. WHB is an opinion blog, exactly like half a dozen others exclusive to WaPo.com. and is clearly being attacked under a standard applied to nothing else on the site. What is really offensive, thought, isn't the attack on Froomkin, it's the abuse of the office of public advocate, once known as "Ombudsman" now known as "Dan Froomkin".

You've made a hiring mistake. Please, for the sake of your readers, correct it quickly.

Posted by: Bullsmith | December 13, 2005 12:59 AM

Deborah Howell proves once again that she represents only the big shots at the Post (like Woodward) rather than the Post's readers, and that she clearly thinks Washington Post readers are idiots.

Seriously, think about what her column implies: that Post readers are too dumb to figure out the title of Froomkin's column and connect it with what appears there. That's right, Post readers-- Deborah Howells thinks you're either on a kindergarten reading level or mentally deficient. This after two columns in a row where she swallows everything Bob Woodward has to say hook-line-and-sinker and is obviously flabbergasted that Post readers aren't smart enough (in her opinion) to do the same. It feels like most of Howell's columns are about editor so-and-so thinks this (and Howells agrees) or reporter whats-his-what feels this way (and Howells feels the same).

Can the Post please maybe get an Ombudsman's Ombudsman? Who, exactly, at the Post is legitimately representing the interests of the readers these days?

Posted by: John Buford | December 13, 2005 01:00 AM

Since I've known Dan since he was five, I may well be biased. But I will say that only Dana Milbank's byline on something in the *Post* raises my expectations more than seeing Dan's byline on something.

I do have to say that there is something creepy about John Harris's comment. Harris doesn't want to kill Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing--but others, whom he does not name, do want to kill it. Harris thinks Dan Froomkin's column is biased--or, rather, he doesn't think that but only that Dan is "not trying very hard" to avoid being perceived as biased. Harris thinks that readers are "confused" because they think Dan is "one of the [print *Washington Post's*] White House reporters"--but he doesn't care enough about clearing up "confusion" to name even one of his three (they are Jim VandeHei, Peter Baker, and Michael Fletcher).

Posted by: Brad DeLong | December 13, 2005 01:00 AM

Without reservation I agree with Howard, this president as well as any and all others must and should be held accountable. It has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. And that is one thing which is not being discussed.

Accusing someone of being a "liberal" for questioning our government is a psychological mind game. It is meant to shut-down debate. For far too long the word liberal has been bantered around and painted as something to detest. When reporters back-off or drop a story for fear of being labeled a liberal reinforces the impression liberals are 'detestable.' More importantly it has had a detrimental effect on free speech and journalism. That is chilling.

"Liberal" is only a label. But making life and death decisions requires accountability. If critical assessment, disagreement, skepticism, questioning policy, holding our president accountable are considered "Liberal" then count me in.

Posted by: serena1313 | December 13, 2005 01:20 AM

Perhaps Ms. Howell could define "liberal bias" then post some of the more egregious examples? How about some accountability, eh?

In the meantime, thanks to you Mr. Froomkin. Best wishes. (Yes, I too am biased.)

Posted by: Aaron | December 13, 2005 01:23 AM

Perhaps Ms. Howell could define "liberal bias" then post some of the more egregious examples? How about some accountability, eh?

In the meantime, thanks to you Mr. Froomkin. Best wishes. (Yes, I too am biased.)

Posted by: Aaron | December 13, 2005 01:25 AM

So, Froomkin is "too liberal"?

What an utterly specious and annoying proposition.

This from a mainline news staff that values its White House sources more than the public's right to know.

Thanks, "political reporters", for really riding herd as the Administration drove us off the cliff of war. You served the public interest - NOT. I felt you guys did a good job of critiquing the Administration WMD spin - NOT.

Seriously, would you guys get a clue before you go extinct?

In the last five years the mainstream media has *betrayed* the citizens of this country. YOU should look at YOURSELVES. If all you care about is fawning over and flattering the conservatives in power (Did Abramoff slip you a few too?), then you don't deserve your jobs, your perks, your prestige, and you'll probably lose your industry.

Did I mention that I was mad at the mainstream media? How many Americans have to die before you guys take your jobs seriously!!!!

Posted by: camille roy | December 13, 2005 01:30 AM

Regarding Howell's "But I agree with The Post's political writers here; the Web site should remove the "White House Briefing" label from Froomkin's column," I disagree.

I know that Froomkin writes for the website, not the printed on paper Washingto Post. I'm not confused about that. Nor am I confused about what's really going on here.

It sounds like the White House, and that segment of the press core that takes itself too seriously, have been complaining -- in a manner that reminds me of uptight academics who are on the warpath against professors who write popular prose instead of scholarly soporifics -- that Froomkin has not been dignified or sufficiently respectful to his print colleagues.

That's good. It means Froomkin is doing his job. And doing it well.

Consider:

Froomkin has the backbone to speak truth to power. That's not being liberal. Or conservative. It's being honest. His column is exactly what the paper Post should be encouraging its White House reporters to write from time-to-time. If Harris, et al, are not writing stories that get reporters thrown out of the White House every now and then, or fail to pen prose that provokes the stuffed shirts in the press core to sputtering indignation, they are not doing their jobs. Or having any fun.

James Conner
Kalispell, MT

Posted by: James Conner | December 13, 2005 01:39 AM

Pathetic, simply pathetic, that this ombudsman, who was hired to represent the readers and give voice to their gripes against the newspaper, somehow decides it's her job to be an outlet for one Post employee, John Harris, to bash another Post employee, Dan Froomkin,who has apparently committed the mortal sin of not being friendly enough to the Bush White House. And she goes on to say that hemust be a liberal so we'll just have to hire a "conservative" blog to balance him out, because if there is any criticism of Bush, well that certainly can't be allowed.

And sadly, it's not isolated. Here are just 3 examples of the declining standards of the once great Wash Post, all happening within the last week!

In his Post.com column, The Fix, Chris Cillizza last week noted that an editor took it upon himself to insert an example of "Democratic corruption," into a previous column he had written about current GOP scandals and malfeasance. Of course, it turns out the editor had to go back a few congresses to pull out an example of a conviction, and later admitted he did it simply because all the examples Cillizza was writing about were involving Republicans. This despite Cillizza stipulating in his column he was only going to write about current officeholders.

2) On "Hardball" on MSNBC just last night, in a discussion of George Bush living in a bubble, Post reporter Dana Milbank was a guest, and said many presidents try to get a handle on opinions from people outside their inner circle. It was a good point, until he couldn't resist sneering: "Of course, Clinton had his coterie of interns for that." Obnoxious, pathetic, gratuitous, and I suppose an example of what the cool kids in the Beltway crowd find shocking - not one president lying us into a deadly war, but that another lied about getting a bobjob.

And now this, Harris and this sad sack excuse for an ombudsman's bashing a good columnist who has committed the sin of not drinking the Bush Koolaid.

Does the Post actually wonder why both it's reputation and circulation is plummeting?

Posted by: JBK | December 13, 2005 01:40 AM

Dan Froomkin is the best columnist going right now. Any petulant squalling from the press room is motivated purely by envy. That and a craven desire to cover their (ahem!) access at any cost.

Keep bringing them the fight, Dan. You fight them there so we don't have to fight them here.

Posted by: David Ferguson | December 13, 2005 01:45 AM

You know, I've just learned that Dana Millbank isn't considered a White House reporter any more: his brief is to provide analysis.

Now that's confusing. I never had any problem working out what Froomkin's role is. Could we please have a disclaimer on all of Millbank's pieces in the future to make clear that he's not a stenographer for Karl Rove's lawyer -- I mean, White House reporter?

Posted by: Nick S | December 13, 2005 01:58 AM

Dan Froomkin is my favorite Washington Post columnist, by far. Instead of criticizing him, other columnists and reporters should be emulating him.

Posted by: Madeleine Begun Kane | December 13, 2005 02:34 AM


It's clear that the Ombudsman has her priorites in the wrong order if she believes that this move will somehow restore credibility to the paper.

What we've learned over the last few years is that the main stream press, be it TV, Cable, Print or Magazines are not suffering from a left-leaning or right-leaning "agenda." The agenda that they are suffering from has been clearly shown to be a leaning towards the incestous.

Citizens of America has long believed that the press provides a distilling of slant into truth. A truth from which we can make better judgements about the people we have elected and want to elect in the future. Instead, in recent years, we've learned that the reporters we are relying on to be the 4th branch of gov't, supposedly providing the checks and balances a free press is supposed to provide, are actually in bed with the politicians and spin-meisters.

Worse yet, sites like Media Matters make it clear from a rather objective perspective that not only have some journalists failed us in their oversight responsibilities, but they have done so in blatently incompetent ways.

It is because of blogs and because people are paying more attention that the inadequecy and incompetence has come to the forefront. Instead of addressing these fundemental problems, the media seem intent to lash out on what, I suppose, we could call the 5th branch of gov't.

Posted by: JB | December 13, 2005 02:36 AM

Man oh man, I read through about the first hundred comments here and can only agree with the nearly unanimous sentiment: Dan Froomkin is a superior asset for the Post, and a superior resource for the reader. News organisations on the scale of the Post should consider themselves lucky to have one of the most respected and insightful writer/bloggers on their payrolls. But using postion as paymaster to attempt to change what makes the column so good would be a poor decision...change the name if that makes those the truth offends uneasy, but for goodness sake don't change a thing about the column (except maybe an easily accesible permalink to Froomkin's page). In all the arguments these days about print media adapting to changes brought by the web, here is one case where an old-school company has got it precisely correct. Five stars.

Posted by: stack | December 13, 2005 02:37 AM

LMAO !!!!

man, all of you commenters rock !! the wapo is getting its a** kicked all over the place !!

love it !!

froomkin rocks !!

Posted by: who wants a pony | December 13, 2005 02:50 AM

When WaPo is wrong, it's REALLY wrong

Here's an idea - leave WHB alone

Change YOUR url to Washington-com.post

lol

Posted by: Calvin | December 13, 2005 03:20 AM

Coming from a paper whose ed board openly supported the prospective war in Iraq, refused to hire a baby sitter for the most credulous "reporter" in history, Bob Woodward, and still has yet to issue a mea culpa for its own breathlessly credulous reporting of the fabricated evidence of Iraqi WMDs, any criticism Froomkin takes from them should be displayed proudly as a badge of honor.

And it is more than a little disheartening to learn that that actual reporters not employed by Rupert Murdoch are parroting a Rush Limbaugh talking point: that any criticism of the President by the press must be labeled as liberalism run amok, not truth telling.

Posted by: gmoney | December 13, 2005 03:31 AM

What I find most chilling is this quote from Mr Harris(from HuffPo)"Our team there reports and writes in an aggressive and fair-minded way, and their work regularly scrutinizes and when appropriate challenges White House assertions."
Mr. Harris, were questions about WMD just inappropriate in your view? I love Dan Froomkin not because he reflects any ideology but because he can be counted to ask unpopular questions and even more importantly he can be counted on to ask why OTHERS are not asking these important questions!
Also, I was dumfounded by the disdain that both Ms. Howell and Mr. Harris seemed to have for the readers - I resent the implication that I am so addlepated and easily confused that I can not tell that Mr. Froomkin is writing ABOUT the White House daily briefings rather than participating in them. Mr. Harris blithely assures us that many, many readers have been torn asunder with confusion - where is he getting this data - a poll,gossip, his dark heart?
I heartily agree with those who have posted that it has been Dan Froomkin's work that has cloaked the WaPo in credibility and declare my allegience to all things Froomkin. I also nominate Ms. Howell for the Harriet Meirs underqualified and overwhelmed award.

Posted by: dcny | December 13, 2005 04:57 AM

Speaking truth to power in order to keep power limited, transparent and accountable is a profoundly *conservative* value (as well as a liberal one in the Lockeian sense).

Harris and his folks are whiners. Or worse.

Posted by: Lex | December 13, 2005 05:49 AM

Is there an ombudsman for the ombudsman?

Posted by: sjwilliams | December 13, 2005 06:14 AM

Why is White House Briefing so popular? Because it provides the synthesized view of the "man behind the curtain" that is so lacking in the daily news. If the WP meddles with this successful formula, I suggest Froomkin take his following to some other .com address. The fact that this is being discussed at all is a measure of his growing impact.

Posted by: SW Lewis | December 13, 2005 06:25 AM

Since when does telling the truth and asking legitimate questions of our government and our leaders make one a liberal? Or a conservative?

Is the WaPost on it's way to becoming the newest version of PBS?

Posted by: stink | December 13, 2005 06:40 AM

The Woodward worshipers in the newsroom should take some lessons from Frumkin. Suggest you change the name of Howell's position.

Posted by: Marty | December 13, 2005 06:41 AM

Messrs Downie and Brady:

I trust the foregoing comments make it reasonably clear that your readers are paying very close attention, and are indignant, to say the least, at this clumsy and transparent attempt to muzzle Dan Froomkin.

Bob Woodward (and Judy Miller, Viveca Novak, Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, et al) and the regular Washington press corps have damaged their credibility with readers, not Dan Froomkin. If you cannot come to terms with that essential fact, and soon, the outpouring of vitriol you see in these comments will seem pretty mild. Froomkin is one of the few voices in your organization that is maintaining your credibility (like Dana Priest and Walter Pincus).

Posted by: DeWitt Grey | December 13, 2005 07:19 AM

Folks,

Let's just face-up to the fact the Ms. Howell has been turned by the "Dark Side". She, or the Print "Post" bosses, has gotten whiney little notes and calls from certain folks in the Administration telling them to 'do something about that Froomkin guy'.

Someone check to see if Deborah has gotten a pony lately. If Froomkin gets silenced, she'll likely get a barn for the pony as well.

Dan: Keep hammering. The "Adults are now in charge" and they should be held accountable as adults.

Posted by: Gary Skaggs | December 13, 2005 08:29 AM

Email sent to Ms. Howell:
Dear Ms. Howell,
I read your column "the two washington posts" recently and would like to comment on the quality of the Post's online materials. As a long time New York Times reader, I was surprised to find that I prefer the content on the Post - especially the "White House Briefing" by Dan Froomkin. I personally do not believe that any changes should be made to the column. I read the column every day and have seen a lot of material there not available in other sources. (Reading the column every day means that i view the advertising associated with the column every day). I hope that the push to change the column isn't coming from someone inside the current administration, and if it is, the Post will publish the details on the first page.
I believe that it is imporant for the press to critially examine the work of the administration, whether it be democratic or republican. I'm sure Dan will be critial of the next administration, regardless of its party affiliation.
What ever decision is ultimately made with regard to the column, please tell Dan to keep up the good work!
Thank you,
Matthew Katzenbach

Posted by: Matt Katzenbach | December 13, 2005 08:41 AM

Copy of Email to Post Ombudsman
Dan Froomkin is the reason my wife and I keep the Post as our home page. His clear eye and willingness to frame questions are what keep us coming back to the Post at a time when it seems the Post has lost it's way.
I have been a daily Post reader for nearly 50 years, About 2 years ago we stopped buying print copies and have become entirely on line readers. I go back to Digital Ink days with on line content. My mother worked at the Post long ago, and the Post of the early 70's helped me find my way through the morass of the Vietnam and Nixon years. We come to our opinions reluctantly, as friends and as loyal long time customers.
The Post today has, in our opinion, precious damned little in common with the couragous paper from that bygone era. Today's Post, we believe, has largely abdicated the obligation that comes with the 1st amendment, to question those in power and expose abuses, regardless of party. If you do not understand that, ask how Herblock would have viewed Woodward's debacle. The Post as lap dog is not attractive. The role of handmaiden to power is the partisan position. Skepticism, honest questioning and aggressive reporting are called doing your job.
For the Post to regain integrity, and perhaps to survive the transisition to the press of the future, you need more Froomkins, not fewer.
Please get your heads out of the sand and your butts in gear.
Sincerely,
Cliff & Sue
Cliff.Rowland@cbrow.com

Posted by: Cliff Rowland | December 13, 2005 08:53 AM

Holy Moly! After all this I guess I'm going to have to check out his column! I have a list of blogs I check everyday-- sorry WaPo-- gave up the NYT, other print sources and cable news 2-3 years ago. Why? Exactly for the reasons you are reading in these comments. Froomkin, unlike so many others, was not so central on my radar. I certainly have clicked through to WaPo articles, and Froomkin, from links on blogs. But after reading these comments? I'll put him on my list. Sorry, if I don't even bother with your other "reporters" such as Woodward.

Posted by: hello | December 13, 2005 08:55 AM

I support Dan.
I wish he was the WH reporter.
Woodward who?

Posted by: JC | December 13, 2005 09:07 AM

Froomkin is the main reason why I go back to WaPo.com everyday. I feel like I'm missing my morning coffee when he's on vacation. Rather than being "liberal" he has a finely tuned BS detector that he uses to flag the Washington puffery in all of his columns. My only regret is that more White House reporters don't seem to have these detectors for our benefit.

Posted by: Carey Johnston | December 13, 2005 09:10 AM

Dan Froomkin's column is the best compilation of political events on the web. It is a daily must read, and I feel that his intention is simply to hold the office of the President accountable. Too often the press rolls over and doesn't perform due dilligence in its reporting. Mr. Froomkin, simply puts together news stories to show that if something looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. If only the Post had others like him, instead of flacks like Bob Woodward, it could a long way to restoring some of it's credibility and prestige.

Posted by: Vish Jha | December 13, 2005 09:24 AM

Considering the mostly fawning-lapdog stance of the greater part of official White House correspondents over the last five years, those journalists should take a page from Froomkin's stated policy of what journalism is supposed to be about: holding power accountable, whoever happens to be wielding it at the moment.

No need to change his column's name. It does what it's called. And thank goodness it's there or I'd have less reason to read the WP at all, given it's continuous drift to the right. It seems that the Republican spin that brands mainstream media as automatically *Liberal* works. It has cowed most of the formerly great American newspapers into seeking "balance" by parroting the administration position. What's so balanced about that? In an era where one party rules absolutely in two of the three branches of government and is likely to take over the third one would think that "balance" entails hearing the other side.

Posted by: ncm | December 13, 2005 09:31 AM

I look forward to reading Mr. Froomkin's column daily, and I commend him on his thoroughness. When did it become wrong to point out facts and truth? Truth isn't liberal or conservative. The Washington Post has lost its courage.

Thank you, Mr. Froomkin for persevering.

Posted by: Linda Bannon | December 13, 2005 09:42 AM

Since Miss Howell is taking on the charge of critquing and suggesting changes for column titles on washingtonpost.com, might I humbly suggest she next tackle Howard Kurtz's radically misnamed "Media Notes" column. Sure, Howard works some media coverage into his writing, but it's too often a platform for his own political opinions. Witness his classification last week of Pelosi's "flip flop" and at least on occasion he also goes after pols from the right. He had a real rant about Santorum's dog and man sex comments awhile back. Just don't see how either fits into a media notes column.

Posted by: tom | December 13, 2005 09:43 AM

I look forward to reading Mr. Froomkin's column daily, and I commend him on his thoroughness. When did it become wrong to point out facts and truth? Truth isn't liberal or conservative. The Washington Post has lost its courage.

Thank you, Mr. Froomkin for persevering.

Posted by: Linda Bannon | December 13, 2005 09:43 AM

The entire trend in an ombudsman at news organizations seems to be a good idea gone terribly bad. The post tends to become a midly untouchable fortress of dumb ideas. In this particular case, the odd thing is not that there has been a complaint from readers (which may or may not be worth considering), but rather than there is a family squabble between Froomkin and presently nameless White House reporters. The response of the Ombudsman is to repeat that some reporters don't like him because they think he is...gasp...liberal.

I used to live in DC and picked the Post off my doorstep first thing every morning. I loved it. I have argued many times that it is the best source of national political news in the country.

I must admit the last few years have left me wondering if the Post still has the drive to be a meaningful news outlet with real reporting. Sure, there are some gems out there (Dana Priest, for example), but the piles of good get dwarfed by the stupidity of the Woodward saga and nonsense like ranting about Froomkin's title for his posting.

Grow up and get serious, or just get out of the way.

Posted by: John Bruce | December 13, 2005 09:45 AM

I've read the new Ombudswomans column and my initial reaction was disbelief and anger. 'Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing," which is highly opinionated and liberal.' Shocking!

Firstly, what's the job of the ombudswoman, to be an advocate for the readers or for a small elite of news professionals who seem to be embarassed that their sloppy work may be revealed on their own papers' website? Does Deborah Howell understand the essentials of her new job?

Secondly, who says that Dan Froomkin's column is 'highly opinionated and liberal'? Miss Howell? Or those anonymous sources at The Post? Or maybe it's the White House? If such prejudices are presented, at least the source has to be named and the statement should acoordingly be labeled 'alleged' or even better as a quote. Miss Howell didn't think of this, showing her disregard for WaPos policy of handling anonymous sources as well as a possible lack of journalistic basics. Judging from this first impression, she seems to be a horrible choice for the essential position she's holding now.

Posted by: Gray | December 13, 2005 09:51 AM

As an Arizonian, I am one of the non-locals the new ombudsman seems fascinated with. I am a registered reader and -- The Post is my Home Page, will wonders never cease?

Dan Froomkin's column is required daily reading in my household because Mr. Harris's outfit has sold out to the Bush Administration and, after reading the first of Woodward's books about that band of thieves, I wouldn't trust any article appearing under his by-line.

If Mr. Harris sincerely believes that HIS readers confuse WH Briefing with something that would originate from the WH Press Corps or the Post's representative therein, he's more out of touch with the Post's political reporting than those of us out here in the puckerbrush, far from the Beltway.

Does the new ombudsman actually believe Harris's attempt at censorship is for the reason he states?

Dan's column is straight forward -- liberal? I guess that depends on whose lap you are sitting on -- like the print Post used to be. This column is what keeps me coming back and what gets me involved at WaPo.com.

Were Ms Howell or Mr. Harris to exit the Post, neither I nor my colleagues out here in the hinterlands would notice.

However, you make a move on Dan Froomkin, IN ANY WAY, I believe you'll discover just how important he is to the non-local readership of wapo.com!

