New Blog: Maryland Moment

This week we are excited to announce the launch of Maryland Moment, a new blog that will chronicle Maryland politics and policies. It coincides with this week's opening of the Maryland legislature, and will combine both news from the State House as well as news from state campaigns, including this year's hotly anticipated gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

Four Washington Post reporters will contribute to Maryland Moment: Look for filings from the State House team in Annapolis--staff writers Ann Marimow, Matthew Mosk and John Wagner--as well as Tim Craig writing from Montgomery County on Doug Duncan's bid for governor. And they're happy to receive feedback as well as news tips.

Ann Marchand
Editor, Metro, Health & Education

By Washingtonpost.com Editors |  January 10, 2006; 12:11 PM ET  | Category:  Misc.
Previous: Introducing Raw Fisher | Next: Problems With Comment Publishing

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Maryland's Legislature has just performed a COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS ACT, in attempting to increase the amount Wal-Mart spends on health care. They simply don't have the authority to do what they purport to have done. ALL State Legislatures have been completely pre-empted from injecting themselves into private sector health plans since 1974, when Congress passed ERISA. The most recent authority for what I am saying is AETNA vs. DAVILA, 542 U.S. 200, (2004). In DAVILA, a unanimous Court held that a Texas statute was pre-empted by ERISA. The Maryland statute is without any effect!!!

Posted by: Peter Parrott | January 13, 2006 03:00 PM

The fact that ERISA pre-empts any attempts by any state legislatures to directly mess with a private sector ERISA plan is not in any way a close call. A recent published Opinion by the Ninth Circuit brushes aside the arguments made against an ERISA health Plan. Cleghorn vs Blue Shield 408 F3d 1222 (9th Circuit, May 23, 2005)(Relying on ERISA and Aetna vs. Davila). The only way for Maryland legislators to effect change in in the Walmart ERISA Plan is to lobby the U.S. Congress, and convince George W to sign the bill. Good luck with that effort!!

Posted by: Peter Parrott | January 13, 2006 03:29 PM

What exactly are the qualifications for the job of public editor because I think I'd do great. I do whatever I am told by anyone in authority, regardless of the facts or reality. Oh, and I can tie my own shoes.

Seriously, Deborah Howell needs to quit and just work for her republican paymasters instead of trying to pass herself off as a journalist. Democrats took money from Jack Abramoff? Where would the proof of that be exactly Deborah? Democrats took money from Indian tribes, which last I checked is hardly illegal.

What is illegal is bilking the tribes of millions of dollars and then funneling it to all branches of the GOP noise machine. Hench the Abramoff indictments which will soon lead to more Republican congressman being indicted. How many FBI personnel are focusing on Democrats taking money from Abramoff?

If Ms. Howell needs work, I hear AccounTemps has some secretary and janitorial openings, positions much more suited to her skill level.

Posted by: Dave | January 15, 2006 05:26 PM

I too would like chapter and verse on Abramoff supposedly giving money to the Democrats. Where would you find that primary source? Quoting others who are mistaken doesn't count. Where is the source???

Posted by: Cee | January 15, 2006 05:40 PM

Could Ms. Howell please provide some evidence for her assertion that any Democrats have taken Abramoff money? Reid and Dorgan? Didn't the money they got come from the Indian tribes? Are the Indian tribes now considered agents of Abramoff? Does Ms. Howell have evidence that either Reid or Dorgan has committed a crime?

One last question. Whose cousin is Ms. Howell that she managed to get hired by the Post?

Posted by: Rusty | January 15, 2006 05:44 PM

First, way to go Maryland Democrats! It's about time someone had the nerve to stand up to that un-American corporate turd Walmart. It is utterly reprehensible to not provide adequate health care to their employees, and completely unacceptable for them to dump the problem (and the cost), on to the state of Maryland.

Second, why on earth is the Washington Post allowing its ombudsman Deborah Howell to get away with allowing these GOP lies to masquerade as "news"? Does it not occur to an editor to actually check the facts in these outrageous stories? I have seen the FEC list of donations made by Jack Abramoff, and there is NOT ONE DONATION ON THERE MADE TO A DEMOCRAT. NOT ONE!

I expect this kind of nonsense from Fox News, aka GOP TV...but I really thought the WaPo was better than that!

Posted by: Kurt | January 15, 2006 05:47 PM

Yeah, Deborah, find the list of campaign money to Congresscritters by Abramoff and post it! He only gave campaign money to Republicans, including GWB. Indian tribes can give money to any congresscritter they wish just as you could. The Tribes who gave money to Abramoff got ripped off. Do try to get some of the story right. This is a Republican scandal, my dear, whether you like it or not.

Posted by: meanoldlady | January 15, 2006 05:50 PM

Deborah Howell wrote in her article "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." This is false. In fact, Abramoff did not make any contributions to Democrats.

Worse, Howell fails to understand the context of the Abramoff scandal. Abramoff is a Republican lobbyist, pursuing Republican political interests. He is at the heart of the "K Street Project," a Republican initiative to integrate lobbyists into the political power structure. Thus, the Abramoff scandal is a distinctively Republican scandal.

Covering the Abramoff scandal as if it were a bi-partisan affair does your readers a disservice because the facts belie such an angle. It is bad journalism to search for false equivalency.

Please issue a correction.

Posted by: RatIV | January 15, 2006 05:53 PM

Why does the Post persist in claiming that Abramoff gave money to Democrats? Name one.

The Republican Party is trying to share the guilt by claiming, among other specious concepts, that Democrat Brad Carson is somehow tainted by taking money from the Cherokee Nation. Guys, he IS a Cherokee. Anything wrong with that?

Posted by: egregious | January 15, 2006 05:58 PM

"Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

Sadly, No! Checking facts must take too much time. :(

Posted by: Sadly, No! | January 15, 2006 06:00 PM

According to the Federal Election Commission, Abramoff has given money only to Republicans. Is the Washington Post implying that Abramaff has lied to the FEC? Has given money under the table to Democrats? Isn't that a bit story? Shouldn't it be on Page 1?

2nd, according to the Washington Post, Abramoff has been a close friend of Grover Norquist and Tom DeLay for 20 years, and has been a key figure in Republican Party financing for most of that time. If such a person shovels 95% of his money to Republicans, is it really right to say he has given (or bribed) "both sides"?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | January 15, 2006 06:01 PM

Is Deborah Howell on the take? Has she gotten a sweetheart mortgage on her house? She seems to uncritically publish GOP talking points without ever considering that she might be repeating lies.

Abromoff is a GOP bagman. He has never personally given a dime to a Democrat, yet she has repeatedly parroted the GOP line that he is a lobbyist that works with both Democrats and Republicans. His Indian clients have given Democrats money, but that was true long before Abromoff began representing Indian gaming interests. Brad Carson has gotten money from the Cherokee Nation because he is a CHEROKEE. There is nothing nefarious in the 26K he received. Why would she possibly point to this as an example of dirty money unless she is GOP parrot? Abromoff is under indictment for screwing the Indian Tribes. She is pushing a story that is counter to the facts. Is it obvious to everyone except for her?

I need a paper I can trust. I need a paper that investigates and reports the truth. Blindly repeating information you are fed by political operatives doesn't cut it. Deborah Howell seems like she is on the take or just incredibly gullible.

Posted by: Kenevan McConnon | January 15, 2006 06:01 PM

The Maryland law doesn't do a thing to WalMart's health plan; it simply says that those corporations that spend less than x on health care will be taxed.

Posted by: sj | January 15, 2006 06:03 PM

Deborah Howell wrote in her article "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" that he "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

This is not true.

Please post a retraction for her error.

Posted by: RR | January 15, 2006 06:06 PM

Taking money from Indian tribes is not the same as taking "Abramof money".

Please cite what "Abramof money" went to a Democratic candidate or stop saying it.

My 5th graders need to cite references for assertions but not a major metropolitan newspaper?

Tell us which Democratic candidate precisely has received "Abramof money". No need to vague it up.

Chuck

Posted by: Charles Rice | January 15, 2006 06:08 PM

Not only should Deborah Howell issue a correction, but she also needs to explain why she brought this disinformation to print.

Was she given this information by someone outside the Post? Did she research this herself?

Most anyone who's seriously following this story knows that Abramoff didn't money to any Democrat. How could she or the Post's editors not know this?

The next time you guys have a meeting about the decline in readership, refer to this whole business, I have a feeling it may be related to that somehow.

Posted by: GMF | January 15, 2006 06:09 PM

Tell Ms. Howell that it's comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Glad I could correct that for you.

Posted by: Jerry Asher | January 15, 2006 06:11 PM

If Deborah Howell made a campaign contribution to a candidate for public office, and that candidate used that money for an illegal purpose, could criminal liability be imputed to Ms. Howell as well?

Of course not. Yet that is the twisted logic that Ms. Howell has employed for finding that Democrats are tied to the Ambramoff scandal because the Indian tribes that Ambramoff gave money to ultimately exercised their to discretion to make campaign contributions to Democrats.

Come on, Ms. Howell. Is your inability to understand that simple logic the result of a lack of intellgience or a deficit in integrity?

Willful blindness is no excuse.

Posted by: Rich | January 15, 2006 06:13 PM

Dear Ann

Congratulations on the new blog. If you want it to have any credibility though, I think you should consider a bit of triage w/r/t your public editor.

Posted by: radish | January 15, 2006 06:13 PM

Deborah Howell's "reporting" is an outrage and a reflection of what is going so wrongly in this country right now. Journalism is NOT op-ed column writing--inserting or omitting information that is blatantly false is unacceptable. The Post allowing it to happen when there is an obvious plitical bent by the journalist is a disgrace to the fine reputation of your paper.

PLEASE STOP THIS!!

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | January 15, 2006 06:15 PM

Howell state that reporter Schmidt look at federal elections commisiion records and found that Abramoff gave substantial cotibutions to both parties. now Howard Dean said he had the same records checked and not a single democrat recieved a campaign contribution from Abramoff.
Which is it ...I tend to believe Dean, but I also can't believe your fact checking of reporters and editorial supervision would made that bad of an error.
That 3 years later your ombibusman would reaffirm your report seach of fec records and not state that Dean was lying?
what going on???

Posted by: art shea | January 15, 2006 06:16 PM

Dear Deb' I'm on your side in this fight about "Abramof money", us republicans don't need facts,we know that facts are just pesky little things, eh.

Posted by: alex6double5321 | January 15, 2006 06:16 PM

It seems I'm late to the party.

Is there evidence that Mr. Abramoff has given campaign donations--directly or indirectly--to Democratic lawmakers?

Personally, I have no idea.

Of this, however, I am certain. The Washington Post has not published evidence to that effect. For Ms. Howell to now insist that it is true is without foundation.

Please be so good as to correct this mis-statement.

Thank you.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement | January 15, 2006 06:17 PM

I find it amazing that the WaPo allows such irresponsible reporting to take place under its name. And being done by the "Public Editor", no less. Could you please dust off the job description that Ms. Howell is supposed to be following?

I would like nothing else than for her to be re-assigned. Our confidence in her ability to pursue the facts and defend the public's interest is gone. A simple correction would do nothing for the future.

Who is responsible for checking on her work? The blogs?

Posted by: Marcelo | January 15, 2006 06:17 PM

> Howell state that reporter Schmidt look at
> federal elections commisiion records and
> found that Abramoff gave substantial
> cotibutions to both parties.

Americanblog downloaded the full records on Abramoff contributions from the FEC web site. All (R)s. Zero (D)s.

Which is what one would expect of the person who has been buddies with Grover Norquist since college. Of course, that info is based on a WaPo story so may be suspect ;-)

Cranky Observer

Posted by: Cranky Observer | January 15, 2006 06:19 PM

If Deborah Howell had any brains, the story about Abramoff would have been factually correct.

If Deborah Howell had any bravery, she'd correct herself in public instead of making still more excuses.

How about it, Deborah? Will you admit the error in your story?

Posted by: Mr. Elmo | January 15, 2006 06:20 PM

As a Canadian anagrammatist would note, it's no coincidence that the ombudsman's name is 'labored howl, eh?'

Posted by: Wayne Gretzky | January 15, 2006 06:20 PM

Darn the lack of preview. That is Americablog.

Cranky Observer

Posted by: Cranky Observer | January 15, 2006 06:20 PM

I know this isn't the subject of this forum, and I know others here have already asked the same question, but I'd like to add myself to the chorus of people who are confused by Howell's contention that Abramoff gave money to Democrats. I haven't seen any evidence of this. Could Howell be confusing receiving the money from Abramoff with receiving money from Abramoff's victims? I find that hard to believe, but that is the only rational conclusion to draw from what she has written.

Posted by: Greg | January 15, 2006 06:23 PM

Surely the Washington Post is capable of doing more than regurgitating competing talking points and doing actual reporting. If Deborah Howell is incapable of judging the factual merit of charges made against Democrats on the Abramoff affair, one imagines there are more qualified journalists out there who could take her place. The fact that she uncritically presents RNC talking points in her position of the ombudsman undermines the very journalistic credibility that that position is designed to foster.

Posted by: Justaguy | January 15, 2006 06:27 PM

Fire Deborah Howell for once again repeating GOP lies as truth. The woman has no shame!

Posted by: Semblance | January 15, 2006 06:30 PM

Take a cue from Barney Calame at the NYT for a clue on how an ombudsman is supposed to behave.

An ombudsman represents the readers, not the agenda of any administration, think tank, or other.

Posted by: Urban Pirate | January 15, 2006 06:30 PM

This is why I don't buy the Post anymore.

Instead of telling us that the Democrats were on the Abramoff payroll why don't you show us, Ms. Howell?

It is well documented that Abramoff gave money to Republicans exclusively (all you have to do is a little bit of research).

And please don't tell me you subscribe to the reasoning that the Native American tribe donations are "by definition" donations from Abramoff -- because that's just stupid.

Posted by: Tony Ross | January 15, 2006 06:33 PM

The actual facts WRT Ms. Howell's
"error" have been available for some
time and discussed widely.
That she would not know is simply
not credible.
This person should be fired for
incompetence, but I am sure she
can find a home in the Bush administration
where incompetence and loyalty to Bush
are the defining characteristics.

Posted by: afterthought | January 15, 2006 06:34 PM

Re: Howell's Deceit

Posted by: bornadem | January 15, 2006 06:35 PM

Does Ms Howell take calls from anyone other than Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove?

Just wondering.

Here's an idea, since she is supposedly the "Public Editor", I think WaPo should maintain a public record of every telephone call, fax, email, (lunch with Ken), ... that Ms. Howell receives, participates.

Get the picture?

You folk have a serious credibility problem anyway and Ms. Howell is moving you toward zero, rapidly.

Peace,
UL

Posted by: understandinglife | January 15, 2006 06:35 PM

Dave asks:

"What exactly are the qualifications for the job of public editor because I think I'd do great."

I'm sorry Dave, but I've been informed by highly placed sources within the WaPo that Judy Miller has Ms. Howell's job sewed up.

Sorry about that.

Posted by: decaffeinated | January 15, 2006 06:37 PM

Deborah Howell: Do you know the meaning of the words "fact check"?

Posted by: ellenc | January 15, 2006 06:37 PM

In light of the facts recently exposed that the Bush administration has paid illegal "pundit payola" to numerous purported jopurnalists, it is incumbent upon all members of the public media to investigate and root out said corruption.

The absence of an investiagtion should be considered complicity in the devious plot to undermine democracy by subverting independance of the Fourth Estate.

Continued patently dishonest writings such as Ms. Howell's recent lie that: "Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." are clear signs that this corrupt campaign to influence members of the press to push and advocate for a particlar party and leader are still under way.

This corruption must end. Ms. Howell must be investigated to assure the readers that she is not on "the dole" of the administration, the Republican Committe or personally beholden to the likes of Karl Rove.

Until proof of corruption free journalism is presented, I as will many other descerning Americans will resort to alternative and less corrupt sources for truth and ideas.

-Greg Boggis

Posted by: Greg Boggis | January 15, 2006 06:37 PM

Canadian anagrammatist.What about:

who bored a hell

Posted by: Miroslav Satan | January 15, 2006 06:38 PM

The reputation of the WP continues to be sullied by its editors. Its reporters seem too devoted to their own self promotion to actually risk real journalism. Is access to liars so important that you dare not refute their lies? What is the worth of printing obvious and proven falsehoods and pretending they are the truth?

Deborah Howelle and Bob Woodward have both proven their willingness to put themselves, and the needs of the party they support, ahead of journalism. Countless WP editorials and articles have dedicated themselves to promoting absolute lies in favor of a corrupt administration.

When does it end, Ann? What does it take for the WP to reform itself?

Posted by: Mysticdog | January 15, 2006 06:38 PM

"Just the facts, Ma'am, just the facts..."

...and a retraction, where appropriate.

Posted by: ¯|¯ª¤SBª¯|¯ | January 15, 2006 06:38 PM

I am dismayed and discouraged that your Deborah Howell prints such blatant factual errors, illuminated by so little insight into the structure of the Republican Money scandal of which Abramoff was but a part.
What can we do when we turn to the Post for information, and get reporting worthy of the grocery store pennysaver? Sad.

Posted by: Richard Ley | January 15, 2006 06:39 PM

It would be nice if your ombudsperson checked her facts before regurgitating RNC talking points. Ambramoff give nothing to Democrats. Your newspaper owes its readers a correction, and a more trustworthy Public Editor than Ms Howell.

Posted by: Ken Henderson | January 15, 2006 06:39 PM

I'm standing in line with the rest of these outraged folks who are sad and dissapointed by the public editors piece. I hope to see a retraction, or at least an explantion of what is obviously factually incorrect. Otherwise you are no different then the Weekly World news.. actually, i take that back they are entertaining.

Posted by: Adam Straus | January 15, 2006 06:40 PM

I am dismayed and discouraged that your Deborah Howell prints such blatant factual errors, illuminated by so little insight into the structure of the Republican Money scandal of which Abramoff was but a part.
What can we do when we turn to the Post for information, and get reporting worthy of the grocery store pennysaver? Sad.

Posted by: Richard Levy | January 15, 2006 06:40 PM

Please name ONE democrat that received money from Jack. Not money from other entities. Money from Abramoff. Just one name please.

Posted by: pat | January 15, 2006 06:41 PM

I teach freshman composition at a humble, small-town community college, where I require that my students provide evidence to back up their assertions. After getting that first paper back, they know better than to make a statement of fact without presenting at least one legitimate source for it and preferably two or three.

Apparently that is too high a standard for the Washington Post, if Howell's antics are any indication.

There was a time when the Post was a truly world-class newspaper. Now it is nothing more than a mouthpiece for White House talking points.

If you ever find yourself wondering why people in this country have grown to hate the media so much, well, here's your answer.

Posted by: not at all surprised, unfortunately | January 15, 2006 06:42 PM

A Post subscriber or buyer, no matter what their political leanings, should expect factual accuracy in any story or column printed in the paper. Articles should be fact checked before publication. Any factual errors that make it into print should be addressed by publishing corrections and/or apologies. This is not an ethical gray area, but rather the least a reader should expect from any professional news publication.

By tolerating and, indeed, parroting the factually inaccurate assertion made by several Post reporters that prominent Democratic lawmakers have received money from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Post "Public Editor" Deborah Howell betrays both an indifference to journalistic ethics and a disdain for the Post's readership.

Ms. Howell's continued employment by the Post stains its hard won reputaion as a reliable news source.

Posted by: Andy T. Olson | January 15, 2006 06:47 PM

I thought the Post was in the business of printing the news ... with regards to today's column by Deborah Howell filled with GOP lies, I guess I was wrong.

Posted by: Rob | January 15, 2006 06:47 PM

FACTS!
What are they good for?
Absolutely nothing!

Everyone needs a catchy theme song, but perhaps Ms. Howell should pick a different one. And perhaps the WaPo needs a different public editor.

Posted by: Anne Cole | January 15, 2006 06:48 PM

In light of her inability to fact check, perhaps Ms Howell should go back to the University of Texas and get another BJ.

Posted by: tstoff | January 15, 2006 06:50 PM

Just when I felt there was a national newspaper that could be trusted, Deborah Howell proves the wapo can't be. Pathetic. I work for an Indian tribe. Indian tribes are free campaign contributions to give to anyone they want. If you dont like it, take it up with the FEC. What should be in question, is who did ABRAMOFF give to? And why? Get your facts straight, Ms. Howell. Quit appearing as if you are shilling for the White House. Haven't we had enough of that in this country since 2001? Thanks.

Posted by: Ursula | January 15, 2006 06:50 PM

washington post, please get OUT OF USA.

Posted by: james | January 15, 2006 06:50 PM

I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area loving the Post, and went into journalism because of its example. It is sad and very disappointing to see the Post public editor consistently advance the argument that the Post's job is to report talking points, not to determine the truth of a situation.

Posted by: Alan Lewis | January 15, 2006 06:50 PM

WaPo, what were you thinking when you decided to hire someone who is so willing to amplify GOP talking points? Deborah Howell is no ombudsmen, Byron Calame is an ombudsmen. Please make a correction on her comments that the Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff (no evidence) and fire your ombuds(wo)man.

Posted by: biochick | January 15, 2006 06:51 PM

Can someone rein in Deborah Howell? No Democrat got campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff. He was a Republican for heaven's sake. Indian tribes were bilked by Abramoff. They are the victims of the Abramoff scandal. Getting contributions from Indian tribes is not the same as getting money from Jack Abramoff. Will the Washington Post wake up and tell the real story? I'm really disgusted with the guality of your political reporting.

Posted by: JudyL | January 15, 2006 06:53 PM

Remember how Judy Miller got all her scoops? I.E., lunch with Bush administration officials (cough, Scooter Libby).

Q: Who is Ms. Howell dining with these days?

Posted by: decaffeinated | January 15, 2006 06:54 PM

Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties. - Washington Post ombudsman, 1/15/06


WRONG!!! Abramoff made NO DONATIONS TO DEMOCRATS!!!!

Pretty Sad when the ombudsman is always wrong.

The Post is losing integrity under her...

Posted by: Adrian Wisler | January 15, 2006 06:55 PM

Just unbelievable !!!
First John Harris' attack on Dan Froomkin (which already involved the Ms. Howell), and now this !
To the Washington Post editors,
I used to subscribe to the NYT, but stopped even reading them online until I discovered the WaPo 4 years ago. Why did I switch ? Because, you had retained a shred a credibility, tiny but bright. But your continued hobbled reporting and editorial standards look more and more like a charade, and less and less like a hard hitting journalism. Your newspaper simply CANNOT AFFORD the mediocre or the hacks at critical positions. Fire John Harris! Fire Deborah Howell!

You might save your paper yet.

Posted by: ch2 | January 15, 2006 06:56 PM

Ms. Howell, the truth does NOT have two sides to it. When the repubs whine to you that their side of the story is not being presented, laugh at 'em and hang up if they have no facts on their side.
It is absolutely despicable that an editor who is supposed to represent the public would allow herself to be "played" like this by repubs trying to bend facts.
If you, as a reporter, can't be bothered to research the facts - then you should either resign or be fired.
And I haven't even gone into how you have probably libeled the Indian tribes.

Posted by: badgervan | January 15, 2006 06:56 PM

What is the point of having an ombudsman if that person is unwilling or incapable of independently verifying the facts.

No Democrats has recieved a dime from Mr. Abramoff. A quick search of the FEC records show that all of Mr. Abramoff's recipients were Republicans, yet Ms. Howell conveniently left that information out of her article.

Is this what being a quality ombudsman means? I would hope not.

Of course, I have every expectation that Ms. Howell will return to her column next time with stories of how the Democrats received money from Native America gaming interests and that proves the Democrats are knee-deep in the scandal. Actually, it doesn't. Campaign donations from Native American gaming interests are perfectly legal and no one is claiming otherwise, except the spin machine of the G.O.P.

Abramoff does not own Native American gaming interests, nor does he own the casinos in question. Unless Ms. Howell has evidence to the contrary, no Democrats are involved with this scandal. If Ms. Howell does have the evidence, she has an obligation to WaPo readers to publish it in the newspaper and also here online.

Otherwise, she is a pathetic Public Editor and should be replaced.

Posted by: Seth Chadwick | January 15, 2006 06:57 PM

"Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and *** NOTHING *** to Democrats, federal records show."

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arVHles5cKJc&refer=us

Posted by: Cozumel | January 15, 2006 06:58 PM

I am at a loss after reading Howell's column (link at end) Is there any chance that WaPo has some previously undisclosed drinking game, where everyone takes a shot of Jack Daniels everytime they type Abramoff's name? I'd like to believe this, as opposed to some of the other reasons that might exist for the *fuzzy* logic that is evident in the column and some of the recent articles.

1. If you report people are close friends, then a bit later report that they are not close friends but mere political allies, you need to a) HIGHLIGHT IN A
BIG WAY that you have changed the facts you are reproting and give
the reasons for that revision (yes, Tom and Jack have both publically mentioned they are close friends and we have reported that, but based up x________,
Y________ & Z______________ we now believe that to be incorrect and based upon a____________, b__________ &
c______________ we believe that they were only tied together politically (economically, via K Street,
through relationships with Reed and Norquist or in other, non-friendly ways.)

2. At what point did the Washington Post determine that their editorial policy should be -- if we manage to scrounge *some* complaints from *both sides* we are
doing our job? Did you ever consider replacing that theme with, "if we manage to report substantive, relevant, facts about important issues and only use
credible sources for factual support - we've done our job?" Facts tend to make somepeople happier than others. Readership is not declining because people don't love to read and love papers - they are still almost a ritual for many. Readership declines because you don't provide
the service you should. I can very easily turn on the tv and listen to people interested in making "both sides" unhappy and collecting ratings points by stimulating contention without exposition. If I can't get more than that from you, why bother? Since when do you have to get the talking head 30 second soundbytes incorporated into what should be a fact based story? You are not a needed workproduct and that is directly tied your efforts to seek equalization of
dissent and weigh all dissent equally. A losing business, moral and ethical credo.

3. The Abramoff story is not about to whom Indian tribes contributed money. It is about Abramoff directing payments or setting up funded opportunities that were directly tied to obtaining specific results. Saying that "Abramoff gave to both parties" is flat wrong. Personally, he did not and his emails reference Republicans, unless, I guess, you would like to claim some other status for Norquist. THere is nothing so far to indicate that all Indian tribe contributions to Democrats, or, for that matter, to a large number of Republicans, were "directed" by Abramoff in exchange for specific responses. There is nothing so far to indicate that Abramoff arranged for outside hiring of any staffer or Admin. members who were not Republicans (and,certainly, there have been quite a few Republican staffers and ex-Admin officials who did not get the private source jobs through Abramoff). Dig deep and tell me if you can imagine a more irresponsible reporting and column approach than to approximate all
Indian tribe political contributions with improper behavior, and all politicians, Republican and Democrat, who have received such contributions from Indian tribes with payola. FACTS. Remember them? If your reporters find out specific ties to things like Abramoff and Norquist and Reed and Rove or whoever, lining up a lucrative job for a Democratic staffer or big campaign contribution etc. to a Democrat - report. Don't just say "imply" or worse yet, MIS-REPORT that oh yeah, it's Democrats and Republicans both. I
want to know about elected officials whose votes have been purchased by special interest, Rep & Dem alike. But you
are being more sophmoric than high school paper whose geek staff just wants the cool kids to like them.


Grow up, get facts, report them fairly.

Also, don't lose sight of the fact that when you are getting letters and emails and responses, it is not always a matter of "making both sides mad" (something
which seems to preternaturally) please your ombudsman,but can, instead, be a due to the fact that you are DISAPPOINTING readers.

Your readership isn't looking for a RAW is WAR wrestling match of competing articles
that cherry pick sources and facts.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/14/AR2006011400859_2.html

"But stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."


****************************

The story may not be over, but without better fact based reporting, I can't say I'll stay tuned to your "make everyone equally unhappy" concept of coverage.

Posted by: Mary | January 15, 2006 06:58 PM

Deborah Howell wrote

"Abramoff ... had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

This assertion is false, Jack Abramoff gave money only to Republicans. Ambramoff gave to Republicans on 111 separate occasions. He gave to Democrats on 0 (zero) occasions. Furthermore it is very easy to determine that Howell's claim is false.

I have a very slow dial up connection and a very vague recollection that some site called opensecrets has FEC data. I blush to admit that it took me 5 minutes to prove Howell wrong.

Some clicking got me here http://www.capitaleye.org/abramoff_donor.asp
in 5 minutes over a connection so slow that two dixy cups and a piece of string are an attractive alternative.

Posted by: | January 15, 2006 06:59 PM

"Never let a few facts get in the way..." Keep up the good work Ms. Howell. In the meantime, I will continue to verify 'your' facts.

Posted by: lizzy | January 15, 2006 06:59 PM

When the ombudsman position was created, I recall that the position reported to the publisher, Mrs. Graham, to eliminate obvious conflicts inherent in being supervised by the editorial management of the Washington Post.

Is Donald Graham the supervisor of Ms. Howell? Who is the boss of Ms. Howell? That supervisor has a short to-do list on Monday -- fire Ms. Howell.
-

Posted by: who's her boss ? | January 15, 2006 06:59 PM

Shame on you Deborah Howell.
Are you a news person or a RNC reporter?

Posted by: Ben | January 15, 2006 06:59 PM

Curious . When the RNC call and complain Deborah, do they have your direct phoneline , while the DNC just leave a messge? Really , how do their complaints get to the top of the pile so Fast...and why is it so Easy for them to get you to include misleading details into your column...and why don't your editors care that you lie ?

I hope it's a LOT of money...and someday maybe Governorship of the Marianas....

Posted by: A.Scott | January 15, 2006 07:00 PM

to the WaPo management: a modest cost-cutting proposal: your probably expensive Ombudsperson is costing you way, way too much. Her egregious error in stating Abramoff gave money to both major political parties shows her journalistic ignorance and unprofessionalism. Gracefully ease her out and replace her with a really lowpaid intern. You would also get better integrity and reputation.
Of course, I could be wrong and maybe Ms.Howell is operating with some kind of outside subsidy (like Fumento or Armstrong Williams) and is willing to produce column-inches for the WaPo at almost no cost to the corporation...

Posted by: wilson46201 | January 15, 2006 07:02 PM

I'm was very interested and mystified by Post ombudsman Deborah Howell's claim in today's column that corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff "made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." Every fact that I have seen has shown that Abramoff has only given contributions to Republicans, so Howell clearly has access to facts that have not been published in the Post or elsewhere. This sounds like a major scoop! I hope that tomorrow the Post will publish a list of all of these "significant" campaign contributions that Abramoff has made to Democrats, and show that these are equal to the contributions he has made to Republicans. This would definitely be new information.

Posted by: David in KC | January 15, 2006 07:02 PM

What's with Howell? Is she really the shrill for the RNC that her writing indicates her to be? I am amazed that the Post hasn't slapped her down for the count for completely misreading the Abramoff scandal... Surely, the Post knows that Jack illegally gave money and party favors where "his heart was" (solely to Republicans) whereas some of his clients (like the duped and frauded Indian tribes) legally gave money to whomever. Now, the question to ask is where Howell is getting her money! If it's still the Post after today's muddle, their stock holders should fire the editor.

Posted by: Belswood | January 15, 2006 07:05 PM

...and while I am surely just a babe in the woods and oh so new to this game of yours, might I suggest that 2-4 members of the RNC calling to complain can't possibly carry more weight than over 2 dozen complaints here , can it ? So then , I guess we can all expect a complete retraction of your previous false-hood , since it is US, the reader you serve , and not the RNC...or am I again just too sweet and innocent not to get how the game is played?

You've been caught , fess up .

Posted by: A.Scott | January 15, 2006 07:06 PM

Stick to your guns Ms. Howell! You simply must issue a report on how bloggers and their evil minions are trying to break down the walls of neutrality and objectivity at the Times! I mean the Post!

Evil evil bloggers and their evil evil minions!

Posted by: J. Miller | January 15, 2006 07:07 PM

Deborah Howell is not being played by the GOP; my guess is she is being paid.

Posted by: Kenevan McConnon | January 15, 2006 07:08 PM

The few remaining reporters at WaPo with any sense of professionalism, no matter what the focus of their work, need to stage a revolt from within to restore the credibility of WaPo to its readership. It should start with the firing of Deborah Howell, but not end there. Ms. Howell, supposedly the representative of the public, has become a "bad hair day" for WaPo every time she opens her mouth. It's not doing much to convince the readership that WaPo is any different from the Washington Times, and it's getting to the point where all WaPo reporters are suspect as possible BushCo mouthpieces, until proven otherwise. When will the remaining folks at WaPo, with integrity and skill in getting things right, force Deborah Howell to stop vomiting up hairballs all over the reading public? After that, do a thorough house cleaning.

Posted by: VG | January 15, 2006 07:09 PM

Dear Ms. Howell,

I would like to speak with you about having the Post become our first MSM affiliate.

Thank you,

Roger El. Simon
CEO Pajamas Media

Posted by: Roger L. Simon | January 15, 2006 07:09 PM

Dear WaPo,

I am outraged and appalled to find your newspaper mindlessly repeating Republican talking points that Democrats have taken money from Jack Abramoff, just like Republicans have.

On a larger level, you must surely realize that Abramoff is a *Republican* political operative. He has given many public speeches declaring his intention to form a permanent governing majority for the Republican party. He is also a chief architect of the K Street Project which pressures lobbying firms to fire lobbyists affiliated with the Democratic Party and hire Republicans instead. Finally, *all* of his personal donations have been given to Republicans. Jack Abramoff is a Republican partisan through-and-through!

More specifically, as evidence of Abramoff giving money to Democrats, you cite examples of Indian tribes contributing to Harry Reid and Byron Dorgan. Does anyone at your newspaper realize that Indian tribes are not paid agents of Jack Abramoff and that they might have reasons for making the donations that are entirely unrelated to Abramoff? This conflation is just appalling stupid and biased.

Shape up, damn it!

Posted by: Michael Berry | January 15, 2006 07:13 PM

It seems Deborah Howell is too wrapped up in how the reporters got this story to notice some statements that are just not true. To wit:


1. "Schmidt quickly found that Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

If anyone on your staff had bothered to fact check that last statement you would have found that Jack Abramoff did not give a single contribution to a democrat. Some Indian Tribes gave contributions to democrats. Indian Tribes have been donating to democrats for decades. Jack Abramoff does not own any Indian Tribes (he just cheated them). And he never gave any of
that ill gotten money to any democrats. Why would he? They couldn't do anything to help him in his criminal enterprises. They're not in power.


2. "One of the troves that kept the story expanding was Abramoff's
e-mails. He was an inveterate e-mailer, and those e-mails found their way
to Schmidt."