This should not be misconstrued as a threat. It is a vow!

Posted by: rdrover | December 13, 2005 09:53 AM

This little crusade against Dan Froomkin and his White House Briefing is a little distressing, but not so much for his sake, more distressing because of how small men and women are tarnishing Mrs. Graham's legacy. What is amusing though, is the manner that Jonathan Harris comes off like a snivelling wretch whose natural talents are most definitely poor.

Froomkin offers the most compelling reason to visit washingtonpost.com. I visit once a day, cringe when he is on holidays, and often wish he did two or three columns a day.

I wonder how many unqiue visitors solely visit because of Dan Froomkin? Wonder still more if any advertisers are reading these posts.
What is gratifying, and hopefully Froomkin takes some glee from this, is that it is now abundantly clear how ardently the readership here appreciates his work on the website, and how underwhelmed we all are over the performance of the paper content. This kind of response surely merits a long look from Mr. Downie, and perhaps a promotion for Froomkin and a pink slip for Harris. Wouldn't we all rejoice then?

Posted by: Matt G | December 13, 2005 09:53 AM

So let me get this straight: Harris is concerned that the WaPo's reputation may suffer because Dan Froomkin is sharing verifiable FACTS? And that the FACTS need to be "balanced"? That's incredibly scary.

Posted by: Carrie Cleverdon | December 13, 2005 09:55 AM

Oh, I understand, a column that provides insightful intelligent analysis and asks tough probing questions is biased. I guess this is true because links are always provided to allow a reader to make up their own mind??! What's going on? Why would Harris have a problem with the best column this newspaper offers?

Posted by: Brooklynnative | December 13, 2005 10:07 AM

The fact that the WaPo is taking this foolishness up as an issue is evidence that Dan Froomkin is on the right track. What's next? Move Dan to the OpEd page? Will Krauthammer revolt because the column has too many facts and not enough spin? It is a shame that the Republican distaste for political accountability has spilled over into executive offices of the Post. Drop this nonsense and do your job.

Posted by: J.L. | December 13, 2005 10:09 AM

It is quite surprising to hear the Ombudsman's challenge of Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing" column. That is probably one of the few "must-reads" of the Post's Web site!

Dan is the only reporter I know that actually compiles a comprehensive and thorough assessment of the day's news as it relates to the White House. I find his links to other credible news sources to be a testament to true public and media opinion about the White House, which we hardly ever receive from other news sources (including the Post's political reporters).

It would make sense for the Post to change the column's name if Mr. Froomkin was generating false or satirical news. But, he serves as a link between the people and the White House, by providing many links, to generally available and useful information.

The deeper issue here is the White House and its supporters feeling that they do not need to be accountable to the people. A column such as this pulls the veil off of a lot of information that the Administration does not want the public to critically analyze. Give the people the information and let them make their own decisions, instead of telling us how we should feel.

Keep up the good work Dan! I read your column every day.

Posted by: MES | December 13, 2005 10:14 AM

Wow. Thanks to Deborah Howell, I now have a new link for a must-read daily: Froomkin's White House Briefing. Every time a "journalist" (in name only) rags on a blog or another journalist because they impugn or question THEIR credibility, then it is a sure bet that the journalist under attack is a journalist through and through, speaking truth rather than spin.

While I disdain reading WaPo and the NYT anymore because of their Woodward and Miller corruption - showing their TRUE non-journalistic nature - I will make an exception for Froomkin. Great work and keep it up!

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates | December 13, 2005 10:16 AM

Accountablility does not necessarily equal Liberalism.

I'm furious with Howell.

Posted by: Justin | December 13, 2005 10:26 AM

I read the Post daily--online, and in print. Froomkin's column is part of my regular circuit for gathering the news--an essential resource in an increasingly Orwellian world (. . . take the word "ombudsman," for example.)

Every administration promotes itself--I look (increasingly less) to the press to provide a critical view. Froomkin's column is an oasis!

Posted by: Sophie in Alexandria | December 13, 2005 10:28 AM

I join with the incredible number of supporters of the White House Briefing blog. There is no confusion, Froomkin provides a useful round-up of coverage of and goings-on in the administration that can't be found anywhere else. Please don't change a thing!

Posted by: Tyler Clark | December 13, 2005 10:32 AM

I had not read his column regularly till now, but reading it again today and going through the archieves made me bookmark the page for my daily read.
Thank you for pointing to this wonderful source on White House News, Ombudsman.

Posted by: PeWi | December 13, 2005 10:33 AM

I realize I'm me-tooing many previously posted comments, but I find Froomkin's WHB to be a bracing, informative and amusing read. Liberal? Not as much as it is appropriately skeptical and questioning, as other political reporters ought always to be, yet sadly aren't.

A conservative counterpoint? Please. WaPo has enough outright conservative voices in its pages and on its website. Josh Marshall of talkingpointsmemo.com rightly noted:

"As for balancing Froomkin with a conservative blogger, can't we just match him with Jim Hoagland and it call it a draw? That would be pretty generous, I think. Has there ever been any accounting for all the misinformation Hoagland (presumably) unintentionally spread through his column? And what about all the stuff he's made up since then to cover for the earlier baloney? Who balances him? Who balances Howie Kurtz's sometimes myopic focus on 'liberal bias'? How about the fact that an editor at the Wapo.com recently intentionally tilted a scandal story to include more Democrats than the facts would bear so as to make the story appear more 'balanced'?"

Posted by: Rafael Glazier | December 13, 2005 10:35 AM

...Howell quoted John Harris, who whined the title of Froomkin's column "invites confusion" and "dilutes our only asset -- our credibility" as objective news reporters.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

if harris were being totally honest with himself one has to wonder what he thinks about what pecker woodward did to the paper's cred...."it's not fit to line a bird cage"?

you can't make this stuff up.

Posted by: deus chrispy | December 13, 2005 10:45 AM


Ann Dietz at Democracy Cell Project appreciates Dan Froomkin.

And so do I. Accountability is not solely a liberal value. At least I hope to God it's not.

http://www.democracycellproject.net/blog/archives/2005/12/new_media_vs_ol_1.html

Posted by: dwahzon | December 13, 2005 10:45 AM

I find this very sad. For readers of the Washington Post that have grown disillusioned with its policies of replacing accountability for access, I find it distressing that the ombudsman would write such things. It seems bizarre to me that she calls Froomkin 'liberal'...does 'liberal' now mean anyone who believes that the current administration has consolidated power and limited access to the press? Does 'liberal' mean holding public officials accountable? Does this mean the Washington Post has to balance this 'liberal' viewpoint with a viewpoint that gives public officials a free pass, that believes documented lies to the press corp are no big thing in a democracy?

One time that Froomkin has advocated a 'liberal' policy...if the ombudsman can not provide one example of a time that Froomkin was critical of policy rather than method, she owes an apology or her resignation.

Give me a break, tend your own garden first...

Posted by: Bryce Pashler | December 13, 2005 10:49 AM


One idea I haven't seen suggested yet.


How about you make Dan Froomkin your White House Press Corps reporter?

Surely, Woodward could make a few unreported calls on his behalf...

Posted by: Farnsworth | December 13, 2005 11:10 AM

I love seeing all these leftist moonbats express their love for Froomkin and his "work", but at the same time, they insist that Froomkin isn't a leftist moonbat. Hahahahaha!

Posted by: Tom | December 13, 2005 11:13 AM

Can we now expect the WP to do a "Kenneth Y. Tomlinson" CPB 2 step because somebody up the corporate ladder doesnt like to hear reality?

Posted by: Mikey | December 13, 2005 11:15 AM

The Bushies appear to have the goods on the Washington Post, and now the squeeze is on. Dan should check to see if any of them have been on any golfing trips with top Republican officials lately. Either that, or Deborah Howell is the new nom de plume for Kenneth Tomlinson.

Posted by: Kenneth J. Wagner | December 13, 2005 11:23 AM

I'm sure the only problem the majority of the White House Daily Briefing readers have is when Dan's column is not posted around lunchtime or he has the nerve to take a day off now and then.

And what exactly is gain from attending a daily gaggle or press briefing then a bunch of propaganda? Especially when they cherry pick their questions.

PS you can read them daily on the net. : )

Four more years of Froomkin. Someone please awake the ombudsman from the stone age.

Posted by: Dennis | December 13, 2005 11:26 AM

I do agree that the title is not appropriate but for a different reason. Given all the shenanigan going on in Washington between the press and the politicians it should be called WHITE HOUSE DEBRIEFING.

Posted by: Tom | December 13, 2005 11:28 AM

Deborah Howell is raising an interesting issue in discussing if Dan Froomkin's column 'White House Briefing' is adequately named. This leads to the even more important issue wether 'Washington Post' is a 'correct' name for a newspaper. How many citizen have unsuccessfully tried to post their letters and parcels at this 'officially' looking office building (http://www.washpost.com/gen_info/images/gen_bigbuilding.jpg) or have mistaken the paper or its internet appearance for information about the DC post office? Do U.S. Postal employees perceive WaPo as an obstacle for their work? Did the Woodward controversy undermine the credibility of the national mail service?

These matters should be investigated and if there have been misunderstandings, the news company should be renamed. As an immediate measure, disclaimers should be placed at prominent places on the newspaper, the website, and all Washington Post office buildings!

Posted by: Gray | December 13, 2005 11:28 AM

Froomkin yes. He is the reason I go to the site. He is more than "balanced" by the obnoxious "Fix".

Posted by: Mike Suddarth | December 13, 2005 11:29 AM

"I love seeing all these leftist moonbats express their love for Froomkin and his "work", but at the same time, they insist that Froomkin isn't a leftist moonbat. Hahahahaha!"

Exactly, Tom. I think the uberliberals are in denial. The bottom line is: The name of the column was terribly misleading. Froomkin was given a high place in the WaPo firm, and I'm sorry, but not everyone gets what a blogger is (especially a WaPo blogger). I waded once through pages of Froomkin's leftwing garbage and spew about the Plamegate non-affair. Even though it's bandwidth, I wondered why the WaPo was wasting its resources. Froomkin has a following, fine. But tell it like it is: Froomkin is there to make sure the WaPo isn't just liberal-happy, but that the leftists are happy, too. (It IS funny to see them spin conspiracies that the WaPo is out to get Froomkin, when that is clearly not the case.)
And, ummmm, do you think we would be seeing this tolerance of a guy like Froomking and a title like "White House Briefing" if the WaPo writer was George Will? Walter Williams? Bill Sammon?

Exactly. Their undies would be wet with rage. More liberal hypocrisy!

Posted by: Stewie | December 13, 2005 11:31 AM

I look forward every day to Mr Froomkin's blog. It's honest and searching. I think, I might even enjoy what he might have to say about a foolish Democratic president. It might help such a president stay on the straight and narrow and as such it is a service to the nation. If this administration and its minions don't like honesty, too bad for them.

Posted by: GM | December 13, 2005 11:32 AM

Froomkin is the evolution of reporters. He uses a new style to make people think. That is neither liberal or conservative. It should be what anyone and everyone who values Democracy does. We have become too hung up on labels and not on the real words. This whole thing started because the ombudsman and others at the Post beileive the title on his column is incorrect. Headlines are to capture ones attention. Nothing more. Accountability is what George W Bush campaigned on in 2000. If he has not lived up to the lofty words then why shouldn't people be shown it? Some have suggested that if Kerry were in the White House Froomkin would not be as bruising in his commentary surrounding a Kerry Administration. That is a lame argument because there is nothing to back it up and is so typical of the tactics the administration uses. There is no evidence presented to support that conclusion instead it is floated without the same substantiation as has been provided leading up to this that should be provided. Froomkin makes the case for a point of view and fills in with lots of links to show you how he got there. There is no requirement to accept that line of reasoning. The source information is there for true reader to digest and come to his or her own conclusions. That is the beauty of this new style of journalism. The old style writers need to get over their egos and stop whining about the title of the feature. After all is not the body of the work more important than the headline?

Posted by: Bill Prince | December 13, 2005 11:33 AM

I take Dan at his word if Kerry had been elected President Dan would have treated him to the same treatment.

Posted by: Tom Murphy | December 13, 2005 11:35 AM

I emailed Ms. Howell concerning what she obviously doesn't get about the internet. People can spot BS and will move along quickly when they see it. They can also spot truth and openness and will be loyal to these sites. Dan's column provides this truth and in turn creates loyal readers of The Post's website. If you take a valuable resource like Dan's column away, these reader will go looking for their truth elsewhere and take a valuable chunk of those 8 million Unique Visitors from the site. Loyalty comes from trust and trust comes from openness and credibility. I will never trust a human being who can never admit to a mistake and I won't trust a media source (or administration for that matter) who tries to silence a critic.

Posted by: John Hodson | December 13, 2005 11:42 AM

Bill Prince said, "Froomkin is the evolution of reporters."

I hope not. Here's how Froomkin describes his work:

Froomkin wrote: "Regular readers know that my column is first and foremost a daily anthology of works by other journalists and bloggers."

So he THRIVES on OTHER people's work. Give me a break! The WaPo reporters, who make original copy every day, are way above this guy.

A blogger is a glorified Drudge, a blog is a more interactive HuffPo or Drudge Report. I am sure Froomkin could be a reporter, but if I were a WaPo reporter (I am a FT reporter btw), I would be upset this guy gets a title called "White House Briefing" that liberally trashes sources with others' materials and links.

By the way, I think this says a lot about blogs. They are nothing more than gatherings of original work. They could never replace newspapers.

Romenesko of the Poynter et al. need to tone down his "Newspapers are dying" bologna. There will always be a need for thousands upon thousands of reporters working every day on the street, not from an office or a living room.

Funny, too, how liberal prefer blogs to newspapers, it seems. Liberals are just so upset with Bob Woodward! He has gone against Leftwing Blog CW. The poor guy, he's in for a spanking by famous non-journalist hacks like Arianna.

p.s. The Post did the right thing. Froomkin's column should be renamed.

Posted by: A Reporter | December 13, 2005 11:42 AM

"One(sp) time that Froomkin has advocated a 'liberal' policy...if the ombudsman can not provide one example of a time that Froomkin was critical of policy rather than method, she owes an apology or her resignation."

I CONCUR!!!

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 11:45 AM

"One(sp) time that Froomkin has advocated a 'liberal' policy...if the ombudsman can not provide one example of a time that Froomkin was critical of policy rather than method, she owes an apology or her resignation."

I CONCUR!!!

Posted by: Jon | December 13, 2005 11:46 AM

The poor job of the political reporters at the Washington Post are what calls the paper's credibility into question. Froomkin is doing a public service by peeling back the layers of BS in he-said/she-said stories and talking points fed to them from the WH. Froomkin gets to the truth of each story and anyone who is confused by the title of the column is probably confused by a lot of things and needs a nanny.

Posted by: Ramu | December 13, 2005 11:49 AM

Ms. Howell, you should be ashamed.

You have lost all credibility as a reporter or impartial news source with me.

Mr. Harris, you should be embarrassed. You have, in one stupid stroke, probably destroyed your career as "Ombudsman".

You can talk it over some absinthe with Okrent, but for now, for me, you're done.

Froomkin has become almost the only link the WaPo has left to real journalism.

Posted by: Ed Johnson | December 13, 2005 11:53 AM

Dan Froomkin's column is clearly placed within the Post's commentary/opinion section, providing context to its "...Briefing" title. It is a refreshingly fiesty piece among the Post's overwhelmingly stodgy opinion offerings. BTW, when is Woodward retiring?

Posted by: Barry Eriksen | December 13, 2005 11:54 AM

Froomkin is one of the reasons that I read the WAPO online.

Does Ms. Howell underestimate the readers of the WAPO and think that the readers should be dumbed down even further? Is Froomkin's piece a column? If so, isn't he entitled to draw conclusions from the premises he presents?

It would be nice if Ms. Howell would define a "liberal policy". What type of paper is she the ombudsman, the Wall Street Journal?

Second, why must each and every single column be labelled conservative or liberal? If I want to read a conservative spin, I can always elect to read the Washington Times or even Howard Kurtz?

Posted by: Phyliss | December 13, 2005 11:57 AM

"Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small."

Arthur Miller, "the Crucible"

Posted by: Jeffrey Brian | December 13, 2005 12:02 PM

Dan Froomkin is EXCELLENT - p e r i o d !

Posted by: Jimbo | December 13, 2005 12:04 PM

Like many others, WH Briefing is the first thing I look at when I go on to the net each day. It's one of the few places I feel I can get news on the presidency that hasn't been spun beyond recognition. I can't imagine what Howell was thinking!

Posted by: Annie | December 13, 2005 12:09 PM

"I CONCUR!!!"

"Dan Froomkin is EXCELLENT - p e r i o d !"

Liberal dittoheads, that's all Froomkin is good for placating. Hard to believe liberal thinkalikes have the gall to criticize Rush Limbaugh's "dittoheads," when liberal Conventional Wisdom is held far more sacred by the far left. And as we've seen with the left's personal attacks on Bob Woodward, independent thinkers are burned at the stake of the New Liberal McCarthyism.

Posted by: The Anti "White House Briefing" | December 13, 2005 12:14 PM

This little essay on a reporter's responsibility should be required reading for every journalist in this country. Maybe WaPo could regain some credibility by forcing reporters to certify that they've read it each morning before logging into their computers.

Posted by: Matt Morgan | December 13, 2005 12:17 PM

"Ms. Howell, you should be ashamed.

You have lost all credibility as a reporter or impartial news source with me."

Me too. The Washington Post has been a biased, extremist right puppet for years. That one person, daring to whisper about nudity and the emperors, could create such internal controversy reveals the journalistic rot consuming the Post. The titles in need of changing belong to management, including Woodward: former.

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 12:17 PM

Dan Froomkin does his job and does it well.Jealousy is obviously the motive of the so-called reporters, who object.Please keep up the great reporting, under any name! Don't worry Dan, they can change the name but they cannot change you and we will find your work and enjoy it!

Posted by: Dean Osborne | December 13, 2005 12:18 PM

I read WHB when I lived in Wisconsin and I still read it now that I'm back in DC. I love it and never miss a day-and when I do miss it because Mr. Froomkin is on vacation, I always feel a little off.

I'm proud that washingtonpost.com is willing to post WHB every day, with all its requests for more transparency and demands for a more agressive WH media corps. And if it is liberal, so be it-no one is forcing anyone else to click on WHB!

Posted by: Robin | December 13, 2005 12:19 PM

In response to "A Reporter", I hate to tell you this but Drudge is one of the most visited websites on the web and he doesn't even really offer anything other than a gathering of links. Most "bloggers" at a minimum try to help ad context and detail while of course others offer opinion, slant, and bias. But if you think that bloggers can't replace newspapers, then your in denial. It's already happening. People don't have the time or patience anymore to sift through all of the news.. they need help and bloggers and "gatherers" provide this valuable service. Good luck!

Posted by: John Hodson | December 13, 2005 12:19 PM

Froomkin resorts to the same tired tactic journalists invariably embrace when confronted with proof of their shortcomings: He wraps himself in the mythical vestments of the Fourth Estate.
Step right up, it's the old report-as-hero-of-the-republic narrative. Today's production stars stalwart WaPo columnist Danny Froomkin in the role of martyr.
What a joke! Froomkin's work is pure cant, a view more or less supported by the fact that a mob of Bush haters have posted in support of his work.

Posted by: nesson | December 13, 2005 12:20 PM

I wonder if Howell, the Post's political editor, and the complaining reporters realize that they are are all trampling on the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Then again, they probably do realize that, and they simply don't care.

Yet again, the mainstream media shows its true colors by trying to discredit a columnist with integrity, principle, and brains.

Posted by: Brian | December 13, 2005 12:23 PM

Quite true, nesson. Froomkin's contempt of Bush, and the Left's unwillingness to look at Woodward's timetested view Plamegate was no big deal -- as compared to MSNBC's Larry O'Donnell's HuffPo prediction that 4 to 5 Bush aides would be indicted -- are signs of modern Bush hatred, similar to blinding Clinton hatred. Woodward called it. Froomkin did not. Deal with it. More reason to adjust the title of his bloviator's blog.

Posted by: A Reporter | December 13, 2005 12:29 PM

DANFORTH: Will you confess yourself befouled with Hell, or do you keep that black allegiance yet? What say you?

PROCTOR: I say - I say - God is dead! A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quial to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quialed, and you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud - God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!"

-Arthur Miller, "The Crucible"

I note that one commentor, The Anti "White House Briefing", confuses Bob Woodward with an independent thinker. Enough said.

As for those of us who live by the contemporary understanding of bias and balance, I will repeat, "God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!"

Posted by: Jeffrey Brian | December 13, 2005 12:30 PM

I hope everyone is writing the Ombudsman directly about this, I just did. Let's keep slamming all of the Post 'chats' about this too. While it has its problems I DID feel the Post was one of few the remaining semi-respectable "Mainstream" media outlets left. This really undermines my faith in the whole institution.

Posted by: Jotham Stavely | December 13, 2005 12:31 PM

This is a pathetic attempt by senior WAPO officials to placate the bellowing and squealing of a few highly placed White House conservatives who are angry that someone with a news column actually dares to challenge their spin and present a viewpoint that isn't 100% White House-vetted.

I'm a liberal, and I know liberal viewpoints when I see them; Froomkin does not take a liberal stance in his column. He takes an adversarial stance, one that I thought was right and proper for any journalist covering any branch of government.

Harris spills the beans when he asks a question of Froomkin that a first-semester journalism student should be able to answer: "If he were a White House reporter for a major news organization, would it be okay for him to write in the fashion he does?" I can't believe he would even pose the question. Not only is it "okay" for Froomkin and others to cover the White House in an "irreverent and adversarial" fashion, it is proper and necessary that they do so, at least insofar as an adversarial, questioning style of coverage goes. (Froomkin's irreverence is a matter of personal style.)