Surely she would have told us all if any of those e-mails were to or from democrats.

3. "The second complaint is from Republicans, who say The Post purposely
hasn't nailed any Democrats. Several stories, including one on June 3 by
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money."

Again, niether Harry Reid nor Byron Dorgan have ever received any money from Jack Abramoff. They have both received campaign contributions from Indian Tribes...actual Indian Tribes that live in their respective states.

Even I, who lives deep in the Ozark Mountainsand only have a dial up connection, easily found this information on a number of different web sites. This information is not classified, but is actually open to the public so we can see just who owns our politicians. Surely a the major newspaper that publishes in the nation's capital has researchers and fact checkers that could save you from such slanderous statements as "a number of Democrats, indluding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten campaign money." But then perhaps fact checkers and researchers were the positions that were done away with due to falling revenues. I can assure you your revenues will continue to fall as people continue to just stop reading newpapers that do not report the news, but
merely parrot what they were told by political operatives dressed up as "sources."

And you really could use an editor to help you learn to use the two letter state abbreviations without periods.

from the mountains....

Posted by: Arkansas Heathern | January 15, 2006 07:22 PM

Amen to everyone. It is astonishing that a newspaper of the Post's stature keeps mindlessly repeating this myth, even arguing for it with no effort to verify the facts, which are available to anyone who bothers to make a few keystrokes.

Get rid of Hamilton.

Posted by: incredulous | January 15, 2006 07:22 PM

It is time to start cancelling subscriptions.

See you Tuesday.

Posted by: Eli Rabett | January 15, 2006 07:23 PM

Ms. Howell: Have you no shame? why not wait to see how far the crime spreads w/o being the smear knife?

Posted by: concernedcitizen | January 15, 2006 07:24 PM

Katie Graham must be spinning in her grave like a lathe.

Posted by: An Honest Journalist | January 15, 2006 07:25 PM

Like a lot of Americans, I suspect, I always had a fondness for the Washington Post based on its hard-hitting Watergate reporting. I can't remember all the times I read "All the President's Men." I was willing to give the Post the benefit of the doubt. No more. Ms. Howell's outright factually wrong statement about alleged Abramoff contibutions to Democrats is the last straw. This is the current standard of Post reporting? As others have noted, Katherine Graham must be spinning in her grave.

Ms. Howell's negligent or intentional conduct follows Bob Woodward's somewhat astonishing behaviour commenting for more than a year on the Plame affair, when in fact he had information relating to the situation. That at least explained Woodward's description of Patrick Fitzgerald as an out-of-control prosecutor. Scmuck.

The Post needs to clean house in a hurry. It's becoming the Washington Times Mark II.

Posted by: | January 15, 2006 07:29 PM

Ms Howell's otherwise solid piece is marred by the erroneous claim that Democrats received compaign contributions from Jack Abrahamoff (which she mentions twice in her article). The Washington Post must correct this substantive error without delay. The notion that Democrats were equal and willing particpants in Abrahamoff's corrupt shenanigans has absolutely no basis in fact and does not belong in a paper of the Post's reputation. If Ms Howell's meant to convey to readers that both parties received contributions from Abrahamoff clients, she should say so and inform readers of the relative amounts received by Dems and Republicans. What's more troubling, however, is that Ms Howell seems to be missing the thrust of the Abrahamoff story. The salient issue is not which members of Congress received incidental contributions from Abrahamoff clients, but 1) which members were deliberatly involved in the effort to bilk huge sums of money from Indian tribes, and 2) which ones were active players in the Abrahamoff-Norquist-Reed K-street project. This is the story readers need to hear.

Posted by: Jax | January 15, 2006 07:30 PM

Please identify the Democrats who received contributions from Abramoff. I have seen nothing about them in the Post and I do not believe they exist. If there are none, please admit it, print a retraction and move on.

Posted by: Denise | January 15, 2006 07:31 PM

Ms. Howell,

Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.

Posted by: Scooter | January 15, 2006 07:34 PM

Check this out: Abramoff Case Isn't A Bipartisan Scandal
January 12, 2006
Clarence Page
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-page0112.artjan12,0,4268086.story?coll=hc-headlines-oped

This reporter from the Hartford Courant seems to get it, so it is possible for there to be someone in the mainstream media who can understand campaign financing without regurgitating GOP talking point that the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan.
Please fire Post ombudsman Deborah Howell and please, please, hire someone who can understand the concept of fact-checking. And meanwhile, please review the Jan 8 CNN transcript of Howard Dean clarifying the nature of the REPUBLICAN Abramoff scandal for the befuddled Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...

BLITZER: What about Senator Byron Dorgan?

DEAN: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from Indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

BLITZER: Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, we got to leave it right there.

Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, always speaking out bluntly, candidly.

Posted by: Ananke | January 15, 2006 07:34 PM

The reason I'm ceasing reading the Washington Post can be explained in two words: Deborah Howell.

Posted by: goodnight and good luck | January 15, 2006 07:34 PM

How are we supposed to believe anything in the Washington Post when its own internal monitor prints lies about one of the major political scandals of our time?

What the hell is going on?

Posted by: Hank Essay | January 15, 2006 07:36 PM

The only source Ms. Howell can possibly have for saying both parties got Abramoff money is that some Democrats got Indian tribe money. This is like my being a victim of a con man, then later giving money to a politician who seeks to put the con man in jail. By her logic, the con man and the politician are in cahoots.

I guess her reform would be that anyone who was a victim of a crime be barred from ever contributing to a politician.

Posted by: ArjunasBow | January 15, 2006 07:38 PM

I was willing to stick with the Post after the Woodward travesty, but even the Ombudsman and public editor can't be trusted to run factual news?! C'mon. One would hope that a major news organization would take seriously a climate in which more paid propagandists come to light each week. But sadly, the Post does not seem to put a premium on facts, rather on some misguided notion that 'balanced' reporting means never pointing to dishonesty by a Republican without alleging it by a Democrat.

I don't want to believe that Deborah Howell is being paid by the RNC to publish talking points, but what other conclusion can I come to? The RNC and whitehouse have paid high-level columnists, pundits, and think-tankers elsewhere and Howell's work looks very much like theirs.

It is now up to the Post to demonstrate that they are in fact independent and committed to factual and unbiased reporting. How and when will you do this?

Posted by: polychrome | January 15, 2006 07:38 PM

Gee, Ms. Howell: Taking some flak today.

Clearly you are confused about the 4 'w's of journalism. Here is a hint they are not 'whitewash' 'withhold' 'wishy washy' 'whitehouse'.

How about not spouting GOP talking points and try something of which you have probably heard: OBJECTIVITY.

Now, I know this wil not lead to that big job over at FOX you want to get but it might help you sleep at night without the aid of Ambien.

Posted by: stuioc | January 15, 2006 07:39 PM

Public Editor? Just what does that mean? I guess it wouldn't refer to the Native Americans whose money Jack Abramoff gleefully took or to readers concerned that the Post, in an effort to avoid cocktail party snubs, continue to try and paint this as anything other than >. Just because tribes donated to Abramoff does not mean that they were attempting to buy any favors. If Ms. Howell knows otherwise she needs to level with her readership. The Washington Post has a prominent role in the US media world and it's being made a laughing stock when even the public editor can only parrot GOP talking points. Oh yeah...and then there's that Woodward guy....

Posted by: t cooper | January 15, 2006 07:39 PM

Issue a retraction, fire Howells, and get back to being a real newspaper.

Posted by: MS | January 15, 2006 07:42 PM

"Q: Who is Ms. Howell dining with these days?"

And how many comped meals at Signatures did she consume?

Posted by: Jacques Pepin | January 15, 2006 07:43 PM

I believe Ms. Howell to most upright and non-partisan, just like the love of my life, Ann Altmouse (http://altmouse.blogspot.com/). I just wish this blog had a preview so I could engage in some self-reflection.

Posted by: NTodd | January 15, 2006 07:46 PM

Looks like a few people have weighed in before me but I'll add my two cents anyway. An ombudsman is supposed to oversee the integrity of his or her paper, not detract from it. For Deborah Howell to include flat out lies in any article that her paper publishes precludes her from holding a job in the news industry. For whatever reason a GOP wishlist talking point, that BOTH republicans and democrats took Abramoff money, was printed in your paper. This is a huge lie, just as if Paul Begalla had been accused of giving money to both parties. Abramoff is a died in the wool Republican and hasn't given one cent of his own personal money to democrats. As for Indian clients of his, I live on an Indian reservation and I can assure you, there is not any surprise to me that Native American tribes gave to democrats. Just because they were clients of Abramoff doesn't preclude them from giving to democrats. In fact, I suspect that a vast majority of Native Americans are far more likely to give to democrats as evidenced by the yard signs I drive past every day during election season.

Fire Her!

Dean
Keshena, Wisconsin

Posted by: tw9ff | January 15, 2006 07:46 PM

Deborah Howell wrote in her article "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" that he "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

Is this true??? I do not think so.
Why would she make this mistake?
How could she be so uninformed?

Clearly, Ms. Howell has a political agenda here. Is there some payola going on over at the FORMERLY GREAT PAPER??

Howell ---- you are no journalist.

Posted by: formerGOPPER | January 15, 2006 07:47 PM

Ms. Howell, here's a story that can help explain things to you:

http://tinyurl.com/7qg3f

Took me less than a minute to find.

Posted by: An Honest Journalist | January 15, 2006 07:47 PM

"Be". I believe Ms Howell "to be". Or not to be. Aye, there's the rub, er the question, er somethin'...

Posted by: NTodd | January 15, 2006 07:47 PM

Aren't Ombudsmen Offices supposed to be aagenda-free?

Obviously, WaPo, yours is not. What a disappointment you guys are. You should can Deborah Howell for incompetence and issue a correction.

Posted by: Gy | January 15, 2006 07:47 PM

Howell needs to issue a retraction re her claim that Abramoff gave money to Democrats. Howell is not entitled to her own facts.

Posted by: Wolfie | January 15, 2006 07:49 PM

I am just curious. What are the Washington Post's standards for accuracy and how are these standards applied to the public editor? Or, is this position exempt from such standards?

Posted by: pjb | January 15, 2006 07:49 PM

Is Ms. Howell incapable of doing even the most shallow fact-checking? Was there any research put into this story or did she just refer to Ken Mehlman's "fact" sheet?

Why would you allow such shoddy work to taint your product?

Is this truly the sort of negligent reporting that you want your paper associated with?

Posted by: jbeck | January 15, 2006 07:50 PM

Why are you people going after Deborah Howell so relentlessly? Sounds like Democratic talking points to me. Ok maybe she's a little compromised, but balance that against a consummate professional like Howie Kurtz, who swift-boated, I mean exposed, John Murtha. He had the goods through a conservative web site, why the big deal about that site being a Republican stalking horse, about how the 'sources' are dead or incapacitated? Let's put things in perspective.
.

Posted by: MikeB | January 15, 2006 07:50 PM

"The fish rots from the head"

Posted by: An Honest Journalist | January 15, 2006 07:52 PM

Not only am I not ever buying the WaPo again, I am gonna go to the newstand everymorning and distroy the copies there in order to help stop the stream of LIES, MISINFORMATION, and UNAMERICAN spew that has come to characterize this paper.

No wonder you circulation is going down as fast as DARTH CHENEY's . . .

Posted by: theghostofabbiehoffman | January 15, 2006 07:52 PM

Katherine Graham is spinning in her grave. Shame on the post. Shame on Ms. Howell

Posted by: A Patriot | January 15, 2006 07:54 PM

In regards to the erroneous information printed in the public editor's column today re: Abramoff donating to democcrats: I am not comfortable accusing Ms. Howell of purposely misleading her readers or of being a schill for the GOP. However, it is very distressing that after several democratic leaders have come forward and tried to correct the misinformation somehow Ms. Howell still managed to repeat it. In times like these, when spin-free political news and information is so difficult to come by, it is imperitive that any person or organization that wishes to retain credibility scrupulously check facts before going to press. Not a single democrat has taken any money from Abramoff, and as many others have pointed out, there is an obvious difference between taking money from Abramoff and taking money from his victims. Campaign finance, lobbying, and political fundraising are complicated and confusing issues for the public. For this reason, it is important that your reporting be as accurate as possible so as to avoid confusing your readers and to avoid the appearance of bias. I am hopeful that in the coming days the Post will print a correction and perhaps even an educational article about fundraising and the K Street Project that will help the public understand what this story is all about.

Posted by: Shannon Thomas | January 15, 2006 07:56 PM

Where does Deborah Howell pull the info that Abramoff gave money to the Deomocrats? Oh I forgot, the daily GOP talking points as all good little Republican operatives.

POST-clean up the trash.

Posted by: Ara | January 15, 2006 07:57 PM

I believe Ms. Howell to most upright and non-partisan, just like the love of my life, Ann Altmouse (http://altmouse.blogspot.com/). I just wish this blog had a preview so I could engage in some self-reflection.

Posted by: NTodd | Jan 15, 2006 7:46:32 PM | Permalink


Heh indeedy!

Posted by: rorschach | January 15, 2006 07:58 PM

The Washington Post needs to fully explain how an outright lie was printed in the Public Editors column and needs to hire a Public Editor that has the public's trust.

Posted by: Ted | January 15, 2006 07:58 PM

Deborah Howell coverage of the 'bipartisan' Abramoff payments is news at its best.

Story idea for Ms. Howell: why not expose that chickenhawk Jack Murtha for the coward he is. I heard he stole his Purple Hearts from George Bush.

Posted by: Howell fan!!! | January 15, 2006 07:59 PM

Can't wait for Froomkin to return so we can actually have an ombudsman here at WP. Hell, I'll even take Howie's column over Howell's latest GOP-fed apologia.

Posted by: vienna local | January 15, 2006 07:59 PM

Where did Ms Howell get her information that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff?
From Ahmad Chalabi?
From a guy in the distance, poking around in the sand, showing the MetAlpha unit where evidence of Jack Abramoff's supposed donations to Democrats are buried?
Looks like the NY Times isn't the only newspaper that needs to rein in its employees.

Posted by: R Swezey | January 15, 2006 08:00 PM

Story idea for Ms. Howell:

I understand there are people saying that man was descended from monkeys! You should get right on that and straighten them out!

Posted by: An Honest Journalist | January 15, 2006 08:01 PM

The Post has hugely disgraced itself with this one.

Posted by: Susan Sharp | January 15, 2006 08:02 PM

Mrs. Howell is making the world worse.

Posted by: K8 | January 15, 2006 08:03 PM

Why should the Washington Post pay an ombudsman to pimp GOP talking points when the GOP will no doubt provide the Post with an ombudsman who will do its dirty work free of charge?

When the history books are written, Americans are going to marvel at the complicity of the media in this dark period of our history.

Shame on you, Deborah Howell.

Shame on you, Washington Post.

Posted by: N.M. | January 15, 2006 08:04 PM

I think Debrah is being nice. She should look again in her magic mirror. She did not look closely as she would have found that Jack gave money *only* to Democrats. All the evidence pointing to Republicans must be wrong as Libs control all the facts and the media.

God Bless America. Now off to my KKK meeting...

Posted by: HeyMan | January 15, 2006 08:04 PM

Please correct Deborah Howell's misrepresentation of the Abramoff scandal tomorrow, without fail. This is the largest corruption case in US history, and ALL facts available thus far CLEARLY indicate it is a REPUBLICAN scandal, not a bi-partisan scandal.

Deborah Howell's apparent predispostion to propagate Rebublican spin on this is absolutely deplorable.

Until, and unless, facts are uncovered that implicate Democrats, you have an obligation to your readers to report the truth in this matter.

The federal government has been almost completely taken over by criminals. There has never been a greater crisis in our history.

WAKE UP AND START REPORTING AS IF THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY WERE AT STAKE!!!!!

Because it is.....

Posted by: Dave Duff | January 15, 2006 08:05 PM

A simple retraction will not suffice. The Washington Post needs to take swift and decisive action to demonstrate that it is still (even after the Woodward debacle and in spite of Kurtz) an independent and reliable news source. It would be dishonest to publish misinformation like this and then publish a one-line errata at the bottom of a page several days later. That does not even things out.

First correct this eggregious error with a full-length piece. Then please open an investigation into why the office of the ombudsman has apparently been compromised and visibly reassure us your readership that this will not happen again.

Posted by: pughd | January 15, 2006 08:07 PM

Deborah Howell: A new reason to use the Post as a liner for my birdcage.

What are you guys thinking/doing? Your paper's reputation and, more importantly, our country's future, is at stake!

Wake up WaPo!!

Posted by: Cookie Monster | January 15, 2006 08:07 PM

Spreading the Murtha smear shows bad judgment and illustrates how the media allows itself to be manipulated. However, botching the Abramoff story at this point is completely inexcusable. It's been several weeks, there is no excuse for getting things WRONG.

Posted by: Matt G | January 15, 2006 08:07 PM

If Deborah Howell is just going to serve the Republican Party by spouting out-and-out lies, please put a disclaimer on everything she writes.
I don't say this about a lot of things, but that Abramoff piece SUCKED.

Posted by: Frankie Machine | January 15, 2006 08:08 PM

Has Deborah Howell received any money from Jack Abramoff?

Posted by: Alvord | January 15, 2006 08:09 PM

Retract.
Correct.
Fire.
Hire anew.

Posted by: west coast loyal reader | January 15, 2006 08:10 PM

According to tangible evidence,Abramoff has not given monies to Democrats. Is Deborah Howell implying that Mr Abramoff has lied to the FEC? If so,who/what are her sources? She should be called in as a witness at the trial.

Posted by: Aw Shucks | January 15, 2006 08:10 PM

Ms. Howell needs to be fired. She is not fair nor correct in exercising her duties. From Michigan

Posted by: | January 15, 2006 08:10 PM

considering the poisonous nature of Deborah Howell's deliberate misinformation, please do NOT use the WaPo as a liner for the domiciles of your feathered friends...

Posted by: American Ornithological Society | January 15, 2006 08:10 PM

I want to add my two cents on the Howell screw up - combined with the recent "Swift-boating" of Jack Murtha by Howie Kurtz, this just shows that the Post is now nothing more than a shill for Ken Melhman's GOP and the Bush White House. While I doubt that Ms Howell will have the courage to retract her error, perhaps Len Downie could do a Times-like mea culpa and set the record straight.

Posted by: LGibbs | January 15, 2006 08:11 PM

It's good to see that all of the journalistic integrity built up by Pravda over all of those years in the USSR has been preserved and honored by these GOP-worshipping fact-free writers.

Of course, if you want a reality-based press, you're out of luck.

Posted by: beemer | January 15, 2006 08:11 PM

Using WaPo reporting techniques, it's easier to conclude that Ms. Howell received money from the Republican Party than that the Democrats received money from Indian tribes at the direction of Mr. Abramoff.

Much easier.

Posted by: A proud Democrat | January 15, 2006 08:12 PM

It is too bad that Ms. Howell -- alleged representing reader interests, is able to only represent the interests of the Republican Party.

She should go here:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arVHles5cKJc&refer=us#

That's 10 seconds on the internet Debbie!

I look forward to your next piece...

"How Iraq really did attack the United States on 9/11"

What a disgusting display of partisanship and incompetence. The first two things you can expect from the Bush Administration, but the two last things you expect from a public editor.


Resign Ms. Howell, resign in shame.

Posted by: Attaturk | January 15, 2006 08:12 PM

It is quite clear from Howell's coverage that the only criticism she finds to have any merit is that which has originated from right-wing think tanks or former employees of Bush's re-election campaign. Any comments I have sent about legitimate concern I have about WP coverage has been responded to with dismissive sarcasm. From her responses to MediaMatters, I see this tone extends to any non-Republican outlet.

Just once, I would like to see Howell show that she does indeed represent her readers who do not happen to work inside the Beltway on bahalf of the current administration. If you are not a water carrier for this administration, Howell makes it quite clear that she sees her paper's duty as being the print equivelant of FOX News. Disappointing when after the fall of the NYT's, some of us have turned to the WP in the hopes of seeing journalism return to Washington. That is not possible so long as Howell is on the job, cracking teh whip for the conservative pundits she so desperately wants to please.

Posted by: Dylan Otto Krider | January 15, 2006 08:13 PM

I have read the Post off and on since 1972, when my sister moved to the DC area.

It's extremely disappointing to read about the treatment by Mr. Harris of Mr. Froomkin, to read the endorsement of Judge Alito's confirmation (despite your repeated assurances that you, too disagree with his politics), and now to read that your ombudsman states, contrary to the facts, that Mr. Abramoff has donated equally (or indeed, at all) to the Democrats as well as the Republicans.

I do not ask that the Post share my politics. I do ask that the Post print facts. If you want to endorse Judge Alito, that's your business; ditto your shabby treatment of your own blogger.

Ms. Howell's bald statements which are simply false is too much.

Posted by: David Derbes | January 15, 2006 08:13 PM

Is Ms. Howell one of Abramoff's paid "journalists?" If not, then does she have some insider information regarding Abramoff donations to Democrats? Because no one else seems to be privy to this info. Of course, that's because her claim is untrue, a lie. Is your paper in the habit of employing journalists who either lie, or do not have the necessary skills to do background research? That was a rhetorical question - don't bother answering.

Posted by: troqua | January 15, 2006 08:15 PM

Is this really the way WaPo wants
to crash and burn?
Not speaking truth to power, but
telling lies to their readers?
Is it really worth the tax breaks you
are promised from the GOP?
Is it really worth the access to
lies directly from the Bush administration?
You can get those lies from Fox any day of
the week.

Posted by: afterthought | January 15, 2006 08:15 PM

Is Ms. Howell one of Abramoff's paid "journalists?" If not, then does she have some insider information regarding Abramoff donations to Democrats? Because no one else seems to be privy to this info. Of course, that's because her claim is untrue, a lie. Is your paper in the habit of employing journalists who either lie, or do not have the necessary skills to do background research? That was a rhetorical question - don't bother answering.

Posted by: troqua | January 15, 2006 08:16 PM

I've read Debra Howell's ombudsman articles and, whoa, I don't think we have the same idea of fair play.

However, since keeping the GOP machine happy is an ongoing part of the Post's political coverage, I trust that it's an official part of management's business strategy. So, while I scan the Post now and again, I don't bother buying it anymore. I'm not mad at the Post for being part of the ruling machine but I don't want to support that kind of behavior. There are--a few--other, better, sources of news.

Posted by: numbertwopencil | January 15, 2006 08:18 PM

the Washington Post needs a meta-ombudsman.

Posted by: Carlos | January 15, 2006 08:19 PM

Help! Help! Aarggghhhhhhhh

Posted by: Your Reputation | January 15, 2006 08:20 PM

Please remove Deborah Howell from her position as Ombudsman from the Washington Post: she does not have the integrity to warrant remaining in the position.
Thank you.

Posted by: pzykr | January 15, 2006 08:20 PM

Dear Deborah Howell,

It's not a lie if you believe it, right?

Resign NOW.

Posted by: G. Costanza | January 15, 2006 08:21 PM

I was not aware that the purpose of the Washington Post was to print the GOP-contrived lies that the Washington Times is reluctant to. Thanks for pointing this out
Miss Howell.

P.S. We await the list of donations from Jack Abramoff to Democratic candidates.

Posted by: Justin Willow | January 15, 2006 08:21 PM

Wow. I cannot believe that a paper with as much respect (though much is now lost) as the Washington Post could print something so completely...untrue.

You can find the real facts on this with 10 minutes of work; surely if I can do so with a dial up internet connection, someone at the Washington Post can do so.

Journalism 101. Retake it, please.

http://fbihop.blogspot.com

Posted by: LP | January 15, 2006 08:22 PM

Dear Washington Post:
I will do Ms. Howell's job for half of what she makes. You would be saving 50% on the same position.
How do you know I'd do a good job? Well, I couldn't do much worse.

Posted by: Frankie Machine | January 15, 2006 08:23 PM

Deborah Howell's comments on the Abrahamoff scandal and her implication that the Democrats are equally culpable as the Republicans are either the result of blatant ideological bias or an inability to grasp even the simplist of occurances. In either case, perhaps someone a little sharper/more honest should be found for this position. Over the last few years WAPO has been bleeding credibility - it is time to staunch the flow.

Posted by: Ed Eyre | January 15, 2006 08:24 PM

The founding fathers understood that a free and independent press is necessary to act as a watchdog to keep goverment honest. The job of the press is to speak truth to power. The Post seems to have abandoned this responsibility and now shills for the government, passing off falsehoods as truth and aiding and abetting the government in the very activities the press is expected to expose.

Shame on the Post. It is time to start cleaning up your act. You can start by cleaning up Ms. Howell and reporters such as Schmidt.

What have we come to?

Posted by: shargash | January 15, 2006 08:25 PM

I am so disappointed. Is fact checking no longer required at the WP?

Posted by: blue in texas | January 15, 2006 08:26 PM

It's a sad day when a person needs to turn to http://english.aljazeera.net over the Washington Post for accurate news coverage.

Posted by: jerry hill | January 15, 2006 08:27 PM

Just piling on here - The Post needs to make a very prominent correction to this.

And Ms. Howell should go. This is either gross incompetence or willfull cowtowing to Republicans. Either way, she needs to go.

Posted by: cranky | January 15, 2006 08:27 PM

I'm confused--Deborah Howell says Abramoff gave money to Democrats, but I've been reading very closely and there is not a shred of evidence to support this. Has she made a mistake? Will the Post please clear this up? Surely the "public editor"of a major or formerly major newspaper has an obligation to the facts?

Posted by: H.C. Carey | January 15, 2006 08:27 PM

I know what an ombudsman does, and so does the management at the Washington Post. Anyone else who knows the meaning of the word knows that Deborah Howell is not performing as an ombudsman anymore than is Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter.

In pushing her daily stream of unsubstantiated and opinionated statements as fact, Ms. Howell is operating in the same capacity as did Joseph Goebbels when he was Adolf Hitler's minister of disinformation.

In allowing Ms. Howell's screed to be published as if it were factual news rather than ideologically tainted opinion, The Washington Post might be pleasing its Republican handlers and advertisers, but it is also sacrificing its remaining credibility amongst those who know what the truth actually is.

Ms Howell might think that she is fooling people, but the people she thinks she's fooling are starting to see the Washington Post as a sinking ship, and as a newspaper having roughly the same kind of journalistic integrity as does the Washington Times or Fox Cable News.

Posted by: Ben | January 15, 2006 08:28 PM

Forget Howell. There's more truth at this site than she could ever hope to produce:

http://nocapital.blogspot.com/2006_01_08_nocapital_archive.html
#113720675152142094

Posted by: g-wad | January 15, 2006 08:28 PM

The idea that "balance" is achieved by giving truth and falsehood equal time is one that is gaining a worrisome currency in mainstream media.

Is it fear of losing circulation? Of antagonizing management that is fearful of alienating the largest possible audience? Of being Swift Boated?

If Deborah, Howard, Bob et al. roll over, it is no longer the Post.

Posted by: | January 15, 2006 08:28 PM

As a Maryland resident and a Washington Post subscriber, after the Bob Woodward Fiasco, Howard Kurtz swiftboating Congressman Murtha, and now a fact deficient Ombudswoman; unless the Post ceases being the GOP official news organ, one subscription is in clear jeopardy.

Posted by: Jim S | January 15, 2006 08:28 PM

What happend to the former great newspaper called the Washington Post? What happened? Do you not check your stories?
Please give us the facts, not GOP spin.

Posted by: Texas | January 15, 2006 08:29 PM

Dear Ms. Howell,

I spent a lot of time putting that computer and internet connection together, that isn't easy when all you have are coconuts. After all that effort I cannot believe that THIS tripe is the result.

In the future please confine yourself to making coconut cream pies.


Sincerely,

And the Rest

Posted by: The Professor | January 15, 2006 08:29 PM

Geez, guess all the rest of us missed one hell of a story--a Republican hack giving money to a Democrat. Somebody better alert the GOP.

Posted by: Editoress | January 15, 2006 08:29 PM

I look forward to Ms. Howell's memoirs. I'm sure they'll be rife with facts.

Posted by: watertiger | January 15, 2006 08:30 PM

To the Editors:

Could you please let us, your readers, know why Howie Kurtz reported the CNSNews unsubstantiated allegations about Jack Murtha, but never followed up on the National Enquirer's story regarding George W. Bush's drinking problem relapse?

The National Enquirer is a much more reliable and respected news source than Brent Bozell's CNSNews.

Posted by: Concerned Reader | January 15, 2006 08:31 PM

Dear Washington Post,

Did you learn nothing from the sad Judy Miller saga? Here's a definition of OMBUDSMAN: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman

Note whose "interests" are supposed to be represented by this title?

Now go hire a real one.

Posted by: CS | January 15, 2006 08:32 PM

This is why I stopped reading newspapers three years ago

Posted by: Ed Bennett | January 15, 2006 08:34 PM

A month ago I complained about Ms. Howell's disingenuous take on the emerging Froomkin fracas. At that time I criticized her judgement or lack thereof, hoping she would grow into the important job of Oumbudsman for one of the top two or three newspapers in the USA.

Her coverage in today's Washington Post of the relationship between Native Americans and Jack Abramoff is either unprofessional or purposefully confusing. Whichever of these may be the case, Howell has once again put a great newspaper in need of getting an oumbudsman for the oumbudsman.

Posted by: Philip Munger | January 15, 2006 08:35 PM

Abramoff gave money to Democrats? I didn't realize Ms. Howell was a comedy writer.

C'mon WaPo, get it right!

Posted by: mc | January 15, 2006 08:35 PM

Dear Wash. Post
"where there is no shame there is no honor".
Ms. Howell is not credible. Please, rethink her 1) job discription. 2) employement status.

Posted by: coriolanus | January 15, 2006 08:36 PM

You are staining yourself to do "balanced reporting" which always hurts the truth. Just go where a story takes and call a spade an spade. Sometimes you may hurt Democrates and sometimes you may hurt republicans. Stop stories like "while some democrats complain" or "on the otherhand republicans say". In Short have a spine and keep you Conscience clear (Harris, Howell etc)

Posted by: Detached Imaprtial Immigrant | January 15, 2006 08:37 PM

I expect a minimally competent ombudsman to exert a teensy bit of effort into discerning fact from fiction when obvious inaccuracies are exposed. As many have indicated, the FEC makes it simple for even the marginally computer-literate to determine the source and destination of campaign contributions.


Of course, if she is not merely incompetent but pursuing her own ideological agenda, then I take it all back.

Posted by: Tony Kiszewski | January 15, 2006 08:38 PM

I have subscribed to the Washington Post for the past three and a half years. Howell's column has never impressed me and her latest rubbish about how Democrats have received Abramoff money has led me to declare this: fire Deborah Howell in a fortnight or I shall cancel my subscription.

Posted by: brianmac | January 15, 2006 08:38 PM

We seem to have gone astray with this information at the very least. By looking at the argument at face value, it is easy to see why Dems are being tied to it. In this form, the postulation is that by mere mention of an opponent will ensnare them in the larger schism.

The facts of the case have not all come to light, but will soon. To refute any point or counterpoint by using party talking points, we lose credibility at face value by not being "original." One just has to review the recent revelations of persuasion in the administration during media events to hype and gain support for programs.

This is the most important tool in any persons box and as such, should be used with caution at times. By stripping the blinders off, one can see that Noam Chompsky was correct about many things, specifically issues that dealt with the public interest. Most of us have forgotten this or placed it by the wayside for some better method. His thesis still holds true today, that in order to get the public to go along with anything, you must sometimes manufacture consent. This is what is happening right now. The media outlets, by not addressing the very nature and gravity of these crimes, has chosen the course of accepting only choice talking points rather than a genuine discussion of the evidence.

Here is where Americans that are tired of our "elected" officials essentially stealing for the private good and not for the public good, need to listen carefully. The reason these news programs are still highly rated is that people that are upset still tune in to find out what "lies" are being told. They use this as an opportunity to get their points across and tie sometimes disengenious informtion to their opponents. Remember the sitcoms and newsprograms of the past, vaguely if at all. Ratings is the key to crushing your opponents and it works like a charm. Advise your allies allies and others to stop watching these lost programs in favor of programs that need ratings in order to become larger.

Also, one just has to look at how many times figures like Rush Lipbalm, Sean Insannity, Bill O'Really, Pat"Oh My God"Robertson, and Jerry"Show Me The Money"Falwell have been caught in outright lies and misinformation. As the old question goes, "How do you kill a snake," by cutting its head off.

Posted by: Chris | January 15, 2006 08:38 PM

As a graduate of the journalism school at The University of Texas, I'm stunned and ashamed to learn that Deborah Howell also attended j-school at UT. When I was there I certainly wasn't taught that this sort of blatant dishonesty, distortion and side-taking was journalism.

I'd roll out the old "at long last have no you sense of shame" quote from, but it's clear she doesn't.

Posted by: BobT | January 15, 2006 08:39 PM

Your good paper is losing credibility over this. Blogs are becoming to this era what TV was to Watergate. You do not report in an isolated environment where other sources do not exist. You have to start dealing in facts, something you actually have the resources to do. Please. We are better off being able to trust the Post.

Posted by: jh | January 15, 2006 08:41 PM

I've been working in print media all of my life. It's been harder for me to admit that fact in mixed company, thanks to irresponsible journalists like Ms. Howell.

Abramoff didn't give any money to Democrats. If she didn't know this, she has no business being an advocate of the WaPo readership. If she repeated this lie on purpose, she should be fired.

But you guys are too darn ignorant to do that, right? It might, you know, make your readers think you give a damn about them.

I wonder what happens to WaPo ad reps who screw up this often?

Posted by: pantagrapher | January 15, 2006 08:44 PM

You've had a number of ombudspersons over the years, some good, some so-so. This one is utterly incompetent. She doesn't respond to readers; she simply praises the Post no matter what it does. She can't read, either, or she wouldn't replace the reporters' actual comments with Republican talking points. Don't make us put up with this for two years; fire her now. Even the egregious Daniel Okrent, the self-congratulating former "public editor" of the New York Times, would be an improvement.

Posted by: Paul Bickart | January 15, 2006 08:45 PM

Even if some democrats had taken some money from abramoff and were in it up to their eyeballs, which there aren't, it still wouldn't excuse republican involvement in this co-opting of our democracy and the privatization of congress. Maybe you should reasses your position in this or you might get dragged down with the ship. Maybe that's why you have chosen to join the republican wurlitzer. Oh, now I get it.

Posted by: mark1 | January 15, 2006 08:45 PM

Folks are saying Moon has been buying up the WP's stock for several years.

I guess it is true.