Harris sounds as if he wants to oversee an American "Pravda" rather than a vital pillar of American journalism. Mr. Harris, if we want to read government smoke and spin, we can read the daily press briefings. It's not your paper's job to regurgitate what you're told by the White House spinmeisters, nor is it your job to cheerlead for the government in any form or fashion. It is your job to uncover the truth and report it fairly and accurately. When the administration -- Democrat or Republican, Clinton or Bush -- hides the truth from the people, it is your job to find that truth and hold it up for all to see. You apparently believe that it is the media's job to collude with the government in hiding the truth from the citizenry.

For shame, Mr. Harris. We are watching the Post lead a sea change in American journalism, from a free, open, and adversarial press to a Stalinist form of "mouthpiece journalism." And you, Mr. Harris, are leading that change at the Post. How does it feel to be on the cutting edge of such a change?

Posted by: Max Black | December 13, 2005 12:32 PM

Please read ALL of the marvellous outpouring of comments, here.
Read. Digest. Ponder.
Yes, you: Mr. Harris, Ms.Howell.
Don't sulk. Try thinking instead.
A little humility may be a good thing, considering how badly your judgment has erred.
What were the REAL objectives you had in mind when you launched your crusade?
Do you have, perhaps, a startlingly renewed perception of just who your readers are?
Where do we go from here?
DO you honestly give a damn about serving your readers?
Can you not see opportunity here?
And if excellent public service is not what motivates you,
maybe the bottom line does.
What happens when we all just walk out on you?
Conversely, what advantage might the Washington Post gain if it had
two, three, or four Froomkins on its staff instead of just one?
Just think.
Read. Digest. Ponder.
More likely you just find such suggestions to be tedious and "out of place."
Your choice.
Buddy Saleeby, CT

Posted by: Buddy Saleeby | December 13, 2005 12:32 PM

I really enjoy reading Froomkin, and I particularly agree with his response. White House reporters should realize that their responsibility is to question authority, and when they don't, Dan is right to call them on it.

Posted by: Steve | December 13, 2005 12:35 PM

Froomkin provides an essential service by assembling available reporting and relevant commentary (and links to them) on White House statements and activities. That so many of these statements and activities contradict the reality reported by journalists around the world is an American political problem, not a problem with Froomkin's column.

Posted by: Donald Edwards | December 13, 2005 12:38 PM

Froomkin provides an essential service by assembling available reporting and relevant commentary (and links to them) on White House statements and activities. That so many of these statements and activities contradict the reality reported by journalists around the world is an American political problem, not a problem with Froomkin's column.

Posted by: Donald Edwards | December 13, 2005 12:40 PM

Dan's column is a part of my day. I unilaterally oppose vacation for Dan.

1. Dan's column is commentary about commentary. It is meta-commentary. He writes about what others write about. Part of that is exposing or confirming the political leanings of others, either thr writers or subjects. Do not mistake this practice for inherent political bias.

2. Dan regularly discloses that he is not an inside-the-White House correspondent. No one should be confused for more than a column or two.

3. What does the column name have to do with anything? If Dan has to change the name of his column, then Dana Milbank has to change Washington Sketch (he's a journalist, not an artist), Al Kamen has to change In the Loop (Al is neither a traffic reporter nor an aviator) and Book World has to find a new name (it is about neither astronomy or geology).

4. I do not believe Deborah Howell has standing to impugn the content, linking practices or philosophy of Dan Froomkin. I consider her largely a Woodward apologist. The last refuge of the exposed conservative in the MSM is to accuse the fair or sharp-tongued of liberal influence.

5. 'Pairing' or 'matching' Dan's column with a conservative voice works in the following context: find a liberal, match him or her with a conservative, and give the two of them a new column that has nothing to do with WHB. Have you ever noticed that, in the modern world of the conservative 'sore winner,' conservatives believe pairing a dedicated conservative with a skeptical, snarky or 'fair' journalistic voice constitutes 'balance.'

Deborah should back off Dan and address the real issue at WP: conservative bias on the front page and the editorials.

-Ben
Alex, VA

Posted by: Ben | December 13, 2005 12:43 PM

The title "White House Briefing" was the reason I first read Dan Froomkin, because I am constantly looking for more information about the prez and his administration, hoping to find some nuggets, insights, and followup on disturbing tidbits commented on without thorough researching. My expectations were low, considering how regrettably shallow most reporting on this topic is in the big time newspapers- a true shame as it indicates a loss of courage and integrity, in my opinion.

I have been thrilled to find someone willing to ask the hard questions, and to pursue answers that are so difficult to find, considering the capitulation of so many reporters to this administration's remarkably successful strategy to simply rewording the same simplistic and opaque responses. Dan doesn't accept that.

I am a newcomer to blogs and online reporting, yet I had no confusion about his role due to the title. I really appreciate the many links to source material and WHB has greatly helped my search for a clearer understanding. I now go to the the official WHB's transcripts and it is truly frightening to read how masterful Scott M. is at saying absolutely nothing about information that is vital in order to fulfill a basic requirement of a functional democracy- an informed citizenry.

It seems that Harris and Howell are contributing to a widespread phenomena that does nothing to further understanding and debate. Words like 'liberal,' 'right and left' have become as meaningless as words like 'freedom' and 'victory,' and have almost become weapons and slurs. Why iit not possible to have debate without namecalling and labeling?

Froomkin brought me to the Post and because of him I read most of the paper. Please do not insult our intelligence; I believe that most people who take time out of their busy lives to read the news have the ability to form their own opinions. Dan, when you state your opinions you own them, unlike most other 'official' reporters, many who are masterful at tilting and manipulating wording that affects any claim to objectivity.

If Froomkin is taken off this site I will no longer have a compelling reason to read the WP. If WP changes the name I will consider it an act of cowardice and an insult to the reader's intelligence. There are several ways that any discerning reader can immediately understand the title "WHB," and changing the title will contribute to the mass dumbing down in the news that has undermined citizens who are sincerely motivated to get information necessary to play their role in democracy.

Janna Nelson

Posted by: janna nelson | December 13, 2005 12:46 PM

When I was 16 and while others watched soap operas during the day, I watched the Watergate hearings. I had admired and respected the WaPo all these years. However in last 5 years of this administration I have become quite disillusioned. Then Bob Woodward makes a complete ass of himself and I am disguted. Now you guys are attacking Dan Froomkin! If Dan's column is gone, so am I!

Posted by: Pat Henderson | December 13, 2005 12:47 PM

Mr. Downie, Mr. Harris, Ms. Howell, Mr. Brady:
Well, you've kicked yourselves up one heck of a hornets' nest. Now--when will we see this story you've created covered in the WaPo? I trust I soon will be reading an accurate account in the pages of your newspaper of how the print Post and its "Ombudsman" tried to silence one of its Web site writers and the overwhelmingly negative response thereto from readers. It should be a news story, raising as it does grave issues about press independence and competence, but surely Howie Kurtz at least will write about it?

This episode demands not just another mealy-mouthed column from Ms. Howell but a serious soul-searching on the part of the Post and its editors/publisher/management and a rethinking of your entire approach to political coverage. We, the readers, will be waiting for your response.

Posted by: jsr | December 13, 2005 12:54 PM

I hope WP brass are looking at this comments section and getting the message. What this is all really about is a lap dog Washington press corps that hides behind bogus "balance" and "objectivity" as a sham to cozy up to their deceitful official sources. Don't think the American newspaper-reading public has missed this as an unmistakable revelation from the Plame leak case.The Washington Post can do better and their readers know it.
Go Froomkin.

Posted by: sms | December 13, 2005 12:56 PM

A Reporter-- you know, maybe you should think about why there's a credibility problem with -reporters-. For one thing, while they say they're objective in print, they then often go on a TV talk show and say to a much larger audience what they really think, and often it's pretty bilious, and they don't bother to back it up with any evidence. Witness Mr. Woodward dismissing the leak investigation as "trivial" (without revealing his entanglement) and prosecutor Fitzgerald as obsessed and "a junkyard dog". No evidence, not even context. In fact, later when Mr. Woodward wrote about his interview with Mr. Fitzgerald, he was forced to admit that the prosecutor behaved with perfect propriety, being careful not to address any subject but the one at hand-- the opposite of a "junkyard dog".

Mr. Vanderhei just went on TV and said that Stephen Hadley was Rove's source for the CIA-Wilson connection. This is something that didn't appear in any WaPo story. (Good-- it turned out he was wrong and meant Libby... gee, you think if he had some sense of CONTEXT he would have immediately noticed his mistake?)

The problem is that your supposed objective reporters aren't particularly objective and use other forums to give their opinions and analysis. Even in their stories, they often seem to think that "objectivity" means very fastidious taking down of what Someone Important says, without ever saying, "But of course, that's not true." Sometimes people in power say things that aren't true, and I think objectivity requires pointing that out. But too many reporters think objectivity means faithfully reporting the lie without saying it's a lie.

A Reporter, your profession is in serious trouble, and it's not the bloggers' fault. You have less credibility with the public than used car salesmen. Why? Not because of bloggers. Not because of Dan Froomkin. Maybe you should stop criticizing others and quit dismissing criticism as "partisan" and take a good long look at where the profession went off track. The CIA leak is only the most extreme example of reporters getting way too credulous about the powerful people they hobnob with (oh, and supposedly cover).

What was that about the log in your own eye? Why don't you take that out before you find motes in other eyes?

Posted by: langlois | December 13, 2005 12:58 PM

I have spent time with Froomkin.
I know Froomkin.
Froomkin is a friend of mine.
Bob Woodward, you're no Froomkin.


The WashPost's biggest problem is not the title to Dan Froomkin's columns. Please let him be, and encourage more of his writing.

Posted by: Patrick M | December 13, 2005 12:59 PM

I seek out White House Briefing regularly, and I fully understand it for what it is: a valuable assessment of current journalism related to the POTUS. Seldom does Mr. Froomkin state personal opinion; he pointedly comments on the actions, inactions, hard digging and soft-pedalling of the political journalists inside the Beltway. For me, this is the most informative and interesting reading since I.F. Stone's Weekly.

The knee-jerk, defensiveness of the new Post ombudsman threatens journalistic integrity. Does she really think the Post readership is too stupid to know what they are reading?

Posted by: Peter S | December 13, 2005 12:59 PM

You'd think the Ombuds-person just came over from Fox News or the Washington Times. That piece and Harris' comments were sorry wastes of space in what was once an excellent paper before being 'Woodward-ed' over Iraq.

Posted by: Keith | December 13, 2005 01:00 PM

Gee, I'm confused. Just now I went to the web homepage, and under "Politics" was Dana Milbank's "Washington Sketch" and the description "Columnist" after his name, but not his byline. Is "Arctic Oil Gets An Administration Gusher" a news article in John Harris's National Politics section, or is it an opinion column? Golly, for folks who are so particular about the placement and title of WHB, it sure seems hypocritical to me to have Dana Milbank's opinion column also prominently headlined in the Politics section, as well as having his name in the Opinion Columnist section with a link to the same story.

Posted by: SOV | December 13, 2005 01:04 PM

After the Woodward implosion, one would think the Post would rise to the challange of accountability that Dan has maintained consistantly. What happened to this once great paper?

Posted by: Ken, Ca. | December 13, 2005 01:06 PM

Let's see, you've got Bob Woodward acting as the Bush Administration's stenographer and hagiographer. You've got a neo-con editorial board that blindly swallowed the Kool-Aid the Bush Admin handed them on Iraq. But the ombud has a problem with a blogger linking to other stories and adding a quip or two. What a joke. The Post (actually the Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman version of The Post) is one of the reason I got into journalism. What a shame it has become part of the political establishment it once so nobly dissected in the public interest.

Posted by: Brian Gleason | December 13, 2005 01:07 PM

"I hope WP brass are looking at this comments section and getting the message." sms

Yes, I really hope that, too. And I hope that the management will realise that many of their reporters, editors, and the ombudsman live in a bubble. It should be obvious that large parts of the staff are completely disconnected from WaPos readership, and that serious decisions have to be made regarding human resources.

Posted by: Gray | December 13, 2005 01:07 PM

What this paper (and this country) needs is someone like Dan Froomkin covering every government official. ACCOUNTABILITY NOW!!!

Posted by: JSG | December 13, 2005 01:08 PM

The amount of disdain for the reading public revealed by Mr. Harris's "argument" that some people think Froomkin is a White House reporter is stunning.

The amount of disdain for the reading public revealed by the differences between Ms. Howell's statements on Woodward's massive dishonesty, and on Froomkin's explicitly-stated point of view, is even more stunning.

Your paper, and American journalism in general, has lost a tremendous amount of credibility over the Plame investigation and the cheerleading prior to, and during, the invasion of Iraq. Howard Fineman at your sister publication has been quoted today as calling Woodward a "court stenographer" for the Bush Administration.
Throwing away the Post's credibility with both hands is not the way to address this.

Perhaps Howell and Harris might consider how their attitudes toward Woodward and Froomkin would or would not change if the Post were an official publication of the current government. After that, they might assess their own roles in the continuing decline of American journalism.

Randy Cauthen
Los Angeles

Posted by: Randy Cauthen | December 13, 2005 01:11 PM

I have found "White House Briefing" to be informative and fair. The provided links offer background to the subjects and often point back to Washington Post articles, so complaints from within the paper strike me as odd. I would strongly discourage the paper from considering removing or altering the column.

Posted by: TR | December 13, 2005 01:15 PM

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing is the best feature in either the print or web versions of the Washington Post. It is an incredibly valuable resource to anyone who wants to understand current politics and the current administration - providing access to transcripts, video, and multiple sources of reporting and opinions.

The fact that your new ombudsman would focus her energy on Dan Froomkin's column is truly bizarre, and very troubling.


That Froomkin is able to put this wide-ranging and even-handed survey together each day is remarkable - he should be given awards instead of being investigated.

Posted by: Tom | December 13, 2005 01:22 PM

Where is Dan's column for today?

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 01:25 PM

Don't you dare lose your will and fall prey to the trap of not looking critically at our government because it might be deemed "biased". As Mr. Froomkin points out, he would ask the same questions of any leader in office, regardless of party. How easy that road is to take these days. Simply by virtue of longevity, this admisistration is to be immune of any crticism?

Those of us considered the faceless masses depend on columns like these to question, to seek clarification, to peer under the wraps of our government. More is the pity that we must root out the "truth" ourselves. With an opaque democracy, what recourse have we?

"To announce that there be no criticism of the president...is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable."

- Theodeore Roosevelt

Posted by: Lori Shepherd | December 13, 2005 01:27 PM

Got to love the responses on here. I consider myself a libertarian, and I am registered independent. I consider Froomkin's column to be THE "mainstream" clearing house for administration B.S. It should not surprise me that the truly mainstream (i.e., completely compromised and imbedded) Wapo print edition is scrambling to illustrate how far out on a ledge Froomkin is. "See, Mr. Rove-- he's just an INTERNET guy, an opinion guy, and a LIBERAL one at that." I could see how getting a nasty phone call from one of Bush's handlers could make it hard for real journalists like Harris to do their jobs. Their jobs being, apparently, dictating said handlers' talking points directly into the paper, without question. Undoubtedly with a "balancing" quote from a "powerful Democrat."

The Washington media horde reveals itself to be more morally bankrupt by the day. But yes, by all means, lets put a big disclaimer at the top of Froomkin's columns warning readers that the column may contain facts and analysis not pre-approved by the administration. Don't want anyone to accidentally stumble upon a discouraging word about our Dear Leader.

Posted by: Jeff Allen | December 13, 2005 01:35 PM

I agree Froomkin's column is biased -- biased in favor of honesty, truth, and accountability. I had thought is that ombudsmen were also supposed to that same bias. (And if a bias favoring accountability is "liberal bias" than what's that say about "conservative bias"?)

Froomkin's White House Briefing is the top reason I visit WaPo's site every day. I'm glad to see the he has such wide support from WaPo reader. Isn't it ironic that though much of his column consists of quotes of news stories & other blogs, he is so much less a stenographer than WaPo's long-time star attraction Bob Woodward.

Keep it up, Dan.

Mel Green
Anchorage, Alaska

Posted by: Melissa Green | December 13, 2005 01:42 PM

Simply adding someone that is both conservative and a White House correspondent isn't going ensure credibility (Woodward ? Judy Miller ? Jeff Gannon ? ).

Seriously, there is a deeper theme here, even beyond abandoning the search for objective truth, or even a straighforward chronicle of events. It is the need to reduce everything to an endless "he said/she said," the refrain of "Last month you said you did not want a haircut, but today you got a trim. Hypocrite! Flip-flopper! I'm better than you."

In real life (until recently), this was the sort of maniacal behavior that led people to get electrochock therapy or a nice cold turkey detox. Today, thanks to better chemistry, it gets controlled temporarily by medication, and now when this behavior runs wild, we recognize it as the last step before arrest or rehab.

Behind the failure of most businesses is a culture where employees are allowed to recreate their personal vision of a dysfunctional, codependent family with all its warped relationships. Froomkin is doing serious work, and I am not aware that anyone is questioning his accuracy or integrity as he tries to unravel the Kabuki theater of White House coverage. Turning it into a classic alcoholic family counseling food fight about who's "better" isn't going to improve the Post one bit.

Posted by: Bernard Pliers | December 13, 2005 01:55 PM

Probably everything has already been written (I ran out of steam after reading three feet of screen comments!), but it's important to note that newspapers I respect (WP, NYT) completely failed in their responsibility to critically investigate comments coming from the White House before, during, and after the Iraq incursion. I've heard the remarkable statement from journalists that they feared the backlash from the public, who presumably were still smarting from the Sept 11 attacks. Excuse me?! You were afraid the public wouldn't like what you write so you chose not to seek the verifiable truth but chose to act as stenographers for the White House?! Unbelievable! Clearly, members of the White House press corp were/are cowed by the WH Press Office and are scared they'll lose their access. Understandable but not excusable. Will the Ombudswoman please look into this continuing failing of the WashPost journalists?!

As for Froomkin, he's a daily read for me. Attaching labels such as "liberal" is cheap and lazy. Anyone who reads his column for any duration realizes his stated aim (holding public officials accountable for their words and actions) is exactly what he achieves. Do not change his column's title! If necessary, insert a popup which states something like "Dan Froomkin writes exclusively for washingtonpost.com and the content reflects his opinions and not those of the Washington Post or the WP's pansy-assed political reporters" ... or something similar. In short, make sure it's clear he's an opinion reporter (although I don't think he is), just as the print newspaper clearly distinguishes between news and opinion columns.

Posted by: Rod | December 13, 2005 01:57 PM

Way back up the thread, "Why, in Deborah Howell's opinion, is Dan's column of lesser value than other Post columnists? "

Because it doesn't s*ck up to the administration? Because it might annoy them, and she might not get invited to the parties? Because some of the alleged reporters at the Post might lose their access, and be forced to act like reporters, rather than stenographers for power?

Or maybe his tie doesn't go with his shoes.

Posted by: Barry | December 13, 2005 01:57 PM


How bizarre. Even if you somehow missed the other columnists he is grouped with on the web page, and the word columnist near his name on the column, you'd then have to be fairly dumb to still think he's a WH reporter after reading a few paragraphs.

I've been reading his column for over a year and have no idea what his opinions are on religion, abortion, social security, tort reform, foriegn policy and so on.

He is critical of this administration and thank God for that. If he is not also intelligently critical of the next administration, I will lose all of the considerable respect I currently have for him.

The title "White House Briefing" seems fairly accurate and appropriate. I'm sure it would be possible to make it more obvious that he's a columnist, but whatever you do please don't touch the content!!!!

Posted by: Tubby | December 13, 2005 01:59 PM

Froomkin's column is the most worth-reading political piece I can find--not only in its chronicling of the work of other talented political reporters elsewhere, but also in Froomkin's willingness to do the sort of hard questioning that most of us (apparently mistakenly) believed all of journalism was based on.

Decades from now historians will wonder what sort of spell mainstream journalists were under that prevented them from reporting honestly and with integrity the doings and decisions of the powerful men who run our world.

Fortunately, Froomkin will not be included among the bewitched.

Posted by: David | December 13, 2005 02:08 PM

First: I'm heartened by the example of participatory democracy shown here by the great response from Dan Froomkin's readers. The Ombuds-Woman should catch a clue. And Ms Howell, speaking of numbers, since you've probably already checked the number of hits Froomkin's site receives on average every day, why not show your readership a comparison among all of your columnists & display the results? I'm not saying DF would come out on top, but the numbers would be instructive, & you know you have them.

Second: The Ombuds-Woman should look up her job title. Traditionally, ombudspersons are on staff to respond to complaints or issues brought up by citizens, or the readership in this case. Harris' problems with Froomkin's incisiveness & plain speaking are self-serving and come from the inside, not the readership. (Unless the newspaper wants to call itself outside the web site, & then all bets are off. It's far more misleading for Howell in her "Two Washington Posts" piece to say: "Really - we're not connected, only our names are the same!" than to say "Really - Dan's NOT a White House reporter in the strict sense...")

Third: Regarding the blog title - Any idiot can read, on any day, the first couple sentences of White House Briefing & figure out Froomkin didn't attend this morning's White House spin session with the discredited Scott McClellan. Your readers deserve more respect than that. So go ahead: change the name - we'll still read him & still respond in droves when he comes under attack from his own paper's staff. Shameful, really.

Fourth: Just to reiterate what almost every other poster mentions here: in a democracy, the responsibility of the press to the public is to actually do research, check facts, & then report, not simply to parrot what our government & our representatives offer as talking points. While some other reporters sit back, attend parties, or have drinks at quiet wine bars with sources whose only interest is to help them cover up the truth, Froomkin does the work for his readership that would take us hours to do every day. Far from being a lefty ideologue, he provides a real service to those of us who want our news from many sources.

Ms Howell, the guy should be given a raise, and you should be investigating some of the real problems with your newspaper, not inventing ones that don't exist.

Posted by: W. Botting | December 13, 2005 02:11 PM

I believe that Deborah Howell and John Harris are totally out of place in their comments. I don't feel that anyone reading Dan's column would confuse him as WP's official White House Reporter. He distinctly names his sources and their slant. Even though I don't have any evidence I see White House's or Republican political machine's hand behind the comments by Deborah and John. I think Dan's expose of political games of White House and Republicans in general is beginning to hurt them. It is the people like Deborah and John who have failed America by allowing Bush White House to get away with starting an immoral war based on dishonest claims. The country would be much better off if there were more journalists like Dan and less like Deborah and John. I hope Dan doesn't back down and continue the great work that he is doing.

Posted by: Gautam Shah | December 13, 2005 02:24 PM

Substantively, I don't know what liberal or conservative means anymore. Now a days it seems that anyone that doesn't tow the administration line is branded a liberal. So, if liberal means opposition, than I think it only appropriate that a liberal write the briefing on the Administration's doings. As a consumer of news, it is of absolutely no use to me to read an article where the author is merely paroting the Administration's statements. If that is all I needed to be an informed citizen, I would get my news solely from the White House's web site. Froomkin's column is valuable because not only does he summarize what is being reported from various sources, but he provides links wherein the reader can obtain additional information and verify what is being reported. I don't care what you call Mr. Froomkin's column as long as he keeps writing it. Thank you.

Deborah Varner
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Posted by: Deborah Varner | December 13, 2005 02:26 PM

Does the ombudsman know the definition of ombudsman? I would suggest including a link to dictionary.com or other similar website.

Perhaps she would like to tackle the nation's library problem. They are after all so full of books, written by different authors, many with varying opinions and perspectives on the same subject. All under one roof! We cannot allow this grave and gathering danger. I propose a three point plan.
1. Rename the Froomkin column
2. Swift and severe limits to critical thinking.
3. Crack down on librarians and library volunteers. We may need to explore the darks side on this one.

Seriously though, if the newsroom is unhappy with this column, THE PROBLEM LIES WITH THE NEWS ROOM! Finding credible news sources should not have to be like panning for gold.

Posted by: Gabriel | December 13, 2005 02:35 PM

I think the Post needs to spend 100% of its energy toward getting to the truth of each of its stories and stop wasting everyone's time with non-issues like the "politically correct" name of Froomkin's column.

Deborah Howell's comments that the current title of the column might be confusing is an insult to the very readers she supposedly represents.

Posted by: JB | December 13, 2005 02:41 PM

Mr. Harris:

You're assumptions about us readers are contemptable. We do think. Try stopping dumbing us down. Is that too much to ask? In the event that Froomkin stopped challenging the cant from the White House in some future administration we would stop reading him. If that hypothetical administration were Democratic and Froomkin harassed it perhaps some of the posters here wouldn't like it, BUT OTHERS WOULD. Get it?

Changing the name of Froomkin's column is an obvious ploy. It's a petty, irrelevant slapdown.

Your post is just more evidence of the disconnect between the MSM and the American public. I won't ask if you get that. I suspect that you don't.

Jim Young
McMinnville, Oregon

Posted by: fahrender | December 13, 2005 02:43 PM

Froomkin:

In the event that you leave Pravda on the Potomac (aka the Washington Post), have no fear about finding employment elsewhere. There are tons of options for conspiracy theorists. You could work with Keith Olbermann on his conspiracy theory involving alleged "voting irregularites" in Florida and Ohio during the 2004 presidential election. Or maybe you could work for Chris Matthews on his conspiracy theory that Paul Wolfowitz cooked up a conspiracy to funnel a dog collar to Lyndie England so that she could place it on the neck of an Iraqi prisoner. Or maybe you could help Mary Mapes locate "Lucy Ramirez" or identify the actual make and model of the "typewriter" that Bill Burkett used to create "memos". Good luck!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Tom | December 13, 2005 02:54 PM

I agree with all those above who support Dan Froomkin's integrity and excellent commentary/reporting. Shame on you, WaPo!

Ruth Adkins
Portland, Oregon

Posted by: Ruth Adkins | December 13, 2005 03:23 PM

Dan,

We LOVE you man!!! Keep up the good work, don't let the storm troopers get you down. If you need help, call for backup...

Stick to your principals, never give up, and never surrender.

That's an order!!! From the people of the United States of America.

Thank you,

Richard
Valley Park MO

Posted by: Richard | December 13, 2005 03:24 PM

The long knives have come out.
At midnight there were several hundred positive comments about Froomkin's column and by early morning the snipers were in place.
Better watch your back Dan.

Posted by: An Observer | December 13, 2005 03:31 PM

Are conservatives so flipping insecure that they automatically scream "liberal bias" anytime the uncensored truth is allowed media play?

My God, these people set the agenda for the US corporate media, the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, the lobbyists on K Street (what else do you think Tom DeLay's "K Street Project" was about?), several state houses, and large swaths of the Federal Judiciary. If "fair and balanced" was their goal, they'd at least cough up the Senate.

But nooooo. The uncensored truth shows them to be far more crooked than even the worst Democrats (and the worst Democrats, like Traficant, invariably turn out to be DINOs who spend their time on FOX News bashing real Democrats), yet because they've cowed into submission those news outlets they don't own outright, the GOP/Media Axis must pretend that both sides are equally corrupt, or (*gag* *choke*) that Democratic sins are worse. (Tell you what: Find me a Democratic mayor, for example, who's been busted for child molestation in the last decade. I can name TWO Republican mayors who have: Seattle's Jim West, and Waterbury, Connecticut's Philip Giordano. Giordano, in fact, was such a big wheel in the CT GOP that he was slated to challenge Joe Lieberman in 2000 for Lieberman's Senate seat!)

The goal should be to report honestly, not to cower in fear every time Brent Bozell and/or Mullahs Dobson and Robertson stamp their feet.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman | December 13, 2005 03:31 PM

In these days which seem more and more like what was depicted in Atlas Shrugged, Froomkin is one of those who still thinks...

Posted by: susan | December 13, 2005 03:33 PM

Rename Froomkin's blog? Sure. How about "Gulliver's Travels?" The story of a giant among the scared little mealy-mouthed mush-headed reporters in the land of Wopo. How sad. The paper famous for "All The President's Men" has become exactly that.

Keep up the good fight Dan!

Posted by: Bobby in SC | December 13, 2005 03:46 PM


Is the Post planning on removing the title of "journalist" from Bob Woodward's job description as well?

Posted by: Isikdag | December 13, 2005 04:05 PM

Dear Mr. Froomkin --

Keep up the excellent work, and know that the quality of your work is a more certain foundation for your career than the opinions of your superiors at the Post. Readers know quality, even if editors & Omsbudsmen can't see it.

Posted by: a reader | December 13, 2005 04:22 PM

Mr. Frromkins work is one of the few things thats actually seems to be done right at the Post. The problem as I see it is that after years of being lead around by the nose by moneyed interests, breathlessly reporting on an "impeachement", trying to turn anything and everything into a profit center, real reporting has become a series of variances on a theme of the National Enquirer. The Post is wrong Mr. Froomkin, keep it coming

Posted by: Rich McIntosh | December 13, 2005 04:27 PM

Dan Froomkin is one of the few writers for a major periodical in this country who wasn't spewing the BushCo company line, a la Judy 'Kneepads' Miller and Bob 'I Once Had Balls' Woodward. While they were selling out, Dan Froomkin was doing his job, which--in the case of the Bush Administration--all too often wound up being to shout that the Emperor had no clothes.

One can only hope that the ombudsman at the WaPo wakes up and realizes what the purpose of a newspaper is, and the value that Dan Froomkin, in particular, brings to the Washington Post, in particular.

Posted by: I Remember America | December 13, 2005 04:32 PM

This whole episode -- first the ombudsman's sucker punch, followed by DF's professional and civil reply, the public's response, and JH's throwing gasoline on the fire -- leaves me uneasy. On one hand this seems merely like the public airing of back-office dirty laundry concerning bureaucratic turf wars. However, there is a bigger context to this dispute, which is why I think it has set off this firestorm. For those regular readers of WHB and Media Notes, as well as other news and political blogs, there are several hot-button topics: Are bloggers journalists? Are newspapers relevant in an internet age? What are journalists' ethical standards? How probing should a journalist be? What is the value of a local editorial cartoonist? Why is the media so politically biased against [insert your political party]?

I think folks these days crave society and want to be a vital part of the larger world. Media -- be it television, internet, or newspaper -- provide this type of link. Many subscribers to the Post "get it" for any number of reasons -- the crossword puzzle, the comics, the classified ads -- and may read the political/news stories casually. Those folks who get their news from washingtonpost.com, however, are an engaged readership, and want the media to be as engaged as they are. For these people, the print media is not sufficient, directed as it is to a general, casual audience. Understandably online readers are attracted to WHB, as he speaks directly to, and greatly respects, his audience. He provides a sanity check to us cubicle dwellers whose main social interaction is being stuck in beltway traffic.

Which is why so many people feel so strongly about this situation. It would appear that the Post has no conception of how deeply the online readership feels about these issues. I have long cherished the (perhaps naive) belief that the Post is politically neutral depite the calls from all sides that it is biased one way or the other, and for the Post itself to adopt this technique I find to be extraordinarily hypocritical. The patronizing tone of JH's response is insulting, and his understanding (or lack thereof) of the concept of "credibility" is astounding. I guess if you don't get it, you don't get it.

As to the name of the column -- if JH has concerns he should have taken it up with management rather than via what appears to be water-cooler carping. If they think the name should change, fine; if not, shut up and get back to work.

Posted by: e brobston | December 13, 2005 04:35 PM

Dan, I love you. You are the highlight of wp.com and I don't care what your column will be called. You just keep on keepin' on, and keep on Dim Son's case. He's an embarrassment to this country!

Posted by: Lori | December 13, 2005 04:53 PM

I was surprised and edified by the ombudsman's explanations of the structure of the Washington Post and the seperation between the Web and print divisions. Unlike many readers here I was NOT aware that he is not a "White House Reporter," nor was I aware that he did not write for the print edition of the Post. My opinion of the rest of the Post organization has dropped precipitously since this revelation.

What is "reporting?" Is it showing up to the officially sanctioned political events and then duly passing on quotes? How is researching the veracity of statements made by public officials "opinion" and not reporting, especially when you include the references. Whether or not his colleagues consider him a "White House Reporter" or not, Mr. Froomkin is, indeed, a White House reporter.

Posted by: Tom Boedeker | December 13, 2005 05:01 PM

Wanted to be sure you are aware of this discussion between Mr. Harris and WaPo's online editor. My apologies if someone else has posted it--am at work and lack the time to scan.

http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/

It is difficult to conceive how we have arrived at the point when the Washington Post's national politics editor doesn't know what the word "liberal" means.

The management of this newspaper should be ashamed of themselves.

Nicholas Mycroft

Posted by: Nicholas Mycroft | December 13, 2005 05:09 PM

Editor and Publisher has this quote from Editor Downie: "We want to make sure people in the [Bush] administration know that our news coverage by White House reporters is separate from what appears in Froomkin's column because it contains opinion," Downie told E&P. "And that readers of the Web site understand that, too."
---

Okay, so the exec editor is saying that it's what the Bush administration thinks that's important. Notice that "readers" are just an afterthought there. So-- maybe the ombudsman should find out whether it was reader complaints or WHITE HOUSE complaints that started this imbroglio.

Personally, I think that any White House that can't tell the difference between news and opinion has a serious problem-- and it's not the job of a newspaper to twist itself into knots trying to explain there.

I really don't understand why the Post editors particularly feel the need to "make sure" that people in the White House are at peace with the not-unusual mix of news and opinion that are in every newspaper and have been for centuries. I sure hope they're underestimating the intelligence of the White House staffers as they have the intelligence of their readers. I hate to think that we're being led by people too stupid to know the difference.

Froomkin is obviously being singled out here-- why? Was there a particular complaint from the White House about his column? Hmm. "What would Kay Graham say?" I'm pretty sure the lady who stood up to the very scary John Mitchell and the extremely powerful Richard Nixon wouldn't be cowed into changing her newspaper or web site just because someone in the Bush White House complained.

We really need a straight answer here. Why on earth would Mr. Downie be so quick to assure the White House above all others that he doesn't support Dan Froomkin? Can't you see, Mr. Downie, that this only reinforces the lessons of the Woodward scandal? That is-- the Post and its "news side" care more about the White House than it does about its readers.

Real reporters, real editors, real "newsies", do not jump when the president or his men say "jump." You have just shown yourself once again to have refused to confront your own paper's concessions to power. For shame.

Posted by: plasterofparis | December 13, 2005 05:25 PM

First, I would be very concerned that other reporters might attack Froomkin for simple petty jealousy because he consistently delivers good stories without the benefit of their coveted "insider" status. Secondly, considering how many White House correspondents are carrying water for the White House or actually taking money under the table, I don't see how the gripers could be above the suspicion that they're doing this under explicit direction from some White House minion.

Posted by: Gregg Silk | December 13, 2005 05:34 PM

I'm not even sure how much opinion Froomkin puts into his columns. Bush in the bubble - unflattering but true. WH press corps asleep at the wheel for the first five years - ditto. Since when does accurate description equal opinion?

Posted by: Samantha | December 13, 2005 05:34 PM

I have to agree with plasterofparis, above. Harris, et al. want to be sure that people in the (Bush) administration to disassociate themselves from Dan's work. So, yes, it appears this whole kapuffle bears all the hallmarks of a heavy hand from within the administration. Here's a link to the E&P story:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001659333

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 13, 2005 05:38 PM

I have to agree with plasterofparis, above. Harris, et al. want to be sure that people in the (Bush) administration disassociate themselves from Dan's work. So, yes, it appears this whole kapuffle bears all the hallmarks of a heavy hand from within the administration. Here's a link to the E&P story:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001659333

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 13, 2005 05:40 PM

Did Ms. Howell bother to read a sampling of Dan Froomkin's columns before writing her misguided grab-bag of office political squabbling? If she had read much of Dan's work, she might have known better than to try to paste unsourced, mean-spirited labels on someone whose scrupulous honesty, hard work, incisiveness, and intelligence have earned him the loyalty of his readers. Dan's work is excellent, professional, and entertaining. Please count me as one more reader who only goes to the Washing Post site to read his column, every weekdayday.

Posted by: DKD | December 13, 2005 05:47 PM

Here's another regular reader supporting Froomkin and his column as currently titled.

I'm wondering if Ms. Howell bothered to read the reporting of the Post before the Iraq war, as well as the highly misguided columnists employed by this august organization. Jim Hoagland, for example. Is there anything that Mr. Hoagland said in regards to Iraq in the buildup to the war and the years thereafter that can be characterized as anyting but inaccurate, unsubstantiated public relations for the Bush Administration? If so, I'd like to read it. Why doesn't she call Mr. Hoagland to task for continuously ignoring factual information that would detract from the case for war before, during, and after 2003?

As for Mr. Harris and the rest of the reporters responsible for White House coverage: they should be thankful that Froomkin provides a comparative context for their work. Are they afraid of context? Why?

Posted by: chas | December 13, 2005 05:59 PM

I don't have much to add, except:

I'm sure Mr. Froomkin is delighted about the silly controversy instigated by Ms. Howell and Mr. Harris, since it will serve only to elevate his profile and increase the readership of his marvelous and essential column, which I read religiously.

Posted by: Matthew E. Eilers | December 13, 2005 06:14 PM

Let me just start off by saying I first became a regular reader of washingtonpost.com through Google News. Froomkin's column is now daily part of my routine. I especially like the links to sources I would have never found on my own. I also found it refreshing that (what I thought) was a member of the main stream media seemed was finally able to cut through spin in a way only John Stewart has up to this point. I have always found it pathetic that the fake reporters were more insightful than the real ones, and finding out Froomkin is not a "real" Washington Post columnist only confirms that.

After reading Deborah Howell's column on Froomkin, I am having trouble putting my frustration into words. Journalism now is either recitation of White House talking points or left talking head vs. right talking head infotainment. Neither form fulfills the press' responsibilities to the public.

One idea I find particularly offensive is that Froomkin's voice needs to be balanced by a voice from the right. The right controls our three branches of government. The press should be holding the people in power accountable and being critical of the answers they are given. The most disturbing aspect of Woodward, Miller, and V. Novak's recent behavior is that journalists are happy to jump into bed with their sources to the point where their fates are interconnected. If being critical of our leaders means missing out on juicy bits for our next bestseller then how does one not become part of their sources' PR department?

The "fair and balanced" concept is a right wing ploy to neuter the press. When we pretend that every issue has two sides that are equally ridiculous we trivialize the topic. Should intelligent design really be given equal credence as a scientific theory with empirical evidence? When the White House uses rhetoric rather than facts to support their position, should we pretend that the other side is just an opinion as well? Pointing out blatant logical fallacies is not liberal in the same way as inhabiting an alternate reality not conservative.

I fear for the Washington Post that its Ombudsman is part of the problem. Howell should be demanding that reporters at the Post start doing their jobs instead of complaining about the guy pointing out their failure. Lets not replace intelligent commentary with more foaming mouths from the left and right.

Posted by: Aaron | December 13, 2005 06:21 PM

I thought the ombudsman was supposed to represent the interests of the readers, not that of management or even other reporters. As a reader, why should I care whether the reporters on the WH policy beat are concerned about Dan's column? I'd say Ms. Howell's article reveals much about her (and management's) interpretation of the role of ombudsman, which is considerably different from what most would consider the traditional role.

Posted by: Rob | December 13, 2005 06:25 PM

Froomkin is great.

If the name bothers the "real" WAPO, how about changing to "Presidential Daily Briefing"? It's a title some (in the White House?) may find easier to ignore.

Posted by: Schup | December 13, 2005 06:27 PM

I am shocked to read that Froomkin has to explain his column to the ombudsman and management. Froomkin is, frankly, one of the only good writers left at the Post and the only reason I read it.

Posted by: Molee | December 13, 2005 06:42 PM

email to Washington Post Ombudsman:

Hi,

Welcome and Congratulations on your new position!

I consider WaPo.com my hometown newspaper even though I reside in Phoenix -- that's in Arizona, next door to New Mexico.

I regret that you are off on the wrong foot. An Ombudsman is an objective mediator between a newspaper and its readers, not a referee for petty, in-house jealousies. I am astonished that you would see fit to publish anything akin to your last Sunday's column.

I have nothing but praise for Dan Froomkin and his White House Briefing. Mr. Froomkin, at WaPo.com, has inherited the mantle of Woodward and Bernstein and the fire that once made the print Post great..

Mr. Harris and his staff of White House lapdogs have made their mess and that mess is the reason the print Post has, indeed, become a local newspaper. Though it used to be the definitive newspaper of national politics, it lost that claim long ago and, under Mr. Harris's ass-kissing, inept guidance, I doubt that it will ever recover.

Then there's Bob Woodward...

By taking up Mr. Harris's cause, you have relinquished the right to act as my ombudsman. You are not worthy of the title. I urge you to resign immediately because, by remaining, you merely add to the print Post's credibility problems

Thank you..

Don Wells

Posted by: Don Wells | December 13, 2005 06:56 PM

Echoing others, The Post is part of my daily ritual. I read the lead stories, editorials, Kurtz and then save the best for last - Froomkin.

The Post would be a much poorer place without Dan Dan the Froomkin man.

Posted by: W. Rivera | December 13, 2005 07:06 PM

Washington Post: to be a great newspaper, you need to be a central pillar of the fourth estate. You need to objectively and critically look at everything you are told by those you cover- especially the White House, Congress, and other levers of American Power. After 9/11, you as a paper seem to have failed in this regard.

Whereas in the 1970s, reporters like Woodward were uncovering Watergate, the 2005 version of Woodward is apologizing for keeping White House secrets from his own paper (Kurtz, 11/17). How many other reporters are doing the same?

So, Froomkin catches grief because he's critical of the White House? Good for him. At least he's doing his job.

--ER

Posted by: Eric R | December 13, 2005 07:11 PM

"The confusion Dan's column unintentionally creates about the reporter's role has itself become an obstacle to our work."

Did I just read that? From an editor? Is the National Politics Editor actually suggesting that.. voicing concern about the Whitehouse's decided inability to answer questions is a threat to the current White House Briefing coverage?

Is he perhaps expecting us to be "understanding" towards the peculiar process that reporting on the Whitehouse in general has become of late? What is next? That the editors of the Washington Post starts commending reporters who give up journalism in order to "get under the skin" of the Whitehouse? And encourage the reporters to become friendly with the White House staff, believing this is the way to get access to sellable information?

If he is expecting to convince anyone that there is any confusion here, then I suggest most humbly that the editor uncovers just who has been bringing the "confusion" issue up. Is it, for instance, the Whitehouse staff who has been feeling "betrayed" of late because they have been "unfairly criticised", and are now threatening to "limit" their "candidness" to the "reporters"?

Now, it is possible that a casual reader might not immediately realise that Froomkin is not one of the Washington Post's WHB reporters when glancing at the headline of the column. That appears to be a quite separate issue, though. But if it is not, and that even giving the impression that the WHB reporters are thinking about asking critical questions is detrimental to the reporting effort on the White House, then I respectfully put it to you that the confusion, mister editor, is yours.

But to set the record straight, perhaps, why not explain in full to the readers just what kind of damage to the WH press- corps' ability to report such a "confusion" as you speak of is causing. In the spirit of inquiry, of course,

Posted by: jj | December 13, 2005 07:20 PM

There is no Dan Froomkin--the persona is a sockpuppet of Deborah Howell, created at the suggestion of Bob Woodward. You all have been taken in by another merciless hoax by mainstream media. It's a fun column to read, I agree; but I wouldn't put any more faith in it than I would an Op-Ed by Willie Demps.

Posted by: Aslan365 | December 13, 2005 07:54 PM

I will bet you my mumified otter carcass that WHNB gets more hits than the latest Geo. Will column- Jealousy's a tough 'ol thang ain't it, Laird Harris?

Keep on, Dan. Keep on.

Posted by: O. Twelve | December 13, 2005 07:55 PM

more caving in to the unrelenting propaganda and pressure of the bush admin and the right wing fascistics •*•

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 07:56 PM

As an ardent liberal--I admit it--the other writers here are right--Froomkin rocks! As has been suggested, the other "journalists" at WaPo should be all fired. They should be replaced by other Froomkins, reporters who will expose the lies of the right and destroy them. No more of this ridiculous "fair and balanced" business. Carry on, Dan. Carry on.