So much for democracy. It was fun.

Posted by: Benton | January 15, 2006 08:45 PM

See Jack, see who Jack contributes to:
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/washington-post-ombudsman-repeats-lie.html

See Howell, see Howell move to the Washington Times....

Posted by: Steve J. | January 15, 2006 08:45 PM

There is no excuse for the lies promulgated on your pages about the Abramoff scandal by no less than a public editor, especially when the facts are so easily found. I cannot understand why Ms. Howell doesn't understand what her role is at the paper, and why she continues to be employed since she is such a disatrous ombudsman. Facts often favor one side over another, and the job of a newspaper is to deal with facts, whether reporting on them, commenting on them, or explaining them. Not ignoring them, to either serve their own access issues or not to appear too "partisan". I have been disgusted by what I read, and hope you address it by either reassigment or by terminating Ms. Howell's employment.

Posted by: mndean | January 15, 2006 08:46 PM

Please note that the above comments are not coming from political operatives but from the public. Printing false information poisons the relationship a paper has with its readers and that is clearly what is happening here. Please, we just want our journalism to be factual and not factualistic.

You can do better.

Posted by: Steph | January 15, 2006 08:46 PM

Ms. Howell:

I did write to you in protest yesterday regarding your misrepresentation of the facts in the Abramoff case, but I suppose that your inbox is rather too full to attend to it personally.
I can only hope that the firestorm of indignation that you have called down upon your head will chasten you to remember the Dragnet admonition: "All I want is the facts, Ma'am."

Posted by: notjonathon | January 15, 2006 08:48 PM

Where were you when I needed you? Oh, well. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Richard M. Nixon | January 15, 2006 08:49 PM

You all are digging your own graves with employees like Howell. Newsprint is Dead, and her "reporting" proves it. Your readers have the world at their fingertips - if you can't insist that your employees gather facts better and more coherently than the average Internet(s) user, halt the presses and just turn off the friggin' lights. It's over.

Posted by: cas | January 15, 2006 08:49 PM

Despite--or perhaps because--of the degree of rage and intensity in these responses, as well as their number, you can see how important it is for people to have a landmark news organization such as the Post live up to its reputation of truth and courage.

This eventually boils down--as it always does--to the individuals, and their unwillingness to be cowed by the usual and unusual forces acting upon them.

The time requires truth. The Post has told it. Do not give up this necessary and dwindling quantity.

Posted by: | January 15, 2006 08:50 PM

Wow, when Daniel Okrent can give you lessons in ombudsmanship you know you have hit rock frickin' bottom.

Posted by: Night of the Lepus | January 15, 2006 08:50 PM

Deborah Howell has lost all credibility as the Post's Omsbudsman as a result of her repeated authoring of erroneous (but easily fact-checked to determine its inaccuracy) material. As demonstrated by the numerous posts on this site documenting her various misdeeds and mistakes, these errors can and should not be tolerated; she should be dismissed immediately.

Posted by: Tom Hyland | January 15, 2006 08:52 PM

Blatant bias. Though I often admire your paper's political reporting, I find that Deborah Howell's Abramoff writings are not journalism, they are spin, fabrication and frankly lies.

The WP would do well to guard its reputation and integrity by letting go such a rank partisan so she can work openly for her cause--on K Street, perhaps.

Posted by: paris reader | January 15, 2006 08:53 PM

Mrs Howell:
Are you now or will you ever become an acitve member of ONO, the Organisation of News Ombudsmen? Yes, your paper is listed as an ONO participant, but I'm not sure how actively you yourself participate. Perhaps only the "first generation" ombudsman at WaPo was concerned with the "ethical standards and professionalism" ONO is dedicated to? Perhaps you need a mentor, which I'm sure ONO would be honoured to help you find? Please, you have confused the role of writing letters to the editor with that of being "the reader's representative" at your newspaper, so do get professinal help. You are not supposed to present your personal view, Mrs Howell, you are supposed to be dedicated to fighting bias. See to it, madam.

Posted by: Nina | January 15, 2006 08:54 PM

So much for the theory that they'd be easier on a woman, eh?

We've seen all the republican talking points. And if it turns out that some Dems are as guilty as the republicans, so be it. I'm sick of this.

Deborah, you have some facts (so far) at your disposal. There will be more. Why don't you use them, instead of making baseless accusations? People would have a lot more respect for you.

All of you.

We can handle the truth.

Posted by: Denise | January 15, 2006 08:58 PM

Would you please fire DEBrah?

Posted by: Ô¿Ô | January 15, 2006 08:59 PM

"It's OPPOSITE DAY!

Posted by: Calvin | January 15, 2006 09:01 PM

Where are the Post's editors on this? Do they even care?

Call the Washington Post tomorrow, on Martin Luther King Jr. day:

202-334-7582

Posted by: Mr. Elmo | January 15, 2006 09:02 PM

Deborah Howell has done a terrible job on the Abramoff scandal. Did she actually study the facts or did she just call a bunch of Repuglicans and report what they told her?

Howell should issue a retraction and report the facts, or she should resign immediately.

Posted by: mokawanis | January 15, 2006 09:07 PM

The whole world is laughing at the WaPo.
God

Posted by: God | January 15, 2006 09:08 PM

I cannot understand why Deborah Howell continues to try to protect all the Republicans who took bribes from Jack Abramoff when Abramoff himself has conceded his guilt. Just who is she trying to protect?

Posted by: purvis ames | January 15, 2006 09:10 PM

I'm going to help out Ms. Howell with some advice from a colleague of hers, former NYT ombudsman, Daniel Okrent:
"The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true."

That Okrent's Law and Howell would do well to learn it. And, rather than fire her, why not hire her an assistant, whose only job will be to repeat that axiom to her after every phone call, meeting, email, text message, snail mail, singing telegram that Howell receives from the RNC and its various mouthpieces.

Posted by: eRobin | January 15, 2006 09:10 PM

You, The Washington Post, have one-week to fire DH(designated hitter for the GOP). If you do not, I will do for you what I did to the NYT because of the Judith Miller scandal, it's unscribe button time for The Post.

Posted by: Mark | January 15, 2006 09:11 PM

Sad. So very very sad.

Bob Woodward must be rolling in his grave.

No, wait...

Posted by: nobody | January 15, 2006 09:14 PM

As a newspaper, do you assume any responsibility for printing the truth?

Or are you happy to serve as a vehicle to propogate lies?

Really, which one is it?

If you are interested in truth, fire Howell now.

Or keep her, and be known as a lie promoter.

Posted by: Disgusted American | January 15, 2006 09:18 PM

Dear Ms. Howell,

It appears as though you are somewhat confused as to the definition and job of an Ombudsman:

"an official appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against maladministration, esp. that of public authorities."

Your job is to be an advocate for the READERS not the GOP within your organization.

Just trying to help.

Posted by: Simp | January 15, 2006 09:20 PM

I also would like to register my complete disgust at Deborah Howell and the WaPo for dishonestly peddling nasty (and easily debunked) lies for their GOP pay-masters.

If the Washington Post wishes to retain any of their past credibility, they will immediately issue a well-publicized retraction and fire Ms. Howell.

Posted by: mike bell | January 15, 2006 09:26 PM

Great quote, Michigander.

These people are enabling the decline of America.

What's so bad about TRUTH, Ms. Howell?

You don't like the TRUTH, so you write something else?

You and your paper make me sick.

Posted by: Subscription Canceler | January 15, 2006 09:26 PM

Why haven't you fired Deborah Howell? Is there something in her contract that says you can't? What if we raised one million dollars? I think it might be worth it.

Posted by: LH | January 15, 2006 09:26 PM

Dear Deborah Howell: I know you were taught FACT CHECKING at the University of Texas journalism school. I went to that school 20 years later and I know I was taught fact checking. (Thankfully I changed programs and got a BA instead of a BJ.)

So why is your work so fact-free? I know your instructors didn't teach you that. Maybe you should think about retiring and starting a second career as that K Street lobbyist you so desperately want to be.

Posted by: UT Class of '84 | January 15, 2006 09:28 PM

Ms. Howell, is your contract with the GOP exclusive?

I have some BS I'd like to spread, and was wondering if I could hire you.

I don't have a lot of money, but, how can I say this delicately... you seem cheap.

Posted by: Just Wondering | January 15, 2006 09:28 PM

Just adding my voice to the chorus.

Correct and/or replace Ms. Howell. This is NOT a bipartisan scandal.

Posted by: Crusty Dem | January 15, 2006 09:29 PM

It's sad really. The Washington Post used to try to expose corruption by our nation's leaders. Now they just cover for them. Newspapers should have a commitment to the truth. Instead they are more interested in making sure that political operatives have equal time to present their talking points. The Post is now a joke -- I'm cancelling my subscription.

Posted by: Burns | January 15, 2006 09:32 PM

There is no published evidence that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats despite Deborah Howell's glib assertion to the contrary. Please publish her proof, or publish a retraction and dismiss Howell immediately for inexcusable irresponsibility. Then cancel my subscription.

Posted by: scwp1217 | January 15, 2006 09:32 PM

Hi,

About this whole Deborah Howell thing, gosh if bores me to tears. I never read the Post, after all. Washington is very very far from our West Coast here. I've long hoped for splitting off from the USA. I'm not willing to shed blood about it though. (Yes, I'm TRYING to bore you.) Anyway, then I saw Howell's photo posted on a blog, and I thought, gosh, that woman does not live in the same America I live in. That photo speaks volumes, hearkening back 50 years or more, to when high society was the only society.

Still, I'd just like to ask that the Post buy a good dictionary and then look up the meaning of the word ombudsman. The word was not exactly common currency in my social circles when I was growing up, but now that I know its meaning, I'm looking forward to the Post actually having one of these. We may have a chance of staying together as a country if we speak the same language.

Posted by: John Walsh | January 15, 2006 09:32 PM

I, too wonder, what is going on with the fact checking at the WaPo. No Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff. Not one. Yet this myth spun by GOP spinmeisters keeps getting by the so-called "gatekeepers" at the waPo.

Posted by: joe | January 15, 2006 09:33 PM

Deborah,

Please come work for me. The money is better than at the Post, and I've been looking for your kind of creativity for our Nostalgic Dioramas section.

Kind Regards,
Editor-in-Chief
Railroad Modeler News

Posted by: Railroad Modeler News | January 15, 2006 09:36 PM

The Washington Post appears not to care about its readers' opinions or the essential tenets of journalism. Our country is in a constitutional crisis as a result of distortions and lies, and we are facing a decision about the Supreme Court which may change the country for us and our children and our children's children in ways we cannot begin to imagine. I want nothing bu the truth about my elected leaders at this crucial time in our history and it deeply affects me when I lose a source if information to the illegal propaganda machine that Washington has become. I am a Democrat, but I want and expect that the Abramoff investigation will eventually determine who is implicated, involved and guilty of these crimes using our honored judicial system. If lawmakers have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear, no need to spin and no need to influence the media in thier favor. The facts that have been exposed thus far indicate clearly that Abramoff and Scanlon were working thier scam within the Republican Party and the FEC reporting bears this out. If Democrats were implicated by the facts, I would expect them to be treated the same as anyone else who commits a crime. But there is no evidence that Democrats have been involved and the obvious Republican influence on Howell and others to push this notion tells me that 1) Howell and others are happy to put thier careers on the line to please the Republican heavyweights, 2) The Washington Post is willing to lose subscribers, readers and (more) credibility by publishing articles which are partisan and inaccurate to please Republicans and get thier quid pro quo and 3) Republicans who have been implicated in this scandal and investigation, and the leaders of the Republican Party are very, very afraid of the who, what, where, when and how in the reports that Cunningham and possibly Abramoff were wired for many months before they all (including Scanlon) opted to cooperate to save themselves years in prison.

I agree with other commenters here that Howell does not serve as an ombudsman for the reader. It appears to me that she was likely hired specifically to push GOP talking points and blow on the fires of partisanship. This, to me is particularly egregious when our country faces such serious military, economic and human crises. She demonstrates a cynical and demeaning attitude toward readers when she offers lies in place of facts. I think, in light of the repeated offenses over the past 2 months, that she is a liability to the Washingotn Post and her employment should be seriously in jeopardy if the editors have any hope of retaining readers of discernment and quality. I think she owes Democrats and Indian Tribes not only a correction and retraction, but a personal apology for the libel and harm she has caused. Certainly both groups have grounds for suit, if they desired to pursue one.

zennurse
Gloucester, MA
I'm an RN and I vote.

Posted by: zennurse | January 15, 2006 09:42 PM

Its quite simple: Either produce evidence supporting your statement that abramoff gave money to democrats, or issue a retraction.

Posted by: derek g | January 15, 2006 09:43 PM

Good evening. In light of all these accusations about Ms. Howell, I think it would behoove her to open her financial records to the public. If she is receiving payments from Richard Mellon Scaife, Sun Myung Moon, or the White House, the readers deserve to know. And frankly, judging by all the reporters and commentators who are suddenly being discovered with under-the-table, quid pro quo financial arrangements with the White House and the GOP, perhaps everyone who writes for the Post should have their finances looked into. Is the Post willing to take that step to assure their readers they're not being fed lies and propaganda?

Posted by: Wally Whateley | January 15, 2006 09:46 PM

Re: Howell

>Its quite simple: Either produce evidence supporting your statement that abramoff gave money to democrats, or issue a retraction.<

Yeah, I'll second that. I'd third it, too, if I thought it would help.

Posted by: landreau | January 15, 2006 09:46 PM

> Please come work for me. The money is
> better than at the Post, and I've been
> looking for your kind of creativity for our
> Nostalgic Dioramas section.
>
> Kind Regards,
> Editor-in-Chief
> Railroad Modeler News

Clearly posted by someone who has never read a railroad modeling magazine; those guys will argue for 2 or 3 YEARS over the exact manufacturer of the _handrails_ on a 1962 locomotive. Accuracy and truth are their watchwords.

Unlike...

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | January 15, 2006 09:47 PM

Ombusman shouldn't be reporting stories, they should be reviewing them. Otherwise you end up with the watchers watching the watchers with no accountability to anyone.

Her reporting shows a political slant (Offense 1) with little fact checking (Offense 2) going off a PR release from one political party with little else (Offense 3). These are the sorts of things that Ombudsman should be stopping!

If it wasn't so disheartening to see the journalistic profession sink lower into the quagmire, it would be funny.

Posted by: Martin R. | January 15, 2006 09:51 PM


Ms. Howell did not research the story regarding Abramoff and his ties to the Republicans. It is almost impossible to believe that The Post permitted Ms. Howell to get the story oh so wrong.

WaPo, you need a public editor who has some familiarity with research and a commitment to the truth.

Posted by: Tab Khan | January 15, 2006 09:52 PM

I suggest you start labeling Ms. Howell's column "OPINION," otherwise someone might be misled into thinking it was fact-based.

Posted by: Former Reader | January 15, 2006 09:54 PM

Ms. Howell,

I will not bother to repeat all of the accurate posts regarding your false claim that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats. He did not, and I will limit myself to the following:

The fact that you are perpetuating the GOP spin that Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties would be troubling enough if you weren't operating in the public eye. The fact that you are allegedly the ombudsman for The Washington Post - supposedly one of the nation's leading sources of news - and perpetuating this falsehood is simply disgraceful on a number of levels.

Katherine Graham worked very hard for a long time to make The Post one of the most reliable and honest newspapers in the country. In the time it has taken you to use that paper's resources to shill for the Republican Party, you have continued the degradation of both its reputation and its credibility that began with its unfiltered support for the Bush administration's adventure in Iraq.

A retraction and a clarification are very definitely in order.

Posted by: PBI | January 15, 2006 09:55 PM

Truthiness, thy name is Deborah.

Posted by: Ceee | January 15, 2006 09:56 PM

Wow, I see that my sentiments are already displayed rather eloquently, and in great volume.

Sack Howell.

Posted by: Jason in Cambridge | January 15, 2006 09:56 PM

The reporting of the Washington Post can only be described as shoddy. These days, it takes very little to fact check your stories. There is something called the internet. Try it. It's very convenient
Abramoff's contributions here:
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/washington-post-ombudsman-repeats-lie.html

Posted by: Mike | January 15, 2006 09:58 PM

I hope the Post isn't paying Ms Howell a salary, because the Republicans sure are and that would be double dipping! Lets get back to the facts m'am, just the facts: The Republicers are in deep Sh#$ and lots of them are going to the pen. As the deserve!

Posted by: Jim Mac | January 15, 2006 10:02 PM

Wouldn't it be nice if, in the middle of a newspaper chock-full of unavoidable biases -- innocent and not-so -- a reader could absorb the Ombudsman's column in a trusting spirit, confident that at least the basic facts were accurately represented?

Yeah, that would be nice.

In the real world, however, Deborah Howell somehow slimed her way into the Ombudsman position.

And the one place in the paper you'd expect fairness is -- thanks to her -- a sewer of lies.

Posted by: Bottom Line | January 15, 2006 10:04 PM

I really miss Michael Getler.

Posted by: Moonlight | January 15, 2006 10:07 PM

When I subscribed, I could have sworn that I wanted the Washington POST - you know, that great newspaper of real journalism and fact-finding - but now, it appears that under Ms. Howell, I'm getting the Washington Times. Stop with the GOP lies and Washington high-society mingling and get down and dirty and do some real reporting. Don't like that? Then find another job elsewhere. Readers are getting sick of the pro-Bush, pro-administration schtick that is being published under the name of the "Post".

Posted by: A Fairfax Subscriber | January 15, 2006 10:09 PM

Howard Dean slapped down Wolf Blitzer recently on this one. He didn't cry because he's anestetized to pain by his daily lube job.
Would that he performs the same sensitive surgery on Howell.
Liberal media? Work towards better truthiness and I'll believe it too.

Posted by: CTheGee | January 15, 2006 10:09 PM

I would love to see where Deborah Howell gets her information regarding any contributions Abramoff gave to the Democrats. I have been over the FEC filings and every dollar went to Republicans and Republican PAC's. Did Democrats get donations from the tribes? Sure, Native Americans have donated to the Democratic Party for years. Did they sell their votes for these dollars like the Republicans did? No evidence I have seen says that they did.

Posted by: mcraig | January 15, 2006 10:11 PM

In general over the past five years: Washington Post, have you no shame?

Posted by: hamster | January 15, 2006 10:11 PM

As many people have already observed, the WaPo has more than once been happy to print Republican or administration claims whose falsity is a matter of public record. It makes one shudder to think of what the paper, or some of its reporters and writers anyway, are willing to say about matters where the facts are harder to ascertain and the evidence is a bit more complicated.

Posted by: J | January 15, 2006 10:11 PM

Fire Howell.

Posted by: mlr | January 15, 2006 10:12 PM

Hello angry American people! I know I speak for the rest of the world when I say no one gives a damn about your banana republic so please stop hogging the Internet with your infantile politics and intelligent design crap and lay off the nice lady Ms. Howell, right? It's not like someone else could help you better at this point anyway. We warned you to not to mess with the mooslemens. Did you listen? No. Hokay then.

Posted by: Smug Canadian | January 15, 2006 10:13 PM

Don't be a sap, Howell. Just give us one name: Is there one Democrat that got money from Jack Abramoff?

Just name one.

Good luck!

Posted by: Dan Williams | January 15, 2006 10:14 PM

YOU LIE

Posted by: THE HAWK | January 15, 2006 10:17 PM

How can Ms. Howell or any "journalist" distort facts such as Mr. Abramoff gave money to both Repuplicans and Democrats,when the FEC records clearly show this to be false. I knew this last week. This is very disturbing to read GOP spin,talking points,and lies from your ombudsman,how does this serve the public ?

Posted by: Wesley | January 15, 2006 10:17 PM

The editors and reporters of the Washington Post seem determined to follow the trail to fascism blazed by many erstwhile liberals and leftists in the first part of the 20th Century. Maybe you guys figure you'll do fascism better this time?

Posted by: Jim Harrison | January 15, 2006 10:19 PM

Loyal reader of post columns, disappointed at lack of factual knowledge shown by Howell. The citizens of this country depend on a free press for accurate information.

Posted by: kd | January 15, 2006 10:21 PM

I know, I know.

Despotism under Bush, Mussolini, Pol Pot, and Mao totally sucked.

But W is different.

I mean, he's a guy you'd like to have a beer with.

Trust me on this one.

Would I lie to you?

Posted by: Debby H | January 15, 2006 10:22 PM

OK, I'll pile on.

Deborah Howell should provide the name of one Democrat who has received money from Jack Abramoff.

If she cannot do so, she should issue a public retraction and apology.

Thank you.

Posted by: Russell | January 15, 2006 10:22 PM

The claim that Jack Abramoff "made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties" as quoted by your ombudsperson, Deborah Howell, is false, according to the information in the public domain; he contributed only to Republicans. Please correct this error, or have Ms. Howell provide the name(s) of the Democratic politician(s) to whom Mr. Abramoff made campaign contributions.

Thank you.

Posted by: Seamus in Brooklyn | January 15, 2006 10:22 PM

No retraction.

No apology.

This isn't about getting an address wrong in the Styles section.

This isn't about mixing up present and past spouses of some celebrity.

Our democracy, our nation, is at stake.

If the Post still takes its responsibility seriously, Howell will be fired.

And a prominent editorial will explain exactly why.

Posted by: Bostonian | January 15, 2006 10:25 PM

I'm not at all surprised that Ms. Howell passes on the Republican lies about Abramoff
giving money to Democrats. The editorial page of the Post has been channeling the Republican point of view for years. Ms. Howell is no doubt just doing as her paper wishes. The Republican Party is indeed blessed to have two Washington, DC papers peddling its point of view.

Posted by: Will | January 15, 2006 10:26 PM

The only think Ms. Howell's article makes perfectly clear is that payoffs at the Washington Post must be easy to arrange, given the paper's geographic proximity to K Street and the Abramoff money machine.

Posted by: Shemp | January 15, 2006 10:26 PM

So the whole WaPo is going the way of one of its once illustrious reporters, and letting the White House pull the strings?

Heh! No liberal bias at the WaPo, by golly!

Posted by: Bob | January 15, 2006 10:31 PM

Back up your statement or retract and appologize. Deborah Howell, have you no
pride in your work?

Posted by: Jan Walker | January 15, 2006 10:31 PM

Dear Washington Post:

Don't look now but your fourth estate is crumbling. Badly. Makes me have to ask: Just how bad are the naked photos the White House has of you all?

Posted by: Mme. Cri de Guerre | January 15, 2006 10:31 PM

Some of the comments here are rather angry. The Abramoff scandal has inflamed many passions and demands accurate coverage. Clearly Abramoff was a large republican operative, and the scandal is primarily a republican one- to try to pretend otherwise is dishonest. This is the second time in as many month that Debra Howell has been caught covering for republican transgressions.

It is time for her to be reassigned to a position in which she can be either nakedly partisan by her own declaration, or where she can do much less damage to the paper of record. Its time for the Post to grow some blass and take on the legislature and the adminstration for the many crimes the have committed and continue to commit in the absence of direct and continuous public scrutiny. If the Post envisions itself as the primary paper portal for clothing advertisements for the residents of Washington DC than it is on the right track. If it is attempting to be paper of record of for the nation it is failing terribly.

The nation has a need for a NEWSPAPER. If the Post will not fill its roll it will be replaces by those who wish to do this job. Many are doing it for free currently in the blogsphere, largely because the Post and the NY Times and others have been MIA for the last 6 years. Change or be replaced.

Posted by: patience | January 15, 2006 10:33 PM

I'm sorry but Ms. Howell's analysis seems to consist only of Republican talking points without much substance. This not serve the Post or its readers.

Posted by: Justin | January 15, 2006 10:34 PM

Howell has fianlly done it...aided and abetted the wapo's effort to become "The Washington PrePosterous." Does anyone there do any real work besides running a transcription service for the WH, the RNC and the Heritage Fdn?

Posted by: Karl W | January 15, 2006 10:35 PM

"I never knew a (wo)man could tell so many lies
(S)he had a different story for every set of eyes
How can (s)he remember who (s)he's talking to
'Cos I know it ain't me
And I hope it isn't you..."

Posted by: Neil Young | January 15, 2006 10:35 PM

Are we to believe this is the same newspaper that uncovered so many facts re: Watergate? Is Ms. Howell subjected to the same strict WAPO editorial controls as were Messrs. Woodward and Bernstein during the early 1970s?

Posted by: Thomas M. | January 15, 2006 10:36 PM

erm, uh...
megadittos.

Posted by: mario | January 15, 2006 10:39 PM

Remember the guy that the Bush administration planted at PBS (PUBLIC broadcasting ferGodssake)? Ms Howell is another one of those plants and they're carefully placing operatives like her at hundreds or thousands of newspapers and TV networks all over the world to make sure the truth is never known.

Ms Howell, whether the GOP and the Bush Administration are paying you or holding some indiscretion over your head or have taken your mother hostage, you are working for them and not the fourth estate. You know it, we know it, and everyone will soon know it.

God, it's such an overused term, but necessary because it's so accurate - ORWELLIAN!

Posted by: ex post reader | January 15, 2006 10:39 PM

I see that the Post has found a way to balance Mr. Froomkin's inconveniently "liberal" realities.

Unfortunately, even more people think Ms. Howell is associated with the Washington bureau, which is unfortunate, because she's clearly extremely sympathetic to the interests of the party in power, no matter what the truth of the story, and she doesn't support her ideologically slanted pronouncements with facts.

I presume Mr. Harris will shortly be campaigning to balance her work with that of a non-ideological ombudsman?

Well, no, I guess I don't presume that, since I'm guessing the friends he cited in the Froomkin mishegas are pretty happy with Ms. Howell.

It must be discouraging to be so very faithful to a political party which has such terrific contempt for you.

Posted by: Julia | January 15, 2006 10:41 PM

Ms Howell,

I will not waste too much of my time writing a diatribe on your erroneous and unsubstantiated slur against the Democrats this morning. But I did want to add my voice to those who bothered to write that when one is given much, much is expected. If you are given a pulpit, then why not preach the truth?

Posted by: DWD | January 15, 2006 10:41 PM

If someone there gets the message that professional misconduct gets noticed by the eveil bloggers and their (literally) millions of readers, perhaps there will be a return to at least a pretense of independence. It's bad enough that Robert Scheer was booted out of the L.A. Times and that neither CNN nor Faux can find an actual liberal-- Greg Palast and Amy Goodman would do-- to counter the raging racists and religous True Believers normally brought in as objective analysts of Beloved Leader's maladministration.

And maybe now the above-the-law fraud has gone Below 40% in a national poll, perhaps even Howell and Woodward will join the reality-based community and stop resisting its reason-based rhetoric.

Posted by: Tomm | January 15, 2006 10:42 PM

Why is the Post wasting money on an ombudsman who is is so uninformed about current events that she doesn't know 100% of Abramoff's dirty money went to Republicans?

A few minutes at the FEC website is all it takes to no longer be horribly ignorant.

Pathetic.

Posted by: George Kaplan | January 15, 2006 10:42 PM

Ms. Howell's highly detrimental effect on the credibility of the Washington Post requires her termination.

Posted by: A Non-Partisan Shareholder | January 15, 2006 10:43 PM

Deborah Howell does the Washington Post and the American people a disservice when she claims that the Abramoff scandal involves democrats.
This scandal is purely republican and they are the ones that should be held accountable.
Shame on the Washington Post for not vetting what Ms Howell writes. If I wanted to read the Washington Times I would have went to their website.
Please vet your writers before allowing them to be so dishonest with the facts.

Posted by: Dr Smith | January 15, 2006 10:45 PM

Hey Deb!
Your wrote:
"So far, Schmidt and Grimaldi say their reporting on the investigations hasn't put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated.
But stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."

If you need any help with this, contact Marc Morano at CNSNews

Posted by: Ken M | January 15, 2006 10:45 PM

I suggest you change Deborah's title to RNC Talking Points as that's all they are. Is there an editor at the Washington Post any more? It's not hard to figure out what the facts are. Two seconds on Google will get you all of the people to whom Abramoff gave money - NONE are Democrats!

It's really not hard and it's supposed to be her job, I think. If the Post doesn't wants to be considered a "serious" newspaper (and not the Washington Times), I suggest they get a REAL ombudsman like Byron Calame of the NY Times. You know, someone who LISTENS to the complaints of their readers and tries to get to the TRUTH!!!!

Posted by: MikeinDC | January 15, 2006 10:46 PM

Ditto ALL of the above regarding Ms. Howell's erroneous and biased so-called reporting.

Posted by: Susan | January 15, 2006 10:46 PM

If someone there gets the message that professional misconduct gets noticed by the eveil bloggers and their (literally) millions of readers, perhaps there will be a return to at least a pretense of independence. It's bad enough that Robert Scheer was booted out of the L.A. Times and that neither CNN nor Faux can find an actual liberal-- Greg Palast and Amy Goodman would do-- to counter the raging racists and religous True Believers normally brought in as objective analysts of Beloved Leader's maladministration.

And maybe now the above-the-law fraud has gone Below 40% in a national poll, perhaps even Howell and Woodward will join the reality-based community and stop resisting its reason-based rhetoric.

Posted by: Tomm | January 15, 2006 10:47 PM

If someone there gets the message that professional misconduct gets noticed by the eveil bloggers and their (literally) millions of readers, perhaps there will be a return to at least a pretense of independence. It's bad enough that Robert Scheer was booted out of the L.A. Times and that neither CNN nor Faux can find an actual liberal-- Greg Palast and Amy Goodman would do-- to counter the raging racists and religous True Believers normally brought in as objective analysts of Beloved Leader's maladministration.

And maybe now the above-the-law fraud has gone Below 40% in a national poll, perhaps even Howell and Woodward will join the reality-based community and stop resisting its reason-based rhetoric.

Posted by: Tomm | January 15, 2006 10:48 PM

Is Ms. Howell's understanding of the role of an ombudsman the first sign of a merger between the WaPo and the Moonie Times?

Posted by: Paul R | January 15, 2006 10:51 PM

> In fact, her column could have been written
> by Scott McClellan.
>
> So tell us why she's working at the Post?

Modern "journalism" depends on sources. Rover and Co have totally and utterly clamped down on sources, to an extent never seen before, and they severely punish anyone who gets crosswise with them. The WaPo thinks that there are 3 full years of the W Administration before there is any possibility of change, and they might also be thinking that Jeb or Romney if elected would keep the same team of enforcers on board.

I strongly suspect that something happened about 5 months ago, and I further suspect what happened was that the powers that control the WaPo were told to get in line or they would be severely punished: no access. No stories. No calls. Nothing, from anyone in the Administration high or low. And oh yeah: no key cocktail party invitations for WaPo reporters or executives. And the WaPo is responding to that theat of punishment.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | January 15, 2006 10:57 PM

Ms Howell,

You are corrupt. And you think your GOP activities, in the guise of "journalism," are insulated and protected because your benefactors are in power now. Just wait and watch the pendulum swing around. Can you say "unemployment insurance?"

Posted by: dissatisfied subscriber | January 15, 2006 10:57 PM

It is sad and pathetic that the Washington Post, like the New York Times, is no more trustworthy than Brezhnev-era Soviet publications. I knew Bush and Cheney had bad cases of dictator envy, but I did not realize the extent to which the Post and Times through mouthpieces like Howell, Kurtz, Tierney, and Brooks would straight out lie about easily verifiable facts. Is black really white where you folks are? I demand the truth for good or ill and an honest effort to get to the bottom of these matters which are of life and death importance to our nation, should it wish to survive as a republic and not a Republican oligarchy.

Posted by: Boing!!!! | January 15, 2006 10:59 PM

If Bush said that 2+2=5, would the Post report that his math is wrong or would they say that those lovable loser Democrats continue to insist that 2+2=4, bless their hearts. They just don't have the strength to protect the nation in the war on terra. I'm canceling my subscription.

Posted by: Leo Strauss | January 15, 2006 10:59 PM

Dear Mrs. Howell,

Do you still love Thurston and all his money?

Please come back to our enchanted island with me. Like it used to be -- no secrets, no lies, no need to hide our naked desires.

There's no place for us in this world of war and hatred. And you're just playing a game. We've given up so much and gained so little. Aw, nobody trusts a bossy woman anyway -- just like Katie O'beirne says!

I miss you so much -- let's run away forever!

Love,
The Skipper

Posted by: Jonas Grumby | January 15, 2006 11:00 PM

Is Deborah Howell related to Thurston and Lovey?

Posted by: DrewVSea | January 15, 2006 11:01 PM

It appears Ms. Howell has a "truthiness" issue. If the term is new to her, she can Google it--which would give her some experience in using the internet for fact checking and research.

What has happened to our nation's so-called top newspapers?

Posted by: jawbone | January 15, 2006 11:03 PM

Above all, a newspaper's ombudsman should be someone whose ethics and objectivity are beyond reproach. Unfortunately, in Deborah Howell, the Washington Post has given us an "ombudsman" who actively propagates blatant lies and distortions. Given that the Post has chosen someone of such obviously questionable character to be the ethical guardian of the paper, why should we trust the accuracy of ANYTHING that the Post publishes from this point onward?

Posted by: Richard | January 15, 2006 11:04 PM

DITTO!

Posted by: Bert Brehm | January 15, 2006 11:05 PM

Whats up with Deb Howell? Looking for suckup points at the White House?

What would Ben Bradlee say?

Posted by: aL | January 15, 2006 11:06 PM

Hey, we all make mistakes. If Deborah owns up to this and ensures a correction is featured so that it gets more attention that her original incorrect reporting, then I'll start to think that she and the Post take the issue of telling the truth seriously.

No lobbyist in Washington will get bupkus done unless they support the Republican machine - giving to Democrats would mean falling off the K Street Project gravy-train.

Posted by: Pete | January 15, 2006 11:06 PM

I just want to add my name to the list of disappointed and concerned Americans who wonder why the major media outlets can't seem to get the big stories right anymore. Has truly everyone been corrupted? What's the going rate? There seem to be so few journalists out there with the guts and integrity to print the unvarnished truth and let the chips fall where they may. And I don't know what they will do when Knight-Ridder is sold....
A free press: one of the cornerstones of our freedom.
I'd say something about Ms. Howell, but I think that sorry subject has been pretty well covered....

Posted by: Ted B | January 15, 2006 11:07 PM

Yellow Journalism at it's worst! Maybe the WAPO should take it's place at the Supermarket checkout counter.

Posted by: Kathi | January 15, 2006 11:07 PM

It is a serious misrepresentation to say that the Democratics received Abramoff money. No Abramoff money went to any Dems. Please post a retraction.

Posted by: jiffy | January 15, 2006 11:07 PM

me, too.