Posted by: SDS | December 13, 2005 08:04 PM

Mr. Harris should be more concerned about the confusion surrounding Bob Woodward's role at the Post. Is Woodward a reporter? Why haven't we had a lot more investigation into "news" from Mr. Woodward, such as how the Director of the CIA tells the President that the presence of WMD in Iraq is a "slam dunk," and then gets a Medal of Freedom after it is determined that there are no WMD?

Posted by: opihi | December 13, 2005 08:08 PM

I'd just like to add my support to Mr. Froomkin keeping his coluumn 'as is'. He's the only writer at the Post that I read consistently, and I believe the purpose of his column (to summarize writing and reporting about the White House) is completely transparent and understandable. I do not believe there is any purpose in adding a "conservative" columnist to "balance" his column. If he is reporting the truth about the current administration, then he should be praised, and if not, he should be admonished. Sometimes the truth will be damaging to the White House, and the GOP in general - this is an inevitable consequence of the fact that the GOP controls the White House currently. Were Mr. Froomkin reporting about the trials, travails, and errors of the Clinton administration, should he then require a "liberal" balance to his column?

I respectfully beg the editors of the Post to embrace their role as the Fourth Estate. Please maintain your autonomy and resist "suggestions" from any politicians from either Party.

Posted by: David Phillips | December 13, 2005 08:10 PM

like someone said: Dan Froomkin, you're no Bob Woodward. (thank goodness!)

And Howell is the very same non-budsman who gave BoWoo a pass -- WaPo has already lost its credibility down the same stinkhole as the NYT -- it's just getting worse.

Posted by: BPP's RX meds | December 13, 2005 08:10 PM

The White House Briefing is what I look forward to everyday. All the salient bits, collected in one place. It's simply wonderful. It was clear from first read that Froomkin was not a White House reporter, but rather an aggregator of news stories, doing so with a clear eye and nice wit. I find it hard to believe that the actual White House reporters feel their territory threatened; I hope Ombudsman Howell is not using falsely ascribed sentiment to leverage unneeded change.

Keep up the great work, Dan, and thank you for your column.

Posted by: Christine Moctezuma | December 13, 2005 08:14 PM

I lthink your column is terrific. I suspect that what makes it objectionable to some is not its title or even your "liberal bias," but the negative impact on the White House's message on a particular issue of so many critical excerpts from a variety of respected sources. It is much easier for the White House to deflect questions about or criticism of its policies when a reader has access only to one or two newspapers or has to access individual web sites.

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 08:23 PM

Mr. Froomkin's column is a treasure. If I could read only one column online every day, I would choose his unique blend of fact, insight and commentary. This country needs more like him. You would do well to fire his "critics" and give him a raise.

Posted by: Sharon Wilson | December 13, 2005 08:57 PM

I can only reiterate what's been said above, that Froomkin is the one WP column I go to daily; it's not because of a non-existent "liberal" bias but because he provides an index of articles that might pierce the fog thrown up by the government spinmeisters, a fog the media is only too eager to disseminate. When even Howard Fineman refers to Woodward as a "court stenographer," when Downie in his E&P piece worry about the White House's reaction to Froomkin, when Harris cites the webmaster for the Bush/Cheney campaign as a credible conservative blogger, can it be any wonder that, frankly, it's hard to see how the WP, sees it's mission as little more than an extension of the regime? Is it any wonder that people like Downie, Harris & Woodward have zero credibility as journalists? I've spent time overseas and the behavior of Harris, Downie & Woodward reminds of nothing so much as the state approved papers in authoritarian countries like Egypt and Mexico.

Posted by: Horst in NYC | December 13, 2005 08:59 PM

The past two days have been great! A monumental virtual howl of rage and roar of support for a trailblazing human news aggregator.

The accuzation that Dan (it's funny how fans completely unknown to their object of adoration presume to address him by his first name) is biased to the left drives me nuts. As others on this post have repeated in so many subtly different ways: posing penetrating questions to the Whitehouse is NOT a symptom of bias.

One of the sadly funny things about the criticisms of Dan from within the WP is that they seem so increadibly antiquated. The old news hounds are always trying to pull together the clues behind the scenes to present to their reader that single story. White House Briefing does all the pulling together out in the open and there really is no single story beyond the unending clouds of sand being flung into his and our eyes by the administration.

Whitehouse Briefing is not really competing with the Post's Whitehouse Reporters at all - Froomkin's column is in competition with Google News and Drudge - news aggregating services. But Dan's column is different from these websites in in two critical ways. 1) Rather than try to aggregate all news, Froomkin focuses on one place that generates more news than any other - the Whitehouse. 2) Despite the suggestion by someone above that Dan Froomkin doesn't exist, he is not a piece of code that pulls together every web page with the word "Whitehouse" in it. - Froomkin aggregates with a "snarky" (hattip BradDeLong) sense of humor and a razor sharp critical eye.

But just imagine if what Dan does could be written as code - the folks who are looking at Dan with a greedy eye are those who are thinking hard about the future of news delivery. I bet there is someone at Google HQ right now planning a meeting where he tells his code writers to try to deliver something analogous to the Whitehouse Briefing. Delirious in his excitement and frustration Google Man screams to his scattering minions "BRING ME THE FROOMKIN CODE"

Posted by: Richard H | December 13, 2005 09:06 PM

Well maybe the WaPo should considering replacing their editor --(Downing)
Obviously, his only concern is to appease this administration, maybe, we as readers should just cancelled our subscriptions with this paper!

Mr. Downing explanation matches up with his "one-sided biased" on-line explanation for Bob Woodward embarrassment.

Yeah we know -- that fat tax-return has open your nose, uh-huh!!

Posted by: Fat-Check | December 13, 2005 09:12 PM

I'm confused. I thought the Post hired Frommkin to balance Kurtz.

Kurtz loves to Blame Democrats First. He's always calling on them to come up with solutions to our nation's problems rather than calling on the party that can actually, you know, DO something. Like bring bills to the floor, amend them without accountablility in conference, and send them to the President.

Kurtz frequently cites the Washington Times, like it is a respectable journal and not the house organ of a religious cult!

Harris apparently wouldn't know bias if it came up and slapped him in the face.

Posted by: Cal Gal | December 13, 2005 09:17 PM

Froomkin is the only concise, consistently intelligent columnist giving readers a synopsis of WH reportage. I guess the unhappy reporters don't like the way Dan condenses their work and consequently, have their panties in a bunch. Since he always links to the originals, their snits are unjustified and inconsequential. Keep the colunm just as it is.

Posted by: dondub | December 13, 2005 09:28 PM

I find myself wondering just where this sudden concern about Froomkin comes from. The Post has a new ombudsman (person)--well, okay. But is there pressure being put to bear on the WP, and hence the ombudsman, from somewhere up on Pennsylvania Avenue to either squelch or, at least, "balance" Froomkin?

I used to be less cynical. But that's what 5 years of this administration will do to a person--even a former Republican.
And if the WP wants to retitle the column, why all this brouhaha about it? Sounds to me as if the Post wants Dan to look over his shoulder before he types a word.

Relax, Post--at least you've got Bob Woodward to stand up for the folks in the White House.

Posted by: Bettie | December 13, 2005 09:42 PM

I wish that I had more to offer than a simple, Amen, but so many others have already said all that I could wish that I'm left with little else. Dan Froomkin's is the best column I read today. While I'm not quite as disappointed with the rest of the Post's staff, I wish that they would follow Froomkin's lead in questioning the claims of politicians of every stripe. Where are the other "Gotcha!" journalists who refuse to let a lie pass unchallenged?

Posted by: Gluon1 | December 13, 2005 10:04 PM

Froomkin should leave the WP. I wonder if anybody would still read his White House coverage if he did it for somebody else?

Pajamas media will destroy the Washington Post anyways!

Posted by: BC | December 13, 2005 10:14 PM

If included, Froomkin would make the print edition of the Post worth buying!

Posted by: LMW | December 13, 2005 10:17 PM

Dan, thank you for opening up some windows around here and letting in some fresh air.

Your readers are not confused about about what you're doing and the effect it's having. Please leave this dumpy paper and start your own web site.

Posted by: meta | December 13, 2005 10:18 PM

Fortunately, newspapers such as the Wash Times and networks like Fox News NEVER allow their reportes to voice opinion.

Posted by: TC Boston | December 13, 2005 10:19 PM

As a journalist for a major magazine myself, I am a great admirer of Froomkin's column, and read it more often than anything else in the Post. His work is an inspiration to me, and solidly in the great newspaper tradition of scrutinizing the actions of those in power. This anxiety about his column is a measure of how far certain editors at the Post have fallen away from that tradition, with the result being no less than that our country is current at war for reasons that remain vague.

Twenty years from now, our era will be viewed as a shameful period when many reporters were asleep at the wheel, with a few notable exceptions like Froomkin. He is fair, diligent, and a very fine writer. He deserves a raise, not this hoked-up controversy.

Posted by: Steve Silberman | December 13, 2005 10:25 PM

This is a much lower moment for the Washington Post than the Janet Cooke affair. Then, the Washington Post did the right thing once they found out the problem. Now, the Washington Post tries to shoot the messenger rather than fix the problem: the corrupt system of access to Administration officials by what Harris has the gall to call "objective reporters."

Posted by: Steve Odendahl | December 13, 2005 10:31 PM

Dan Froomkin's column is the best thing about the Washington Post. Dan, you don't deserve this treatment, set up an independent blog and ditch these guys.

Posted by: wxyz | December 13, 2005 10:36 PM

AND, FROOMKIN IS VERY, VERY FUNNY.

(today's subhead: How Was It For You? - great)

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) | December 13, 2005 10:38 PM

Dan,

This is one column I look forward to every day, and maybe even get a bit upset on the days it's late.

White House Briefing is a daily update of all things White House, including what is going on and what is not going on. Are most of the links towards left leaning opinions? Well, yes, but with a Republican in the White House there isn't much criticism of the White House from the other direction.

'White House Briefing' fits as a name and is an invaluable source to readers from all parts of the country. Why this discussion is even happening is oblivious to me, must be 'Beltway' thinking.

The problems with the Political reporting in the Post and beyond has little to do with 'White House Briefing' and more to do with the crap you currently call reporting.

Posted by: Minneapolis Matt | December 13, 2005 10:40 PM

All of our elected leaders should be held accountable. It seems none are anymore. Reporters have to report good things or they loose access and are no longer an "insider" with the "inside scoop". It is sad the state of affairs in our press these days. Mr Froomkin and a few others help to provide some important scrutiny and ask the questions that are not being asked of our elected officials.

Posted by: RicKey | December 13, 2005 10:48 PM

Froomkin is a refreshing presence at the Post and a must-read. Reading the paper, I get the impression that most of your so-called reporters are more interested in groveling for White House "access" and approval than in telling the public the truth. It's no wonder the Post's circulation is declining. Who wants to read tired government propaganda? Does the Post really think that if they hire some neo-con windbag to regurgitate RNC talking points that it's going to help their circulation and attract younger readers? Dream on.

Posted by: MS Durkee | December 13, 2005 10:51 PM

Dan, is there going to be a WaPo online/ WaPo print holiday party this year? THAT should be a good time!

Posted by: | December 13, 2005 10:52 PM

So now it comes out - it was the Republications who complained about Dan's column. Good grief. What was it they told Mrs. Graham about publishing the Pentagon Papers? Something about a wringer? Look where that got them.

Dan, I used to think you were the best thing about the WaPo. Now I don't think they are good enough to wipe your boots. You deserve better.

Posted by: Karen | December 13, 2005 10:52 PM

>Relax, Post--at least you've got >Bob Woodward to stand up for the >folks in the White House.

The problem is that the White House and Republicans in general want wall-to-wall GOP propaganda. No dissenting opinions, period.
Given that the Post's executive editor stated "We want to make sure people in the [Bush] administration know that our news coverage by White House reporters is separate from what appears in Froomkin's column because it contains opinion" in an E&P interview, one wonders just how close the Post is to deciding on making the Republican's wish come true.

If the folks in charge of the Post were interested in real journalism instead of pleasing their cocktail party gossip partners, their only concern would be the validity of their stories. If what Froomkin puts in his column is factually accurate, then the GOP criticism should be irrelevant.

Posted by: Richard | December 13, 2005 10:55 PM

Froomkin is the only reason I come to WaPo. Where else is anyone covering the WH press gaggle. He's the only one giving us news.

Sonia

Posted by: Sonia S. | December 13, 2005 11:00 PM

Mr. Froomkin

Your column is the first thing I read on the Post website. I am disappointed when I don't see it. I believe that this is a phantom "controversy" to shut you up.

Posted by: Jan in CA | December 13, 2005 11:03 PM

Love your column.

Thank you, Dan!

Posted by: Glen | December 13, 2005 11:27 PM

well, color me stupid. I don't live in DC; until I read this string I thought Froomkin's column actually appeared in the print version, and not just on the Web site. now I have even less respect for the print version than I used to.

the post has done some very good investigative reporting of late -- and I only know this because of froomkin and his links. it has done some truly awful reporting in the recent past, particularly in regard to the bush administration. much of that I know through froomkin as well.

he is a new kind of web-centric journalist -- more of a digest maker (digester?) than a reporter, a blogger, or a traditional columnist. in other words, he is the future. lose him, change him, or dilute him with some conservative blogger hack, and you do so at your peril.

like I said, I don't live in DC. I don't have to read the post online. and without froomkin, I wouldn't.

dt

Posted by: dan tynan | December 13, 2005 11:33 PM

There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

...Former domestic policy adviser John DiIulio|Why Are These Men Laughing?|Ron Suskind|Esquire|Jan. 2003

Incredible how this mentality now seems to have infected everything.

Posted by: Rob B | December 13, 2005 11:40 PM

Dan, Keep doing what you are doing. It's a great public service. Thanks.

Posted by: tedb | December 13, 2005 11:40 PM

To WaPo head honchos: It ain't broke, don't fix it!!!

Posted by: S. Marchio | December 13, 2005 11:46 PM

If the White House is whining about Mr. Froomkin chances are he's doing something very right. Keep it up!

The bit from the new Ombuds is bad news for the WaPo. Administrations will always be pissing and moaning about how unfair it is that some newspaper writers are noting their bad behavior, but for a paper to knuckle under to this pressure so ungraciously (in whatever guise) is pathetic.

Posted by: Rick | December 13, 2005 11:59 PM

I didn't realize that Dan Froomkin didn't appear in the print edition of the Post. Without Froomkin, how does a reader get any sense of what is true in that steaming heap of right wing mediocrity that the Post has become?

Posted by: Tanner | December 14, 2005 12:17 AM

I didn't realize that Dan Froomkin didn't appear in the print edition of the Post. Without Froomkin, how does a reader get any sense of what is true in that steaming heap of right wing mediocrity that the Post has become?

Posted by: Tanner | December 14, 2005 12:17 AM

I didn't realize that Dan Froomkin didn't appear in the print edition of the Post. Without Froomkin, how does a reader get any sense of what is true in that steaming heap of right wing mediocrity that the Post has become?

Posted by: Tanner | December 14, 2005 12:17 AM

You go Dan... Keep it up!!!

Never give up!!! Never surrender!!!

Posted by: Richard | December 14, 2005 12:20 AM

What angers me here is that the editors don't seem to understand what everyone is so upset about. They failed us in the lead up to war and now by acting like being critical is a political persuasion they are demonstrating that they learned nothing from the experience.

What I would like to see from the Washington Post is a little more self reflection. They should be asking themselves why they failed so miserably in their coverage and what they can do to regain their credibility with their readers.

The fact that they think their readers are the ones who don't get it is tellling.

Posted by: | December 14, 2005 12:37 AM

Kudos to Dan. WHB is a must read every day. If most writers applied the same rigor in their reporting as Froomkin, Bush and his minions would stop receiving their free pass.

Posted by: Paul | December 14, 2005 12:48 AM

The notion that Dan Froomkin's column somehow undermines the credibility of the printed paper strikes me as laughable. I would argue the opposite is true: WH Briefing has RESTORED my credibility in the Post, a paper that cheer-led for the Iraq War and that has Woodward as senior editor, despite his pronounced lack of credibility. Someone needs to remind the Ombudsman and Mr. Harris of these facts.

Posted by: David B. | December 14, 2005 12:49 AM

Dan Froomkin informs his readers about what is happening within the Bush Administration. The Washington Post reporters writing stories about the Bush Administration do an excellent job repackaging the White House talking points and presenting them to the readers as "journalism."

No, I don't think there is much chance that those readers will confuse Froomkin's work with the output of those esteemed "reporters".

Posted by: Downey Meyer | December 14, 2005 12:52 AM

Dan Froomkin is one of the best things about the Wash Post online - the first thing I read each day to get a sense of what is going on around the WH. With the links and commentary one feels close to the "happenings." It is a "briefing about the White House" by someone who is closly following the action and relaying impressions. So what is wrong with the Title? Reporters report facts and should not give opinions. Anyone reading Dan's comments should not be confused. Thanks Dan, I agree with you about your role.

Posted by: Pat B | December 14, 2005 12:58 AM

If the Post had any sense, they'd give Froomkin a sweet corner office, and assign Broder, Cohen and Hoagland as his coffee fetchers. The op-ed section where those clowns get the most real estate is barely worth a glance any more.

But quality will tell. The Post may be a sweet gig for a journalist, but if they do hobble Froomkin, there's no question that he'd be snapped up by any outfit with an eye for talent.

Posted by: sglover | December 14, 2005 01:19 AM

Sorry I haven't read the thread. I just want to say that I consider "White House Briefing" to be the most valuable part of www.washingtonpost.com which is my web browser's home page.

I think it is clear that Froomkin's column is a column not a series of news articles. I don't think that anyone has ever been confused about this, so I assume critics of Froomkin or his column or the name of his column must have an agenda which they choose not to share with mere readers.

It is obvious what this agenda is. The Post is determined to maintain good relations with the Bush administration so that they remain one of the outlets for official leaks. Thus when the Bush administration says "jump" they say "how high."

Leonard Downie (who should know how to watch his mouth) let this slip in the interview with editor and publisher (which I assume has been cited above) saying "We want to make sure people in the [Bush] administration know that our news coverage by White House reporters is separate from what appears in Froomkin's column because it contains opinion," Downie told E&P. "And that readers of the Web site understand that, too."

Good thing he remembered that he had forgotten about the readers, but Downie made it clear that the problem is that the Bush administration is angry with the Post.
He must know that the Bush administration is even more determined than previous administrations to press the press to supress criticism. The only proper response to such pressure is to make it clear that it doesn't work.

Downie has made it perfectly clear that he can be intimidated by the administration. The fact that he let this slip shows that he has forgotten the first rule of journalism, independence from the government of the day.

I'd say the Post needs a new managing editor. The fact that The Washington Post collectively responds this way to Froomkins excellent and perfectly reasonable column shows how far it has sunk and how very difficult it will be for the Washington Post to become a good newspaper again.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann | December 14, 2005 01:43 AM

This is a case of Access Journalism trying to kill REAL journalism.

Posted by: JKC | December 14, 2005 01:45 AM

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above about Froomkin and his column -must-read each time it appears down here in Australia. But what I would like to have seen, along with the support for Froomkin, is some swell of attack against the cretinous Ombudsman. Don't just defend Froomkin, attack his attackers.

Posted by: Michael Brock | December 14, 2005 01:57 AM

Go Dan.

As to the Non-Ombudsman and the various cowardly editors (Harris, Downie), let me tell you in terms you understand what I think of you (in the voice of Bush repeating 9/11 as an answer to everything):
Woodward,
Woodward,
Woodward.

Posted by: ch2 | December 14, 2005 02:08 AM

If any one needs a name change it is the gutless stenographers in the press room who pretend to cover the White House. The Sycophant Stenography Corps comes to mind. Dan Froomkin may not officially cover the White House but his opinion piece gives more truth about what is going on there than the work of the entire "official" newsroom. And by the way, the official "Corps" opines all the time but their opinions echo the White House talking points. That doesn't show much courage to me when the official "Corps' " opinions are purposefully framed so as not to offend the OFFENDERS. Gutless echo chamber drivel emanates as news as a result. Would "White House Briefing Opinion" really make your day or is it that you haven't received your White House Christmas invitation yet? Oh I'm sorry, as another phony controversy conspirator has suggested, is it Holiday instead of Christmas?
Why in the world is it okay to be a conservative journalist when covering the white house but not a perceived, if not actual , "liberal" ? That is not journalism it is censorship.

Posted by: TP | December 14, 2005 02:57 AM

Dan Froomkin's column is a fantastic resource and index to what is going on in Washington and in the media. The links to other stories and original documents add to its value. Best part of the paper.

Some people may not like Toto pulling aside the curtain so we can see what is really going on. Too bad. We are paying for all this with our taxes- we are entitled to know.

Larry Meacham, Honolulu, HI

Posted by: Larry Meacham | December 14, 2005 03:27 AM

Dan Froomkin's column cuts through all the B.S. and spin, and tells it like it is. The reason other political reporters may not be pleased is because they realize they should have been holding Congress and the administration accountable for their contradictions, hypocrisy, and corruption. The media has given politicians (of both parties) a free ride for too long, by simply repeating their talking points. They play it safe and are afraid to offend either party, in a lazy attempt to appear "balanced". Until the "regular" White House press corps takes it upon themselves to point out disinformation, half-truths, and lies, I will rely on Dan Froomkin to do that for me. He is missed on the days that he is off.

Posted by: JFW | December 14, 2005 04:08 AM

Mr Froomkin's is pretty much the only column worth reading in the Washington Post these days.

John Harris? Good name for a Pomeranian, although Pomeranians are *technically* vertebrates...

Posted by: Bruce Malcolm | December 14, 2005 04:11 AM

I want to know what it is that makes Froomkin's column "liberal" and I want to know exactly. It seems to me that "liberal" is the cry of conservatives for anything they don't like. If press coverage is critical, it's "liberal." If someone disagrees with the Republican take on the issues of the day, it's "liberal." If someone has the audacity to be critical of this (Republican) president, it's "liberal."