Posted by: simon | January 15, 2006 11:12 PM

Let's "follow the money" to see who the Post's "ombudsman" is in bed with...
-

Posted by: MisterX | January 15, 2006 11:13 PM

Public Editor Howell: The facts do not support your assertions about Democrats taking money from Jack the Ripoff. This isn't even a nuanced story, really. The GOP does so hate nuance. Republicans: $2,000,000,000. Democrats: $0

Posted by: Citizen Sane | January 15, 2006 11:15 PM

Howell or Orwell?

Posted by: Winston Smith | January 15, 2006 11:16 PM

LIBERAL MEDIA! LIBERAL MEDIA!

Posted by: Auguste | January 15, 2006 11:17 PM

What happened to Journalistic integrity? Why should I trust in a old rag like the Washington post when you guys fall for this non-partisan Abramoff thing?

Reading off Republican or Democratic talking point sheets does not equal fact checking, it equals propaganda. Do you guys still believe in facts?

Posted by: Derek | January 15, 2006 11:19 PM

This newspaper is becoming an incompetent copy of a bad muck-raking magazine, and a print mouth for the Republicans. It is becoming worthless to read this newspaper or to expect its "news" to be fair or balanced. We expect "fair and balanced" from Fox News, but up to recently I thought The Washington News offered news and opinios based on real journalistic standards, not anymore.

Posted by: Joe | January 15, 2006 11:20 PM

Ms. Howell, perhaps you had relatives at the Little Big Horn? Let me assure you, it was only the Cheyenne and the Sioux who did the killing. As far as I know, Abramoff did not represent either of those nations. Please publicly retract your false statement about Abramoff donating to Democrats. While you're at it, could you mention why the Post's last two articles about the recent Bush appointments to the FEC failed to mention that one of them was Vivika Novak's husband. It may not be a "payoff," but it sure looks like one. Omitting accurate news is as damaging as printing inaccurate news.

Posted by: John Casper | January 15, 2006 11:20 PM

The Post should be ashamed and issue a very prominent retraction for the charge that Abramoff contributed to Dems.

Posted by: Upper West | January 15, 2006 11:23 PM

While disappointed with the Post's support of an obviously corrupt Presidency and Republic Party, may I say that I am proud of your readers?

Perhaps you should listen to them.

Posted by: Concerned Reader | January 15, 2006 11:24 PM

Toward a Genealogy of Contemporary Propaganda

"It must be forbidden to publish papers which do not conduce to the national welfare."
From the Program of the National Socialist German Workers Party, 1920

I guess the WaPo (like the rest of the "mainstream media") got the updated, Bushist memo ...

Sieg heel! (like a dog)

Payola, planted stories, "talking points," "access," "unnamed officials," "double super secret background,"
"fair and balanced," outright fabrication: so much press corruption, so little ink.

Posted by: Eddie Murrow | January 15, 2006 11:25 PM

Deborah, I am so impressed with your stellar fact finding. Hey, maybe for your next article you could delve into that mystery about Soylent Green. People? Or just Democrats?

Posted by: another deb | January 15, 2006 11:30 PM

"Seriously, Deborah Howell needs to quit and just work for her republican paymasters instead of trying to pass herself off as a journalist. Democrats took money from Jack Abramoff? Where would the proof of that be exactly Deborah? Democrats took money from Indian tribes, which last I checked is hardly illegal"

My thoughts exactly.
If the WP is going to print the Lies fed to their "Journalists" (and I use the term in an entirely sarcastic manner) without checking the most basic facts of the story, then perhaps sacking the overpaid likes of Deborah Howell and employing a stenographer would be the ideal solution.
Deborah could then get the job in the Republican Party HQ she has alway's aspired to and the WP could just print the handouts from the GOP (minus grammatical and spelling mistakes) and pass them off as "News" to all their readers.

Posted by: Wess | January 15, 2006 11:31 PM

PS I think Arthur Davis is exactly right when he says we're witnessing the downfall of Big Media, thanks to the freedom (in every sense) of the Internet and their own consistently unethical, delusional, unpatriotic, and generally godawful behavior. Thanks for saying it so well, Arthur!

Posted by: Gary Morris | January 15, 2006 11:34 PM

I have been quite dissappointed with WaPo's egregious violations of journalistic integrity.

I still haven't gotten over the way Dana Milbank treated John Conyers. This Deborah Howell is more of the same, but she seems even more loyal to Bush than Milbank was for so long.

I'm thoroughly disgusted with the media's complicity with Bush's treason and war crimes.

I've never felt this way about American media and government before in my life and I'm not alone. There will be hell to pay.

Posted by: Paul | January 15, 2006 11:39 PM

Please provide proof that Abramoff gave money to Democrats, any Democrats, much less many. Otherwise, please fire Ms. Howell.

Posted by: drinkof | January 15, 2006 11:42 PM

Maybe some of your liberal / progressive ADVERTISERS will feel the same way about the direction you're going with the GOP shilling? Maybe angry readers translate into angry consumers?

Posted by: consider this... | January 15, 2006 11:46 PM

Ms. Howell:

Don't you think you owe us--the readers, your supposed clients--a public response? Why does everyone else at the Post come out from behind their bylines and you never have? Afraid of a little "Post On-Line Chat?" The NY Times ombudsman--who, by the way, puts you to shame--keeps a public weblog.

No doubt you will write these comments off as somehow orchestrated. You would be wrong. These posts are driven by genuine outrage over your abject incompetence and partisanship, and we won't stop until we have gotten some answers and some results.

Sincerely,

A Washington Post Soon-To-Be-Former Subscriber

Posted by: Daisy | January 15, 2006 11:47 PM

I'll add my name to the list of those who have found the recent turn of events at the Post disheartening. Deborah Howell is just the latest outrage.

It's ironic that the "old" print media is attacking the bloggers for a lack of integrity, and yet here is another example of how the once venerable news organizations are continually failing to live up to any real standards of reporting while they claim that only the traditional media can provide these standards.

The future is coming, and it doesn't look good for organziations like the Post if they can do nothing but act as stenographers and mouthpieces for those in power.

Posted by: Andrew Mayer | January 15, 2006 11:49 PM

I anxiously await the WaPo's sarcastic and dismissive remarks to the numerous letters it has received pointing out, once again, deceptive practices the newspaper's employees have engaged in. I'm sure those of us who inform the WaPo that we are aware of Deborah Howell's misrepresentaions and her astounding lack of basic journalistic fact checking will be scoffed at and derided as members of the 'lefty blogosphere' by your editorial staff. After all, people who catch you disseminating blatant disinformation and who demand you correct this nonsense about the Abramoff affair being 'bipartisan' must be loonies, no?

Posted by: B Thwaithe | January 15, 2006 11:49 PM

Deborah Howell is grossly incompetent.

Jack Abramoff did NOT make substantial campaign contributions to both major parties. In fact, he made ZERO contributions to Democrats.

Ms. Howell's job as Ombudsman is to make sure that the Post adheres to the basic
principles of sound journalism. She cannot do her job without conducting basic research--obviously in this instance she did not.

If Deborah Howell is incapable of doing her job, she should quit and go to work for the GOP spin machine. After all, they are the ones--not the Post, its subcribers and advertisers--who should be paying for her efforts on behalf of the GOP.

Posted by: John | January 15, 2006 11:53 PM

I am completely appalled by the writings of Ms. Howell. I'd suggest finding a new line of work, you know, one that doesn't involve thinking.

Posted by: Caroline Jones | January 15, 2006 11:54 PM

Dear Washington Post Editors and Reporters,

When you're once again bemoaning the decline in readership and the rise of certain blogs, please read Howell's Sunday column. It will provide you with the answer.

Mimi

Posted by: Mimi | January 15, 2006 11:56 PM

You know it's bad when a newspaper needs to get an ombudsman to oversee its ombudsman. The folks who have commented in this blog are part of Howell's audience, and she needs to do her job and address the many legitimate concerns expressed here. I hope her bosses are reading the comments.

Posted by: pdaku | January 15, 2006 11:57 PM

Is your ombudsman on the Abramoff take? There is certainly enough evidence to warrant a serious investigation. Given the editorial endorsing Alito, perhaps you will need to outsource the investigation.

Posted by: Jim White | January 15, 2006 11:57 PM

Ms Howell:
What part of the Republican slush fund/money laundering system don't you understand ? This is just a modern rendition of the old grease the machine with ill gotten gains laundered through faux faith based charities and other fake nonprofits. It was and is a system invented by, run by, and run for the benefit of Republicans - and its center of power runs through the Rove/Nordquist axis.
Your reporting on this outrage looks more like a steno job done to assist the Repubican machine than real reporting/journalism.

Posted by: stephen Conover | January 15, 2006 11:57 PM

One (or many) can only speculate why such an easily researched fact was reported in error by Ms. Howell. Most anybody with a pulse knows the facts about Ambramoff contributions, yet Ms. Howell seems intent on adopting the RNC's talking points as fact for her column.

Public Editor? How about a Public Editor for the Public Editor? I sincerely hope the Post is working on a correction tonight.

Posted by: Herbie | January 15, 2006 11:59 PM

The Washington Post has been so contemptuous of bloggers and yet, it appears that blogs are the only place to get reliable news these days. When once great news organizations become shills and apologists, it occurs to me that you are just a bunch of dinosaurs that are too stupid to crawl into the nearest tar pit. Deborah Howell has just hastened your demise. Bye bye!

Posted by: MargaretPOA | January 16, 2006 12:02 AM

Show us the evidence Ms. Howell. Where is the evidence to back your accusations up please ?

Posted by: Benny Hill | January 16, 2006 12:03 AM

The downing of America's democracy and free press,
FIRE HOWELL AND OTHER WaPo writers who schill for the White House.

Posted by: Siren | January 16, 2006 12:04 AM

I don't understand why anyone is surprised that an entity that ran ads for defense contractors in the run-up to the war on Iraq would take a pro-administration position. The Washington Post is a business, not a newspaper. It exists to cater to its patrons.

That's what you get with capitalism.

Posted by: spark | January 16, 2006 12:09 AM

Color me unsurprised that Deborah Howell gets the issue completely wrong again. I have to conclude that she must look really good on her resume becuase you wouldn't know it otherwise. When is management going to realize that her services would be better spent at Talon News? I know that things are tough in the industry and good people are being let go all over the place. It would seem that this is an opportune time for Ms. Howell to pick up a decent fact checker. Better yet, it may be prudent for WaPo to find a new Ombudsman.

Posted by: paksin | January 16, 2006 12:09 AM

YOU FOLKS MIGHT WANT TO TELL MS. HOWELL THAT TIME MAG. IS REPORTING TODAY ON THE SCANDAL JACK AFFAIR. THEIR REPORTING SAYS THAT IN OCT. OF 2000 $10,000 DOLLARS WAS PUT INTO THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE BANK ACCOUNT BY MR. ABRAMOFF ON BEHALF OF REP. NEY. THIS STORY IS GOING TO RUN OVER YOU FOLKS IF YOU DON'T WATCH OUT. THEY'VE BEEN AUCTIONING OFF OUR GOVERNMENT LIKE THE ROMAN LEGIONS DID TO SEE WHO WOULD PAY TO BECOME CAESAR...THINK ABOUT THAT.

Posted by: COLORADO BOB | January 16, 2006 12:12 AM

First the Times, now the WaPo: co-opted and corrupt. What's next? Will you be excising no-longer-in-favor politicians from Presidential reviewing-stand photos? How ironic that the cold war is over but Pravda lives on, at least in spirit.

Posted by: J. P. Thompson | January 16, 2006 12:18 AM

Fire her!

Posted by: jmw977 | January 16, 2006 12:20 AM

Deborah Howell...
Judy Miller...

Never see them together, do you? Could be the same person!

They sure seem to write like it.

Posted by: Tad Sketchy | January 16, 2006 12:27 AM

I do not believe that Deborah Howell is a "GOP shill" any more than, well, any member of the Coleman family. Nonetheless:

Howell states that the WaPo has reported that "a number of Democrats ... have gotten Abramoff campaign money" and that "Democrats [are not] in the first tier of people being investigated."

Technically, there is a distinction that should be made in the first statement: Democrats did receive money from Abramoff clients, but did not receive any money from Abramoff themselves. There is no evidence that I am aware of that Reid and Dorgan knew their money was coming from Abramoff, which is a significant difference than the recipients of K Street Project largess, who are virtually all Republicans.

To a certain degree, the second admission mitigates the first omission, but the difference is critical in the context of the investigation, which has been muddied by competing claims.

For example, consider that the Democratic leadership has appointed as leader of the Dems' "Clean Team" Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who -- as the WaPo noted as early as 1997 (this being a scandal long in the making) -- did accept an invitation to Abramoff's now-notorious Northern Marianas junkets, something that the GOP is rather inadvisedly attempting to exploit. (If Clyburn is guilty, how much more so the Republicans?)

Nonetheless, it is inarguable that Clyburn was not exactly a staunch supporter of the CNMI's monopsony industries. In 1998, Clyburn argued that the use of "Chinese and Asian workers" contributed to "the rising unemployment of the native population of the Northern Marianas." In 1999, two years after his Abramoff-sponsored trip, Clyburn co-sponsored legislation that sought to strip the CNMI of its coveted ability to stamp its goods "made in the USA." Not the sign of a bought pol.

In any case, Howell's assertion was not factually wrong but lacked context. Ultimately, however, it's not the job of the ombudsman to provide context: the news pages should do that. In this case, they have provided much in the way of facts but lamentably little in the way of truth. *That* is a subject worthy of the ombudsman pen!

Posted by: tWB | January 16, 2006 12:32 AM

That the major newspapers of the country have sold out is really scary, considering that the legislative branch of gov is bought, that the supreme court is (very shortly to be)bought, the executive branch is beyond reason, and the intelligence agencies are bought. How is a democracy to function at this point? This is a fascist state of affairs. We the people can no longer count on any of the above to speak for us. Thank God the military still has honor - or did I hear that Rumsfeld had rearranged the chain of command for some obscure reason?
My father is a graduate of West Point and a member of the NRA. I would argue with him about gun control and the registration of guns. His very pithy reply to me was "pre-Nazi Germany had registered guns and the SS merely went from door to door with the registration lists and disarmed the populace." I sorta laughed and said that would never happen here. Now i am really frightened as what could happen. Especilly given that Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly's hate speech is acceptable political commentary.

Posted by: Kathryn in MA | January 16, 2006 12:33 AM


ONLY A FEW years ago, it seemed the slightest suggestion of malfeasance by a presidential administration -- allegations of tampering with a minor administrative office, say, or indications that a cabinet secretary might have understated the amount of money given to a former girlfriend -- could trigger a formidable response from the other two branches of government: grand juries, special prosecutors, endless congressional hearings, even impeachment proceedings. Some of that auditing, especially during the Clinton administration, went too far. Yet now the country faces a frightening inversion of the problem. Though there is strong evidence of faulty and even criminal behavior by senior military commanders and members of President Bush's cabinet in the handling of foreign detainees, neither Congress nor the justice system is taking adequate steps to hold those officials accountable.

Editorial, Washington Post 8/29/04

"The coziness between the [Bush] administration and Enron means that the scandal could conceivably implicate political figures in ways that demand an independent prosecutor, but that hasn't happened yet; nobody has credibly alleged a crime by a member of the administration. And as long as the focus of the inquiry remains on crimes by the corporation and its accountants, the Justice Department can handle the matter."

Editorial, Washington Post 2/9/2002

"[Whitewater] represents precisely the kind of case in which an independent
counsel ought to be appointed. We say that even though--and this should
be stressed--there has been no credible charge in this case that either the president or Mrs. Clinton did anything wrong. Nevertheless, it is in the public interest--and in the president's as well--to put the inquiry in independent hands....Nor is it protection enough to say that the investigation is in the hands of career [Justice Department] attorneys. To whom do they report?"

Editorial, Washington Post 1/5/1994

Posted by: Jules | January 16, 2006 12:35 AM

Why do we have to read these lies.

Why is one of the nation's greatest and most HONEST investigative journalist on the sidelines.

I speak of Robert Parry. You don't have a writer on your front page that could shine his shoes.

Why don't you TRY hiring some honest folks and not these suck ups who think this is all a joke, I mean Milbank.

Posted by: Bert | January 16, 2006 12:35 AM

Who hired this ombudsman?

Posted by: Roytucker | January 16, 2006 12:35 AM

I remember well when the Washington Post first appointed an ombudsman and that was a great day for journalism. After standing up for accountability and honest reporting for so long, it is a tragedy that the paper is now apparently controlled by partisan talking points and white house press releases. Even a journalism intern knows to check the facts yet the paper's ombudsman, who is entrusted with upholding the credibility of the Washington Post, is apparently unwilling to do a bit of factchecking before she writes. Instead she distorts the facts and mistates the truth. Shame on Howell and more shame on the Washington Post. You have become a laughingstock amongst careful readers and a house organ for the Bush administration.

Posted by: siun | January 16, 2006 12:39 AM

Deborah Howells last act as a writer at the Washington post should be an apology to the Indian tribes she accused of illegal donations. They were victimized. Then she should resign.

Posted by: Barbara | January 16, 2006 12:40 AM

Dear M Howell -

Please cancel my subscription.

Posted by: see ya | January 16, 2006 12:41 AM

I'm watching this from Sydney, Australia, and the Washington Post is losing credibility by the day, if not by the hour!

The links between John Cornyn, Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff seem obvious, and it seems that they would be part of the public record. Just like Abramoff's contributions, which I guess you also choose to ignore.

Someone above mentioned a "shred of credibility" . . . that's all you have left, so what have you got to lose?

Posted by: Steve Birdsall | January 16, 2006 12:42 AM

Posted by: Jules | Jan 16, 2006 12:35:32 AM

Great post Jules. The WP has sunk and taken a once great nation with it. They can no more see the past and their hypocrisy which you point to than the cult that currently runs our country.

I guess it's all cocktail parties and bowing to Bush and Moon for some scraps for the WP. Fear they might not get "invited"....

The nation is truly without an open and honest press. The people with the money and the power to really report, to really tell the nation the truth, REFUSE to do so.

Posted by: Bert | January 16, 2006 12:43 AM

I agree with the above posters. A retraction is in order.

Posted by: BRK | January 16, 2006 12:43 AM

I am writing to state my profound displeasure at the unprofessional standards of journalism being practiced at the Washington Post these days.

Why subscribe to an "independent" newspaper when you have staff that clearly have an agenda and an ombudsman that is so willing to cross the line into advocacy journalism.

I spent less than an hour investigating Jack Abramoff and his campaign contributions and discovered not one Democrat has accepted campaign contributions from the man. If I can manage to figure this out, why can't the Washington Post?

Accepting a check from Jack Abramoff and accepting a check from an Indian lobbying group are two entirely different things. Having a congressman accept a contribution from a lobby is hardly "news" these days. Yet why does the Post attempt to take those contributions and try to connect those who accepted them with Jack Abramoff's personal contributions?

Why is a Post employee, the ombudsman in particular(!) trying to "nail" anyone?

The Post, like so many other papers in the "mainstream media" have so lost their bearings in actually covering news without being caught up in it, I have to wonder where people in this country will be able to go to read actual news, and not what passes for it in the pages of The Post.

Ms. Howell needs to be reassigned to a new position at the Post if she wishes to give her views on issues in the news - the editorial/columnist page.

Posted by: Phillip Dampier | January 16, 2006 12:46 AM

There are so many ways to fact check any story - I can find out all kinds of things with my dial-up and a little curiosity. It amazes me that Ms. Howell can't figure out how to check her stories when I'm certain she has access to many more resources than I. I bet she could even find an intern or someone to fact check for her.

So, my question for her and for WaPo in general is this: EXACTLY HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK YOUR READERS ARE?

Apologize to your readers right away and reassign Mr. Howell to the opinion page where her work can reflect her thoughts without any concern for truth, justice or the American Way.

Posted by: penney | January 16, 2006 12:47 AM

I've been actively following the career of Mr. Abramoff since 1999 and the excellent work of the Washington Post on the Abramoff Scandal since Sue Schmidt's Feb. 2004 article. Today's article by your ombudsman was surprising.

It was clear for her column that Deborah Howell does not read the Washington Post.

While it is not in the lead of every story, the reporting of the Schmidt, Grimaldi and Smith makes it clear that Democrats are not involved with Abramoff in any meaningful way.

While some other news organizations, like the AP, have gone out on that limb without facts to back up the claim, the Washington Post has been very careful to only report the facts that they could verify.

So, they have reported that clients of Abramoff have given money to Democrats. They have reported that Democrats who worked at the lobbying shops where Jack worked have also given money to Democrats.

What they have not reported is any Democrat being seriously involved in this scandal or having a close relationship with Abramoff.

No where have they ever reported that Jack Abramoff ever gave a dime to a single Democrat. Nor have they ever reported a serious quid pro quo between a Democrat and Jack Abramoff.

Maybe that will be reported tomorrow, but so far it is not part of the story.

Howell column claims that the reporters have reported on a clear link between Abramoff and some Democrats. In fact, she claims that they have reported that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

No. He didn't. But more to point, the excellent reporting of Schmidt, Grimaldi and Smith never claimed he did.

It is not there.

From Jack's clients? Yes.

From co-workers of Jack? Yes.

Any reported proof that Abramoff directed those donations? No.

The reporters have been very careful of what they say in the stories and who they link directly to Abramoff.

Howell puts words in their mouths and makes links that the reporting does not support.

It is the job of the ombudsman to correct that behavior, not to engage in it.

While I condemn Howell's work, I want to say again that the work of Sue Schmidt, James Grimaldi and Jeffery Smith is excellent.

Despite any flaws in their work, their reporting is the reason that the Abramoff Scandal is front page news. The Washington Post owns this story and deserves praise.

You continue to break new ground and I'm glad to see the Washington Post commit so many resources to uncovering the details about this scandal.

By comparison, the NYT, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, USA Today and many other "news" outlets have been missing in action. The best most of them have done is pick-up the occasional AP or WaPo piece and do a re-write (often with errors).

The real media story is the widespread failure of so many organizations to dig into this scandal. Instead they just report talking points as facts without any back-up.

That is the type of sloppy reporting that many organizations hired an ombudsman to check. This is the type of sloppy writing that Deborah Howell serves up as a "column".

I do not know whom she is representing, but it is not the readers of the Washington Post. And I think it would be great if she read the paper before she writes about it.

At the Washington Post your Editorial team is doing great work--across the board. But you need to hire somebody to double check the work of your current ombudsman before she really embarrasses this great newspaper.

If I want ill-informed opinion I can go to cable TV, talk radio, the Internet or any of the political niche publications.

For facts I want to count on the Washington Post.

Posted by: Dennis | January 16, 2006 12:48 AM

Change your name to the Moonie Times 2 and be done with it.

Let Moon take the morning edition and you take the night.

You sully the name of the Post.

Posted by: Hal | January 16, 2006 12:48 AM

tWB: "Technically, there is a distinction that should be made in the first statement: Democrats did receive money from Abramoff clients, but did not receive any money from Abramoff themselves."

tWB, you're missing the point -- which is not that Democrats recieved money from Indian tribes that also happened to contract with Abramoff for lobbying services.

The point is that there were plenty of other reasons for those tribes to contribute to the people they did -- Harry Reid is from Nevada and the Indians want to support a senator from a pro-gambling state of their own accord, Brad Carson is a Cherokee, and so on -- and that Abramoff probably had nothing to do with any tribe's contributions to Democrats.

Abramoff did not direct every contribution made by his Indian clients. If he had, he certainly wouldn't have directed any towards any Dems because Jack was all about raising money for the Republicans and *withholding* money from the Dems. That's what the K Street Project was intended to do.

So to simply state that Democrats rec'd money from Abromoff's clients is to contextualize those contributions as being directed by Abramoff -- when that is clearly not the case.

Posted by: tWB | January 16, 2006 12:50 AM


The word journalist is not made of elastic.

The WashingtonPost, like most corporate media, is, sadly, suffering from a massive epistemic crisis, and, unless it sheds its Judy Miller~esque steno~squad of writers/reporters, such as Deborah Howell & Friends, it will be known as simply another *FAUX* News source.
Where--or IF--you choose to stop is a SUBJECTIVE call, but stop signs ARE objective reality for us ALL.
* SHAME on the media!

SHAME on Ms. Howell!!

Posted by: Ronald L. Singleterry | January 16, 2006 12:52 AM

According to FEC data, no Democrats received money from Mr. Abramoff, yet Deborah Howell repeats the Republican lie that some did. How did Ms. Howell come to her conclusion and will you print her correction?

Posted by: Metiche | January 16, 2006 12:58 AM

Dear Ms. Howell,

Please explain your source and documentation for the following statements which, according to all credible reporting I have seen, are blatantly false:

1) Abramoff "made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."
2) "Several stories, including one on June 3 by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money." The abstract of the June 3 Birnbaum story, at least, does not support this statement.

Howard Dean stated in an interview by Wolf Blitzer that according to FEC records, no Democrat received any money from Abramoff. Please either document your contradictory statement or print an appropriately prominent retraction/correction. Thank you,

Posted by: gary1 | January 16, 2006 01:05 AM

Make Levees Not War!
http://nocapital.blogspot.com/2006_01_08_nocapital_archive.html

#113709696935207511

Posted by: reboottees | January 16, 2006 01:25 AM

Guess you guys are regretting putting up a blog just about now, eh?

Get used to it. The comments herein come from people who are far better read than most of your traditional customer base. And we're not interested in taking the crap you've been dishing out anymore.

Posted by: hrc | January 16, 2006 01:26 AM

Does Deborah Howell make up any of this crap on her own, or is she on Karl Rove's Fax Machine's Speed Dial?

So much Right Wing garbage to push, so little credibility remaining!

My only question is this: Who has the least amount of integrity? Deborah or her employer, the Washington Times?..er I mean, Washington Post!

Posted by: Ron Russell | January 16, 2006 01:39 AM

Without any regard for the facts, Ms. Howell stated that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff. As soon as I read this, I knew it was a lie, and I believe the Washington Post also knew it was a lie. Nonetheless, it was published. Why?

In an open and free society, it is imperative to have a trustworthy press. However, given the rightward tilt of the WaPo, our access to factual information from this news source is becoming badly compromised.

I fear that the Washington Post is beginning to take on some of the features of a totalitarian newspaper. Here is what the media was like in Nazi Germany:

The government ran and censored the media. All forms of communication were liable to interference from above and could, and were, heavily censored. This removed freedom of speech, therefore enabling the government to influence popular opinion via propaganda and false news messages.

"False news messages." Sound familiar, Ms. Howell? If we are to preserve and defend our precious democracy, we must loudly condemn and refuse to tolerate false news messages.

I look forward to reading a correction in your paper very soon.

Posted by: susan | January 16, 2006 01:40 AM

It's bad enough when Howell writes a column with factual errors. Hey, we all mistakes, right...?

But what cannot be countenanced is her wink, wink, read between the line innuendoes of widespread wrongdoing in her concluding sentence of the article; and more importantly, directly below the scurrilous misstatement that Senate Majority Harry Reid and Democratic Sen. Byron received Abramoff money.

In the newspaper trade, placement is everything. Every graphic, every story placement is strategically aligned to manipulate reader's eye to link picture to story and so on.

Please don't tell me it was just a coincidence that although Howell grudgingly admits reporters "on the investigations [haven't] put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated," the malodorous hint of looming scandal by her choice of "first tier" was unintended.

I mean, if not the first tier, maybe it will be the second, or third or fourth tier, if only one reads between the lines.

And to cap her sorry attempt to write a meaningful ombudsman column, Howell makes sure to counsel the dull-minded to, "Stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."

Get it...? Harry Reid. Byron Dorgan. Second Tier. Story not over.

Lies and innuendo. So much for living up to her title of impartial finder of facts.

Posted by: Mimi Schaeffer | January 16, 2006 01:41 AM

After reading many comments about Howell, I can see her next career stop. Regnery Press! After all, they do dole out Wing Nut Welfare. Or, perhaps she could work for Talon News or Brent Bozell's
"CNS News Service". Then again, Bozell's news service may be too ethichal for Howell. After all, theironly Swift Boating standards are higher.

Posted by: Ron Russell | January 16, 2006 01:52 AM

After years of declining journalist standards at your paper, I have learned more from your readers' posts in this thread than I have learned from the Post in years. Thank you for finally providing the public with the high level of investigative reporting our country is desperately in need of in our time of national crisis.

Posted by: Amy Parrish | January 16, 2006 01:52 AM

I'm not a Post subscriber. This may sound strange at first but I'm sorry I haven't subscribed to the post because I wish I could make that call to cancel my subscription.

I do, however, read the post online. I load it up with my other news pages every morning. The post no longer has a link in my bookmarks. I feel that I need to take this singular yet small stand available to me.

Goodbye post. I'll be back when I hear that Deborah Howell was fired. 'Resigned' will not suffice. She is either grossly incompetent or outright decietful and she must be terminated by the Post if they are to even attempt to regain our trust.

Posted by: Steven Bandyk | January 16, 2006 01:54 AM

Hey isn't this blog supposed to be about Maryland's moment? Stay on topic folks :) :) :)

Posted by: emobile | January 16, 2006 01:54 AM

I am reminded of Gore Vidal's classic essay a few years back on How to Read Pravda when it was still under the control of the former Soviet Union. But unlike the former Soviet Pravda, America's corporate/government controlled media propaganda can be and is instantaneously called by the Internet that came on line in 1992.

I feel some compassion for Ms Howell as I sense her bumbling attempt to tie the Democrats into this Republican scandal is perhaps some form of "tipping point". Many of the above angry posts refer to other media lies and omissions. I can think of another one that occurred this week that is far more disturbing and that's the fact that the Zogby poll released this week in which 55 % of respondents agreed that Bush should be impeached due to the warrantless NSA spying is not front page coverage anywhere.

What we are seeing is not a loss of credibility, which can be regained, but a loss of legitimacy, which cannot. We've known since at least Machiavelli that institutions collapse when they lose legitimacy.

Posted by: Nancy C | January 16, 2006 01:55 AM

Bottom line, Abramoff did not make any substantial contributions to democrats. That leaves us with two possibilities: Either Ms Howell just made up her story, (a la Jayson Blair) or she was given a made up story (GOP talking points a la Armstrong Williams). There aren't any other choices.

Isn't fake news reporting cause for dismissal?

Posted by: Incredulous | January 16, 2006 02:02 AM

Following in the footsteps of RNC operative, Bob Woodward, Howell is taking her marching orders from a GOP unhappy about the fact that the Abramoff scandal isn't being covered to suit them. Good thing Howell is around to spread misinformation. First Froomkin, now this. Pathetic.

Posted by: Michael Finnigan | January 16, 2006 02:02 AM

Following in the footsteps of RNC operative, Bob Woodward, Howell is taking her marching orders from a GOP unhappy about the fact that the Abramoff scandal isn't being covered to suit them. Good thing Howell is around to spread misinformation. First Froomkin, now this. Pathetic.

Posted by: Michael Finnigan | January 16, 2006 02:04 AM

It is too bad the comments aren't numbered. I know there are quite a few because the slider along the edge of my browser window is pretty darn small.

I can't wait to see the WaPo's response. This kind of seems like an intervention.

Will the Post understand that there are many people that care about how stories are reported? We care enough to try to steer them in the right direction. We want them to clean up their act.

Or will they bristle at the criticism? Will they continue to deceive themselves and lash out in denial?

I'm betting on the latter. How many threads like this will there have to be before the Post hits rock bottom?

Posted by: Bill Priff | January 16, 2006 02:10 AM

Ms. Howell helps demonstrate that combination of incompetence and cronyism in Judith Miller and Bob Woodward are not the exceptions in the corporate media, but the norm.

Posted by: Matthew | January 16, 2006 02:12 AM

Brian Wilder wrote:

"Howell will have to print a correction.

There is no alternative."

I

Posted by: Eric | January 16, 2006 02:30 AM

Dear Ms. Howell,

Technology is a wonderful thing. Did you know that they have this thing called an Internet where you can find all sorts of neat stuff? For instance, you can type in "FEC" "Abramoff" and "campaign donations" & you can see exactly who Jack donated to. I couldn't find any Democrats on that list, but maybe your friends Ken Mehlman & Dick Cheney know where they are. Maybe the Dems that your RNC sources refer to are guarding the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Seriously, the ombudsman is charged w/being the readers' advocate, making sure that the paper stays focused on the truth. Stenography is neither truth nor objectivity.

The reason why the Founding Fathers gave the press so much freedom was because they realized press had the responsibility to make sure that the government operated in an open, honest fashion. The deficiencies of the press during the Bush administration are astounding and saddening.

Cocktail parties, barbecues and seats at the front of the campaign plane (let's face it, Air Force One has been a campaign plane for the last 5 years) have made "star" reporters lazy and these same reporters have betrayed their responsibility to the Constitution and to the people of the United States.

Posted by: Simon | January 16, 2006 02:33 AM

Not to pile on, but... yeah, to pile on. The WaPo has lost any tatters of credibility it might have retained with Howell's patent lie.

Posted by: DOW | January 16, 2006 02:34 AM

Two points to add regarding the "correction" (really the "we lied and you caught us statement") that the Washington Post must print:

1. It must not be "I mistakenly wrote that Abramoff gave money to Democrats." Instead it must be "I wrote that Abramoff gave money to Democrats, even though I knew this to be false."

2. It must not be buried in a back section where noone will see it. It must be front page.

Posted by: Eric | January 16, 2006 02:37 AM

Please excuse the partial "Brian Wilder wrote ..." post. I started out using the previous post as a jumping off point and accidentally hit "post" before deciding that it would be better to make my comment independently of the previous (and very sensible) comment of Brian Wilder.

Posted by: | January 16, 2006 02:41 AM

Please excuse the partial "Brian Wilder wrote ..." post. I started out using the previous post as a jumping off point and accidentally hit "post" before deciding that it would be better to make my comment independently of the previous (and very sensible) comment of Brian Wilder.

Posted by: | January 16, 2006 02:41 AM

The Public Editor is someone who should keep the newspaper honest. Now it appears that it is up to the newspaper to keep the Public Editor honest. Please do something about the deplorable column Ms. Howell wrote regarding Abramoff donations going to Democrats. Run a retraction ASAP, along side Ms. Howell's resignation letter. It's the only way the Post can hope to redeem itself at this intersection of inaccuracy (whether knowingly or from ignorance) and insult (to Native Americans).

Posted by: Disappointed in the Washington Post | January 16, 2006 02:52 AM

The Washington Post may find the manipulation of their readers ala Ms. Howell a simple matter of political amusement, however the effect of karma transcends spiritual, intellectual or God forbid ...even economic realms. Truth will win out eventually ... and then the Post will be the leading example of the collapsing Fourth Estate.

Posted by: Richard Bohn | January 16, 2006 02:58 AM


Perhaps these comments demonstrate that the progressives are not as few or as important as everybody in Washington appears to think these days. Perhaps the people outside the mainstream of America might instead be the...Beltway insiders?

Interesting.

Posted by: Echidne of the snakes | January 16, 2006 03:07 AM

Market Bulletin!

>>> WaPo shares rise sharply on the Laughing Stock Market!

Posted by: Michael D. Adams | January 16, 2006 03:21 AM

At the very least, Ms. Howell is guilty of sloppy journalism, for the reasons people have already mentioned in this forum. At worst, she acted as a proxy for one political party's propoganda. That this reflects badly on your paper should be obvious. If you want your paper to be taken seriously by anyone who is smart enough to be part of your audience, you must correct this problem honestly and leave no doubt that it is not acceptable journalistic practice.

Posted by: Cujo359 | January 16, 2006 04:00 AM

Retractions and resignations mean nothing when the penalty is a severance package.
Perhaps the IRS would care to have few looks at her finances to see the extent to which she's laundered payola?

Then again checking facts on the internet is an infamous French tactic, and since Al Gore invented the internets it's clear that anything there has a bias to it.

Indeed the facts are biased. The WaPo has not made money for years, doesn't need to. It's subsidized in its expenses by the funds of taxpayers in the form various business tax liens. Also its advertisers get to deduct costs of their efforts there. The WaPo is a fat, engorged pigbarrel of laundered funds worthy of the guilded age. Robber baron yellow journalism that it was established on.

Exectly how often does she help dress wounds at Bethesda and Walter Reed? This ombudseman certainly has the cure for all wrongs inflicted, put her skills to work where needed most. She can even correct the little matter about no WMD and make certain the glory of the joke under couch is made another aspect of the jeweled crown to anoint the chosen brat-king.

Not like she didn't take a hint. She either gets an anthrax letter or hit over the head jogging and makes a footnote to her mortal lifespan. The RNC is a corproate mob and Abramoff is in deep with the mob and casinos. They have saved their toughest tactics for the republican stomping grounds. Dallas, Texas, or Midland and Houston. Florida several times over, election counting and otherwise. Washington DC and the beltway with the military industrial complex.


That's not important anyways. Gays might marry and do things in their own private time that you really have no business trying to control. But reverend Three Dollar Billy and the rest of the ubermensch have sermons to deliver and payoffs in religious initiaitves to fork out to themselves. Abramoff's a big part of that with Reed and the Christian Coalition and his internets swinging secretary.

By the way Mississippi and Haley Barbour are rife with casino money, he was Abramoff's RNC point man for quite a while, and Casinos hit by hurricanes in Florida and Mississippi are raking in money from Katina relief alongside Rove the traitor.

Please get Woodward to explain his meetings with Al Haig and others dating back to Tonkin in the West Wing with ONI. Turns out he was an insider way before Watergate. Barkesdale Bob has been a great apolgist for the Convict in Chief.

Nothing to see, clap louder! And the band played on...
Ignoring problems does not make them go away. See also AIDS and Ronnie Raygun, Mourning in America.

The HAVA act has put ES&S in control of every American vote. The Reps and the beltway cannot wait for elections. They have every means available now to make certain no vote gets counted as its intent was when cast.

They're getting the stories ready now. "Believable Reps sweep seats", the man-date grows! It will not take long. Things will implode and the only way to hide this in current GDP numbers is Papa Bush policy of including defense appropriations and spending in the GDP.

There's a reason such top-down, intermeshed cornyism implodes, the CCCP is being reborn here. One media, one glorious leader, one party dialog.

Keep reading pravda. More people are poor than ever. Poverty leads to crime. Enjoy the bed you've made for America, pressniks.

The race to the bottom continues, the deficit will be an item in due time. The rest of the world is scaling ahead while we roll back everything possible. Education, health, competitiveness, wages that create demand stimulus...

Long as you got yours, and theirs got ours, and their back-slapped deals get the same, it's all right to you.
There comes a reconing, and your days are but a shadow to the span of karma. There's a fifty percent chance of a nuke hitting north America in the next decade and you helped enable it. Most likely it hits the same beltway you so cravenly inhabit. Just hope no PDB that warn such a fact go ignored by the latest version of a Bushevik in office.

Get your praise for Jeb ready in the meantime. End the charade already. Place the Crown on his head, continue your lies and bring down the nation mine have fought and died for.

You can always do PR for him or Katherine Harris. The Post really needs to rid itself of you in the meantime.

Posted by: Chris Murphy | January 16, 2006 04:28 AM

Please refrain from allowing the "Swiftboating" of Murtha and get Deb Howell an education about Abramoff money.She might try reading some trustworthy blogs before she spreads her repug misinformation.

Posted by: Maryland Democrat | January 16, 2006 04:42 AM

Perhaps you should consider hiring Ms Howell as a columnist (if you are so enamored of her) and hire someone better qualified as your ombudsman.

If it is a fact the Abranoff donated money to Democrats, then Ms Howell has stumbled on a scoop of significant proportions and she should enlighten her readers as to the source of her inside knowledge. If, on the other hand, she is simply parroting the talking points of the republican party, then she should not be doing so under the supposedly objective cover of "Ombudsman", unless, of course, the Washington Post would like to explain their peculiar notion of the rôle of an ombudsman.

Granted, the literal old norse meaning of "umbodhsmadhr" is "administration-man" or "king's representative". However, most of your readers naively expect the "ombudsman" of a newspaper to act as a fair and objective critic of the news reporting of his or her own organization; a conception which Ms. Howell appears, unfortunately, either to misunderstand or to reject.

Posted by: Jeff Doyle | January 16, 2006 05:18 AM

the fec website can provide a list of all candidates and office holders jack abramoff donated money to. i've looked at the list - it's rather long - and no democrats are on the list. none that i can see.

so it's rather simple. go to that fec site and request a list of officials who have received money from abramoff.

why won't the post ombudsman do that simple task?

Posted by: fec website | January 16, 2006 05:28 AM

The WaPo has a hot topic regarding Ombudswoman Howell's recent piece written in error. How about a new post regarding Howell's work?

As you can see by the wide variety of response the interest in her piece is genuine unlike the right wing "American Family" thing assault on teevee programs, the works with Reid, etc., computer generated response thing.

Anyways, come on WaPo, your coverage has to get better before I start reading it directly rather than summaries on-line elsewhere. I stopped the WaPo when the Intl Herald Tribune went all NYTimes (there's another one, but I'm still paying).

Posted by: christo | January 16, 2006 06:09 AM

Wow....going from someone like Geneva Overholser to Deborah Howell. Wow, just wow. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

At some point we open minded "liberals".... you know, the kind of people who actually read "real" newspapers and books will be so turned off by the crap that is shoved down our throats by the "traditional media" that we'll quit reading and using them alltogether. I've already ditched the local rag for their biases. It won't be any more of a deprivation to dump you guys too. Perhaps you should consider who your audience really is and hire someone who represents their views instead of Ken Mehlman's.

Posted by: hoosierville | January 16, 2006 06:12 AM

When are the writers for the Washington Post going to wake up and do their job of researching the facts, instead of regurgitating the lies of the GOP? If Deborah Howell can't read the federal documents, she could at least read Bloomberg.com, which did their own checking and made clear no Dems received money from Abramoff. The Post is becoming a less and less essential voice.

Posted by: Cassandra | January 16, 2006 06:15 AM

With the New York Times struggling to maintain its credibility, the Washington Post has had an incredible opportunity to emerge as a leading light for
lucidity.

With fact-based, reality-oriented thinking in such short supply in our nation's capitol, the Post could easily fill the vacuum and find its readership (and resulting advertising rates) skyrocketing.

But no. Like an untouched fullback fumbling at the goal line, the Post has instead chosen to listen to the Sirens' song of entitlement, social irrelevance, and civic irresponsibility. This pattern, so graphically illustrated by George W. Bush and his supporters, is precisely why so many of us fear for our country.

The Post and the New York Times have a social responsibility that duty and competition used to fulfill. Unfortunately, both institutions are afflicted by the same perfect storm of inherited wealth and recessive genetics that is ruining our nation.

History teaches us that we need to protect and guard our nation from irresponsible and careless administrators. The Post has failed. You folks might as well call yourselves "The Post Shopper," and acknowledge that you have turned the product into a door-dropper.

Posted by: Dave Porter | January 16, 2006 06:32 AM

It used to be a safe bet, a dependable journalistic stance, that on pretty much any contentious political issue there would be equal spin on both sides and the truth would lie somewhere in the middle.

That was last century, before the GOP took things to a new level. Where has the WaPo (and the rest of the so-called liberal mainstream media) been for the past 5 years? Mostly on autopilot being gamed.

I don't pick on Ms Howell. I don't pick on the WaPo. Who'd have believed that any US party would ever combine funny money, iron discipline, media manipulation and the big lie so seamlessly and proficiently? But isn't 5 years enough time for press habits to adjust to this new reality?

Applying knowing-sounding reflexive journalistic 'even-handedness' to the Abramoff story is just another familiar failure to adjust to 21st century US politics. I don't know which caps fits who, but lazy rule of thumb reporting has to stop and party shills have to be sacked. It's long overdue.

Posted by: AlanDownunder | January 16, 2006 06:44 AM

When the Ombudsman for the Washington Post repeats the party line of an administration that not only boasts of using disinformation as a political tool but actually spends taxpayer money to do so, it reveals either an appalling naivete or an utterly cynical action. Not one to believe that the beltway Post is naive, the only conclusion left to me is to believe that you are part of the program.

Is that black money that disappeared into the coffers of the Lincoln Group or the Rendon Group finding its way back into the good old US of A? Although I find it hard to believe that you would sell out for the pittance of a hundred million or so. Or does it have something to do with the corporate mind?

If you wish to regain your credibility with your readership, you will discipline both Deborah Howell and Howard Kurtz, who has repeated long-discredited sources to help Carl Rove launch yet another scurrilous attack on Congressman John Murtha.

When I was a student, we had rules for writers posted on the humor magazine bulletin board. They were:
1. Make it funny.
2. If you can't make it funny, make it smutty.

What are your rules?
1. Use innuendo.
2. If innuendo doesn't work, lie.

From Black Magic Woman: "This can't go on, babe, no, no, you got to change."

Posted by: Expat Prof | January 16, 2006 07:01 AM

Deborah Howell does not deserve her job. She fell for the Republican talking point that both Democrats and Republicans accepted money from Jack Abramoff. This is not true. Jack Abramoff did not give any money to Democrats, only to Republicans. Democrats did received money from Abramoff's VICTIMS, which is not the same thing at all. Even I fell for this point until that national treasure Howard Dean set me straight. And no, Indian tribes are not "Abramoff-related" organizations, as CNN's Wolf Blitzer would have it. They are the VICTIMS of Abramoff's CRIMES. This is a Republican only scandal. The Democrats' hands are completely clean. They have done NOTHING wrong.

Posted by: Scott Mercer | January 16, 2006 07:27 AM

re: Deborah Howell and your paper.
Just a short note asking for less "Fair and Balanced" and a little more actual reporting.

Fire her.

I am getting concerned because I am running out of newspapers to trust. The list is incredible.

Your paper once protected us from one of the worst Administrations in our history...that Administrations interns are back with a vengance, quit enabling them.

Thank you.

Posted by: BU | January 16, 2006 07:45 AM

Ms. Howell should start writing fiction, as she obviously has difficulty reporting the truth. If The Washington Post really cares about journalistic integrity, you'll take my advice and fire your ombudsman. She's inept.

Posted by: Leslie Pool | January 16, 2006 07:54 AM

With all the hits main street media has been taking lately (for example, plagairism and propaganda fluff pieces), one would think that it would try to hide the shilling for the RNC.

Maybe some of that Abramof money just happenned by Howell's way -- how else to explain her fabrications and distortions?

Howell's latest meme for the Post is riduculous and it reflects poorly on paper and those associated with it. The Post can do better, much better.

Posted by: rum | January 16, 2006 08:07 AM

It's hard to come to any other conclusion here but that the Post is deliberately trying to confuse the public's understanding of the Abramoff scandal because the truth is exclusively damaging to Republicans. Even if you weren't that intelligent, if you were being paid to pay attention to the story someone would have made you aware by now that Abramoff only gave money to Republicans, and that fact can be easily verified by checking the FEC website. And to conflate getting money from Abramoff's victims with getting money from their perpetrator - well if I can understand the difference between those two then certainly the Post Ombudsman can.
I would expect this sort of thing from Fox news but to see the Washington Post doing it suggests the presence of corruption inside the paper as well.

Posted by: djork | January 16, 2006 08:25 AM

Between Ms. Howell's laziness and Mr. Kurtz' unfortunate article on Mr. Murtha, I must conclude that the Post has truly lost its way. I no longer trust what I read in this paper.

Posted by: krh | January 16, 2006 08:30 AM

I actually saw the FEC list of people who received money from Jack - there were (R)s after each name. Not a (D) in sight - unless there is a new meaning for the (R) and (D), I do not find one single Democratic representative of the people of the US as a recipient of Jack's money.

When will Deborah retract her statement - in writing for all of us to see?

Perhaps the Post should begin looking for a real ombudsman - one who will be fair and get her/his facts right before writing anything except an opinion.

Posted by: Delphyne | January 16, 2006 08:32 AM

Looks like the WaPo is bought and paid for by the moneyed big corporations and others who subsidize their online news with advertisements...they HAVE to show the "other side" in order to get those big advertisement bucks constantly streatming in. Give 'em their day and time in the sun! It's just another example of poor selection and editorial misdirection...like the Slate Online Magazine and forums. What pure crap they print...all the ghouls and slime that's fit to print.

However, since keeping the GOP machine happy is an ongoing part of the Post's political coverage, I trust that it's an official part of management's business strategy. So, while I scan the Post now and again, I don't bother buying it anymore. I'm not mad at the Post for being part of the ruling machine but I don't want to support that kind of behavior. There are--a few--other, better, sources of news
ACKKKKK !

Posted by: kevinino arnofraymeister | January 16, 2006 08:34 AM

I have been a Post subscriber for more than ten years now. The camel's back has been getting awfully tired, though, these past several years. And Deborah Howell is the proverbial straw. Only my kid's delight in the Sunday comics has kept the paper coming; now, even that will not suffice. We're cancelling.

sw

Posted by: S. Wilhite | January 16, 2006 08:34 AM


I have searched the corrections page this mroning and have not found one for Ms Howell's totally false assertion that Abramoff donated to Democrats.

When can we expect to see this lie corrected?

Posted by: dbudinaz | January 16, 2006 08:45 AM

I already commented above, but I must point out one more development. When I was a journalist from 1972-1993, the outpouring of anger and concern seen on this blog over the past 24 hours would have sparked heated discussion and significant soul searching not only around the water cooler but among my paper's editors as well. We would have felt compelled to seriously address this mistake-- "our readers deserved no less." Though I'm no longer in the newsworld, I still am in touch with my former colleagues as well as reporters at other outlets, and they tell me that the news staffs feel so embattled that they are too quick to turn defensive and too slow to embark on any soul-searching. Tis a pity.

Posted by: former MSM journalist | January 16, 2006 08:49 AM

Definitely piling on with my second post, I agree with many above thread that the Post really must fire Deborah Howell. One gross factual error is not grounds for firing. However, the inexcusably error adds to a pattern of gross bias and indifference to the truth.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann | January 16, 2006 08:52 AM

I will chime in here with the rest: Howell's recitation of the facts if flat wrong. If this many readers have been able to sort out the fact form the fiction, you would think Howell could. Not only would I like a retraction, I would like an explanation. The garbage Howell shoveled is exactly the RNC's talking points to deflect attention. Why would the Post repeat misinformation that is part of an "open secret" stragey of one party?

If you have information that justifies Howell's characterization and that runs counter to known facts, put it out there.

Posted by: Some Guy | January 16, 2006 08:57 AM

S. Wilhite.

When the the most reliable part of a newspaper is the Comics section it's time to look elsewhere for for your news.

Posted by: mparker | January 16, 2006 09:03 AM

It is a good idea, if I remember correctly from my days in high school journalism, to be sure you have actual facts correct prior to printing an article.

If the WaPo's ombudsman did not bother to check her facts, then she needs to be removed from her position after an appropriate retraction and clarification is printed. How pathetic.

If, on the other hand, she "checked her facts" by deliberately printing unverified and/or anonymous talking points, she essentially plagiarized or propagandized. In that case, she should be removed from her position and publicly called out as the pathetic excuse of a journalist she would be. Jason Blair. Judith Miller. Michael Olesker, for God's sake.

Do the right thing.

Posted by: Mary Brock | January 16, 2006 09:13 AM

You're doin a heck of a job Howie.

Posted by: merlallen | January 16, 2006 09:28 AM

It has saddened me deeply to see the WaPo degenerate into a right wing spin machine. You have destroyed a great newspaper with a long history of un-biased reporting.Your "new" "ombudsman" is neither new nor an ombudsman. She is a political operative of the corrupt administration. Call this a gentle prediction/warning? If you don't change things, (and SOON), there won't be a Washington Post in 2 years!
You have chosen access over truth. Good luck with your choice, and I hope you can sleep at night!

Posted by: allun | January 16, 2006 09:44 AM

Letter to the Editor

Just so you know, I was born in the District and came of political age there. I have always had deep respect for the Post based primarily on the Watergate work. Yes, I was there then to see it first hand. My mother actually worked for the Committee to Impeach Nixon. I can still remember the highly charged climate of Lies, deceit and hypocrisy in the city. The country was in trouble then. The country is in trouble now.

The Post has made a mistake with this person Howell. She has made a fundamental error in judgment. It should be corrected VERY soon. Monday (MLK Day) would be appropriate for this to happen. Of course, the remedy is entirely yours but I would like to suggest that you not allow her further statements to be printed. Do you not have some back office assignment for her? Please do the right thing and remove her from the current position.

I have moved away from the City to the West coast but still read the Post everyday by way of washingtonpost.com. A change has been noticed at the Post even out here. With me, I suppose, it came when I realized Bob Woodward was in bed with the administration. This was hard for me to accept at first. But, after listening and reading his opinions it became clear that he had been corrupted by the power/money machine in DC. You would have to agree that it happens frequently. But, I thought, not Woodward. Then the fuss over the Daily Briefing on-line column. Plain nonsense. You know, we can see this guy McClellan way out here too. Everyday. CSPAN works. We know what is happening, unfortunately.

What has happened to you Washington Post? Is the paper too large for your management structure now? Are the issues to big for you? I have been waiting for someone to come to their senses at the Post. It is past due. Please take whatever measures are needed to stop this credibility slide. In my opinion, you need Ben Bradlee back on site. Would you be willing to give him a call please?

California_reality_check

Posted by: california_reality_check | January 16, 2006 09:46 AM

And what was the flap regarding Froomkin about? Oh yeah, that he's not really a reporter. Hmmmm

Posted by: Sharon | January 16, 2006 09:46 AM

No wonder the American public is so abysmally uninformed. A bunch of brain-dead stenographers in the mainstream media.

Posted by: Lar | January 16, 2006 10:04 AM

Please show us that you get it. Fire Ms. Howell.

Posted by: April Hall | January 16, 2006 10:14 AM

Is there an editor at the Post that cares about this country?

Even one?

Posted by: Carl | January 16, 2006 10:24 AM

This is an amazing outpouring of concern. How sad if all this effort is explained away as "some left-wingers" or "some Democrats".

Please Washington Post, do you get it yet? We are tired of stenography from the GOP! We want the TRUTH!

Posted by: vaughan | January 16, 2006 10:33 AM

I was always under the impression that the ombudsman existed as an advocate for the readers, not to push a particular political party's political agenda. If the Post supports her in pushing that agenda, who is the Post working for?

Posted by: sba | January 16, 2006 10:34 AM

Who shall watch the ombudsman? Deborah Howell seems utterly incapable of critical thinking. She is worse than useless; she is an enabler of inaccurate, biased reporting.

Posted by: Michael | January 16, 2006 10:38 AM

We here in the heart of the Carolinas know that Jack Abramoff is a tried and true Republican with ties to Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. He raised over $120,000 for George Bush's 2004 campaign and is a "Pioneer". We also know that Abramoff gave absolutely NO money to Democrats. Zip, zilch, nada! Now if two people in Carolina know these facts, shouldn't reporters like Susan Schmidt and an Ombudsman like Deborah Howell have the ability to research the issue and come up with the facts? Something is seriously wrong at the Post.

Posted by: Margarete | January 16, 2006 11:00 AM

How mortifyingly dishonorable. What is left but sepuku?

Posted by: Kate | January 16, 2006 11:05 AM

NO ABRAMOFF MONEY WENT TO DEMOCRATS. NONE. ZIP. ZERO. NANDA. SHOW ME THE MONEY!!

NO ABRAMOFF MONEY WENT TO DEMOCRATS. NONE!!

NO ABRAMOFF MONEY WENT TO DEMOCRATS. NONE!!

NO ABRAMOFF MONEY WENT TO DEMOCRATS. NONE!!

Posted by: NO ABRAMOFF MONEY WENT TO DEMOCRATS. NONE!! | January 16, 2006 11:08 AM

I have to say, I am very concerned that the Post's editors have not yet felt compelled to respond to the issues being raised here by its readers.

Posted by: Concerned Reader | January 16, 2006 11:08 AM

Regarding the Ombudsman's column in the 1/15 edition: I am sure that you've received MANY incensed comments regarding the column from both sides so I will attempt to keep this professional.

In the 4th paragraph of your column, you print the following:
"Schmidt quickly found that Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

The records of the FEC for the past 4 years show that Mr. Abramoff has made NO contributions to either the Democratic Party or any Democratic candidates. Clearly a factual error has been made in this column. If Ms. Howell meant to say that some of Mr. Abramoff's clients (or, arguably, victims) made such contributions, that fact should have been clearly laid out. As it stands, however, 'he' did NOT make such contributions. As such, a correction should be posted.

Second, at the end of the column, after Ms. Howell factually states that no Democratic officeholders or staff are the subject of the investigation, she adds the words "But stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."

As Ms. Howell is not reporting this story, I am assuming that she has no source or sources to corroborate such a statement. Without any qualifying statements following her post, such a statement leads the reader to assume either 1. That the Democrats WILL be placed in the first tier of the investigation or 2. That Ms. Howell hopes that such an event will occur.

In either case, without more, the statement should NEVER have been put into an ombudsman's column. If Ms. Howell has an opinion on the subject matter of Ms. Schmidt's column, other than the fact checking or the examination of the methods by which Ms. Schmidt stated HER facts, there are many other areas in the Post to which such an opinion may be placed.
If Ms. Howell is stating as a fact that the investigative status will change to include Democrats, the basis of such a claim should be laid out.

As it stands, Ms. Howell's column, rightly or wrongly, leads readers to believe a set of facts that just do not exist.

I hope that the Post will clarify and correct the record in this matter and contiue the high degree of journalistic integrity to which it has rightfully staked a claim.

Posted by: douglas | January 16, 2006 11:10 AM

Ummm...excuse me...but can anyone at the Washington Post explain why Grover Norquist's college buddy would be giving money to anyone in the minority party, since none of their votes are needed to pass legislation?

Are you guys trying to claim that Abramoff is stupid? Or are you trying to claim he is merely as lazy as your "reporters" are and couldn't be bothered to find out that giving money to Democrats would be of no use whatsoever for him or his clients? Or perhaps he was too lazy to even find out the party affiliations of the people to whom he was giving money? Or is it that Abramoff is such a charitable kind of guy that he just gives money to everyone, regardless of whether they can help him get what he wants or not?

Because, you know, those are the only reasons I can come up with for why he would have given any Democrat any money...which of course he didn't do.

How come none of this ever occured to your highly intelligent and intrepid Post reporters?

Posted by: Jennifer | January 16, 2006 11:15 AM

WaPo, we wouldn't be writing if we didn't care...

Posted by: aristophanes | January 16, 2006 11:22 AM

Ooops! Sorry about the double posting!

Posted by: Taylor Peck | January 16, 2006 11:24 AM

WP = W Propaganda
Waste Paper
Whitehouse Promotions

Posted by: DrBB | January 16, 2006 11:31 AM

Other people have put forward the facts that the Ombudsman should have known (or did know but didn't bother with) and have made plain that they expect better.

I just have one question. In the Post's view, what is an "Ombudsman?"

Well, two questions really. In the Post's view, what is a "newspaper?"

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | January 16, 2006 11:39 AM

*crosses everyone at the WaPo off list*

Posted by: Diogenes | January 16, 2006 11:39 AM

It occurs to me that Ms. Howell has given both Byron Dorgan and Harry Reid a pretty clear-cut cause of action for a libel suit. Yeah, I know all the yadda-yadda about public figures, but think back to the Westmoreland vs. CBS case: this one would be even easier to adjudicate, since apparently neither Howell nor the WaPo availed themselves of the open public records that demonstrate the falsity of the claim made by Howell. In fact, others have pointed out the facts in other media outlets, and Howell still forged ahead with a clearly false claim - one which both she and the WaPo should have known was false, had any research whatsoever been done.

I'd love to see a lawsuit over this, because I'd love to see you lose it.

Posted by: Jennifer | January 16, 2006 11:39 AM

I mean, when a newspaper has to print a retraction for a major factual error by its own ombudsman, you've definitely fallen on hard times, credibility-wise. Especially when checking the story was only a matter of visiting the FEC website.

Gotta be a firing offense. Unless the paper's intention is to close their eyes and hope the whole thing blows over. Judging by the number of comments here, that ain't too likely is it? I mean, there's no grey area here. It's not a matter of abstruse interpretation. You're just factually wrong, and it's not a trivial mistake. Nobody's going to let you off the hook.

Somebody gets pink-slipped, or the Post's senior editors can just consider that they have been demoted to ass-hat status. Which is it, folks? Got your ass-hats right here for ya. Ready to wear 'em?

Posted by: DrBB | January 16, 2006 11:42 AM

I used to enjoy reading the Washington Post.
I used to feel like there was one independent newspaper left in this country who wasn't either on the take from the Bushies, afraid of the Bushies, or incompetent stenographers typing up RNC talking points.
But it is plain to see that with ombudsmen such as Ms. Howell that the WaPo is now probably all 3 of the above.
At a time when our countries civil liberties are most at risk, the Post picks this time to roll over for the RNC.
Sad to see, but I'm not going to pay for it another day.

Posted by: Cancelling my office subscription | January 16, 2006 11:46 AM

Ms. Howell: I've been to the FEC website and lots of other places on the web.

I cannot find any truth to your assertion that Jack Abramoff ever in the last ten years made a single contribution to a Democrat.

Obviously, I do not know how to research, but you apparently do.

I will pay you $500 for any proof that Abramoff ever paid any money to a Demorcrat.

Posted by: The challenger | January 16, 2006 11:47 AM

Would it be to much for the WAPO to actually hire a fact-checker or perhaps someone who could just read the news to Ms Howell since it is obvious that she can neither read or comprehend what is factual?

Posted by: Dr KLD | January 16, 2006 11:47 AM

Remember, Deborah, eternity is a very long time. Repent, before it's too late. I, too, scanned the list of Abramoff's contributions. Didn't find a single Democrat on the list. Would you like to correct this little oversight, perhaps?

Posted by: God | January 16, 2006 11:53 AM

False information--Democrats are not thieves in this particular case. The Abramoff scandal is owned and paid for by the Republican Party. How can it be fun when you cheat??????/

Posted by: gpu | January 16, 2006 11:59 AM

I am a subscriber to the Post, daily and Sunday. I read it every morning at the breakfast table. I was shocked to read Deborah Howell's statement, as if it were fact, that Abramoff made contributions to Democrats. I expect to see a correction in next Sunday's paper.

Posted by: Joseph L. Ruby | January 16, 2006 12:02 PM

I see by the comments above people actually pay for subscriptions to newspapers, and I wonder why? Everything you want to know (and research) is online.

If it doesn't have a comments section and links, I'm not interested. Why believe anything coming from anonymous/close to whoever "sources."

With MSM obviously slanted in favor of the Republicans, I don't bother except to check on the current Republican talking points now and then in between the latest kidnapping or some other such idiocy, or to check the current MSM headlines.

As far as I'm concerned our current MSM is useless for giving actual news that is accurately reported and useful to me as a citizen; and, most important to me, I can't ask questions, make comments, or read the comments section where even the commenters often give links to check.

I've given up emailing CNN, MSNBC, etc.--what's the point? They have their agenda and they stick by it; just easier to turn them off. They're owned by Republicans, the ads are from Republican businesses, and the readers/viewers like those who have commented here on Howell don't count in MSM's bottom lines. Just buy a subscription and shut up is the message I get.

Howell and Kurtz are just two excellent examples, among the many, of their Republican slant, true or not, and their unwillingness to report facts in their stories, or the facts behind the stories if said facts don't support their current slant. It's just propaganda, folks.

The Fourth Estate died years ago, and the zombies are in charge.

Posted by: meanoldlady | January 16, 2006 12:02 PM

Just wondering how much $ one gets for ombudsing. If the price is right, I'll put in the same half-hearted effort for half of what Howell gets. Why doesn't the Post put this position out to bid? The quality can't get much worse and the opportunity for cost savings is obvious. Bean counters, assert your authoritah!

Posted by: Disgruntled ex-journo | January 16, 2006 12:08 PM

Just wondering how much $ one gets for ombudsing. If the price is right, I'll put in the same half-hearted effort for half of what Howell gets. Why doesn't the Post put this position out to bid? The quality can't get much worse and the opportunity for cost savings is obvious. Bean counters, assert your authoritah!

Posted by: Disgruntled ex-journo | January 16, 2006 12:09 PM

I find it ironic that your ombudsman, Deborah Howell, would trumpet The Post's reporting on the Jack Abramoff scandal as "one of the best and most explosive pieces of investigative journalism this town has seen in a long time" and then proceed to butcher the essence of the case by saying that Abramoff has made "substantial contributions to both major parties."

Between 2002 and now, Abramoff made over $125,000 worth of political donations. Out of that staggering figure, Democrats received a grand total of zero dollars. In fact, the Abramoff scandal is so one-sided that Rich Lowry, Editor of the highly conservative journal, The National Review, said recently that "this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection."

How utterly ludicrous, then, that while touting its own greatness, The Washington Post would become a party to that very misdirection. If I were to hand out letter grades for fact checking, Ms. Howell would not only receive an F, she'd be attending summer school.

Posted by: Matt Moriarty | January 16, 2006 12:14 PM

One of the posts regarding Ms. Howell's scribblings asked "how stupid do you think we are?" Hey, 51% of the country voted for Bush so the answer is apparent. You are following a sound market strategy by distorting the "news" to reflect the Republican spin. Do not let the NY Times outdo you. And could we get some more Swift Boat stuff on Murtha out there? The paymasters are very upset with him. Keep up the good nonwork!

Posted by: B. Croghan | January 16, 2006 12:17 PM

welcome to the dustbin of history. that whoosh is the world passing you by. it is truly stunning how willfully blind the washington press has become. the wapost and nytimes are no different than all the great mouthpieces of history. pathetic!

Posted by: travy | January 16, 2006 12:17 PM

What I REALLY HOPE happens is that someone at the DNC grows a pair of testicles and SUES Ms. Howell and the Washington Post for LIBEL.
In fact, they should start suing everyone who spreads libelous stories.
You want to print lies? Go ahead, and let a jury of your peers bankrupt your paper and send you to jail for leading us all astray and destroying whatever faith we had left in the 4th Estate.

What an embarrassment to the great history of the post.

Also, Katherine Graham curses you for the gigantic pile of steaming poo you left on her grave.

Posted by: KirstiB | January 16, 2006 12:21 PM

Maybe if we raise enough ruckus on this thread, that condescending editor chappy will come back and pat us on the head, like he did when Lovey Howell mouthed off about Froomkin.

Howell's credibility's gone, and this is another blow to the overall paper's credibility.

Posted by: Raise a Ruckus | January 16, 2006 12:29 PM

I think what bothers me the most is when readers complain to Ms. Howell, the supposed ombudsman, she has responded defensively and angrily and without seeming to bother to check the validity of their complaint. She has apparently decided that several blogs are the enemy, and no matter what the facts are, anything they point out about the WaPo coverage or her own columns is dismissed as "partisan" or "biased."

Note to WaPo: News-oriented blogs are just a conglomeration of avid news readers, and uh, those are the people who you ought to be paying attention to. Of course some (like 70% of the American public) align themselves to one party or another... that doesn't make them unworthy of regard. There's nothing illegal or immoral about being a Democrat or a liberal, though of course Dick Cheney would disagree. I certainly hope that the Post (and this includes its columnists, Mr. Cohen take note) decides that just because some readers are vocal about their disapproval of the party in power (as are the great majority of the American public), it doesn't make them contemptible.

Posted by: allie | January 16, 2006 12:40 PM

NYT, WP, who cares. They have been revealed as Republican shills, Gop mouthpieces, etc. They have lost their credibility as the fourth estate long ago.

Howell's lies are just another piece of GOP spin thrown upon the garbage heap that we now know as "the liberal press".

These two newspapers are so factually impaired, so full of right wing propaganda, that any truly impartial news is over shadowed by the promoting of an agenda that is obvious to all who read these papers.

Posted by: dss | January 16, 2006 12:55 PM

She works hard for the money, so you better treat her right.

Posted by: Hey now, | January 16, 2006 01:04 PM

When is Deborah Howell going to retract her statements about Abramoff and his donations to democrats?

Or does Howell and the Post not care one bit about facts?

Posted by: aspTrader | January 16, 2006 01:05 PM

Sounds like you need an ombudsman to the ombudsman.

Posted by: msisk | January 16, 2006 01:09 PM

I'm just a simple, recently unfrozen caveman - your writing on paper confuses and scares me. But one thing puzzles my primedially-developed brain - where is this so-called "Liberal Media" I hear so much about???

Posted by: Popsicle man | January 16, 2006 01:33 PM

Private Sector health care plans such as Wal-Marts are:
1. Completely voluntary, under ERISA.
2. Solely and completely a matter of federal law.
For more than 20 years, MANY state legislatures have been attempting (and failing) to craft STATE laws that have some effect on this purely FEDERAL issue. The Maryland act is wholely meaningless. If Maryland attempts to tax Wal-Mart for not spending enough on health care, Wal-Mart can sue the state of Maryland in FEDERAL court, and have the statute declared VOID.
The Maryland statute is much ado about absolutely NOTHING...