Shorter version: I don't like it, therefore it's liberal.

Tell me exactly what about Froomkin's daily exposure of the emperor's new clothes is liberal. Tell me exactly. And please explain to me how it would be "liberal" of Froomkin to hold the administration to account for its actions if the administration was headed up by John Kerry?

This is lunacy. The powers that be at the WaPo need to get their head out...of you know where.

Posted by: Alan S. Atwood | December 14, 2005 04:16 AM

The idea of "balanced reporting" is inherently flawed. If the country goes into a dangerous slide to the right (as, in my opinion it most certainly has) by the logic of "balance" the whole news reorting establishment should slide with it. This sort of logic may be well suited for preserving market share, but it is deadly to civic health.

This business about "reader confusion" strikes me as a red herring. I suspect that there is a certain amount of jealousy at work here. The growing public recognition of the spinelessness of most of the mainstream "news" reporters over the last five years is obviously starting to erode the self esteem of the press corps. And well it should. The solution is for them to start doing a better job, not to start looking for scapegoats.

Posted by: Jeff Doyle | December 14, 2005 05:22 AM

Who the hell is Deborah Howell? What does she do for a living? Where is her resume posted? Has she screwed up previously?

Posted by: JTML | December 14, 2005 06:36 AM

Dan Froomkin is one of the best things about the Washington Post. Anyone who can't figure out what his column is about and that it is opinion (this includes those sensitive souls at the White House who should know better) should stick to Parade and Newsmax.

Go Dan Froomkin!

Posted by: Blair Van Horn | December 14, 2005 07:05 AM

Those who find it necessary to place people; concepts; and, in this case, columns into the neat little categories of "liberal", "conservative" and "moderate" have small minds. Those same small minds label Bush et al as "conservatives" (never minds the fact that they are radical, big government activists) and anyone who criticizes them, or links to criticisms, as "liberals".

Ms. Howell's trope, and the Post's action of hiring someone who would write such tripe, damages the Post's already abysmal credibility.

Posted by: Chris Brown | December 14, 2005 07:18 AM

Every time I read Mr. Froomkin's insightful column, I'm surprised that he has lasted this long. The Washington Post has become just another Corporate/GOP schill and the appearance of Dan's clear summary of all that is White House, stuns me.

If I were you, Mr. Froomkin, I would buy a domain, open a hosting account and free myself completely. You have a faithful audience and should have no trouble finding advertisers. You will be happy and when this Dinosaur they call the Washington Post dies, you will not suffer.

Then, the Washington Post can replace you with Jeff Gannon. He seems to be the perfect reporter to promote the aims of this once respectable newspaper.

Posted by: J. Romig | December 14, 2005 07:38 AM

"Ombudsman" is supposed to be the person who uncovers the wrongs of those with power toward those without. Where in the power struture of the Washington Post does Froomkin stand that he should be infringing on the rights of his underlings? It seems to me that the ombudsman should be exercising her weight not to disempower the marginalized Froomkin but rather to protect him against the concerted attack on his honesty clearly launched by the White House. If we are to believe the stories of political hardball that the administration plays, it is precisely the job of the ombudsman to stand up and say, "We're not going to wilt under this kind of outside pressure. The Post is firm in its commitment to seek truth and publish it as we see it."
Instead, she creates a hypothetical reader, apparently invented by the administration itself, who "complains" that because one of their staff--not a reporter, but an opinion writer (and I had to go through multiple menus to find his column)--has the gall to question the Olympian statements from on high.
This might go down rather well in Singapore, where it is legal to run against the government in an election, but it is illegal to criticize any action of the government, but remember the first words of our Constitution: "We, the people." Plato, in the Republic, advocated perhaps the first totalitarian state. One of his prime arguments was that it is all right for the state to lie to the people. Are we so far along the Platonic path that we must accept official lies because they are in our best interest?

Posted by: notjonathon | December 14, 2005 07:54 AM

Here's Ms. Howell's non responsive response to my original email to her (posted above in this blog) and my response.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ombudsman Internet DropBox"
To: "Cliff Rowland"
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 11:17 AM
Subject: Re: Froomkin
>
>
>
>
> Thanks for writing even if we disagree. Deborah
>
>

I'm not surprised you disagree. You have a most peculiar definition of
Ombudsman. You would do well to read the initial column of the first Post
Ombudsman, but I doubt you will.

What I was asking (pleading) was for the Post to reinvent itself as a
functioning paper with a future. Oh well, I tried. I have other sources
for news, but it's your failing institution.

Some of us are old enough to remember Woodward's circa Watergate rep as
amiable, well connected and not too bright. He's not a god, but it looks
like he's managed to remake the Post in his image.

Froomkin is to Harris as Bernstein was to Woodward - the brains of the
operation. Get a clue. Froomkin is not the perp, it's Editor Harris in the
newsroom with a blunt instrument (aka White House reporters). The Post is
the victim, and the rest of us are collateral damage.

Sincerely,

Cliff
>

Posted by: Cliff Rowland | December 14, 2005 08:00 AM

I read Dons column every day. By not having sources to grease, it frees him to point out the truth. There are areas open to honest disagreements. However, propaganda and deception should always be exposed to the light of reason. I think Froomkin is fighting for democracy and appreciate his efforts.

Posted by: John Edward | December 14, 2005 08:16 AM

To Mr. Froomkin:

If the WaPo continues to treat you badly, go over to Times Select. Even though I am absolutely opposed to that firewall, I would buy a subscription to read you.

The Post is my hometown paper but I am horrified by this flap and by Woodward's behavior.

Keep the faith, the thousands of supportive letters and comments may make Leonard Downie spike Deborah Howell and John Harris. Of course, if Mr. Downie read Luskin's, oops I mean Jim Vandehei's, stories, he might fire Harris anyway.

All best wishes to you, your column is brilliant.

Posted by: The Rejectionist | December 14, 2005 08:45 AM

Froomkin's column is one of the best things published by any part of Washington Post Company. Contrast Froomkin, for example, with the absolute pablum mishmash of a column that David Broder writes.

John Harris' pompous posturings are symbol and substance of why print newspapers are dying and why, when it comes to political commentary, all the real action is in the blog-world.

Posted by: Rob | December 14, 2005 09:00 AM

Well, that settles it. Time to cancel my electronic edition and only read washingtonpost.com. Here I am, an out-of-town, grew-up-in-DC reader that subscribes to the electronic edition as a means of supporting the paper I love since I always read it online, and now I find that the old-media part of the business, which has been continually dropping the ball in the George W. Bush administration on political coverage, is now trying to snuff out the only truth-seeking writer associated with the Post company. You know what, Deborah? I'm sick of being spoon-fed obviously false "according to the administration" lines by the Post's political reporters without any hint of fact-checking. They hold this false notion of "balance" above any desire to find the truth. It's insulting to my intelligence, and if the newspaper part of the Post wants to adopt that as policy, then I'm happy to take my money and my readership elsewhere. This is spitting in the eye of Journalism. It was bad enough to see Woodward's recent fall from grace, but it's worse to see the entire Post newsroom go down with him due to their misplaced loyalties. The public has a right to know, and the Post would be damn better off to remember that.

Posted by: Scott | December 14, 2005 09:01 AM

The only solution to balance the corporate "mainstream" media is to purge all the publishers who are clear and present danger to the First Amendment!

Posted by: Will | December 14, 2005 09:16 AM

32 years ago Woodward and Bernstein wrote ABOUT "All the President's Men." Now Woodward and Harris and the rest of their stenographer colleagues ARE "All the President's Men." How far they've fallen.

Don't let the Ba*****s get to you Dan! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: quake | December 14, 2005 09:16 AM

Shame on them. Griping because the Paper isn't doing its job! Get a life.

The rest of us are reading the blogs and we do check in on Froomkins column in our quest to find some truth.

I don't know if the Post is Pravda 1 or Pravda 2, it being up in the air as to whether the Times gets the top spot, but the real news lies elsewhere.

Posted by: Buck | December 14, 2005 09:36 AM

Keep telling truth to power, Dan. You have my unqualified support.

The WaPo management are all a bunch of Republican whiners.

Posted by: Swoosh | December 14, 2005 09:51 AM

I don't worry about Mr. Froomkin. His evident skill as a reporter and writer will serve him well wherever he plies his trade. The same cannot be said for the Post, however. If the Post's ombudsmen and editors think this sort of thing hurts Dan Froomkin, or in any way diminishes the ability of his readers to recognize the truth he speaks, they have been drinking as much of the kool-aid as anyone.

What is the purpose of the Post? I thought it was to provide a (fairly) objective reporting of the news, in order to achieve two related goals: informing the public, and rewarding shareholders, managers and staff. Only the Post is hurt by such scandalously transparent attempts to subvert truth for political benefit. Once your readers leave (and Froomkin is one of the few reasons I even pay attention to the Post), you will not only have failed to inform, you will be failing your shareholders as well. I don't recall where it says the goal of business is to support the President's political fortunes at their own expense.

Harris and Howell deserve to be fired.

Posted by: Froomkin's alright; the Post is moribund | December 14, 2005 10:01 AM

Dan,

I would be upset that this ridiculous kerfuffle had to become public. The Post has crapped all over you and I hope you fight back.

Posted by: Froomking Groupie | December 14, 2005 10:14 AM

With all due respect to Ms. Howell, I think Dan Froomkin functions as a better ombudsman and independent internal critic to the press and broadcast media than many of their own. I also frankly think that Mr. Froomkin is much better at his job than any of the reporters that DO enter the White House for briefings. The news media justly places emphasis on accountability, but recently have been looking far too much inward than outward. "Fact Checking" the White House through the review of media, as performed in "White House Briefing", appears to accomplish both. I have never been able to discern any significant "bias" in the column to justify a label of "liberal" or "conservative". Maybe mistaking critique with bias is what others at the WP dislike.

Posted by: Bern | December 14, 2005 10:15 AM

Dan-

I'm a hometown DC boy, born and raised and I'm behind you 100%! Speak truth to power and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully the powers that be can take those words to heart.

Posted by: Eric Sibley | December 14, 2005 10:19 AM

What a black eye for the Post.

The Times, hardly a bastion of journalism anymore, has at least pretended to apologize for its slavish coverage of the WMD scam. Post, you're up.

But I'm not holding my breath.

With Harris and Downie in charge, now we know how Woodward turned into Mr. Run Amok.

Posted by: | December 14, 2005 10:32 AM

Gee, maybe the 800+ or so previous posts indicate that there isn't as much "reader confusion" as Mr. Harris thought!

Posted by: Gee | December 14, 2005 10:34 AM

Swiftboating one of the few at WaPo who dare speak truth to power is both shameful and predictable. WaPo's management should reread Chomsky, definitive on the symbiosis of big media and power. But of course it's probably more convenient to simply swiftboat Chomsky and his kooky ideas, and get back to that heady whirl of insider cocktail parties.

The Web is a wave that has crashed over and transformed many an industry. And at a long last, its economical simplicity has enabled a true press immune to the blandishments of power. That discomfort you in big, old school media are feeling is called "scrutiny." And as we all know, that leads to the dread "accountability." Get used to it.

Posted by: Ron Martinez | December 14, 2005 10:41 AM

There's more on this dust-up at www.huffingtonpost.com

Posted by: Kristine | December 14, 2005 11:02 AM

I'd like to know how Mr. Harris would respond if 'Democrats' complained 'informally' to him that Howard Kurtz was 'right leaning' in his column.

Posted by: Gary Owens | December 14, 2005 11:06 AM

I missed Editor Harris's remarks in my initial scan of the postings. Now, I'm aghast:

"People in the newsroom want to end this confusion. We do not want to spike his column--or at least I don't. It might be the case that he would be writing similarly about John Kerry if he were president. But I guarantee that many people who posted here would not be Froomkin enthusiasts--or be so indifferent to the concerns I raise--in that case."

I sincerely believe that you, Editor Harris, should tend to the duties in your job description.

It appears you are pulling rank on Dan. Such arrogance!

It appears you consider yourself a mindreader regarding Dan's "enthusiasts". Such arrogance!

It appears that the attack on the title of Dan's offerings is a coverup of readers' low opinion of the paper Post's political reporters. That tactic, when exercised by the White House, is called hubris.

Suck it up Editor Harris and deal with the quality of your own newsroom product. Leave Dan out of it.

And, for heaven's sake, STOP WHINING!

Posted by: rdrover,Arizona | December 14, 2005 11:39 AM

I think its important for the post to realize--and John Harris to realize--that the Post's loyal readers are a highly educated bunch of people. We get our news from several different sources--we even get our white house briefings from several different sources. We are not limited to John Harris's reporting and, frankly, the questions that John Harris and people like him ask (when you read the transcripts) are hardly worth even labeling "reporting"--let alone "questions."

I read both Froomkin and blog transcripts of white house briefings because I find them more accurate and more thoughtful. More thoughtful because they take the adversarial, jouranistic stance that Harris et al refuse to take, more accurate because they link directly to actual transcripts so I can see for myself what is asked and answered not at a single venue but at many locations.

This kind of wide reading, and blog focussed reading, is why the "official" Washington Post reporters matter so much less to me than Froomkin. I'm not confusing Dan with the "real" reporters because the "real" reporters don't do any serious reporting any more. Harris's insistence on transparently doing the White House's hatchet work on Froomkin simply makes it clear that Harris, like Woodward, sees his role as court stenographer. That's not journalism, that's regurgitation of a party line I could get myself if I wanted to pay dues in the GOP and get their talking points in the mail.

Kate Gilbert

Posted by: Kate Gilbert | December 14, 2005 11:42 AM

The ONLY reason I actually PAID for a subscription to the WashingtonPost is Dan Froomkin's column. I believe that the WashingtonPost political news reporters do the best job in the business of putting out information with as many facts as possible, but I highly value Froomkin's column tying all of those stories together and pointing out what's missing from a complete picture and why. I've always thought of the WashingtonPost as the best news organization in the country for objective reporting with context, but if its senior management is describing a column that calls for truth and accountability "liberal", it looks like I might be mistaken. I was going to suggest Froomkin like columns that focus intensly on the Senate and House, but it sounds like the WashingtonPost's senior management is steering the paper to a Fox News or N.Y. Times style.

Posted by: Greg Markinson | December 14, 2005 11:46 AM

Dan, I agree with you and the rest of the paper's staff need to stop with the Whitehouse stenography and report on the "Real news" and NOT what the Whitehouse tells them is the news.

Posted by: Arliss | December 14, 2005 11:53 AM

1. Having known Dan for some 10 years (that's the "disclosure of potential conflict of interests" section) I know what a great guy he is as a human being.
2. About his professional skills & ethical standards, I think there's nothing to add to the hundreds of postings above.
3. There's an old saying around here, in the country where I'm currently living -- a kick in the a.. is a big step ahead.

So, Dan -- what else are you waiting for? Do yourself (and your thousands of readers) a favor and spare WaPo of even more embarrassment. Go on your own, buddy!

Posted by: Catalin | December 14, 2005 12:23 PM

I would like to thank Dan for his excellent column. I cannot imagine that there is this much commentary about what the name of his site is.

It is a bit obvious that the WH is punishing the reporting staff over Dan's commentaries. Then again, they have never been good with people who actually hold them accountable.

I would think that Bob Woodward's admissions that he was an active participant in the Plame Affair when he was commenting on it was far more damaging in my mind than anything Dan has ever written. At least he is not a 'court reporter' as Woodward is. And I would hope that he would goad the actual White House reporters to factually cover a Democratic President as well as he does with President Bush.

Posted by: john | December 14, 2005 12:33 PM

Froomkin's column is the only feature of the Washington Post that I read on a regular basis. It is the only feature of the Washington Post that I have bookmarked, besides the front page. If you're an advertiser and you want to maximize the chance that I will see your ad in the Washington Post, then you should place it next to Dan Froomkin's column.

Posted by: Me | December 14, 2005 12:38 PM

Any guesses as to how long it will take for the WaPo to cancel Froomkin all together? This is just the lead-in.

Holly Oberle

Posted by: Holly Oberle | December 14, 2005 01:24 PM

Given the low credibility the Washington Post has in its coverage of the run up to the war, the fawning treatment of the administration by its numerous "news" reporters, and the performance of court stenographer Woodward, one might think zero credibility would be low enough. The Post aspire for the FOX depths and may achieve them. Here is how they can curry favor with more Republicans so they can get up close and watch the spin ringside: balance their Alan Colmes like collection of "liberal" columnists (Cohen, Broder, Mallaby) who have nothing to say with some more conservative columnists like say Ann Coulter, Glenn Reynolds, and Eugene Volokh. Then the Post would be more acceptable to the administration (maybe).

Posted by: della Rovere | December 14, 2005 01:26 PM

Keep up the good work, Mr. Froomkin. PS, why does the WaPo continue to suck up to buschco? Don't they know most of the country now understands how corrupt this administration is and want actual news coverage/analysis. No more lapdog WaPo!!!

Posted by: razorboy | December 14, 2005 01:31 PM

Dan does a great job and I do mean great. If some of the WashPost WH reporters don't like the job he is doing, then maybe they should do a better job so that they are not so outclasses. I'm not sure about who this new ombudsman thinks she is, but she should really worry more about what the rest of the paper is doing and less about what one of the few exceptional columns in the paper/web is doing. Prehaps she is just out of her element and needs to take her very conservative views back to Texas.

Posted by: Frank | December 14, 2005 01:36 PM


Froomkin is the only good thing left at Stenography HQ.

Karl Rove has just run away with the WaPo staff. It would be hilarious if it weren't so goddam tragic.

Posted by: Mike | December 14, 2005 01:56 PM

Today's White House Briefing just underscores what most of us here have been saying:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2005/12/14/BL2005121401421_pf.html

"Here's a problem with following the president around all day long: Sometimes the story is where he's not.

Reporting that President Bush steered clear of the White House's own Conference on Aging yesterday -- making him the first president ever to do so -- fell to the regional newspapers and NPR, not the big guys.

It turns out that had Bush attended, he would have been facing a very hostile audience.

So instead, Bush held a photo-op with a hand-picked group of seniors at a swanky retirement home -- and it was well covered by the usual suspects."

One of the usual suspects being, you guessed it, the Washington Post.

Bush is still in his bubble. And Dan Froomkin is still on the job. Keep it up, Dan.

Mel Green
Anchorage, Alaska

Posted by: Melissa Green | December 14, 2005 01:56 PM

One of the only reasons why I hit washingtonpost.com is to read Froomkin! One of the best columns they have.

Do I always agree with him? No. But Froomkin's column has referred me to become a more informative reader of the news, along with linking to interesting alternative news coverage.

Posted by: Sue | December 14, 2005 02:03 PM

I'm a reporter for a newspaper in a small state in the western hinterlands who, until the so-called reporting from WXP and NYT on the Clinton impeachment, was under the impression that the Big East Coast Papers only employed top-notch people to be admired and emulated for their intelligence, political gravitas and dedication to principle.

What a joke.

This brouhaha over Froomkin's blog's name shows that ideological conservatives have succeeded in convincing two of the top dogs at the Post and way too many of their minions that examining the record and reporting it as something that truly happened is "radical" or "liberal," the latter practically a swear word roughly synonymous with "fifth columnist" and certainly something the noble Post ought to avoid at all costs.

Howell and Harris, please go find work elsewhere and quit pretending you are journalists.

Posted by: PLH | December 14, 2005 02:04 PM

Let's cut to the chase: this has nothing to do with the Post's worrying about readers being confused. It has everything to do with their worry that they will make the Bush administration unhappy when someone dares to report something other than the 'party line'.

It never ceases to amaze me that there are people like Harris who unfailing underestimate the intelligence of their audience. Isn't one of the Post's bragging points the intelligence of its readers? Do they really believe that we cannot tell the difference between an online blog and the columns/reports from their 'regular' reporters?

Yes, Ms. Harris, we can tell the difference. That is why the subscription rate for newspapers has fallen so drastically as those of us with a functioning brain seek accurate reporting elsewhere. According to "Editor & Publisher", the Post's weekly circulation is 671,322 and the washington.com gets eight million visitors.

Instead of stifling Mr. Froomkin's voice, perhaps the Post's editors/ombusman/staff should start looking to why his column has a higher volume of (faithful) readers.

Posted by: Liz, Houston, TX | December 14, 2005 02:20 PM

Surely the question is why Dan Froomkin, as a voice of common sense, is such an outsider among journalists? When we are faced with such incompetence in government, how can the actual White House press corps be so convivial?

Posted by: Fletcher Crossman | December 14, 2005 02:24 PM

I love his column. After scanning the headlines, it is first thing I read. Perhaps the cynicism of the ombudsman/staff is really jealousy? 'Cmon, folks; if you don't like Froomkin's column, come up with something of your own.

Posted by: Larry, Seattle | December 14, 2005 02:35 PM

John Harris might be believable in his protestations that the motivation to neuter Froomkin is the possible confusion readers may have because of the name of his blog, if he had earlier suggested identifying Woodward as a shill for the Bush Administration. After all some readers might be confused and think he was a journalist or even an opinion columnist with thoughts of his own instead of just transmitting adoringly the "thoughts" of Rove, Cheney, Bush et.al.

Posted by: SueK | December 14, 2005 02:38 PM

I agree with the observations of the Ombudsman. A "Briefing" is not supposed to be slanted in one direction or the other, but merely to provide facts. Froomkin's columns are always antagonistic to the President with no attempt at objectivity. On his weekly chat, he is often cheerd on by Democratic partisans. I don't read him anymore as his comments are quite predictable. Perhaps new readers should be warned by changing the name to "White House Slant."

Posted by: Gerald Huffman | December 14, 2005 02:41 PM

My understanding is the way this particular maneuver worked is Republican operative called up John Harris and told him what to do with Froomkin. Harris not willing to be seen as complying unquestioningly with a Republican request, asked "How soon", thereby proving his journalistic bona fides. It's nice to live in a coun try with a "free" press.