Posted by: Peter Parrott | January 16, 2006 01:33 PM

Reguarding Deborah Howell's lies.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics database of campaign contributions there are NO contributions from Abramoff to Reid or Dorgan or to any Democratic leadership political action committees. None to any Democrat for that matter. Why do you repeat this (Republican manufactured) falsehood?

Please remember that while Indian tribes may make contributions to politicians on their own accord (as do may organizations), that isn't the same as Abramoff, who has admitted his guilt in a "pay for play" bribery scheme, where he acted as an agent who promised he could provide the results a party sought for a price.

To claim that Democrats are involved in this Republican scandal creates the falsehood that one party is no better than the other. This case proves this is not so. The American people should know the difference between the political parties.

Posted by: KevinK | January 16, 2006 01:50 PM

Perhaps the Post has confused being a public" editor with being a Re"public"an editor...in which case, I think they still need to fill the public editor position.

Posted by: Anne | January 16, 2006 01:58 PM

Deborah Howell, please find a real Democratic scandal to complain about if you feel a need to bring some articical "balance" to the news.

On the one hand you have the Republican head of the House indicted, the Republican head of the Senate under investigation, the Vice President's aid indicted, the President's aid under investigation. Anywhere from 20 to 60 Republican members of Congress awaiting investigation... and oh yeah, I think a Democrat stole some stamps a few years ago.

Posted by: Marco | January 16, 2006 01:59 PM

Deborah Howell... retract!

Posted by: Sandra | January 16, 2006 02:00 PM

A) Abramoff never gave any money to Democrats.
B) Abramoff never directed his clients to give any money to Democrats.
C) Abramoff's tribal clients gave more money to Democrats (perfectly legal campaign contributions) before they hired Abramoff.

I have a strong feeling that Howell already knows these facts, but I figured I would post them here just in case she missed them.

Posted by: Late to the party | January 16, 2006 02:14 PM

You reap what you sow. Stop sowing lies or you'll reap the whirlwind.

Posted by: Michael Leza | January 16, 2006 02:23 PM

Deborah Howell is the person most responsible for the nationally syndicated pap/snark of James Lileks. If that doesn't establish her bona fides as a GOP operative, I don't know what does.

Posted by: Antoinette Levy | January 16, 2006 02:42 PM

It is obvious that Deborah Howell and the rest of the GOP spin machine are desperate to make it seem as if 'the Democrats did it too' when it is crystal clear that every single person involved in these scandals are Replublicans. Every single one. The Republican party is the party of greed, pay for play, and abuse of power, and is suffering from a critcal case of festering, endemic corruption.

Posted by: thepuppethead | January 16, 2006 02:49 PM

Ms. Howell's article definitely reads like 'spin' from a political operative instead of factual reporting. If it's true that Democrats took money from Abramoff then let's see some actual evidence of that - name who and how much. Lots of people are spinning these days but this seems entirely inappropriate for a paper's ombudsman. If readers can't rely on that person to get the story correct then why should we believe anything printed in the Post?

Posted by: toonces | January 16, 2006 02:52 PM

How is Howell responsible for Lileks? Curious!

Posted by: Qha? | January 16, 2006 02:52 PM

Here it is, direct from Media Matters:

Deborah Howell, the Washington Post ombudsman, falsely asserted twice that Democrats received contributions from Jack Abramoff.

http://mediamatters.org/items/200601150001

I think she's just plain incompetent at her job. Maybe we need an Ombudsman for the Ombudsman since Howell deletes whatever mail she disagrees with.

Or, just fire her. Between Howell and Saturday's editorial supporting Strip Search Sammy as "superbly qualified" and a "thoughtful conservative, not a raging ideologue" I don't know why I bother reading WaPo anymore. Like the NYT, it's a once great paper that's best used to line birdcages.

Posted by: Corinne | January 16, 2006 02:56 PM

Impeach Howell!

Impeach Bush!!

Filibuster Alito!

Down with the GOP!!!

Posted by: Tom Paine | January 16, 2006 02:57 PM

I emailed Ms. Howell a couple weeks ago about the Abramoff - Delay - "friendship or lack there-of claim, and recieved this snippy, inside the beltway, you obviously no nothing about Washington DC, response from Ms. Howell:

" Political and personal friendship are very different to me. Deborah"

This woman should be pulled from her post as Ombudsman - she's doing a good paper a great disservice.

Posted by: OppRadio | January 16, 2006 03:01 PM

If Deborah Howell was as biased in her writing against Bush and the GOP she would have immediately been fired. In many cases, like the two false assertions that Abramoff gave money to both parties, she is not only biased but factually incorrect.

Posted by: Gary Denton | January 16, 2006 03:07 PM

Will Deborah Howell once and for all unequivically go on the record that she does not how, nor has in the past, received money from the GOP, White House or other Republican/Conservitve operatives?
(ala Armstrong Williams and others)

If not, I think it's fair for us to say she connected to the Armstrong Williams scadal and accepting Armstrong Williams related donations.

Posted by: JustNow | January 16, 2006 03:15 PM

Added - the fact she is the WP's ombudsman greatly adds to the problems with her writing.

Posted by: Gary Denton | January 16, 2006 03:18 PM

What do people expect from the Post? This is the same paper that published Spencer Hsu's attack on the governor of Louisiana right after Katrina, where Hsu took the completely false GOP talking points and ran with them.

Posted by: M | January 16, 2006 03:18 PM

If we ever get Howell to admit that Dems didn't accept any Abramoff money her next GOP directed tactic will be to try and convince us that bribery is really a good thing.

Posted by: Dan Denton | January 16, 2006 03:21 PM

WaPo, can you PLEASE stop taking GOP talking points on face value and do some damned FACT CHECKING?

Like a NEWSPAPER is supposed to do!

Posted by: Ken Miller | January 16, 2006 03:23 PM

I would like to request Mrs Howell to provide her proof that any Democrat received money directly from Abramhoff. If she cannot please have her post an Upfront retraction with apologies to all Dems she has slandered!

Posted by: ED Beckmann | January 16, 2006 03:24 PM

Howell must retract her false statement in print. This paper stinks like a sewer.

Posted by: flowerkisser | January 16, 2006 03:25 PM

What Howell actually said:

"The second complaint is from Republicans, who say The Post purposely hasn't nailed any Democrats. Several stories, including one on June 3 by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money."


Our translation:

Howell, in this passage, is addressing complaints received from Republicans that the Post has yet to "nail" any Democrats. Howell, in her response, merely reports "several stories," including one by Jeffrey Birnbaum, have already reported Democrats received "Abramoff campaign money."

Fact check:

Did Democrats personally received campaign donations from Jack or Pamela Abramoff? No. Have Democrats received "Abramoff campaign money" through tribes & related PACS directly connected with Abramoff's activities? Absolutely [1].

Finding:

Howell could've, should've been more precise in describing the source of money received by Democrats. Example: "Although Democrats did receive Abramoff-connected money through various tribes and related PACS; Republicans received more than TWICE the amount Democrats received, while additionally receiving direct, sizeable, personal contributions from Jack and Pamela Abramoff themselves -- to the exclusion of any and all Democrats."

Note.

[1]http://www.capitaleye.org/abramoff_recips.asp?sort=N

Posted by: reticulant | January 16, 2006 03:31 PM

Why would Ms. Howell even waste her time writing an article that associates Abramhoff with Democrats? It's like associating Bob Woodward with poor people, too big of a stretch.
It may please her conservative handlers but clearly shows a lack of integrity.

Posted by: mkelch | January 16, 2006 03:32 PM

Receiving money from tribes who deal with the company that Abe worked for was not "rec'ving Abramoff campaign money".

Any more than getting a refund on an overpayed electric bill from Enron would be getting a kickback from Ken Lay.

Posted by: Flappy Bob | January 16, 2006 03:36 PM

(this is my second post- fair disclosure)I'm wondering, considering that the GOP operatives have such surveillance capabilities, if these newspaper editors are being blackmailed into obeisance.

Posted by: Kathryn in MA | January 16, 2006 03:36 PM

Howell knows not of what she writes. Are all the media (WP, NYT) so terrified of Bush that they constanty compromise news even in the face of corruption, a war run by a gang of war profiteers, incompetence as in Medicare Drug Program, New Orleans relief, budget deficits, and so on. The WP claims that we should stay in Iraq, the we being the GI's fighting the war, wish you could show some of the same courage you require of them in publishing your newspaper.

Posted by: grandcanyon | January 16, 2006 03:47 PM

And where is the story on Al Gore's speech, WaPo?

Posted by: Nicholas Mycroft | January 16, 2006 03:52 PM

"Receiving money from tribes who deal with the company that Abe worked for was not 'rec'ving Abramoff campaign money.'"

So the Bush administration had nothing to do with outing Valerie Plame since it was Novak alone who publicly divulged her name, status?

Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: reticulant | January 16, 2006 03:59 PM

Reticulant, Abramoff was ripping off his clients. The same tribes that Abramoff was cheating, were also making legitimate contributions to the campaigns of some Democrats. This is now being spun as if the tribes' contributions to the Democrats were "Abramoff contributions." That is, victims of Abramoff are being treated in the press as if they were identical to Abramoff.

Posted by: JR | January 16, 2006 04:02 PM

Three things are in order:
Howell should be fired.

You should cover Al Gore's speech from today.

Apologize.

Posted by: dereau | January 16, 2006 04:05 PM

I add my voice to all those who are disappointed, indeed, disgusted, by the sloppy reporting and lack of fact-checking done by Howell and Smith on the Abramoff scandal. First the NYT, now the Post -- where has real journalism gone?

Posted by: Nemo | January 16, 2006 04:11 PM

As an expatriate American, I really hated it when the New York Times bought out the Washington Post and continues to be the sole publisher of the International Herald Tribune. It was the only way I could read the Post in print instead of just online. But having read your Alito editorial, and your ombudsman's comments, I'm starting to think that maybe I'm not missing much. What ever happened to the "liberal" media? I know it was a myth, but has it been replaced entirely by the "right-wing" media? It sure seems like it. Heck of a job, folks!

Posted by: hbobis | January 16, 2006 04:17 PM

I gave up on the Post -- but I kept hoping it would once again provide an alternative to the NYT. No such luck: the Post appears to be yet another cossetted, reliable transmitter for the GOP -- of course it will plead it endeavours to be "balanced". Try reporting the truth, Ms. Howell.

Unfortunately, the NYT is no more reliable. Sad, sad days.

Posted by: Onomasticator | January 16, 2006 04:29 PM

"Abramoff was ripping off his clients. The same tribes that Abramoff was cheating, were also making legitimate contributions to the campaigns of some Democrats. This is now being spun as if the tribes' contributions to the Democrats were "Abramoff contributions." That is, victims of Abramoff are being treated in the press as if they were identical to Abramoff."

We aren't disputing the roles of perps & vics in this drama. Nor are we disputing the "legitimacy" of tribal contributions per se. However, the issue of possible "public corruption" arising from tribal contributions to Congress in re tribal casinos, gambling as orchestrated by Abramoff et. al. remains.

Posted by: reticulant | January 16, 2006 04:31 PM

I used to think the Washington Post was a decent newspaper.

I know know that it is more of a place to go for Republican Talking Points, at least when it comes to (dis)information about Abramoff donating to Democrats.

The Indian tribes who hired Abramoff continued to donate to the same democrats they did before they hired him, only in smaller amounts.

Thank Goodness I have the WAPO to spin it to me that Abramoff encouraged the tribes to give to Democrats.

Don't you guys have fact-checkers? Or are you so committed to publishing lies that you don't care about the truth anymore?

Posted by: amazed | January 16, 2006 05:16 PM

You know, I read Al Gore's speech today, and look back fondly on the day he won the 2000 election.

It was the weeks after that day that really started the decline of this country at the hands of the Republican maladministration. Heckuva job helping them out, Howell. Go to hell.

Posted by: Drunkee | January 16, 2006 05:28 PM

With the overwhelming evidence that Abramoff gave NOT ONE CENT to Democrats, why hasn't the Washington Post printed a correction or a retraction?

Where is the truth?

Posted by: truth | January 16, 2006 05:29 PM

I'm not sure exactly what an ombudsman does, but if it's something like the swift boat campaign against John Kerry, you're doing a heckuva job, Ms. Howell.

Posted by: mitch cumstein | January 16, 2006 05:29 PM

Still waiting for the apology and retraction. Why should it take so long to correct the record. The number of responses here should give you an indication of the outrage the mistatements have created. Why haven't you corrected the record. Pulled the column and apologized?

It is quite sad to me that one of the great papers of this country has degenerated to what it is today. Shameful.

Posted by: Slide | January 16, 2006 05:31 PM

Will you correct the false claim?

Or are you too proud of your lie?

Posted by: | January 16, 2006 05:44 PM

Howell was head of the Newhouse D.C. bureau and gave Lileks his "political humor" column. Seventy billion words of unreadable crap later, the rest is history. Not to go too far off-topic here, but if she thought his was a voice that needed to be heard on the nation's op-ed pages, I think her politics are pretty transparent.

Posted by: Antoinette Levy | January 16, 2006 05:55 PM

Howells should have a more accurate idea as to who's on the GOP slush fund gravy train. After all, she's pretty obviously on it herself.

Posted by: DH | January 16, 2006 06:15 PM

BTW, Howell needs to also learn to take a gander at her own paper's editorial cartoon.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinion/ssi/images/Toles/c_01082006_520.gif

Posted by: DH | January 16, 2006 06:19 PM

Please issue a correction regarding the incorrect statement that Abramoff donated to Democrats. If no retraction is published regarding this slander I will cancel my subscription.

Posted by: Jack | January 16, 2006 06:46 PM

Dems took money legal..pugs took money illegally..Help get corruption out of pugs first, but if dems are corrupt too fine, but dont lie to us anymore..

Posted by: pal | January 16, 2006 06:57 PM

I have been a subscriber to the Washington Post for almost 8 years now. But this is the last straw. I used to believe that they actually reported actual news. Not working as a propaganda machine for the GOP. I called this afternoon and cancelled my subscription. I suggest everyone who believes in receiving credible news should do the same. Shame on the Washington Post. It breaks my heart to see what you have become.

Posted by: DJ Shamrock | January 16, 2006 07:20 PM

Ms. Howell's truthiness shows though. I would hope the ombudsman of WaPo would have more regard for the facts than that talking head Colbert.

Posted by: Stephen Colbertt | January 16, 2006 07:40 PM

It is clear that fact-based readers are having trouble with Ms. Howell's reporting of non-facts. One hopes the embarrassment will be enough to clear the deceit. Sadly, it may not

Posted by: spite | January 16, 2006 07:54 PM

If Ms. Howell has some evidence that Abramoff -- rather than the Native American tribes that employed him as a lobbyist -- gave money to any Democratic politician, she should print that person's name and stand by her story.
Otherwise, she should publicly retract. A failure to do so should disqualify her from continued employment at the Post.
Thank you.

R Cauthen
Lawton, OK

Posted by: Randy Cauthen | January 16, 2006 08:13 PM

For too long, far right-wingers have been a vocal and organized force in the media. And for too long, the silent majority has been... well, silent. But mainstream Americans are waking up and sloppy, right-wing biased reporting like Howell's will not be tolerated for much longer I think. You should re-evaluate your duty to your readers; your readership might be saved if you act soon enough. I, however will no longer purchase your paper as I cannot allow myself to support this kind of reporting any longer.

Posted by: CWH | January 16, 2006 08:34 PM

You really need to correct the record. NO Democrat got money from Mr. Abramoff; MANY Democrats got money from Mr. Abramoff's CLIENTS-the same clients that Mr. Abramoff was stealing from. It is not the same thing. I'm sorry, Mr. Abramoff is the Republicans burden to bear-this is one scandal the Democrats are not a part of. Please print a retraction, because you are wrong.

Posted by: jill sweeney | January 16, 2006 09:10 PM

Writing as someone who was involved in researching campaign contributions for these stories, I'd like point out what the Post's reporting on this has demonstrated: according to Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records, Abramoff himself never gave any money to Democrats. He did direct his tribal clients to contribute to both Democrats and Republicans, with Republicans getting the bulk of such funds.

The Post specifically mentioned the direction of client money to Democrats in a story in June [1] and has written about his direction of client money in in numerous other stories [2].

In addition, the Post summarized the recipients of giving by Abramoff, other tribal lobbyists at Greenberg Traurig, and his tribal clients in a December graphic [3]. The graphic, like the stories, shows that Republicans received most of the money from these individuals and organizations. The Post's reporting has been consistent on these points.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/02/AR2005060202158.html

[2] http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awashingtonpost.com+abramoff+directed&sourceid=mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2005/12/12/GR2005121200286.html

Posted by: Derek Willis | January 16, 2006 09:40 PM

The simple fact of the matter is that the Washington Post wouldn't be reporting anything on the Abramoff scandal UNLESS they included some slap at Democrats. The reality is that this is a purely GOP scandal -- striking at the heart of the GOP money machine and its K Street Project -- which is all too painful to report on honestly, without throwing in some factesque truthiness to try and balance out the damage.

Posted by: debriki | January 16, 2006 10:08 PM

Deborah Howell is very much a disappointment. How could reporting/commentary on important issues be so shallow. So seemingly partisan?

Posted by: Democommie | January 16, 2006 10:17 PM

Posted by: Derek Willis | Jan 16, 2006 9:40:34 PM

Mr. Willis, did you actually read Ms. Howell's column? She makes two specific references to Abramoff contributions and Democrats, which your post accurately points out are factually incorrect:

"And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties"

"The second complaint is from Republicans, who say The Post purposely
hasn't nailed any Democrats. Several stories, including one on June 3 by
Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a
number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen.
Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money."

When I pay my money for the Post, I expect their professional staff to get their facts straight and avoid partisan spin. What's particularly disappointing in this situation is that this spin came from the reader's representative of the Post.

Posted by: RBG | January 16, 2006 10:43 PM

Derek, your June 2005 asserted without any sourcing that Abramoff "directed" tribes to "donate" to Democrats. Derek, since you thought this was "newsworthy," did you tell the Justice Department? They don't appear to trust your assertion any more than I do, their indictment only listed Republicans. Derek, you mentioned donations to "powerful Democrats;" that's an oxymoron, when the GOP controls both Houses and the WH. Derek, why did neither of the two Post articles about Bush's FEC recess appointments, mention that one of them was Vivika Novak's husband? Derek, you do as much damage with the falsehoods you print as you do with the truth you don't.

Posted by: John Casper | January 16, 2006 10:49 PM

It looks like you have removed about two hundred comments from earlier today protesting the outright misrepresentations by the "Ombudsman" about the Abramoff scandal. Most of those comments were not at all offensive, unless you think that calling for a correction to an outright lie offensive.

Tsk tsk. The Washington Post is mighty thin-skinned, isn't it? This is the third egregious column that Howell has written. I note the correction you were forced to make on her military recruiting column as well.

Editor's Note:
We've deleted about a dozen comments in this thread that didn't raise any substantive issues and that were simply personal attacks on Deborah Howell or others. Every other comment that's been submitted has been published -- although because of the high volume of comments, it's possible that publishing has lagged a bit behind submission.

Hal Straus, Opinions Editor
I

Posted by: James | January 16, 2006 11:21 PM

Mr. Willis:

Thanks for contributing to this discussion. Ms. Howell still has her head down in the bunker so your response is appreciated. While the WaPo has reported on the Abramoff/Republican corruption during wartime issue, we object to Howell's misinformed piece. Also we object to the WaPo's responding to bullying by the RNC as evident by this Howell line, "The second complaint is from Republicans, who say The Post purposely hasn't nailed any Democrats. " We wish that the WaPo stop the self-censorship.

When a loving family has two sons, Cain and Able, we'll call them. Cain does all the wrong but complains when he's punished that equal time isn't given to punishing Able. Parents spend equal time punishing Able. Mr. Willis, is this analogy easy enough to understand? After parents punishing Able, Cain kills Able to get that evil-doer out of the way. Mr. Willis, we're at this stage of the analogy now.

Recently the WaPo has uncritically repeated RNC sponsored smears of Rep Murtha. the WaPo will not report on the grassroots support of impeachment. Your newspapers reporters are engaged in White House disinformation campaigns, the trouble with the starred reporter "All the President's Man," Bernstein (starred as he is now past). As readers we feel the WaPo is helping the soft junta that is the RNC Bush/Cheney administration.

Posted by: christo | January 16, 2006 11:23 PM

Mr. Willis, if the problem is not inaacuacy, as your post above seems to point out, but rather imprecision, then perhaps Ms. Howell should take a refresher course at the community college -- probably English Composition 101 would be appropriate.

Because to say that "Abramoff gave money" when you mean that somehow he was connected to the giving of money, is so imprecise as to invite accusations of bias -- don't you think?

Posted by: | January 16, 2006 11:25 PM

Mr. Willis, since you are aware of the methodology for computing the 'Team Abramoff' contributions, perhaps you could fill the public in on a couple of key items.

1. Who is included in 'Team Abramoff'?
2. Is the methodology used to assign a campaign contribution to a tainted category ('Team Abramoff') unbiased? Is there (as I suspect) a special condition in the selection criteria which captures Democrats in a much greater number than GOP?

Posted by: Add It Up | January 17, 2006 12:14 AM

So is the Post going to fire the incompetent Howell or not?

"He did direct his tribal clients to contribute to both Democrats and Republicans"

Show the evidence for that!

Posted by: Semblance | January 17, 2006 12:22 AM


Ms. Howell,

1. Jack Abramoff is a Republican. Period. You do your readers an enormous disservice when you confuse that fact rather than clarify it.

2. What is your job as Ombudsman?

3. Why is your understanding of the job so different from mine?

Posted by: B.M. Smith | January 17, 2006 12:23 AM

I wonder if Willis is aware that he is on the edge of committing libel? Given that Jack Abramoff had pled guilty to numerous counts of bribery, a story which paints Democrats as recipients of "Abramoff directed donations"
must be precisely true to avoid libel. Furthermore, I am guessing that the WaPoo blog (sorry---I love that typo!)may not have the same protection as the paper itself.

Mr. Willis, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt about these "Abramoff-directed dontations". Can you kindly point us to documentary evidence which backs up this claim? Also, is there any evidence at all that Democrats were aware they were getting "Abramoff directed money"... any evidence of quid pro quo between Democrats and Abramoff?

I applaud your willingless to discuss this subject with your readers;however, I am puzzled that Ms. Howell has nothing to say. This seems extremely unprofessional behavior for an ombudsman. Do you know if she is planning an extended response and explanation for the appearance of these whoppers in her article?

Posted by: Marky | January 17, 2006 12:25 AM

Hal Straus, Opinions Editor

There were hundreds of comments here Sunday evening. You will note the comments now begin on Monday. I believe you are mistaken and you have removed hundreds of comments.

Posted by: ilex | January 17, 2006 12:32 AM

By the way, a reader thought that several posts have been deleted. I do not believe so---I have kept track of the tally, which is now at around 655. Earlier today it was at 620, which sounds about right to me, as the deluge was last night and this morning.

You can see the number of comments at

http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/washpostblog

Posted by: Marky | January 17, 2006 12:32 AM

So... First we have lies and misrepresentations (from Ms Howell and Ms Schmidt), and now we have spin and misrepresentation in answer to the serious concerns of your readers and concerned citizens.

Sorry Mr. Willis. Your reply solves nothing, but adds to the growing perception of bias.

I do realize that many on the right side of politics are fools who will follow any piper, but rest assured that many on the left are not so easily fooled. we may be easy going generally, but we do have certain moral and ethical expectations. And being blatantly manipulated as if we were ignorant children, is stepping over the line.

Perhaps, in coming years, we will see an obituary on perhaps an alternative media, along the lines of:

"The end of The Washington Post -- Where they went wrong."

Posted by: Paul Franks | January 17, 2006 12:32 AM

P.S. What happened to all the posts from Jan. 14 - 16?

Did the post decide to censor them because they were critical of Ms. Howell's work?

Or did they censor them for some other reason?

Posted by: Concerned Reader | January 17, 2006 12:33 AM

Hmm.. I think the comments are not showing because some page default has been exceeded.
I see what Ilex is saying, but the count is supposedly at 657 or so right now. I don't believe this many show up on the page currently.

Posted by: Marky | January 17, 2006 12:34 AM

Derek Willis claims that Abramoff directed Tribal funds to Democrats, citing previous WaPo articles, but I see nothing in the articles to bolster that assertion. That is, he is using for evidence empty assertions made in a previous article from the WaPo. Where are the original sources? Are there e-mails or other proofs that these Tribal donations were made at the direction of Abramoff or any other lobbyist at his firm? Remember, these Democrats were already receiving donations form the tribes, and their share of tribal donations fell dramatically under Abramoff's influence. Until the WaPo offers evidence that the donations to Democrats were actually caused by some action on the part of Abramoff, this remains a Republican scandal, and Ms. Howell, you and the Washington Post remain implicated in the White House fecal dispersion campaign.

Posted by: notjonathon | January 17, 2006 12:37 AM

Apologies, I intended to add this to my previous comment:

I can see that the moderator is exercising the prerogative of deleting comments. Of course, many of us (I am sure) have copies. I certainly do.

Just as an asside, I have been amused to see comments on the rightwing blogs (those that allow comments) rapidly dissapear when there is a modicum of dissent. Democracy in action, hey? :)

Thank you.

Posted by: Paul franks | January 17, 2006 12:38 AM

"Editor's Note:
We've deleted about a dozen comments in this thread that didn't raise any substantive issues and that were simply personal attacks on Deborah Howell or others. Every other comment that's been submitted has been published -- although because of the high volume of comments, it's possible that publishing has lagged a bit behind submission.

Hal Straus, Opinions Editor"

Mr. Straus, this is a flat-out lie. There were well over 500 posts submitted to this thread between Jan. 14 - 16. I know because I read them all.

Your response has further sunk the reputation and credibility of The Washingon Post.

Posted by: Concerned Reader | January 17, 2006 12:39 AM

Facts and sweeping generalizations. If Abramoff told the "tribes" to donate money to the Democrats, why not point us to the email or testimony or other support that you found in your research? Why not print the totals that these tribes donated to each party and candidate? The "everybody knows" canard just won't wash any more. Details, man, details. Or stfu.

Posted by: Denise | January 17, 2006 12:51 AM

Mr. Willis, please count me among those who want to know on what facts you based your claim that Abramoff directed his Native American clients to donate to Democrats. Further, if that claim is accurate (I'm counting on you to prove it), would you please do some, well, reporting to show that these donations would not have been made without Abramoff's direction? And would you please also interview those Native Americans in a position to know, asking them why Abramoff directed them to make those donations? If you can produce this information without the unfortunate spin that has taken place so far, and if you can document it as fact, it seems to me you'd be making news rather than making up the news. That would be a nice change of pace for the Post's coverage of this scandal, don't ya think?

Posted by: Ohioan in Search of Information | January 17, 2006 12:58 AM

What evidence does Mr. Willis have that Abramoff actually directed indian tribes to give money to Democrats, other than the necessity of "balanced" reporting that insists both sides must be equally guilty of all sins?

Look, when you create a lobbying network specifically to cut out Democrats from both jobs and contributions, when that network turns out to be crooked, then the Republicans who benefited have to take the heat. You can't deny Democrats campaign contributions and then tar them for how those funds were illegally distributed.

Posted by: Dylan Otto Krider | January 17, 2006 01:06 AM

The only thing I see, is the Washington Post trying to defend what amounts to partisan reporting.

For whatever reason, the Post has decided that this absolutely, positively cannot be a Republican only issue.

There just HAS to be Democrats involved, no matter how speculative the reporting.

Posted by: David (Austin Tx) | January 17, 2006 01:10 AM


I saved the comments up to three a.m. last night. I can check which ones have been deleted. Mine appears to have been, though it was very polite.

Posted by: Echidne of the snakes | January 17, 2006 01:13 AM

Just in case my comment was one that was deleted, I would like to reiterate what I said before, which is that when Howell responded to my very reasonable concerns about the WP coverage, I was greeted with a tone that was both sarcastic and dismissive. It was very similar in tone to her responses to MediaMatters' very fair criticisms of the WP coverage, and I have yet to hear her dismiss the criticism of right-wing think tanks or former Bush campaign staffers in the same manner she does non-Republican readers. If I had previously worked for the Bush campaign, no doubt Howell would be renaming her column to reflect its obvious conservative slant.

Posted by: Dylan Otto Krider | January 17, 2006 01:14 AM

Please issue a correction regarding the incorrect statement that Abramoff donated to Democrats. Please also reinstate the hundreds of comments that have been deleted.

Posted by: Steph | January 17, 2006 01:14 AM

what evidence is there that abramoff, as derek willis states, "directed" his clients to give money to democrats, and when will the WAPO concede that it has become an RNC publcation? this is my first and last visit to this vile site.

Posted by: chris from boca | January 17, 2006 01:14 AM

I was just reading through some of the Senate testimony, and there is some basis for saying that Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.
There are also emails in which he complains about Indians giving to Democrats. The key point is that Willis is attempting to tar Democrats as corrupt for receiving money from Indian tribes which they would have received in any event, in greater amounts without Abramoff's influence, receiving the money with no proven knowledge of Abramoff's involvement.

Posted by: Marky | January 17, 2006 01:25 AM

When you correct all of this, please address the trend of how the tribes gave money to democrats over the years. It seems as though the tribes gave less money to dems during the jack'moff years then before. What does that due to your labeling of those donations as "abramoff directed?"

Posted by: jerry | January 17, 2006 01:25 AM

Mr. Willis,

What purpose was your comment? Howell has printed an outright falsehood and subsequentally refused to retract the claim or issue an apology even in the face of enormous reader feedback.

The credibility of the Washington Post with its readers is sinking right along with its ombudsman.

Posted by: manyoso | January 17, 2006 01:26 AM

My comment from last night was deleted. It was very polite.

It looks like about half a thousand or so other comments were deleted as well. WTF?

Posted by: Bill Priff | January 17, 2006 01:27 AM

The comments are being truncated at 50, or some similar number. Notice that the time of the earliest comment changes as you post. Was this the case earlier? Does someone have an archive they can check?

At best, Strauss is guilty of sloppiness in answering the question about deleted messages. Readers deserve better.

Posted by: Marky | January 17, 2006 01:29 AM

Huh... the front page is showing 634 comments, but they are not here when you click through. We must have broken the WaPo's blog.

Posted by: Bill Priff | January 17, 2006 01:29 AM

Washington Post blog off to a glorious(ly inane) start.

Posted by: notTHATstupid | January 17, 2006 01:30 AM

Hal Straus, Opinions Editor

I read this comment earlier and wondered if I had missed your reply?

"You really need to correct the record. NO Democrat got money from Mr. Abramoff; MANY Democrats got money from Mr. Abramoff's CLIENTS-the same clients that Mr. Abramoff was stealing from. It is not the same thing. I'm sorry, Mr. Abramoff is the Republicans burden to bear-this is one scandal the Democrats are not a part of. Please print a retraction, because you are wrong."

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 01:30 AM

Nice deletion efforts there, WaPo. Ignore a problem it will go away, just like the peasants and their dwindling life spans...

Abramoff gave NO MONEY to Democrats, so the obvious conclusion is that he directed money there...

Several Democrats received tribal money before Abramoff ever went there. This was because it took the Christian Coalition a little while to selectively prosecute its righteous indignation as part of the cash cow causes they are built upon. Too bad there were no abortion clinics in the casino lobbies, they could have bombed two birds with one stone...

Hal Strauss and Deb Howell should give us a full iteneray of phone logs and cell phone traffic for the entire span that this Abramoff investigation has been in the media, and also a clear list of who paid for their lunch and any comp tickets to sports events or entertainment that they were given.

Follow.The.Money.

PS-Their resignation as the result of craven prectice and yellow journalism's revival should come without a severance package, else subscribers could expectedly follow class action...

Posted by: Chris Murphy | January 17, 2006 01:31 AM

Anyone figured out yet if the comments that were disappeared are gone for good or just not showing up because of technical glitches?

P.S. The more I read about this story, the more I'm disturbed by the racist attitude being taken toward Native Americans. Shame on you, Washington Post.

Posted by: seth | January 17, 2006 01:31 AM

I'd like to make another point.
Abramoff and Scanlon collected $80 million in lobbying fees and phony "non-profit" donations from the Indians. The amount of actual political contributions is far less than this other sum of money.
If it happens to be true that Harry Reid recieved X thousands of dollars from an Indian tribe "at Abramoff's direction": A) he would not suspect anything, because he had received Indian donations in the past; B) Since there is no evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing on Reid's part, what value is there in telling readers that this paltry sum went to Reid? It is not comparable to the main point of the story, which is about bribery, slush funds and fraud---none of which elements apply to Reid.
Willis, your explanation here deserves further explantion---is there an ombudsman around?

Posted by: Marky | January 17, 2006 01:35 AM

Want to bet this blog gets shut down? The Post will say, "Well we tried to communicate with the public (read:unwashed heathens), but they were too nasty, and vile, and shrill."

They just don't get that the days of top-down communication are over.

Enjoy the ride down WaPo.

Posted by: susan calvin | January 17, 2006 01:35 AM

I would like to thank your paper for first getting me into the journalism profesion and now curse you for being a part of our national media that is making me sick to be a part of the industry. I might also add that it's hard for good journalists to get jobs now because the industry is full lazy press release re-writers that meet the publishers standards.
When I attended ethics in journalism class I was told that every story must be checked and re-checked for facts and mis-statements. It seems to me that your news goes from reporter to paper. You have lost all credibility as a newspaper and can now equate your work with the other paper in town. I hope your circulation will now match your IQ.

Posted by: Jeff in Indy | January 17, 2006 01:35 AM


The older comments appear to roll off the page when new ones are added. I'm not sure how one can read the earlier ones. Can one?

Posted by: Echidne of the snakes | January 17, 2006 01:37 AM

The Republicans set up a system to only give jobs and money to Democrats, and the WP tars the Democrats for taking the money and jobs. Way to screw the victims, WP. Comforting the comfortable. Speaking lies for power.

DeLay held up an electronics bill because the electronics industry had the gall to hire a Democrat. Now that DeLay's in trouble, I expect we'll be hearing about how Democrats were the equal beneficiaries of DeLay's largesse?

Posted by: Memekiller | January 17, 2006 01:38 AM

We can keep the First Ammendment as long as the WaPo keeps up the good work.

Posted by: Karl Rove | January 17, 2006 01:39 AM

There is no evidence that Abramoff "directed" his clients to give to Democrats. Indeed, they had been giving to Democrats as well as Republicans since long before they became clients of Abramoff.