Posted by: JohnL | December 14, 2005 02:42 PM

Froomkin seeems to have a quality in short supply at the Washington Post. It is called integrity.

Posted by: marcK | December 14, 2005 03:11 PM

Overall, looks publicly like the Post has no deep, insurmountable concerns with Froomkin's column. A name change seems trivial. Might I suggest something alliterative like "Froomkin's Froth and Frizz" -- the former referring to his attitude and the latter to his hair. Maybe the self-deprecation will get the Post to lighten up a bit.

I thought John Harris hyperbolized when he said WHB dilutes the Post's "only asset" -- its credibility. C'mon! He surely recognizes that the Post's got lots of assets, including lots of money and support from the owner and lots of good reporters. An unfair comment, I thought.

And I don't like Jim Brady's idea of "balancing" WHB with a so-called "conservative" column. I'd like to think Froomkin would hound *any* administration -- liberal, conservative or green. He identifies the inconsistencies, lies and deceptions; the creepy, silly and surreal that plague all administrations, albeit this one probably more than most.

And the administration already deploys a formidable PR armament to make itself look good. Why should the Post participate in that? Shouldn't the press be doing what WHB does -- questioning and challenging the powers that be, precisely because they already have so much power?!? I doubt I'm alone in thinking this. I can't know if Froomkin or Brady made a point like this to Ms. Howell, but it should be made and I wish she had printed something to this effect.

Posted by: Central Scrutinizer | December 14, 2005 04:05 PM

I'm pretty sure this comment has been made plenty of times already, but I gotta add my voice. Quoting Froomkin:

"My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency."

These days, that IS considered "liberal." Sadly.

Posted by: Ben | December 14, 2005 05:27 PM

Hey Gerald Huffman: boo hoo. Why is your skin so thin? What is the problem with a columnist being "antagonistic to the president"? What is this, a dictatorship? Maybe you'd prefer to go live in Saddam's Iraq, where no such antagonism could be found. What is the deal these days? The press is supposed to hound the president and those in government who have power. It is for our own protection. If you are bored with that, fine, but don't pretend it's because Froomkin is "liberal."

Posted by: Ben | December 14, 2005 05:31 PM

I can't believe the Post ombudsman is such an obvious tool. She is not representing the readers but rather the sources, in this case Republicans who have been pushing back against the Froomkin column. If the stenographers in the Post newsroom are jealous of Froomkin's popularity with readers, let them start to do some real journalism. Why not a story on the White House ducking the committee on aging and instead staging a photo op at a retirement home? How dare anyone who fell for that transparent White House scam criticize a far better journalist for "damaging their credibility"? The Post's political reporters could use some credibility, which they themselves have pissed away by their groveling for access in the halls of power. Judith Miller and Bob Woodward should be a cautionary example for all of them to start acting like honest reporters instead of criticizing Froomkin.

Posted by: David O | December 14, 2005 05:49 PM

Well, Mr. Harris and your staff of "real" White House reporters: Dan's column today more or less proves the point many of us have tried to make, doesn't it? You flat-out missed the real presidential story yesterday and concentrated instead on the story the White House wanted you to cover. As one of those seniors who is doing my best to resist being bullied into accepting policies that don't work for us, I can't tell you how much I resent the fact there are so few Dan Froomkins in journalism today.

Many of us were aware of the Conference on Aging AND the fact that President Bush has routinely avoided it for the past five years - while at the same time touting his own disastrous attempts to destroy Social Security before pre-screened (supportive) audiences. Let's don't even discuss the new Medicare Drug Bill!

I had to go to The Cleveland Plain-Dealer to get the story I wanted on the Conference. At least until Dan's column came online this afternoon.

You guys won't cover a story that makes the president look bad - even when his own actions make him look bad. You should be doubly ashamed of yourselves for (1) not covering the real stories; and (2) enabling the Bush administration to continue to ignore those of us who don't fit the conservative M.O.

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 14, 2005 06:31 PM

I need to correct myself above. President Bush hasn't missed the Conference on Aging for the past five years. This one was his one and only opportunity and, not all surprisingly, he blew it.

The gathering he has missed for each of his five of his years in office is that of the NAACP. According to his interview with Brian Williams, however, Mr. Bush is not a racist. Maybe he speaks truthfully. I certainly don't know. But his refusal to meet with the NAACP and the disastrous administration response when Katrina struck are two things he really ought to address.

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 14, 2005 07:03 PM

Check out what happened when Brad DeLong got Harris on the phone:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2005/12/astroturf_vs_gr.html

Posted by: Joy Jacques | December 14, 2005 08:03 PM

John Harris and Deborah Howell are covering for criminals. They support criminal behavior and criminal ideology.

If they had a choice between exposing crime, and covering it up, they would cover it up. If they made a decision on writing about crime, they would bury the stories.

Re: Bush

"Thus 18 U.S.C., Sec. 1001 was evidently violated."

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny22_hinchey/morenews/091505fitzgeraldletter.html

Posted by: Richard | December 14, 2005 08:13 PM

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing is the reason I started reading washingtonpost.com and now visit the site every weekday. I don't understand how his column can be viewed as ideological - he does not take sides on issues, but rather points out the administration's inconsistencies ad half-truths that have been presented to (and often swallowed by) the media. Of course most of his attention in the past five years has been on inconsistencies presented by the Bush administration - they are the ones in the White House and are the focus of the column (remember, "White House Briefing"?)!

I would also point out that Froomkin was quick to point out inconsistencies in the Kerry campaign for President and I think it's unfair to assume that he would not have been equally tough on Kerry, had Kerry been elected President.

Finally, readers are smart enough to decide for themselves when a media source is an opinion columnist or a reporter. Dan Froomkin is clearly identified as a columnist, not only by the word "columnist" next to his name, but by the obvious fact that his picture is online next to his column - something that is only done, to my knowledge, for columnists. There is no need to change the name of his column, unless a Democrat is elected President next and suddenly Froomkin becomes a sponge, absorbing unquestioningly everything that that President says. Then, I think the Post would have a legitimate grievance.

Until then, I'll hope that this blows over and Froomkin will continue doing the outstanding job he's been doing. And, I'll keep visiting washingtonpost.com every day.

Posted by: Rachel Wright | December 14, 2005 10:11 PM

Amen brother.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe | December 14, 2005 10:47 PM

Harris is toast after DeLong and others discovered that he lied to his readers, right? He will be fired this week, won't he?

December 14, 2005
Astroturf vs Grassroots (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)
Grassroots vs. Astroturf

I talked to John Harris, national political editor of the print Washington Post this morning. It didn't go very well:

Wednesday December 14, 2005. 9:07 PST

Q: Thanks for calling. My name is Brad DeLong. I'm a professor of economics at U.C. Berkeley. You've actually been on my to-call list since last August, when Gene Sperling, the New York Fed's Tim Geithner, and I had a very good long conversation about your very interesting Clinton book while playing hooky from a Fed conference session. You see, Orville Schell and Susan Rasky have been persuading me to co-teach a course at Berkeley's Journalism School next semester--where I get to be the ivory tower intellectual explaining how you should cover the economy, and she gets to be the practical nuts-and-bolts person on how you can cover the economy without getting fired. And I'm trying to put together a syllabus. But the impetus for this call is different: yesterday, I read you telling Jay Rosen http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/ that Dan Froomkin critic Patrick Ruffini http://www.patrickruffini.com/archives/2005/03/dan_froomkin_se.php was a grassroots conservative weblogger. And my jaw dropped because he is eCampaign Director for the Republican National Committee. A matter not of conservative grassroots complaints about liberal bias but rather Bush-can-do-no-wrong paid Republican operatives working the ref. So why did you characterize Ruffini in this way?

A: He wasn't at the time working for the Republicans, he wasn't when he wrote that piece [about Froomkin last March]...

Q: So you knew [Ruffini] had been a Republican operative in 2004, and didn't tell that to Jay Rosen?

A: [Ramble of which I caught only scattered phrases] But assuming you aren't posting this at least immediately... A good relationship between the print Washington Post and WPNI... Happy to answer privately... Really don't want to be quoted on the record... If you want to call me an idiot without my response, that's fine...

A: No I want your response.

A; [stream continues] But I shouldn't respond... I've promised people I won't respond... We need to cool this down... It's a really a very narrow issue: are there people confused about Froomkin's role...

[We go off the record for a while]

[We go back on the record]

Q: Can you give any examples--other than Republican National Committee eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini http://www.patrickruffini.com/archives/2005/10/same_fight.php--of people who are seriously confused about Dan Froomkin's role at WPNI?

A: I cannot comment for the record because I've promised I won't comment on this.

Q: Did you, when you sent your answers to Jay Rosen yesterday, know that your "grassroots conservative weblogger" Patrickk Ruffini had been a Republican campaign operative in 2004?

A: I cannot comment for the record because I've promised that I won't comment on this.

Q: Did you, when you sent your answers to Jay Rosen yesterday, know that your "grassroots conservative weblogger" Patrick Ruffini was now eCampaign Director for the Republican National Committee?

A: I cannot comment for the record because I've promised that I won't comment on this.

My belief--but since he won't answer the questions, I do not know--is that John Harris knew full well that Patrick Ruffini was a onetime Republican operative when he characterized him as a "conservative weblogger" to Jay Rosen, but was trying to pull a fast one. That John Harris had not done his homework and did not know that Ruffini is going back to work as eCampaign Director for the RNC. And that he doesn't have evidence of serious confusion about the purpose of Dan Froomkin's column--that Harris has just been pounded on by a bunch of Bush-loyalist Republicans working the ref.

I do wonder how Harris found Mr. Ruffini's website. It's not that easy to do. It ranks 498th or so in the TTLB weblog ecosystem directories. I don't see how it is possible to wind up there if one is looking on the web to sound out grassroots conservative opinion.

I remember Lloyd Bentsen once cursing that American journalists had no ability to distinguish between "grassroots" and "astroturf." I think this is a point of data that many of them, at least, know full well the difference: the problem is not one of lack of ability to distinguish.

Posted by Brad DeLong on December 14, 2005 at 09:49 AM in Better Press Corps | Permalink

Posted by: Prof | December 15, 2005 12:33 AM

Froomkin should be on the top of the front page every day.

Posted by: Semblance | December 15, 2005 01:06 AM

Three days later and all of the extremists have crawled out of the woodwork to proclaim, "Oh, the horror!!", :rolleyes: instead of finding a cure for cancer; curing diseases; trying to be decent human beings; trying to GROW instead of rescind into the depths of yet another cesspool.

The reason the world is shot is because the issues that DO matter are lost in the soap operas these wackos live on 24/7 (no doubt with a helping of crap from Hollyweird).

Oh, they proclaim they want to do "the right thing", when it's easier to take the easy way out (notice zero solutions in all this hot air??). It blame, blame, blame and they actually enjoy it (never heard of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, just plain complaining instead).

And all of this blah, blah, blahing is no doubt one of those action alert posting campaigns, that makes this gripe session -- on 2 threads now -- even more dishonest.

But partisans are dishonest people, who'd sale their kids into slavery "for the party" if asked.

Wished God would just swallow you roadblocks, so the rest of the world (who don't give a rat's rear end over this matter) can actually get onto the more important things -- like curing cancer; diseases and trying to be human beings, not worse than barnyard animals.

Mankind was suppose to evolve, not devolve.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | December 15, 2005 03:14 AM

i would submit to everyone here that "shock and awe", a policy that condemned thousands of people to an instant death, is not consistent with this country's founding idea that all men are entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"

Posted by: | December 15, 2005 03:19 AM

SandyK

"ZERO SOLUTIONS" for WHAT SandyK????
The only ones who see a problem are those who produce nightmarish alternatives for the rest of us.

Does it really bother you in your robotic heart that some people, in large numbers in fact, actually CARE about accountability. And how is it that you do not?

Besides, most of us will not be stirred into paroxysms of guilt for not working on a cure for cancer. SO cut the high falutin' rhetoric.

You're isolated because your boring and stupid.

Barry

Posted by: bbs | December 15, 2005 03:34 AM

I have not been reading Dan Froomkin's column, but thanks to the publicity generated by the Post's new ombudsman, I will be from now on. Thanks to a link from Salon.com, I'm now aware of another of the few news sources that do not allow the White House to evade tough questions. My opinion of the print news staff has conversely diminished. How can they honestly think that readers perceive Froomkin as one of them?

Posted by: ND | December 15, 2005 08:45 AM

Sandy K --

You're the one who seems robotic. You know none of us and yet are saying-- hyperbolically, I hope-- that we'd sell our children for the "party". You know what? We keep saying this, and you keep telling us we're lying. This isn't about "the party". What's so funny is, even if some of us belong to the Other Party (which is, honey, still legal in this country), as Will Rogers said, "I don't belong to an organized party. I'm a democrat." It's not the -Democratic- party that expects and rewards true believers. That's part of the reason it's not as successful as the Republicans-- it's far too diverse (and argumentative) to be a unified force.

But if you want to believe that this is all about party politics, you're destined to go in disillusionment and disappointment. It's about the media, not the politicians. No matter who is the president, we need a skeptical media which isn't afraid to ask questions and check "facts". It's just that the media that went crazy (clinically) trying to hunt down Clinton's sex partners doesn't seem nearly as obsessive about hunting down the truth about this current president. It's not my expectations for the media that have changed -- but the media's willingness to meet those expectations. And you should be asking why.

But I know it's really easier to decide this is all about party and partisanship. Too bad easy is so seldom right.

Posted by: lois | December 15, 2005 10:28 AM

My resolve is bolstered as I review these many comments here today. In 2002, I felt resigned to the fact that US media was failing to point out the falsehoods issued by the WH as we approached war. You could search google news and read critical commentary in the international papers, but not here. Now I know that readers are demanding accountability, and I don't even care if Downie or the WP owners refuse to listen. We know we can find real reporting elsewhere (in the non-print media).

Posted by: DC | December 15, 2005 10:34 AM

I will always read Froomkin no matter where he writes.

Posted by: MelbourneFL | December 15, 2005 11:49 AM

I think the actual culprit is Fox News for using:
Fair and Balanced
We Report You Decide
slogans that are so obviously 'not true'.

Posted by: MelbourneFL | December 15, 2005 11:54 AM

I'll bet anyone that the moonbats at Air (anti) America love Froomkin.

Posted by: Tom | December 15, 2005 05:59 PM

Tom:

You've missed the great point of the discussion, Tom, and slipped as usual into hostility mode.

Too Bad.

Barry

Posted by: BBS | December 15, 2005 07:29 PM

Did anyone else have the experience of trying to access this and the Harris column and getting a "not found" message all day? What's up with that?

Posted by: petra | December 17, 2005 02:31 AM

>Did anyone else have the experience of trying to access this and the Harris column and getting a "not found" message all day? What's up with that?<

I did. There was a note on the home page that said they were having trouble with the blogs. I assumed it included these two pages.

Posted by: Sheri Rogers | December 17, 2005 06:40 AM

Sandy K:

""Mankind was suppose to evolve, not devolve.""

That's one thing you got right!

Posted by: Pleno Jure | December 17, 2005 02:20 PM

The current ombudsman aspires to become a stenography instructor.

Good thing she wasn't around in 1973-74.

Posted by: Bill Brock - Chicago | December 17, 2005 04:51 PM

IMHO, Froomkin's columns will be of more real value to historians than 95+% of the print Wash Post White House reporting.

Posted by: Bill McMichael | December 19, 2005 02:32 PM

I hope the WaPo continues to support Froomkin and the White House Briefing. Dan provides an invaluable servide and his column is the one thing I look for on the web every day.

Posted by: Joe - Los Angeles | December 20, 2005 02:35 PM

I like both the Post and the Post.com. A paper comics section, as well as printed stories, provide much enjoyment on Sunday mornings. Additionally, can you imagine trying to bring a laptop into the bathroom with you?

On the otherhand, I wish that Mr. Froomkin published everyday.

Posted by: Tom Canick | December 21, 2005 11:24 AM

"My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable."

What Dan doesn't understand is that this is what makes him "liberal"--he actually believes the president should be accountable for his actions.

"And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny."

One would think the president could handle criticism, but we all know he can't.

This president is a nightmare, a disaster--I guess that opinion makes me a "liberal" too.

Dan's column is probably the one place in the Washington Post where I can get some decent analysis and roundup of the news. I wish the rest of the Washington Post was less an establishment paper that is actually heavily tilted to the GOP, and more like Dan's column.

How about it, Washington Post?

If not, why have an ombudsman at all? Why not just become the Washington Times and get it over with?

Posted by: Craig | December 22, 2005 05:19 AM

Howard Kurtz is a blatant conservative and consistent apologist for Bush.

No complaints about him?

Can we stop calling his column "media notes" and start calling it, "Right wing propaganda?"

Posted by: CD | December 22, 2005 05:24 AM

The next step will be Exec Editor Len Downie of the WP (print version) and his army of GOP propagandists (supposedly known as WP print reporters/journalists/editors) will wear Gestapo style uniforms with swastika arm band in one arm and the GOP elephant symbol armband on the other arm. The WP print version should show a swastika and the gOP elephant symbol on top of each page. This way their GOP masters will bestow them access to the power centers and invite them to the party of those in power.

Posted by: Juan | December 23, 2005 02:55 AM

Froomkin is without caveat the freshest most reliable most verified and verifiable source for material on the web. He should be in print regularly. The Post's mission is circulation. They should spend MUCH more of their time skewing the hypocracy and pomposity of the White House. The White House for instance assures us we'll be "less safe" should the Patriot Act lapse...I ask does ANYONE feel safe now? Has anyone felt "safer" as a result of this windfall to defense contractors in the guise of Homeland Security? These are the type of stories that Froomkin gets straight into the meat of. These are the type of issues that go to the heart of the state of our democracy. Get after these traitors to America's ideals and bring them low. Remember Post Editorial Board, America must remain land of the free and home of the brave.

Posted by: Cass Kunst | December 23, 2005 10:34 AM

In the welterof information that is the news-and-commentary business in the Internet age, we desperately need shrewd, principled, knowledgeable, well-informed pilots who can steer us toward what is truly important. Froomkin does exactly that. His column is indispensable. In his case, the old cliche that journalism is the first draft of history may well be right: as a historian, I suspect that in the end the considered story of the Bush presidency--and, I hope, of other presidencies to come--may well follow the very contours Froomkin maps. Thanks, Dan!

Posted by: JJH | December 23, 2005 10:54 AM

bravo Froomkin, enjoy your well deserved respite, but keep the knives sharpened for your return. for the jelly spined ombudsman or woman a great big boo

Posted by: johannesrolf | December 23, 2005 11:31 AM

AND TO SIGN-OFF FOR THE YEAR!!

DAN -
MAY YOU AND YOUR WIFE BIRNG IN A HAPPY HEALTHY BUNDLE OF JOY WITH TEN TOES, EIGHT FINGERS AND TWO THUMBS!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD YEAR -- AND DON'T FORGET TO VENT THESE OPINIONS AT THE VOTING POLLS NEXT YEAR

TIME TO BREAK DOWN SOME OF THAT ONE-SIDED POWER, GETTING TOO DANGEROUS FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

Posted by: Darlene | December 23, 2005 11:47 AM

The Post has GOT to be joking. Froomkin's column is the only thing I go to regularly for a compilation of information on hot topics of the day. His contextual comments help orient the reader. What's the Post afraid of? Oh yeah, the TRUTH. Keep it up Dan. We need you.

Posted by: Suzanne | December 23, 2005 12:18 PM

When I come to the WaPo web site I always read Froomkin first. The column is witty, incisive, and well researched. Froomkin is ahead of the curve, folks, and he highlights important items that others miss. Welcome to the future of online journalism!

Posted by: Graham Posner | December 23, 2005 12:18 PM

Froomkin quickly became the goto guy for news of the White House and Washington policy. Stuffy slyboots WP reporters and editors and their GOP cocktail hour friends have little clue to the low esteem the newspaper itself has fallen.

Media Notes, slanted to the right, and White House Briefing, slanted to the left, are the quickest reads on what is happening in Washington.

Posted by: Easter Lemming | December 23, 2005 12:22 PM

WHB is the greatest asset WaPo.com has. Lose it, lose me (and others, it appears).

Posted by: | December 23, 2005 12:25 PM

I always look for Froomkin's column first thing. His to me is the most interesting column in all of the papers in all of the US.

Posted by: David Sawh | December 23, 2005 12:30 PM

Dan you're the best. It's BS that they try calling you a liberal columnist. The only reason they call you liberal is because you're column is regularly critical of the administration. BUT THAT'S WHAT THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IS!!!!!! You are supposed to scrutinize and hold accountable politicians to their comments and actions. You regularly skewer the Left when they do hypocritical things, except the Left doesn't run the country right now, the Right does, so of course they are the ones who are going to be scrutinized more often...

It's scary that they forced you to title your column opinion when all you do is find the best articles to evalute politicians comments and provide context.

Nothing you have ever said has persuaded me one way or another... but you regularly provide the information for me to make my own evaluations and decisions on the administration and our government, which is what a good journalist is supposed to do. Who cares if you're not connected with high level "super secret" sources in the adminstration, like the regular Post white house journalists; if anything it makes you more objective, or at least more accurate in your findings, just look at Knight-Ridder.

Congrats on the Child and may he/she be healthy and may peace be upon you and your family for the Holiday season and new year!

Posted by: Nathaniel | December 23, 2005 12:32 PM

We are starving for **real news** out here, not White House talking points, for God's sake. Froomkin is my one, and only, MUST READ in the entire media. Don't mess with him, please!

Posted by: JKH | December 23, 2005 12:55 PM

Besh wishes to you and your wife - What a great Christmas gift.
I will certainly miss your delightful, incisive, comments concerning the caricature of the pResidency that Bush so aptly distorts.Your sardonic approach to the misdeeds, missteps and deceits by the current administration and the insights you provide as well as the cross-indexing to Op-Eds across the nation give some context. It also provides some needed hope that those of us, outside the beltway, need desperately that - It's not just us who are outraged over Bush's idiocy.
I appreciate your reporting, I appreciate your links and I applaud your being labeled a Liberal; like that is an epithet or disgraceful. Keep up and keep on.