Posted by: Disgusted with WaPo | January 17, 2006 01:40 AM

It's certainly the Washington Post's right to attempt pass off partisan editorializing as factual reporting, but the Post isn't fooling any of its readers --on the left or on the right. The FEC data tells the whole story, regardless of how Deborah Howell tries to distort it.

And please, keep deleting our comments about Ms. Howell; we'll just write more.

Posted by: Ben | January 17, 2006 01:41 AM

PS- Registered Democrats , whether office holders or not, should seriously consider slander charges against your publication.

Boycott notices to ad subscribers would be a logical next step. Derek Willis also has an obligation to disclose in full all contacts he has made or received while at WaPo during the duration of Abramoff's days in the media spotlight.

**practice correction on first post spelling, final statement...

Posted by: Chris Murphy | January 17, 2006 01:47 AM

Let me summarize this for my own meager understanding of l'affaire de Howell.

1. Ms. Howell claims that both Dems and Repubs got substantial contributions from Abramoff.

2. After the readers' uproar over this demonstrable falsehood, the senior editor chimes in saying that Dems got money from clients of Abramoff at the latter's direction, without offering any proof of such direction, and without conceding Ms. Howell's inexplicable flight of fancy to tar the Dems with the same undeserved brush.

3. The readers actually present an email from Mr. Abramoff in which he laments that the tribes are giving money to Democrats.

4. The editor keeps his silence.

5. In the meantime, tens of readers' comments decrying Ms. Howell's lies are deleted fro Post's sight.

6. Another WaPo editor admits that some comments have been deleted, but the veracity of his statement too is open to question.

Incredible. Is this a newspaper or the house organ of some people with political axe to grind?

Posted by: lib | January 17, 2006 01:48 AM

Wow, I've been deleted.

Mr. Strauss can talk all day about how 'about a dozen' posts were deleted. But if there are nearly six hundred comments in this thread that are not readable by the public, I'd consider those posts deleted as well.

Last night, I predicted on my blog that you'd simply turn off comments here. But you've done even worse - removing hundreds of posts from public view while telling your readers they have not been deleted.

I guess that's the same MO that Ms. Howell used when she looked at a Republican scandal and proclaimed that Democrats were part of it.

Didn't you guys used to run a respectable news outlet here?

PS: I'd reiterate last night's call to fire Howell, but it looks as though she's not the only one who has problems with leveling with WaPo readers. Shame on you all.

Posted by: Blah3.com | January 17, 2006 01:56 AM

Two questions:

1. I thought newspapers usually have ombudsmen and public editors in order to help improve their credibility with the readers (cf. John Harris' comments last month). How's that workin' out for ya?

2. What's the term for turning a noun into a verb? 'Cuz you've been froomkined.

Posted by: That'll leave a mark | January 17, 2006 02:08 AM

How amusing. I remember when the WaPo had some credibility.

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood | January 17, 2006 02:10 AM

Regarding the Tiguas, not only the percentage, but the actual dollar amount of campaign funds received by Democrats declined during the Abramoff years. Abramoff himself never gave anything to Dems.

Also, when are you going to consider the money Abramoff received from Russian, Mariana Islands and Guam business interests in your "pie charts".

I'm very concerned by the obvious slant in this reporting, and apparently unethical ombuds. The public awaits your apology/retraction.

Posted by: eliz | January 17, 2006 02:11 AM

My comment was deleted, so I will repost it.

The few remaining reporters at WaPo with any sense of professionalism, no matter what the focus of their work, need to stage a revolt from within to restore the credibility of WaPo to its readership. It should start with the firing of Deborah Howell, but not end there. Ms. Howell, supposedly the representative of the public, has become a "bad hair day" for WaPo every time she opens her mouth. It's not doing much to convince the readership that WaPo is any different from the Washington Times, and it's getting to the point where all WaPo reporters are suspect as possible BushCo mouthpieces, until proven otherwise. When will the remaining folks at WaPo, with integrity and skill in getting things right, force Deborah Howell to stop vomiting up hairballs all over the reading public? After that, do a thorough house cleaning.

Posted by: VG | January 17, 2006 02:12 AM

My comment, which contained no offensive material beyond my call for Deborah Howell to be fired for gross incompetence, has been deleted. Now I want the webmaster fired, too, and I'd like to know where the hell you guys get off.

This is shameful, ESPECIALLY for a news outlet.

Posted by: JR | January 17, 2006 02:29 AM

Deleting 600 comments is the equivalent of a child sticking his fingers in his ears and humming when he doesn't want to hear bad news. So much for expecting adult and rational behavior from anyone at the Post.


Deleting the comments won't delete Howell's libel against the Democrats in Congress. And it will not alter the fact that Abramoff donated not one red cent to any Democrat or democratic organization. From this controversy and her baseless attack on Froomkin one must conclude that Howell is not the readers' representative at the Post at all. She has proven herself to be the representative of several other groups, however; Post reporters with tender egos and the RNC can count on her for mindless support of whatever grievance they have, however ridiculous or petty. Those of us who read the Post can only count on Howell to support positions that are not in our interest because she lobbies for the suppression of truth and the dissemination of outright lies.


It's wrong to blame Howell for this state of affairs, however. It is clear that she is only doing what Graham, Harris, Jones, et al., want her to do. Howell's deceit and unprofessionalism is the shape of things to come at the Post.

Posted by: Xeno | January 17, 2006 02:31 AM

Oops, the WaPoo gremlin ate my comment too.

Good thing I kept a copy: Here it is:

Without any regard for the facts, Ms. Howell stated that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff. As soon as I read this, I knew it was a lie, and I believe the Washington Post also knew it was a lie. Nonetheless, it was published. Why?

In an open and free society, it is imperative to have a trustworthy press. However, given the rightward tilt of the WaPo, our access to factual information from this news source is becoming badly compromised.

I fear that the Washington Post is beginning to take on some of the features of a totalitarian newspaper. Here is what the media was like in Nazi Germany:

The government ran and censored the media. All forms of communication were liable to interference from above and could, and were, heavily censored. This removed freedom of speech, thereby enabling the government to influence popular opinion via propaganda and false news messages.

"False news messages." Sound familiar, Ms. Howell? If we are to preserve and defend our precious democracy, we must loudly condemn and refuse to tolerate false news messages.

I look forward to reading a correction in your paper very soon.

Posted by: susan | January 17, 2006 02:39 AM

Is this a new thread to discuss Deborah Howell and the ombudsman position in general? Is there an archive for the old posts?

Hey, Deborah Howell is news. That's her job, right?, criticizing the paper to make it a better paper. Hey, I can live with a cranky, messy, ombudsman but I'd like to complain one more time about Deborah Howell since the more of her I read, the more valid the criticism seems and, by now, after, what 1000 posts, isn't it her _job_ to answer these kinds of, ahem, complaints?

As they say in pre-K, I don't have anything against Ms. Howell, I just don't like what she writes.

While what she wrote about Dem involvement in the Abramoff indictments/investigation is false, it was also likely written knowing it is false. Presumably, her editor(s) also knew it was false. I dunno, maybe she's friend with Abramoff, maybe her editors are, and it's just a screwed up story but, why would a people's editor have trouble with saying bad things about the current GOP?

Maybe the Newhouse management likes Abramoff and they've picke their flunkies to fend off the hordes?

Mrs. Howell's loyalties are clear: "I have no intention of working for anybody else but the Newhouse family." Maybe, for business reasons, of course, someone a little scruffier at the Newhouse table should handle what is basically a PR job.

>Howell: ...We knew that Washington or New York would be good places for us, or maybe even Chicago. We knew it had to be a big city, San Francisco, L.A., but we knew Washington and New York held the greatest promise...

>Moorhus: And what was Peter looking for?

>Howell: Peter always did want the job he got, which was the president of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, which is the big trade association of the big land grant universities, so he's just happy as he can be. And I like this job a lot. I have no intention of leaving it. I have no intention of working for anybody else but the Newhouse family. I like them a lot. It'd take an incredible job to pull me out of here.

http://npc.press.org/wpforal/how4.htm

Posted by: Lewis French | January 17, 2006 02:45 AM

Hey, Lewis French:

The interview you quoted is from 1993. Howell worked for the DC bureau of Newshouse News services back then. The Post isn't a Newhouse paper. You're way off-topic and off-target here. Don't distract us from Howell's sins. Just wanted to set the record straight.

Posted by: doofus | January 17, 2006 03:19 AM

Well, that's a slap in the face. My post was deleted, too -- and all I did was express my dismay with Ms. Howell's column, and ask that a retraction be published. I truly do not understand what has happened to the Post. I used to hold it in high esteem. Now look what it has become...

Posted by: Disappointed in Ohio | January 17, 2006 03:22 AM

Does the Washington Posdt expect to print a retraction of the GOP talking point that the Dems got money from Abramoff or are they just going to soldier on in the best Judith Miller tradition and pretend this whole sordid litle bit of shilling for Republicans never happened?

Posted by: Geoff Dewan | January 17, 2006 03:27 AM

Shame, shame,shame... Ms. Howell should be fired for knowingly repeating easily reputable falsehoods in one of the nations great papers. Those responsible for the decision to remove the comments critical of the coverage should be reprimanded as well. If the decision to censor criticism, no matter how well founded, of the papers coverage came from up high; then I wil no longer read this paper.

Thank you for your anticipated action regarding this matter.

Ciao, Gioele

Posted by: Gioele | January 17, 2006 03:45 AM

Shame, shame,shame... Ms. Howell should be fired for knowingly repeating easily reputable falsehoods in one of the nations great papers. Those responsible for the decision to remove the comments critical of the coverage should be reprimanded as well. If the decision to censor criticism, no matter how well founded, of the papers coverage came from up high; then I wil no longer read this paper.

Thank you for your anticipated action regarding this matter.

Ciao, Gioele

Posted by: Gioele | January 17, 2006 03:46 AM

The Washington Post has lost credibility even to the extent that they delete posts. My posts was not a personal attack on Ms. Howell, unless a demand she "RESIGN IN SHAME" is now worthy of censor.

A dozen my foot.

Posted by: Attaturk | January 17, 2006 03:47 AM

It would be nice if the owners and editors of the Washington Post would LEARN that no matter how hard they try to APPEASE the "Coalition for Conservative Advertisers" it will NEVER be enough.

Posted by: Ray Beauvais | January 17, 2006 03:57 AM

My comment was deleted too and it wasn't obscene or threatening. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Hoosierville | January 17, 2006 04:19 AM

Why did you delete my polite comment?

Sigh...

Again: You claim Abramoff gave money to the Democrats. Name one.

No? Then retract your statement, then apologize to the 600 people whose comments you deleted here.

I also said you are just repeating Republican propaganda by saying how bad Native American donations are. Cherokee Nation gave money to Brad Carson because...ready? He *IS* a Cherokee. Anything wrong with that?

Deleting 600 comments and calling it a dozen...first you lie about an A+ political scandal, then you lie about numbers. Where does it stop?

Posted by: egregious | January 17, 2006 05:01 AM

Dear Washington Post,

In your paper over the past few weeks I've been faced with Howell's ineptitude/malice, Morin's anger over someone daring to say that the impeachment question should be asked, Schmidt's somewhat lackadaisical use of facts in her reporting, and Kurtz's attempt to give legitimacy to the swiftboating of Jack Murtha.

Please give the "fair and balanced" news related activities some rest and just give me the truth. Thank you.

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 05:13 AM

I just checked your corrections page and as great as it is that you spelled Yuan Zhang's name right and gave Mr. Annenkov the correct job description, you might want to note that no Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff. It really is the right thing to do.

Remember, the truth will set you free!

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 05:22 AM

WaPo:

Your writer Willis has entered the fray which is appreciated, but his points too aren't as accurate as he claims. I think there has been a tremendous negative reaction to your writer Howell's piece and her gross inaccuracies. Plus the WaPo has been misreporting the news to the point that we suspect how actively the WaPo contributes to the RNC directed disinformation campaign. Really, there already is the WaTimes, you don't have space over there. You should return to your traditional roots and try to report factual, clear news. Passing up easy chances to verify claims and state clearly who the speakers are as in your echo of the slime attack on Rep Murtha won't perserve your franchise. At this state, why read the Post?

Further, this is an informed informal public discussion that we're having here on your blog. I wish it was being conducted under happier circumstances. The WaPo should be proud that they're able to generate this type of discussion.

Posted by: christo | January 17, 2006 05:33 AM

Still no retraction????? Shame Shame Shame.

Posted by: Joe Albanese | January 17, 2006 06:03 AM

Wow.... YOU DELETED HUNDREDS of comments. Why? What are you afraid of? Is their ANY integrity left at the Washington Post? Any?

Posted by: Slide | January 17, 2006 06:04 AM

It is a sad day for the Washington Post when one finds greater truths, and more thorough investigation of a matter (ie Abramoff and his dirty money) via a reader's weblog than in the pages of the newspaper.

I think the Washington Post needs to put out this full story in it's pages accompanied by an apology from it's seriously mistaken ombudsman.

Posted by: James Jensen | January 17, 2006 06:14 AM

There was nothing "offensive" about many of the comments that were deleted, including mine. I had asked politely for a correction of an easily verified mistatement, and had provided a source (FEC) for verifying this information.

Not only were you disingenuous about the reason for deleting, someone apparently has also lied about the the number of comments that have been deleted.

Why should we read your newspaper if you are unable and/or unwilling to consistently perform credible reporting and ombudsmanship?

Your recent actions (and editorial inaction) will only serve to drive your trade into deeper irrelevance and obsolescence.

Posted by: Tony Kiszewski | January 17, 2006 06:27 AM

Set aside, for the moment, the fact that your readers have utterly nailed you on your factual errors. Deleting angry but overwhelmingly inoffensively phrased comments (yes, some used foul language, but those were a clear minority when I read them)? Astonishing, depressing, disgusting, disturbing, alarming...unacceptable. Your hostility towards your readers is mind boggling. What kind of business model is this? During the Froomkin kerfuffle national politics editor John Harris claimed that credibility is the Post's greatest asset. Ask yourselves honestly, how does this mass deletion contribute to your credibility? Isn't there anyone at the Post who can step in and put a stop to this insane war on your readers?

Posted by: Alan | January 17, 2006 06:45 AM

I posted a politely worded and puzzled question--why is Deborah Howell posting that Democracts took money from Abrahmoff, when by all evidence it's simply not true? And for some reason, it was deleted.

I thought I subscribed to a major newspaper with a commitment to accuracy and the truh, but apparently not.

Please print a retraction. And please don't delete this message

Posted by: H. C. Carey | January 17, 2006 06:50 AM

You know, you could easily solve this problem by taking a pledge not to print lies, which would relieve you of feeling any responsibility to give a hearing to all that rubbish you get from the Heritage Foundation and the RNC in general.

You know their stuff is lies. They know their stuff is lies. No newspaper is obliged to print known lies, no matter how much the right-wingers whine about "bias".

If the facts are "biased" against the Republicans, so be it. They should clean up their house; it's not your job to cover for them.

Posted by: Avedon | January 17, 2006 06:50 AM

If the Washington Times deleted a blog that had hundreds of passionate and articulate complaints about its coverage--rather than deleting the small number of offensive ones--the Washington Post would have covered that story.

Apparently, in the past.

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 07:08 AM

Both of mine were deleted too. One was snarky, but not the least bit obscene, threatening or personal. I think I said WP=W Propaganda. In the other, I said that having an ombudsman (ombudsperson?) make a significant factual error favoring one side in a highly charged political scandal--an error that could have easily been avoided by visiting the FEC web site--was surely a firing offense. Ombudsmen are supposed to correct these kinds of errors, not perpetuate them and cause confusion for readers and bad PR for the paper.

If that was worthy of being deleted, mein gott, have you ever seen the comment threads on a REAL public forum?

You guys really don't have a clue how this whole blog thing works, do you?

Posted by: DrBB | January 17, 2006 07:27 AM

Apologies for the double post. I don't know how that happened. Please feel free to delete the first comment (though, I do hope you will have the courtesy to leave the second comment as is).

Thank You.

Posted by: Paul Dobson | January 17, 2006 07:28 AM

Sorry, Hal about assuming intentional deletion of the many earlier comments. I just read your explanation of the deletions.

It's certainly fair to give you the benefit of the doubt on this that it was unintentional, which will obviously be aided by reposting the removed items soon (sans the dozen or so offensive/nonsubstantive ones).

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 07:28 AM

Where are the comments from yesterday?

Posted by: Barbara in FFx | January 17, 2006 07:51 AM

So much for the great paper that brought down Nixon. Now it's just a GOP organ and liner for parakeet cages.

Posted by: NTodd | January 17, 2006 07:53 AM

So much for the great paper that brought down Nixon. Now it's just a GOP organ and liner for parakeet cages.

Posted by: NTodd | January 17, 2006 07:55 AM

When did Reverend Moon buy the Washington Post? How did I mis that? Looks like it's the Toledo Blade and other newspapers that employ hungry, independent reporters for this news junkie (whose post was also deleted).

One wonders why the both the New York Times and the Washington Post *require* ombudsmen - if they didn't spend all their time and effort kowtowing to the Republican administration, maybe all of this would be unnecessary.

Posted by: watertiger | January 17, 2006 07:57 AM

Post no like posts? Post no like its readers? Post no like freedom of expression? Post no like this computer thingee? Post no like a truly public editor? Post no like the truth?

Posted by: Eddie Murrow | January 17, 2006 07:58 AM

Is it possible this is a technical glitch? Maybe comments are just falling off the bottom of the list? There certainly aren't 800+ commments on this page, but the thread says there are...

Posted by: Joesmith | January 17, 2006 08:00 AM

Based on my experiment, the screen is only set to show a fraction of the total comments. Considering this is the only post that has had more than a handful, they probably didn't know this was happening.

I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and see if the hamster-in-charge can change the way the 'blog' works so it can show more comments. No mass deletions here...

Posted by: Joesmith | January 17, 2006 08:03 AM

I am shocked and dismayed on so many levels.

My family and I have been discussing Ms. Howell's failure to live up to any semblance of journalistic or ombudsman's integrity in her Abramoff article, and my husband felt the need to comment previously in this thread. His comments were direct, but respectful.

Those comments are now gone. Disappeared.
Deborah Howell must be a really fragile, brittle "ombudsman", and the Washington Post afraid of its own shadow if it cannot tolerate legitimate dialogue regarding the conduct of its ombudsman and the balance of its reporting.

Shame on you.

Posted by: Carolyn Cavalier | January 17, 2006 08:09 AM

That's a bummer. I haven't checked to see if I've been deleted because that would mean spending more than 30 seconds at this place but I hope they didn't axe me. I was serious when I shared Okrent's Law with the apparently fragile Ms. Howell. And instead of calling for her dismissal, I suggested hiring her an assistant to constantly remind her of it. I'm growing the economy damnit. Why does the pro-war WaPo hate America?

Posted by: eRobin | January 17, 2006 08:09 AM

Why did you delete my comment in this thread?

Why is there not even a note that comments have been deleted?

Who made the decision to delete my comment? My comment was polite and brief. I only suggested that you label Ms. Howell's column "opinion" so that no one would be misled as to its nature.

Is there a written Post policy on deleting comments, and if so where would I find it?

Posted by: Former Reader | January 17, 2006 08:18 AM

In response to one of the earlier comments, which reads: "So, what is Willis really trying to say? That Abramoff directed his clients to give less to Democrats, and more - bulk more, a XXXXXXX more - to Republicans?" (I removed the curse word - family newspaper and all.) What I was trying to say is that Abramoff directed his tribal clients to give money, mostly to Republicans, with lesser amounts to Democrats. But contrary to what some commenters have said here, Abramoff did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees. Our reporters have documents showing this to be the case, and I have asked that we post at least some of them so that readers can see for themselves.

As to sourcing: FEC data was one source for this information, but prior to 2003 a number of lawmakers also operated non-federal accounts that reported to the IRS. These accounts, which could accept any amount of money from donors, also were recipients of the tribal clients' contributions.

Finally, to Chris Murphy, who asked me to disclose my "contacts" during the period of the Post's Abramoff reporting: I'm not a reporter, so my contacts aren't as exciting as you may think. I work in the Post's research library, where I help gather and analyze data for stories. For the record, I've never met or spoken to Jack Abramoff, his attorneys or his clients.

Posted by: Derek Willis | January 17, 2006 08:18 AM

HEY EVERYONE!

Please read the next post "Problems With Comment Publishing"

http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/washpostblog/2006/01/problems_with_c.html

I think we can give WaPo the benefit of the doubt about the missing comments. Hopefully they can fix the problem.

I apologise for my assumption that the comments were deleted.

But that doesn't excuse Sue Schmidt or
Deborah Howell, or the responsibility of WaPo for *accurate* and honest reporting.

Posted by: Paul Franks | January 17, 2006 08:25 AM

Call Democrats crooks but don't question the integtrity of Ms. Howell.

Posted by: gop | January 17, 2006 08:28 AM

I apologize for misconstruing the actions that resulted in the loss of hundreds of comments as deliberate.

But I'm still waiting for a simple correction of the previous incorrect statements to appear in the Post, even if it were limited to those aspects of the story that are completely verifiable, unambiguous and indisputable:

1. Jack Abramoff gave ZERO donations to Democrats or Democratic organizations.

2. Tribal organizations gave LESS to Democrats and Democratic groups AFTER Jack Abramoff became involved with them.

For whatever reason, your writers and ombudsman thus far seem incapable of engaging accurately in any nuanced discussions of the Abramoff case.

Posted by: Tony Kiszewski | January 17, 2006 08:32 AM

Shame, shame, shame. Over 600 comments deleted and not one of them in support of Howell. Doesn't that tell you something, WaPo? It tells me something. It tells me you've ceased the charade that you report for your readers and have openly declared your puppet status for the GOP.

Do you think if you just keep deleting comments and ignoring the problem it will go away? It won't. Bloggers have a long memory. I know I'll never forget how the once mighty WaPo behaved like a child, stuck its fingers in its collective ears and went, "La la la la, I can't hear you!"

Posted by: Diogenes | January 17, 2006 08:33 AM

I refer to the response by Derek Willis dated Jan 17, 2006 8:18:59 AM:

He says that Post reporters have documents showing Abramoff directed money from tribal clients to Democrats. Two comments:
1) Show us the documents (name names and dates and amounts and reasons if known-isn't that reporting?); and
2) This does nothing to respond to Ms. Howell's blatent falsehood about Mr. Abramoff's contributions, which went only to Republicans. Where is the retraction?

Posted by: Michelle | January 17, 2006 08:35 AM

Well, my post got deleted because the WaPo thinks that impugning Ms. Howell's integrity and credibility is over the line.

She is impugning the integrity and credibility of our elected officials and our Senate. Why don't you delete her posts??

WaPo==Pathethic.

(that's the sound of my subscription being cancelled at light speed)

Posted by: Marcelo | January 17, 2006 08:36 AM

Just when you think the Washington POst has bottomed-out as low as they can go, they hand Deborah Howell a shovel and tell her to dig deeper. I've had it with this newspaper, they've repeatedly discredited themselves the past few years and blown my trust.

Posted by: Billy Bob Tweed | January 17, 2006 08:38 AM

Mr. Derek Willis ignores the fact that since Abramoff, campaign contributions by Indian Tribes to Democrats took a plunge.

Only in his crazy mind is this indicative of Mr. Abramoff directing money to Democrats.

Shame!! Shame!!

Posted by: Marcelo | January 17, 2006 08:38 AM

Thanks for deleting my comments. The Post, under Fred Hiatt seems intent on driving away its loyal readers ( I quit last July after 15 years) and this latest stunt appears to prove the point that the Post has lost stature among newspapers.If a few negative comments have to be deleted , then the insecurity at the post is way out of hand. Isn't the post losing readers at a large rate?, and yetthe post just goes on its way with Hiatt and company driving the paper into the ground . Sounds as if the Post has accepted the Republican mantra of " personal responsibility" (except for republicans and their fellow travelers). Buck up Fred, and take responsibility for ruining a once great American Newspaper.

Posted by: James Dungan | January 17, 2006 08:39 AM

"But contrary to what some commenters have said here, Abramoff did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees. Our reporters have documents showing this to be the case, and I have asked that we post at least some of them so that readers can see for themselves."

Show the Quid-Pro-Quo or retract this smear.

Posted by: Marcelo | January 17, 2006 08:44 AM

Since it's unclear whether or not the ombudsmans email is any better maintained than the blog...

Ms. Howell--

It was extremely disappointing to see the assertion that lobbyist Jack Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," repeated in your 01/15 column. That claim is a complete falsehood, one that attempts to show bipartisan taint where none exists.

First, as a matter of public record, Jack Abramoff didn't contribute a dime to democratic congressional figures. Second, while some Democrats did receive contributions from groups tied to Abramoff (as you correctly noted later in the column), the issue is not receipt of contributions, but the quid pro quo exchange of favors for those contributions.

At this point, your closing remarks that state, "...reporting on the investigations hasn't put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated. But stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over," imply a shoe waiting to drop that, once again, attempts to show bipartisan participation in the corruption where none exists.

Responding to Republican criticism with, "it's not over, yet," is wholly inappropriate, and smacks of an attempt to appease those critics rather than answer them honestly.

And that's what this comes down to: honesty. The characterizations in your column appear to show a commitment not to honesty, but to so-called "balance," even when the facts don't bear out the scandal having a balanced reach.

Posted by: Verchiel | January 17, 2006 08:46 AM

Posted by: Derek Willis | Jan 17, 2006 8:18:59 AM

That is a really weak defense of poor reporting.

In your story from last June ("Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations: Abramoff Issue's Fallout May Extend Beyond the GOP"), you included a nugget about Patrick Kennedy & his relationship with the Indian tribes. "Kennedy traces the money's genesis to his family's long-standing commitment to Indian causes, to the fact that he co-founded the Congressional Native American Caucus in 1997, and to his personal relationship with Mississippi Choctaw Chief Philip Martin, whom Kennedy met in 1999 on a fundraising trip for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."

Um, then, isn't it stretching the truth to say that Abramoff directed his Indian clients to donate to Patrick Kennedy, if Kennedy had a independent relationship with the Indian tribes? The same would go for your attempt to hit Harry Reid, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee with strong relations with Indian tribes.

The bottom line is you're helping frame Abramoff's tribal clients not as victims, but as essentially co-conspirators in an effort to help the GOP make its case that this is a 'bipartisan' scandal. Pulling out all the FEC data you can doesn't make it so.

Pitiable. And my comment was also deleted calling for Deborah Howell's firing. WaPo used to be a great paper; but it's now a shadow of its former self.

Posted by: Corinne | January 17, 2006 08:52 AM

TO Derek Willis at Jan 17, 2006 8:18:59

Show the documents and the Quid pro Quo or retract your libelous statement.

Your word alone doesn't cut it, pal.

Posted by: James | January 17, 2006 08:55 AM

Okay, okay, so the blog "can't handle" all these replies.

Wait a minute, aren't you like some big Washington DC newspaper? Isn't DC like one of the biggest cities in the nation? Don't they have the web in DC? Isn't a newspaper part of the media? Hasn't every other newspaper hopped on this "media" train and ended up in the world wide web? Isn't it the media's job to stay on top of new events and technologies? Technologies like, oh, I don't know...blogging? How come I've never heard of this happening before on a major media outlet website blog? Where did all the other posts go? Can't the WAPO, being a key player of the media, at least afford to find a 12-year-old D&D geek to fix their blog? I bet for another $20 he could get all those "lost" posts back, and up. Don't you think that's a good idea, WAPO?

Just some questions, that's all...

Posted by: Katie! | January 17, 2006 09:00 AM

One more thing. Printing either a simple retraction or proof, something any reputable newspaper should have NO problem with, would have made this a non-issue.

By deleting comments, you've given credibility to the impression you're nothing more than shills for the GOP and deeply angered your readership.

But you say it was simply a technical glitch? Prove it. Restore the deleted comments (you DO have a back up just like any other professional web site, right?), then either print a retraction or prove Howell's outlandish accusations.

Posted by: Diogenes | January 17, 2006 09:02 AM

From the memory banks:

Towards a Genealogy of Modern Propaganda

"It must be forbidden to publish papers which do not conduce to the national welfare."
From the Program of the National Socialist German Workers Party, 1920

I guess the WaPo print editors got the updated, Bushist memo... Sieg heel! (like a dog)

Payola, "access," talking points, stenography, fake reporters, "fair and balanced," outright fabrication: so many press scandals, so little ink about it.

Posted by: Eddie Murrow | January 17, 2006 09:16 AM

The coverup is often worse that the act itself. Six hundred comments= a dozen. Few things seems to compute at the Post these days. Tis a pity.

Posted by: former MSM journalist | January 17, 2006 09:16 AM

I live here in Washington D.C. and have read both the Post online and print editions for years. That's why I find myself so disappointed in the Post's behavior regarding this fiasco. First, the paper has wrongly reported the facts by saying that Jack Abramoff had contributed to Democrats. That would make him the first ever former President of the College Republicans to do so.

A weak defense by the paper the other day argued that Abramoff had directed contributions from tribes to Democrats. Really? I haven't seen any direct evidence of that. It may be true however. In order to back up your assertion, let's see an accounting of all of the contributions Abramoff directed to all Members of Congress. That would settle this once and for all.

A final note: These are your readers here--your customers--who have been deeply disappointing in your reporting on this issue. And this has been only one of a number of incidents where this paper has failed the public by deliberately wrongly reporting a story in such a way as to lessen its impact on a political party. The paper would do well to inform its readers of the error, clarify its reporting, and apologize for the confusion created.

I won't comment on the deleting of comments other than to say that you know it is wrong.

Posted by: Rob Waldeck | January 17, 2006 09:23 AM

Just curious - Why have my comments and many many others have been deleted from the above thread? Mine at least were factually correct, not hostile, contained no obscenity or any other content that should warrant censorship. Please explain this mysterious mass deletion, but first explain why your paper runs counterfactual stories as news and refuses to run retractions.

Posted by: polychrome | January 17, 2006 09:26 AM

Willis--

As I read your post, it asserts that you checked the evidence of Ambramoff directing money to Democrats by comparing a list of his clients with lists of contributors to democratic congressmen.

(1) The coincidence of clients and sources clearly does not prove Abramoff "directed" these clients to make these donations.

(2) Howell's article clearly asserts that Abramoff gave *directly* to dems, not just through clients.

(3) I do not believe that you've confused these two categories; your willingness to confute them here destroys your credibility as well as suggesting your contempt for the acumen of your readers.

(Q.E.D.)

Posted by: Devo | January 17, 2006 09:29 AM

Deborah Howell and the WP have some major work to do in coming clean about transparency and honesty in reporting. Since when the Post become the administration's lapdog?

After Woodward's unforgiveable actions in the Plame case and the shameful attack by Howell and others at the paper against Froomkin, this latest shouldn't be allowed to stand without a public retraction and a lot of internal discussion about the role of a major U.S. newspaper. It's a sad day when so many of your readers have to correct you on the stories of the day.

Posted by: hannahb | January 17, 2006 09:31 AM

Oh the comedy of it all.
One MORE reason why your factually challenged paper is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Posted by: shingles | January 17, 2006 09:48 AM

My comment was one of the ones deleted, and it was certainly not obscene or even intemperate--I simply pointed out that Howell had not met the standard of proof that one expects of a freshman composition student.

Not one dirty word in the whole post.

Now if the Post wants to be Ken Mehlman's mouthpiece, then that is certainly your pregrogative, but don't expect thinking readers to consider you credible.

Posted by: Not at all surprised, unfortunately | January 17, 2006 09:57 AM

To the Post Executives again.

Why is the Post now deleteing the comments of their posters?

Is the Post philosophy now that when thousands of people complaing to pug their ears?

The point of a blog is to interact with your audience. Why pretend to be blogging if you can't deal with the feed back.

Reguardless of the Post's unprofessional behavior. Debra Howell has created serious cause for concern in her attempt as ombudsman to paint the Abramoff scandal as bi-partisan. It's starting to look like she's not alone in her partisan values.

As I said yesterday if the Post wishes to become a paper portal for clothing advertisements for the local DC area its heading in the right direction. If it wants to be known as a NEWSPAPER, or as the nations record, it is seriously undermining its own credibility. Rather than deleteing the feedback you should have been reporting on it. Clearly there is a story if thousands of people take the trouble to send you corrections.

You guys can curl up into a ball and pretend that everything is rosy,or you can change and adapt and report the truth. Either way your reputation will not keep you. You must report or suffer replacement.

Posted by: patience | January 17, 2006 09:57 AM

I find myself wondering why my comment was deleted. I was polite. I use no profanity. I did not insult anyone. All I did was point out three simple facts (and they are facts) that Ms. Howell had to have either missed or ignored to write her piece. One of those facts was that the tribal donations to Democrats actualy went down drastically once a tribe hired good old Jack. If Jack was directing his clients to give money to Dems, then he was a poor salesman. Of course, Derek Willis, in Howell's defense, ignores this fact, too. I can't say that he may have missed it because someone involved in the news business has to know about it.

I will expect retractions of both stories, as well as apologies to your readers for misleading them with RNC talking points.

Thank you.

Posted by: Late to the party | January 17, 2006 09:58 AM

Thanks for deleting my comments too.

I did not use any swear words, and merely pointed out that the WAPO is promoting untruth.

This is just further evidence that the WAPO is promoting Republican Talking Points, and wants to delete or hide any evidence to the contrary.

The other alternative would be simply to apologize for spreading falsehoods and promise to tell the truth next time.

Guess which one they chose.

I wonder how long this post will past before they delete it.

Posted by: Amazed | January 17, 2006 10:03 AM

Why have my comments been deleted? Here's my letter again. Please try to keep track of it this time. Thank you.

Letter to the Editor

Just so you know, I was born in the District and came of political age there. I have always had deep respect for the Post based primarily on the Watergate work. Yes, I was there then to see it first hand. My mother actually worked for the Committee to Impeach Nixon. I can still remember the highly charged climate of Lies, deceit and hypocrisy in the city. The country was in trouble then. The country is in trouble now.

The Post has made a mistake with this person Howell. She has made a fundamental error in judgment. It should be corrected VERY soon. Monday (MLK Day) would be appropriate for this to happen. Of course, the remedy is entirely yours but I would like to suggest that you not allow her further statements to be printed. Do you not have some back office assignment for her? Please do the right thing and remove her from the current position.