Posted by: J. Blanton | December 23, 2005 01:01 PM

I add my best wishes to others in the comments above, and hope to see your blog back in late January. Although there are many sites and blogs (across the political spectrum) that I hit on a daily basis, yours is one of the top five on my priority list.

Posted by: Robert Chatel | December 23, 2005 01:26 PM

Congratulations on the coming new addition to your family and best wishes for everyone's health and happiness. Good to learn that the recent volume of your mail is so overwhelming that you can no longer respond directly to it all. Every columnist must dream to have such a "problem".

Posted by: CFMinTN | December 23, 2005 01:26 PM

Good luck and I will be looking forward to reading your column in January 2006. Enjoy your time time off and we all appreciate your service.
OAT

Posted by: Oalbert | December 23, 2005 01:47 PM

Froomkin is the main reason to tune into washingpost.com each day.
Have a good holiday, congratulations and come back soon!

Posted by: splamco | December 23, 2005 01:55 PM

It should be evident to WAPO cabalers that even if they don't like Froomkin he does an awful lot of handoffs and kudos to fellow WAPO journalists. Also in a time of declining readership he is a success model.

A look back at the year in review makes it clear that Froomkin would follow the actions any resident of the White House in pursuit of transparency and accountabilty.

Froomkin has sure added a lot to the public dialogue. His linking of stories from multiple sources and source documents amkes for one of the most informed readerships bar none. The Washington Post should be proud of the fact that this has lent to keeping democracy alive against increasing efforts to suborn it.

Best wishes to the Froomkin's. Thank you for the past year.

Posted by: Tom Nebraska | December 23, 2005 01:58 PM

Froomkin got me fired from my job because I read his column too often. Thanks Dan

Posted by: APD | December 23, 2005 02:06 PM

Froomkin's is simply the best roundup of White House coverage anywhere. Three things make his work stand out: first, his relentless follow up on stories that others let slip away; second, his ability to spot stories -- Gannon, Plame, and the Bubble come to mind from 2005 -- and follow them long before they become front-page news; and third, his use of new media to present different and reputable sources on stories. The changing business of news and the Internet age have further turned political news into a two-step process for us readers: reporting and synthesis. While others try to make us swallow both at once, Froomkin's column allows us to see the first in perspective and challenges us to focus on the second. The Post is lucky to have this one daily column that undertands and reflects where truly great reporting is headed in the 21st century.

Posted by: RDS, New York City | December 23, 2005 02:06 PM

Deborah Howell should take a hike on over to a Murdoch owned outlet.
Holding the administration to account isn't "liberal", it is American.

Posted by: Paul | December 23, 2005 02:13 PM

Thank you, Happy Holidays, and congrats on your new addition. I will be looking forward to your column's return.

Posted by: | December 23, 2005 02:33 PM

The idea that readers of the "Briefing" column would mistake its contents for the Bush administration's lies and deception is an insult to the intelligence of The Post's readers.

Moreover, on most days your column provides more insight and better reporting than the whole of the Post.

Keep up the good work Dan and have a wonderful holiday. You're column is a nice antidote to the web of deceit that the administration is weaving.

Posted by: Josh | December 23, 2005 03:06 PM

Froomkin's column has become the only thing worth reading in the Post. I've been appalled at the decline of the Post in recent years.

Dan, have a great new year with your wife and your new baby. Congratulations!

Come back soon, though. We need you.

Posted by: Z | December 23, 2005 03:09 PM

I miss a few columns and this is what happens?? Shame on the ombudsman, I hope her face is red with embarrassment reading all these messages of support. Froomkin is my favorite read among all outlets.

Congrats and Happy Holidays to you and your growing family, Dan! We wish you all the best--- and anxiously look forward to your return.

Posted by: MW | December 23, 2005 03:14 PM

Best column of the year. It's a can't miss.

Keep up the excellent work, come back soon. You are doing the public a great service by telling the truth straight up... No chaser.

Posted by: Richard Quick | December 23, 2005 04:14 PM

I'll miss you Dan over the holidays. Your column exposes the shenanigans perpetrated by our elected officials. You are doing all of us - liberal, independent, and conservative - a wonderful service.

Posted by: weatherlady | December 23, 2005 04:34 PM

I'll miss you Dan over the holidays. Your column exposes the shenanigans perpetrated by our elected officials. You are doing all of us - liberal, independent, and conservative - a wonderful service.

Posted by: weatherlady | December 23, 2005 04:35 PM

Yah, Froomkin is the best thing the war-mongering
Post has going. Does Post management think
anyone actually reads, say, Jim Hoagland's columns?? Dan, why go back? Start your own
subscription site. I for one would pay to read
your columns. The Post may not be the best home
for you anyway. Can they manage to put a link
to your column in a consistent place on the site
every day? Too much for them, it seems; I have
to hunt it down or resort to the site's Search
feature (when it works). Just bail out Dan and
let them discover how big the market is for
Krauthammer and the ossified Woodward.

Posted by: Rick S | December 23, 2005 05:03 PM

Dan you're awesome! Let me know when I can start reading the Post again! Congrats on the new one.

Posted by: Rich | December 23, 2005 05:04 PM


...i find your uptake on the day to day
at the white house to be always pertinent
and entertaining in range and scope...
...my sense is you would use the same
level of scrutiny were the white house
in the dems domain...that quality of
evenhandedness and perspective is what
makes political coverage and reporting
sustainable...and readable from the
viewing point of the reader...i am not
looking for the bush 2 bunch to fail
but i do expect them to be forthcoming
about and able to abide the facts...
thank you for the high quality of work
and sense of center...i respect your
effort and level of follow thru...
best wishes for the new year dan to
you and your growing family..:-)...

Posted by: an american in siam... | December 23, 2005 05:44 PM

Thanks for all the columns this year Dan, looking forward to when you get back next year but in the meantime have a great time at home with your newly enlarged family.

Posted by: Buddy Grant | December 23, 2005 05:44 PM

...i find your uptake on the day to day
at the white house to be always pertinent
and entertaining in range and scope...
...my sense is you would use the same
level of scrutiny were the white house
in the dems domain...that quality of
evenhandedness and perspective is what
makes political coverage and reporting
sustainable...and readable from the
viewing point of the reader...i am not
looking for the bush 2 bunch to fail
but i do expect them to be forthcoming
about and able to abide the facts...
thank you for the high quality of work
and sense of center...i respect your
effort and level of follow thru...
best wishes for the new year dan to
you and your growing family..:-)...

Posted by: an american in siam... | December 23, 2005 05:46 PM

I enjoy reading your reports. Congrats on the arrival of your baby (as soon as it occurs); hope everything goes well for your wife and you. Happy holidays.

Posted by: Bob Roberts | December 23, 2005 06:55 PM

Dan writes the column that points out the spin,
And puts things in context,
And clues us all in.

No White House in "Briefing" is granted immunity,
He'll fact-check the Dems, if he gets opportunity,

Don't blame it, rename it, or change things in haste;
some of us still are reality-based.

See you next year, Dan, and I don't mean maybe,
Best Wishes to you, to your wife, and the baby.

Posted by: Wm. Shakespeare | December 23, 2005 08:09 PM

I bet Dan sure hates it that he could possibly be mistaken as a Washington Post White House correspondent. After all, though they weren't quite Judy Miller, the Washington Post White House correspondents basically bought everything Bush said, hook, line and sinker.

I'm one of Dan's fans, so I know I'd hate if people thought Dan were one of those guys. Hopefully, the ombudswoman can help make this clear.

I shall return to the Washington Post website when Dan returns.

Thing is, even if his wife is having a baby, seems like Dan could slip in a column from time to time, but best wishes to Dan, his wife, and their baby!!!!!!

Posted by: CowDad | December 23, 2005 08:54 PM

I notice that Froomkin is another liberal who denies he is a liberal.

Why are all liberals ashamed to be called liberal, while few conservatives are ashame to be called conservative?

Posted by: FroomkinIsALiberal | December 23, 2005 09:26 PM

The real question is why so few conservatives can tell the difference between a liberal and a moderate.

Posted by: Travis | December 23, 2005 11:10 PM

all the best, dan. don't forget us. come back full of piss and vinegar! we need you. the country needs you, and oddly enough, bubble boy and his bizarre henchmen need you as well - if for nothing else, to restrain themselves ever so slightly.

Posted by: fahrender | December 23, 2005 11:36 PM

Dan Froomkin: Readable. Skilful. Honest. Intelligent. Humorous. Hard-working. An asset to the citizens of the USA. Any new baby would be pleased'n'proud to call him Dad! Best wishes, and kindest regards, to the Froomkin family.

Posted by: Jeffrey | December 24, 2005 03:42 AM

Froomkin provides a valuable journalistic service to the nation in his White House Briefing. I must agree with Froomkin's rebuttal: If there is any bias in his column, it is a biased towards accountability in journalism--including his colleagues at the Washington Post and the public, as well as his colleagues, are served the better for it.

Posted by: Jude Rene Montarsi | December 24, 2005 03:56 AM

Congrats on the baby, Dan, but, like everyone else here, I'll be in serious withdrawal during your hiatus.

Deborah Howell's column about "White House Briefing" is itself a good example of what's wrong with reporting today. Besides the obvious bias of citing unnamed sources (when there is no reason not to name the complaining reporters), it promotes the tedious notion that unpleasant truth requires a pleasant lie under the doctrine of objectivity. It's truly depressing to see grown-up journalists still advocating this sophomoric notion.

I'll reiterate everyone else's comment:
Dan's column is the only thing I read with regularity in the Post. It is classic, hold-their-feet-to-the-fire analysis, something that drained out of the WaPo long ago, probably about the same time Bob Woodward decided to become a star, baby.

And the idea that Howard Kurtz doesn't already present a decidedly conservative spin on media reporting is just more evidence of how completely blind the WaPo management has become.

Posted by: cbb | December 24, 2005 10:48 AM

Thanks Dan for a great year of WHB and congratulations to you and your wife. It will be interesting to see how being a dad affects the way you right the column, considering that now you'll also be writing it for your own child, who will one day read them.

'Be the hour auspicious, and the gate of Life open in peace and well being, so that she that beareth children may rejoice, and the babe catch life with both hands'

Posted by: Rich from WNY | December 24, 2005 11:39 AM

Without at doubt the best asset on washingtonpost.com, and one of the best on the web in general!

Posted by: wkf from ohio | December 24, 2005 01:38 PM

This non-daily reader appreciates another value of the Froomkin column - the place to go to for catching up on news after the rest of the press with its firefly-like shortlived interest span has moved on, often leaving vital stories unfinished. To suggest that "WHB" is a misleading title or that more artificial "balance" is needed makes the WP leadership look totally inept. Someone expected cheers for proposing what amounts to journalistic self-destruction? Whatever shaped Froomkin's honesty, integrity, and persistence - WP needs more of _that_.

Posted by: teko | December 24, 2005 03:17 PM

This is a wonderful column. Thank you Dan, happy holidays, and congratulations to you and your wife!

Posted by: Nathan | December 24, 2005 04:24 PM

your column is a must-read. thanks for your hard work and congratulations on your newest:) bollocks to those currently harshing your style...

Posted by: dylan | December 24, 2005 09:40 PM

Dan,

I think someone's got a great idea here - you should quit the Post and start your own blog. You may actually make some money, and won't have to answer to the neo-fascists who now control the paper.

As it continues its descent down the slimy slide to Fox Newsdom, the WaPo is not worthy of your skills - heaven forbid someone on Harris' team should commit an act of journalism.

I hope Harris and Howell are replaced by editors with a collective IQ higher than room temperature, and I certainly hope this barrage of support gets the GOP wolves in the enwsroom to back off, but barring that, give some serious thought to letting WaPo.com die the death it has asked for by criticising your column.

Posted by: Matthew | December 25, 2005 04:57 PM

I appreciate the importance of your column appearing in the Post online. The breath of reality must shock the hell out of the uninformed sheep that support the Bush administration. Sadly, they are kept in line by the self-interest groups that label reality as partisan descent.

It's all so stupid because things will change(again and again.)

Posted by: Grandma | December 25, 2005 07:41 PM

Dan Froomkin is an intelligent, witty, and comprehensive addition to the Post's excellent columnists. We do not need Ms. Howell to explain what a blog is nor to distinguish a columnist from a blogger. Apparently, most of us can draw that distinction far better than she can.

Ms. Howell, in all ways, belongs at Fox, not at the Washington Post. It is at the former that 'liberal' is a dirty word. And it is at the former where she will clearly be at home. Perhaps the editors ought to reexamine their hagiography of Woodward, who manages nothing and gives new meaning to sychophancy when it comes to getting a story. Is this journalism? And why in the world would the Post be proud of him?

Long write Froomkin and the very best to his new addition!

Posted by: Karen | December 25, 2005 07:43 PM

We have a "perfect storm" going on in this country right now. The recessive genetic traits of the Bush/Walker clan have come to the fore in young Mr. Bush, aided and enabled by his mother's bizarre elitism.

These traits have combined with the unbridled transfer of nherited wealth in this country. Another unfortunate example of these tendencies is found at the New York Times, where "Pinch" Sulzberger has somehow been left in charge.

With the Washington Post, our nation's fallback newspaper, we have lost just about any shred of journalistic ethics and ambition, save only for Mr. Froomkin.

One wonders just why the Post thinks its readers are going to stay if Mr. Froomkin sets up an independent outlet for his commentary. Why indeed?
Why bother? We can get Fox News direct, on another channel.

Regardless, I wish Mr. Froomkin and his family the very best, and sincerely hope that he will continue to provide and publish his insights into this dreadful situation engulfing our nation and our government.

Posted by: Dave Porter | December 26, 2005 05:32 AM

Customer Feedback: Froomkin and Kurtz create the content that drives me to washingtonpost.com, where I happen across all the other good content (as well as those infernal Orbitz ads, which I willingly tolerate).

Posted by: Matt | December 26, 2005 05:20 PM

Change the name if you have to, but please leave everything else as is. WHB is a fantastic column advocating intense accountability that should be required, but is hard to find in jounalism these days. It is tradegy to confuse accountability with "liberalism" and honestly, I expected better from the Washington Post.

Congratulations Dan on the new baby, and best wishes for the new year!

Posted by: Jennifer | December 26, 2005 11:52 PM


Dan Froomkin should have a column on WP's page one. Political journalists who resent his coverage are poor apologists for their paper's inability to cover the news without self-censorship in the defense of White House policy, the neocon agenda, cover-ups, go-along-withs, and general sloppiness. WP reporters and columnists are so afraid of losing access that they won't ask questions that demand answers. Like, why do this administrations obvious, repeated, and criminal lies go unnoticed and unreported?

Posted by: Damian Cano | December 27, 2005 09:51 AM

Hearing that other Washington Post political reporters don't like Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing ("too liberal") only serves to remind me how far to the right the Washington Post has drifted since I used to read it back in the seventies and eighties.

I think it's a disgrace that the Post has made itself cozy with the political establishment - in whatever nauseating form it manifests itself. WAKE UP, Washington Post! You should have learned the lesson of the long-defunct Washington Star which was essentially an arm of the US government and therefore dispensable.

There are PLENTY of great stories lurking under the surface of this political machine known as the GW Bush administration. Stop attending so many federal receptions and browning up to every incompetant under-secretary and start turning over a few stones. Now that the Republicans smell blood among their own, they will be standing in line to spill the beans on their corrupt bosses and associates. Dan Froomkin is great! You need many more like him!!

Posted by: Jim | December 27, 2005 02:34 PM

Does anybody here know the truth about why the Washington Post has gotten so conservative? Has any former employee written a book detailing which GOP operatives now sit on the WaPo board? There has to be a more reasonable explanation that just the sudden lowering of IQs of the WaPo editors. I kind of doubt we will be reading an expose about this in the Moonie Times. But maybe?

Posted by: Hlary | December 27, 2005 02:39 PM

Oh heck: Maybe Froomkin should just start his own Web site. He's the only thing worth reading on WaPo's site anyway. This way, the Post can keep goose stepping to the Neocon tune, and I'd be able to avoid the stench of Krauthammer, the slightly less objectionable stench of Will, and the feebleness of the Post's lapdog-like reporting on those in power.

Posted by: mike | December 27, 2005 02:50 PM

I had to reread the top about the WP questioning Dan and the WHB. I had to read that twice. This column is the reason I come to the WP on a daily basis. The only reason.

The linked articles are invaluable. The new mining you can do off one link is amazing.

I would think they'd shut you down because you link to the NY Times, LA Times, et al.

Best Wishes for your new one. Hope to see you back soon.

Posted by: Seth | December 27, 2005 03:03 PM

Only way Froomkin hurts the Post is when it becomes obvious that all the staff writer did to inform the reader was to get quotes from each side. So much of today's journalism is just that. Report each side's spin and call it a day. That defines "unbiased" today. Froomkin swings a heavy hammer at the brick wall of journalistic complacency.

Posted by: John | December 27, 2005 07:21 PM

Since when is reporting the facts liberal.

Posted by: David | December 27, 2005 07:55 PM

how could any ombudsman who (hopefully) reads "wh briefing" come to the conclusion that it has a bias towards anything other than the facts?

this column is both feverishly refreshing and feverishly refreshed. and it will continue to be the primary reason that i load up the wp online, even (especially!) if it is renamed "cooking with walnuts".

Posted by: kim galibert | December 28, 2005 01:20 AM

Hooray for babies and insightful columnist/bloggers/writers, such as Mr. Froomkin. Blessings on your growing family, and write away, as soon as you can. Across the country, us walnutheads will be waiting for your reappearance. (I must admit, I'm having a little trouble comprehending this latest Padilla thang.)

Posted by: lynda | December 28, 2005 11:17 PM

Keep up the good work, Mr. Froomkin. Your column is a breath of fresh air at the Post, and the only one that I read consistently. When journalism is independent, contrarian and seeks to hold public figures accountable, it is doing what it is supposed to do. I believe Mr. Froomkin when he says that he would have gone after John Kerry if he had won. That's what good journalists are supposed to do.

The Post and its peers have bought into the myth of the "liberal media" to the point where they are afraid to publish anything that might be construed as critical of the administration. If the press investigated and publicized Bush's malfeasances with the same muckraking savagery as they did Clinton, we probably would have a different president. Moderates don't want a spineless regurgitation of the republican party line any more than liberals do. We want the press to find out what is really going on and then we want them to publicize it. Mr. Froomkin's column comes closer to this ideal than anything else in the post.

I used to read Mr. Kurtz's column, but I stopped because it became clear to me that he is little more than an subtle apologist for the administration. The republicans are consolidating power in Washington and thanks to ineffectual, rationalizing journalists like Mr. Kurtz they will probably be there for a generation. Do you think that thousands of readers would write letters supporting your bland, cutesy approach to the news if the Post tried to screw around with your column?

Mr. Froomkin, don't stop standing up to the establishment. A lot of people out here in internetland are counting on you.

Posted by: Graham | December 29, 2005 11:19 AM

Froomkin does what he does in full public view, with plentiful links to original sources. He stakes his credibility on the content of his column every time he posts it. I think WaPo--especially its ombudsman--could learn a lot from him. One last rant: when Bill Clinton and Al Gore were getting pummeled daily in the MSM, I don't recall anyone suggesting that we needed a "liberal" commentator to balance the coverage. If the Bush Administration can't tolerate someone like Froomkin exposing their lies for what they are, perhaps they could try a new tactic: honesty.

Posted by: Bruce Hawkins | December 29, 2005 01:22 PM

Yeah for Christmas babies! Congrats to Dan Froomkin. Best thing about the WP.

Posted by: | December 29, 2005 06:03 PM

Enjoy some well deserved time off with your wife and new baby! Thank you for a year of blogs chock full of essential news and information about the WH and our democracy. I will really miss your column over the next month. It is a must read source for me. Happy New Year!

Posted by: Mark Schade | December 30, 2005 05:23 PM

Congrats! on your little bundle of joy! I can see your big smile all the way in Chicago.

Max is going to grow up and be very proud of his Dad.

Make sure to put this blog in your memoirs so that your son can bleam and benefit from Dad's work!!

Also a message to Max, as much as we know you and Mom are the first priority to Dad, please, hurry him back to work.

Mrs. Froomkin you the substance behind a great blogger, however, get as much use out of Dad by making him change some of those dirty diapers........smile

Posted by: Darlene | January 2, 2006 02:16 PM

Please All this fawning over Froomkin is enough to make me gag. Clearly, he is someone who hates the White House and that's fine, but be frank about it. All the ombudmen was saying was label him a commentator because that is what he is. His spin is always critical or snide. I really love this report because I always wondered why he was reporting on the White House when he had such an obvious bias. And clearly all you out there love him for that and only that. I also saw a couple of comments taking shots at Howard Kurtz. I don't agree a lot with Mr. Kurtz but as far as commentators goes he is by a far distance the best person the Post has. He does not have a political ax to grind. I truly enjoy his column because its funny and he tells things straight even when I disagree with his interpretation of events.

THREE CHEERS FOR THE OMBUDSMEN- Keep up the good work!

Posted by: right 100 | January 5, 2006 03:00 PM

Please, could you just go away!

Posted by: dee | January 6, 2006 06:49 PM

right 100..........two words

Shove-it!!

Posted by: left 1000 | January 6, 2006 06:51 PM

Howard Klutz -- He is not funny, and his writing is biased at best!!!

Posted by: Not a left nor a right | January 6, 2006 06:54 PM

DEE

Did I disturb your liberal world. Your midset with blinders on. My heart felt apology to you because I upset your fragile world.

Posted by: right100 | January 9, 2006 11:09 AM

>Did I disturb your liberal world. Your midset with blinders on. My heart felt apology to you because I upset your fragile world.<


Not to worry. You're just embarrassing yourself.

Posted by: | January 13, 2006 03:25 PM

Froomkin's column is the first thing I look for in the afternoon anywhere on the Web. What a loss it would be!

Posted by: Harry Finley | January 13, 2006 04:10 PM

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