I have moved away from the City to the West coast but still read the Post everyday by way of washingtonpost.com. A change has been noticed at the Post even out here. With me, I suppose, it came when I realized Bob Woodward was in bed with the administration. This was hard for me to accept at first. But, after listening and reading his opinions it became clear that he had been corrupted by the power/money machine in DC. You would have to agree that it happens frequently. But, I thought, not Woodward. Then the fuss over the Daily Briefing on-line column. Plain nonsense. You know, we can see this guy McClellan way out here too. Everyday. CSPAN works. We know what is happening, unfortunately.

What has happened to you Washington Post? Is the paper too large for your management structure now? Are the issues to big for you.? I have been waiting for someone to come to their senses at the Post. It is past due. Please take whatever measures are needed to stop this credibility slide. In my opinion, you need Ben Bradlee back on the site. Would you be willing to give him a call please?

California_reality_check

Posted by: california_relity_check | January 17, 2006 10:07 AM

With apologies to Isaac Hayes:

"If Double-U is wrong, I don't want to be right."

Posted by: WAPO Bush Bootlicker | January 17, 2006 10:14 AM

Deborah Howell has - in the name of the venerable Washington Post - printed outright lies.

And this used to be a good newspaper.

Posted by: Ralph Dosser | January 17, 2006 10:16 AM

You seem to be mysteriously missing about, oh, 700 or so comments here. What happened?

Posted by: badgervan | January 17, 2006 10:19 AM

SHAME ON YOU WAPOO!

How DARE you delete my criticism of your ombudsman Howell.

Jack Abramoff gave not once cent, zero, nada to Democrats, and yet the WaPoo continues to report this bald faced LIE!

Retract, issue a correction, and issue an apology!

Posted by: Kurt | January 17, 2006 10:23 AM

This issue is far more than just one story, but of much of the reporting across our news media. This also not just the question one reporter, but part of a much larger issue in our news media.

As "journalists" I would have hoped that you would understand a simple truth in your industry: All you have to sell is your credibility. Printing stories that make accusations without substantive facts or documentation undermines credibility. Printing stories that have demonstrable failures of fact undermines credibility. Printing stories that are little more than partisan talking-points without anything that even resembles balance undermines credibility. Acting as a house organ for one ideology and one group undermines credibility. Deleting hundreds of comments from your readers pointing out all of the above undermines credibility. All this while the newspaper industry wrings their hands over declining circulation, and cannot understand why this might happen?

These are the actions of the type of so-called news outlets one has come to identify with state sponsored media in a one party state, such as China, Syria, or the former Soviet Union. Does the Washington Post really want to become the New Pravda? I would hope not, not in this country, so I must ask: Why does The Washington Post hate America?

Posted by: clyde | January 17, 2006 10:23 AM

It appears the Post needs an ombudsman for its ombudsman.

Posted by: Billmon | January 17, 2006 10:27 AM

I repeat my comment. Did Deborah Howell get any Abramhoff money? I have as much evidence of that as the WaPo does that Democrats got Abramhoff money or that Abramhoff DIRECTED indian tribes to give Democrats money!

Posted by: Alvord | January 17, 2006 10:29 AM

Deborah,
If you keep repeating the same lie over and over, at some point, some of the sheeple will believe it. Guess then you'll be satisfied.

Posted by: Molly | January 17, 2006 10:30 AM

"What I was trying to say is that Abramoff directed his tribal clients to give money, mostly to Republicans, with lesser amounts to Democrats."

So Mr. Willis is your defense that your just a poor writer?

The facts are clear; those same tribes gave less to Democrats after Abramoff got involved than they did before, while at the same time their contributions to Rebuclicans increased dramatically.

Your readers are upset because you, Ms. Schmidt and Ms. Howell all seem to be ignoring the much larger story of Republican corruption while trying to find some way to smear Democrats with the same brush.

Indian tribes giving less than used to to Democrats while giving more than they used to Republicans after they hooked up with a corrupt Republican lobbyist whoi has confessed to stealing their money and using it to bribe Republicans is not a bi-partisan scandal. It is a Republican scandal.

Your readers aren't stupid, Mr. Willis, and thankfully they have access to the facts from other sources.

Posted by: A Hermit | January 17, 2006 10:32 AM

Derek Willis,

I appreciate your posting here; however, there are major questions about the Post's reporting:

1. Are Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay personal friends? The same reporters completely changed there view of this without any explaination. They did so in the context of explaining that Abramoff is Jewish -- which some have alleged is part of a Republican compain to distance themselves from Abramoff using pernicious stereotypes. I, for instance, have followed the story closely for several years without knowing Mr. Abramoff's cultural or religious background. Some explaination of why these reporters completely changed their views is needed

2. Most distressingly, the public editor stated that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats. This is false. While he may have directed his clients to donate, as you state, the Post, to my knowledge, has not clearly reported on this.

The public editor (and the Post) have clearly lost the confidence of the public.

The post needs to explain this situation.

Posted by: Ted | January 17, 2006 10:40 AM

Mr Willis,

This is what blooomberg news had to say in their analysis. (http://tinyurl.com/98gyr)

While this is factually compatible with what you're saying, it's implications are 180 degrees from the Post's reporting on the matter. Does the Post have information that rebuts the two salient points below, or doesn't it?

"Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats."

And:

"Abramoff's tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past."

Posted by: Ian Coleman | January 17, 2006 10:41 AM

The WashPo reporters should check to see which Congressman *helped Indian Tribes that are not in their district or state*.

Posted by: Semblance | January 17, 2006 10:44 AM

first we have incompetent and dishonest reporting by the alleged Ombudsperson, Deborah Howells. Then a Willis is sent in to weakly explain away her errors. Then the WaPoo screws up the mechanics of the blog by making the multitudinous witty and irate comments disappear.
Can't the Post do anything right anymore?
If Kay Graham were alive today, she'd be spinning in her grave!

Posted by: wilson46201 | January 17, 2006 10:51 AM

Re: Derek Willis defense of Deborah Howell

5 words...

WHAT CHOO TALKIN 'BOUT, WILLIS?

Posted by: justmy2 | January 17, 2006 10:59 AM

Note how Willis' original post is since deleted. Can't have that sort of evidence around, if they've decided to change their argument to defend it.

Posted by: Flappy Bob | January 17, 2006 10:59 AM

To say that "dems got contributions from Abramoff donors" is deliberately misleading..particularly in the context of an argument that concludes "so dems did it too".

What some dems did was to take legal contributions from indian tribes- to conclude that this is "the same as" taking illegal money from Abramoff for votes- is morally bankrupt..


It's like a bank robber arguing "Why put me in jail- all those other people were taking money out of the bank too!"

Well yeah- but it was THEIR money- and they didn't take it out with a gun!

I mean- why can't the WP just ADMIT this and move on? What you are doing here is STUPID- beyond belief!

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 11:00 AM

Ms. Howell:
The Ministry of Truth thanks you for your service to Big Brother.

Posted by: Winston Smith | January 17, 2006 11:01 AM

"Abramoff directed donations"

This means that he told the tribes- "if yer gonna give money to DEMS- you will have to do it directly- not through me"

Why is the WP even bringing this up? It's totally irrelevant! It's a STUPID defense.

Posted by: rwcole | January 17, 2006 11:03 AM

I was a 20-year post subscriber back when I lived in Virginia. Now I wouldn't use your paper to train my puppy. Nice journamalism your "newspaper" is doing these days.

Posted by: Garryowen | January 17, 2006 11:06 AM

Washington Post, your readership is speaking. Your readership sounds very intelligent. Are you listening? Do you have an answer?

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 11:06 AM

concerning the disappearing comments: did your webmasters learn HTML at the Rosemary Woods Secretarial School ?

Posted by: wilson46201 | January 17, 2006 11:07 AM

Your readership has speken to you since Sunday night here. They seem very intelligent. They seem to understand journalism. Are you listening? Do you have an answer?

Posted by: Bob | January 17, 2006 11:09 AM

Yes, show us the document wherein in Abramoff "directs" Native Americans to send contributions. The Native Americans were victims, not perpetrators. Show us the document, Willis.

Wow, the Washington Post is a terrible newspaper!

Posted by: NYFun | January 17, 2006 11:11 AM

I realize it's probably amusing that my earlier post twitting Mr Willis for being a "poor writer" is so full of mis-spellings and grammatical errors, but then unlike Wilis I don't pretend to be a professional, and I got the facts straight...

Please consider me for the position of WaPo ombudsman. I am available for the right price (nudge, wink)

Posted by: A Hermit | January 17, 2006 11:11 AM

WaPo deleted hundreds of reader comments which had been posted earlier on this blog. (It's unclear whether they did this on purpose, or whether this was due to some kind of bug or feature in the blogging software.)

I expected something like this might happen, so I saved a snapshot of the comments Sunday night. They can be found here:

http://wapolies.blogspot.com

"The Internet Treats Censorship As Damage And Routes Around It."

Posted by: GJ | January 17, 2006 11:13 AM

WaPo deleted hundreds of reader comments which had been posted earlier on this blog. (It's unclear whether they did this on purpose, or whether this was due to a bug or feature in the blogging software.)

I expected something like this might happen, so I saved a snapshot of the comments Sunday night. They can be found here:

http://wapolies.blogspot.com

Posted by: XXX | January 17, 2006 11:14 AM

The deleted reader comments can be read here:

http://wapolies.blogspot.com

Posted by: Somone | January 17, 2006 11:16 AM

why does WAPO delete comments? Could you have the guts to at least lay out the requirements for a non-deleted comment? Apparently telling the truth doesn't cut it.

Posted by: question | January 17, 2006 11:16 AM

If you want to make the case that this could touch Democrats, too, fair enough but at least get the facts straight.

Here's how:

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/13620742.htm

Posted by: A Hermit | January 17, 2006 11:17 AM

Note to readers:

Although it might be beyond the technical expertise of WaPo, it is easy to create a backup of a web page on your hard disk.

Just hold down the CTRL key and press S (or, for you Mac users, hold down that funny-looking butterfly key and press S).

Or go into your browser's FILE menu and select "SAVE AS".

There. That wasn't too hard, was it?

Later on, if you want to publish what you saved, you can just go to blogger.com and create an account and copy-and-paste everything in there.

Maybe someday the newspaper of record for the capital of the richest, most powerful nation on earth will catch up with the rest of us in terms of tech-savvy. (And honesty.)

Posted by: GJ | January 17, 2006 11:23 AM

Is Derek Willis the WP's new ombudsman-man?

While Mr. Willis attempt to make a case for his newspaper's faulty reporting and ombudsmanship is admirable, his case is rather feeble.

If there are documents supporting some of your claims, let's see some of their content. If Abramoff affected the tribes donations towards Democrats, the hard evidence thus far indicates that he diverted money away from Democrats towards Republicans.

Show us otherwise or print a correction.
We expect facts from the front sections of a newspaper such as the one the WP used to be, not unsupported innuendo.

Posted by: Tony Kiszewski | January 17, 2006 11:32 AM

Paul- great to see your posts again? Have you ever visited "Firedoglake?"

Would love to see you over there!

Posted by: rwcole | January 17, 2006 11:46 AM

Excuse me, Washington Post. Where are the deleted 700 posts AND your explaination supported with facts of equal money to Dems?

Posted by: california_reality_check | January 17, 2006 11:46 AM

Paul- great to see your posts again? Have you ever visited "Firedoglake?"

Would love to see you over there!

Posted by: rwcole | January 17, 2006 11:47 AM

I would like to see a correction issued regarding the incorrect statement by D. Howell that Abramoff donated to Democrats.

And I hope that my post will not be "accidentally" deleted.

Posted by: GeauxGeauxGirl | January 17, 2006 12:00 PM

the Washington Post's behavior surrounding the Jack Abramoff story has been somewhat bizarre. I hope the record will be set straight.

Posted by: Buskertype | January 17, 2006 12:14 PM

Jesus!! Doesn't the Post have any sense of shame left? Deborah Howell obviously doesn't--she seems to relish her partisanship. But the Post... What happened, guys?

Posted by: Michael Ham | January 17, 2006 12:14 PM

The MSM sucks

Posted by: G | January 17, 2006 12:20 PM

Maybe is enough people make posts here- someone from the WP will spend 15 minutes here discussing the issue?

Guess it takes about five million posts to make that happen. Are we close?

Posted by: rwcole | January 17, 2006 12:22 PM

I agree with the posters who are asking for the purported documents that supposedly prove that Abramoff 'directed' the Indian tribes to contribute to Democrats.

One can imagine a number of ways in which such a 'direction' would actually prove to show something contrary to what Ms. Howell or Mr. Willis would want us to believe, i.e., the Democrats are just as involved in this as the Republicans.

So why the hestitancy in publishing the documents?

Washington Post's Nixonian attitude is quite rich in irony.

Posted by: lib | January 17, 2006 12:30 PM

My God- there's a prison riot going on here- call the authorities! Take some hostages!

Posted by: rwcole | January 17, 2006 12:32 PM

If they have evidence that Abramoff actually told his clients to send money to Democrats, please disclose it. If there is evidence that any Democrat knew the money given LEGALLY by Abramoff's clients was being directed to them at Abramoff's insistence, please disclose it. Otherwise, the declaration that the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan is both false and misleading.

Posted by: GotBeer? | January 17, 2006 12:35 PM

If the Post has evidence that Abramoff actually told his clients to send money to Democrats, please disclose it. If there is evidence that any Democrat knew the money given LEGALLY by Abramoff's clients was being directed to them at Abramoff's insistence, please disclose it. Otherwise, the declaration that the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan is both false and misleading.

Posted by: GotBeer? | January 17, 2006 12:36 PM

I'm guessing this to be the 1237th post indicating disapproval of Deborah Howell's actions. I do wonder if it was blatant partisanship or egegious incompetence that was the cause.

Posted by: Erik Lindquist | January 17, 2006 01:25 PM

Hey, the reader comments that got deleted due to a "glitch" have miraculously reappeared! (At least the few posts in my cursory check have.)

Posted by: GJ | January 17, 2006 01:34 PM

This just shows how well the Republican media-political echo chamber works. Rush Limbaugh (who has otherwise been totally floundering on what to say about Abramoff) keeps saying that this is not just a Republican scandal and Harry Reid took money, and on and on and on and on and on and sooner or later it just becomes accepted fact.

Posted by: Tom | January 17, 2006 01:37 PM

The Post says that Abramoff gave money to Republicans, and less money to Democrats.

The FEC says that Abramoff gave $127,000 to Republicans, and $0 to Democrats.

So I guess the Post is telling the truth -- after all, zero IS less than 127,000.

Thanks for giving "both sides of the story", WaPo!

Posted by: GJ | January 17, 2006 01:45 PM

Why would Howell say "So far, [Post staffers] Schmidt and Grimaldi say their reporting on the investigations hasn't put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated."

What kind of leading statement of fact is that? "So Far"!?!? Is this wishful thinking? Inside information? What does the Post know? Please present the FACTS, not the GOP opinions that smear and divert.

News flash to WaPo: Just because all the Rebpulicans did it, 'balanced' reporting doesn't mean hoping the Dems did it to.

That's playing right in to the partisan hands of the GOP, in the name of 'objectivity'

The word 'truthiness' wasn't the word of the year for nothing, the GOP is all about 'truthiness'...completely full of bull, please stop, STOP reporting it as newsworthy facts.

Posted by: johnnyr | January 17, 2006 01:50 PM

In case anybody's still reading this, and in re Mr. Willis' claim that the Post is in possession of documents indicating that Abramoff "did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees," Howard Kurtz has confirmed, in his chat, that this is the case. "I believe it would have been more accurate to say that Abramoff steered contributions to politicians of both parties" says Mr. Kurtz, and he wouldn't say that unless he knew something we didn't, would he?

I mean I would certainly hate to think that the fine folks at the WaPo would just *assume* that *of course* Abramoff must have directed donations to Dems, and *of course* there must be some documents to that effect, so let's just *claim* that it's so and worry about the documentation afterwards...

Heck, that would make Abramoff's donations to Dems sort of like Saddam's WMD. "Of course he has them! Everybody knows he has them. Let's publish! We will undoubtedly be vindicated after the fact, when we get around (maybe) to sifting through the piles of paper."

And Republicans couldn't possibly have been so stone-foolish as to take the "K Street Project" seriously and actually try to *exclude Dems altogether* from the lobbying spigot could they? That would be crazy.

We're waiting, Mr. Willis.

Posted by: radish | January 17, 2006 01:50 PM

You lost this reader unless you upgrade your reporting. A newspaper has librarians whose sole job is to provide the materials for fact-checking. Did they not see this piece?

Posted by: Dave Hoffer | January 17, 2006 01:58 PM

Some WaPo definitions:

"Bipartisan scandal";

$127,000 in Republican donations vs. $0 in Democratic donations (Source: FEC);

"Abramoff-directed contributions"

A 217% increase in Republican donations by the Abramoff client Saginaw Chippewas concurrent with almost no change (<1% decrease) in donations to Democrats?

(Source: Dwight L. Morris & Associates, Compares pre-Abramoff 1997-2000 period with post-Abramoff 2001-2004)

Posted by: Arc Parser | January 17, 2006 01:59 PM

Re: "We may also have unintentionally caused or made the problem worse by trying to remove a few comments -- about a dozen -- that failed to make a substantive point and were simply personal attacks on Howell and others. We apologize for the problem and will post updates here. Hal Straus washingtonpost.com Opinions Editor"

And where is Derek Willis's *very interesting* (and mendacious) comment? It made substantive points.

Posted by: Brad DeLong | January 17, 2006 02:04 PM

More WaPo definitions:

"Inartful wording"

When confronted publishing GOP smear and talking points, without regard to facts, it's redefined as inartful wording.

Posted by: johnnyr | January 17, 2006 02:07 PM

Washington Post should change its masthead to 'We dodge, we lie, and you decide'.

Posted by: lib | January 17, 2006 02:12 PM

Weird. I keep rubbing my eyes, but I keep seeing the phrase 'Washington TIMES' when I read your articles.

Were you bought out by "Reverend" "I am Christ, Hitler was Good" Sun Myung Moon too?

Posted by: prozacula | January 17, 2006 02:15 PM

Please don't blame Mr. Kurtz. He's simply the victim of his own "inartful wording". Perhaps another of the WP minions can come to his defense?

Posted by: Helon Urth | January 17, 2006 02:35 PM

I would like to preface my brief comments by saying I have no relation to any blog of any political persuasion. I have already seen the Post's attempt to smear this as the work of few blogs and thus feel it is important to point this out.

I too am really amazed at the Post's attempts to paint the Ambramoff scandal as a equal opportunity non-partisan event. As anyone who has lived in this town knows, Abramoff came to town riding high on the coattails of Norquist, DeLay and many others of the new generation of the GOP.

Many of us who live here followed rather closely the "K Street Project" and its attempts to create a GOP-only lobbyist culture within D.C. in an effort to deny the Democrats money and ability to present their points of view. Your newspaper covered this story along with many others. Many of those stories presented Abramoff at that time as the star lobbyist who was front and center of the movement. His name was well connected with GOP politics from the get-go.

So I find the recent attempts to paint the entire "pay to play" actions of Abramoff as non-partisan happening rather disingenuous. In fact, when I first read such statements in the Post, I was rather confused. Surely, the Post knows what it is talking about. I was only when I checked into the facts myself did I realize that indeed Abramoff was indeed pretty much a GOP only sort of guy.

The fact remains that Abramoff did not directly give any money to the Democrats and the few dollars that he passed on to Dems via secondary (indeed sometimes third...) hand sources hardly even remotely equals amount of money passed onto the GOP.

I would like to see some real reporting on this issue and not merely repeating the GOP line in order to ingratiate yourself with the administration.

Thank you,

Alex

Posted by: Alexander Smith | January 17, 2006 02:40 PM

I have not seen anything about that, but if Washington Post is hiding behind 'it's a smear work of a few blogs' it's quite despicable.

Of course I, and I think many others, got the facts of the case from blogs. It does not mean, however, that the concerns that underlie our posts are baseless. To the contrary, all that everyone is asking here is for Post to tell us the truth.

It will be shameful if two-bit bloggers sitting in their basements with a Dell have more power to give us the truth than the behometh known as Washington Post.

Posted by: lib | January 17, 2006 02:52 PM

Deleting 600 comments is the equivalent of a child sticking his fingers in his ears and humming when he doesn't want to hear bad news. So much for expecting adult and rational behavior from anyone at the Post.


Deleting the comments won't delete Howell's libel against the Democrats in Congress. And it will not alter the fact that Abramoff donated not one red cent to any Democrat or democratic organization. From this controversy and her baseless attack on Froomkin one must conclude that Howell is not the readers' representative at the Post at all. She has proven herself to be the representative of several other groups, however; Post reporters with tender egos and the RNC can count on her for mindless support of whatever grievance they have, however ridiculous or petty. Those of us who read the Post can only count on Howell to support positions that are not in our interest because she lobbies for the suppression of truth and the dissemination of outright lies.


It's wrong to blame Howell for this state of affairs, however. It is clear that she is only doing what Graham, Harris, Jones, et al., want her to do. Howell's deceit and unprofessionalism is the shape of things to come at the Post.

Posted by: Xeno | January 17, 2006 03:06 PM

Does 'inartful wording' constitute a libel defense?

Posted by: | January 17, 2006 03:14 PM

So what is Howell's punishment for being extremely careless and, once again, repeating GOP lies as truth? What specific actions will be taken to make sure she never does this again?

Howell should be fired immediately.

Posted by: Semblance | January 17, 2006 03:53 PM

I have just terminated my subscription to the Post. No sense giving the paper any more of my money, if they cannot at least get this straight. I'm a Republican too, and it this scandal is all about the a bunch of power hunger opportunists have hi-jacked the conservative message of small government and serious national defense. Too bad the Democrats can't get their act together. I don't know who I will vote for. But as for the Post: I'm through with you.

Posted by: Jeff Abraham | January 17, 2006 04:13 PM

If Washington Post aspired to be Izvestia, congratulations are in order, for you have achieved your goal.

Posted by: dundee | January 17, 2006 04:41 PM

In further disappointing developments, I see the Post saw fit to delete several hundred passionate comments from readers who, like myself, are alarmed at the kind of journalism being practiced by the newspaper today.

Instead of acknowledging the legitimate comments made, the newspaper decided to simply dismiss it all as some sort of blog conspiracy and erase them, hoping it would all go away.

But it hasn't gone away. The blogs wouldn't exist as alternative news media if it weren't for the shoddy reporting being practiced by the mainstream media these days. I don't want to have to go to some anonymous blog for my news. I'd much prefer to read it in papers like the Post.

But with the low quality journalism that passes for news, and a completely outrageous ombudsman who wants to practice "gotcha" journalism, where else do we turn?

Deleting comments changes nothing. Pay attention to your readers - we ultimately are the ones that keep The Post in business, and we would sincerely like to see our paper restored to its former glory.

Posted by: Phillip Dampier | January 17, 2006 04:41 PM

You might have noticed us--maybe on the Metro on your way into work. Seen us, and wondered what we were doing, holding your paper up in front of us, moving our eyes back and forth. Let me re-acquiant you with some people: those would be--your READERS.

Amazingly, there is this entire collection of people who think that they pay every morning for the paper, and buy products and attend events advertised in it--these people actually think that they paper exists for them! That's why they read it! Can you imagine where they got that idea?

Your paper gets paid (by us--those wacko's on the Metro--I'm sorry, did we get in your way at the Arlington stop?) to print facts. More than that, it gets paid to discover facts, and then print those.

It does not get paid to thoughtlessly repeat other people's statements, especially when those statements are demonstrably false.

I am sending you the FEC's 17 page list of Abramoff donations. If Ms. Howell finds a Democrat listed on these lists, her eyes are sharper than mine, or any of the other of thousands who have examined it.

It's called research. We thought we were paying you to do it. This is the last time I do it for you. Ms. Howell has simply failed in her duty in this ombudsman's post.

Posted by: Andrew F. | January 17, 2006 04:43 PM

Howie said Ms. Howell's inartful wording was to blame for what came across in "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" article as lies . It would seen that "inartful wording" is more for interns and not "Ombudsman" or am I missing something. Also , is it possible to get a list of everyone at the WAPO who recieved money, gifts, lunchs, skyboxs tickets, etc...from Abramoff printed in the paper or at least on washingtonpost.com .

Thank You

Posted by: AC in NC | January 17, 2006 05:12 PM

as to the remark about the Post aspiring to be Izvestia: simply ridiculous! It's usually called the 'Pravda on the Potomac'...

Posted by: Feliks Dzerzhinski | January 17, 2006 05:22 PM

"..as to the remark about the Post aspiring to be Izvestia: simply ridiculous! It's usually called the 'Pravda on the Potomac'... "

Pravda has no Izvestia and Izvestia no Pravda!

Posted by: lib | January 17, 2006 05:41 PM

So, who's the omsbudsman for the omsbudsman? After all, if the person responsible for addressing journalistic errors and biases is as error-prone and biased as Howell, what's the recourse? This is the fox guarding the chickenhouse...and let's not forget this not the first time she has betrayed her political biases. Remember Froomkin and her comments about him. She belongs at the Washington Times, not the Washington Post.

Posted by: RuthAlice Anderson | January 17, 2006 05:48 PM

She did make it off Gilligan's Island and needed a job. One significant advertiser in the WP needs to be targeted until the WP retracts their lies and she's sent back home to Thurston.

Posted by: DebDoesDallas | January 17, 2006 06:36 PM

Deborah Howell gets stone busted in a lie and Howard Kurtz's response is to lie even more. Terrific. Democrats did not receive money from Jack Abramoff. To assume that money given by Abramoff's clients, past, present or future must have been "steered" by Abtamoff is one hell of an assumption and to present it as fact is no better than lying. Go ahead WaPo. Keep it up. I'm sure you will be down to a readership of wingnuts before long. That seems to me to be exactly what you are trying to accomplish.

Posted by: Margaret Ex Reader | January 17, 2006 07:13 PM

Can we get an Ombudsman to oversee the Ombudsman. This is really so far beneath the WaPo they should be ashamed.

Posted by: Pointus | January 17, 2006 08:21 PM

It is sad that the Daily Kos will no longer let people like Deborah Howell do their jobs. It's sad to see that they harass Ms. Howell the same way they do Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the others that dare to buck the left-wing MSM party line. You'd think they show a little class, a little chivalry here, but I suppose now there is no honor among the loony left.

Posted by: DougJ | January 17, 2006 08:56 PM

Newspapers are losing subscribers to the blogs because they do not respect their readers. On the contray, we are constantly being insulted by "journalists" like Mr. Kurtz and Ms. Howell. It's as though we are expected to suspend all sense of reason and have faith in the professionals.
Over the weekend, Mr. Kurtz helps swiftboard an American patriot, Rep. Murtha. The following day Ms. Howell tries to drag the Democratic Party into the Abramoff funding scheme. Not only are the stories irrelevant but they are also neocon lies.
I don't expect an honest answer from Mr. Kurtz or Ms. Howell as to why they wrote these articles. But I will give them an honest response from one of their readers. Your elitism and arrogance sicken me. It is my sincere belief that very soon you lack of integrity will bring you to your knees.

Posted by: mkelsch | January 17, 2006 09:01 PM

Ms. Howell's assertion that somehow because Abramhoff and Delay were not,"personal," friends somehow mitigaates the graft and corruption that went on between them. How so? It was not about "personal" friendships, it was about their Professional relationship as it was in their professional relationship where the graft and corruption occurred! That they were not "personal," friends is totally irrelevant!

Posted by: Doug | January 17, 2006 09:23 PM

well, well , how beautiful that an instituion like WaPO would allow Ms Howell to dirty up Democrats w/o mentioning a single fact. Typo errors ? don't think so.
Myabe Ms Howell is being by the GOP. Is it true? Can we have the truth and the whole truth?

I did not know WaPo employe so many scums like Ms Howell and Mr Kurtz.

Let's hope things improve but my hope for the scums to get better is not that high.

And please print my comments in full. Yes, WaPo now employs SCUMMY JOURNALISTS.

Posted by: scum-journalists | January 17, 2006 09:54 PM

Whatever is preventing Ms. Howell from doing her job has nothing to do with "Daily Kos". Her own inability or unwillingness to act like a real ombudsman is what triggered this whole "Maryland Moment" thing. As for O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh, I think that "harassers" describes them better than "harassees". Or maybe they're just.... oh never mind.

Posted by: Arc Parser | January 17, 2006 09:57 PM

I'm so angry that I can't cancel my subscription to the paper edition of the Post, as I don't have one. I do get the e-mail form for free though. Me thinks I'll just pop over to my Yahoo mail and unartfully UNSUBSCRIBE to the Washington Post. A good spit in the ocean may not cause a Tsumi, but it could land on a floating copy of some newspaper and sink it.

Posted by: Mark | January 17, 2006 09:59 PM

You all are late to the party. Ms. Howell already destroyed her credibility during the Woodward fiasco. This is just adding insult to injury.

Posted by: Kevin | January 17, 2006 10:35 PM

Katherine Graham must be rolling in her grave...

Posted by: How the Mighty Have Fallen | January 17, 2006 10:54 PM

One demoocratic senator does not make 'democrats', even if one accepts the charge that Senator Drogan went to a fund raiser.

It's been over 12 hours, but Washington Post has not yet been able to post any document that Mr. Willis claimed he had that supported Howell/Willis/Schmidt/Kurtz position.

Posted by: lib | January 17, 2006 10:54 PM

Deborah Howell keeps the WP from becoming another MSM exempt-media agitprop Wurlitzer like the NYT.

And the Maryland Legislature is part of a criminal conspiracy with the DC-based national union dues-stealers. Read my blog "Typhoid Maryland infects markets" in www.independent-conservative.com or daveinboca.blogspot.com.

Posted by: djman114 | January 18, 2006 01:36 AM

When can we look forward to the Post running a retraction of the lies by Howell, Kurtz and now Willis? Or at least an explanation of why it's okay to print untruths about the Democratic party and how that fits into the mission of the Washington Post. Is this really what you wanted to do with your life Deborah? Is this what you want your legacy to be? Do you think your family and your children will be proud of this moment of your life?

Posted by: rts | January 18, 2006 02:28 AM

I live in the DC area and am a Republican. But I have to say, this really is over the top. I never thought I would agree with the crazies over at Daily Kos or Media Matters but Ms. Howell is just awful. I'm going to cancel my subscription tomorrow.

Posted by: Daryl K. | January 18, 2006 02:44 AM

From Poynter Online:

Topic: Letters Sent to Romenesko

Date/Time: 1/17/2006 10:37:42 AM

Title: Why no WP clarification?

Posted By: Jim Romenesko

From WILL BUNCH:

We don't remember too much from four years of high school Latin, but we do recall this phrase: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes -- Who will guard the guards themselves? Is there a way to say in Latin, "Who will be an ombudsman for the ombudsman?" Seriously -- to whom does one complain at the Washington Post when the person who is there to receive reader complaints defiantly gets it wrong?

We're referring, of course, to Sunday's piece by the Post's new ombudswoman, Deborah Howell, which was meant to praise the newspaper's coverage of the Jack Abramoff scandal -- some of which has indeed been quite good -- but ended up on a note that read like it was straight from the offices of the Republican National Committee.

Here's what she wrote: "The second complaint is from Republicans, who say The Post purposely hasn't nailed any Democrats. Several stories, including one on June 3 by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money.

"So far, Schmidt and Grimaldi say their reporting on the investigations hasn't put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated. But stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."

The first assertion is flat-out wrong. Dorgan and Reid could not have received "Abramoff campaign money," because as numerous articles and investigations have shown, Abramoff never donated a dime to any Democrat. Not one. That's not surprising, since Abramoff -- whose start in politics was as a leader of the National College Republicans -- is a Republican. Which is one of the primary reasons why this is a Republican scandal, despite assertions to the contrary in the Post, on CNN, and elsewhere.

Did Dorgan and Reid receive donations from some of Abramoff's many clients? Yes. But if that's what Howell meant, that's not what she wrote. When you're lumping public figures into an ongoing criminal investigation, you should be pretty damn clear on the facts. In fact, one of the two senators, Dorgan, has stated that he has never even met Abramoff -- not something you'd think after reading Howell's article.

If a newspaper prints something that is wrong, there should be a correction, and if something is unclear to the point where it suggests something that is not true, then there should be a clarification. And yet so far the Post has offered neither.

Why not?

As for the second point that Howell makes above, her disappointment that the Post hasn't bagged a Democrat yet is palpable, as she begs readers to "stay tuned." We would hope that the Post's reporting will be guided by the truth, not a zealous desire to make sure that both political parties are implicated. We get the sense that Howell would have wanted Woodward and Bernstein to keep reporting on Watergate until some Democrat entered "the first tier" of the scandal -- a notion not much more ridiculous than what she wrote on Sunday.

It's easy for the Post to brush aside 700 blog posts from political partisans (even before that darned "glitch" made them disappear), because while we journalists love to write about politics, deep down we think that anyone who truly cares about it must be some kind of nut. So maybe they'll listen instead to one journalist with 25 years of experience.
Deborah Howell's column was wrong.

Will we get that correction?

We'll "stay tuned."

Posted by: | January 18, 2006 03:39 AM


I picture Howell, Harris, Willis, and Schmidt right now huddled together desperately poring over documents and websites searching for anything, anything at all that will implicate the Democrats in the Abramoff scandal, hence the lack of response as yet to the thousands of complaints they've received thus far over Howell's blatant lie.

Say, is Howard Kurtz a press critic or a press apologist? He certainly doesn't display very much intelligent insight into the controversy. Indeed, he has abetted the throwing up of a smokescreen to cover up for Howell's journalistic sins.

But the main question I have at this very late time is whether Howell is accepting payola from the Republicans. I can think of no other reason that she would write three columns disseminating talking points straight out of Mehlman's playbook.

Posted by: James | January 18, 2006 04:18 AM

Hi all,

Nice to see most of the comments restored.

A blog calling itself 'WaPo Lies' has set up a helpful mirror of the comments posted here just in case that nasty problem recurs and the comments are once again (accidentally) deleted.

You can find the back up comments here:
http://wapolies.blogspot.com/

There is a letter sent to Jim Romenesko of Poynter Online by journalist Vance Lehmkuhl about Kurtz defence of Deborah Howell's statement about Democrats receiving money from Abramoff was not a lie, only "inartfully worded", here:
http://poynter.org/forum/view_post.asp?id=10941

And there is an excellent piece from Will Bunch, here:
http://poynter.org/forum/view_post.asp?id=10935

Also, FireDogLake is doing an excellent job covering this. Here is their latest (there are others there):
http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2006_01_15_firedoglake
_archive.html#113754655377150563

And, of course, Crooks and Liars, here:
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/01/15.html#a6719

Yes... When WILL we get that correction and apology?

...stay tuned! :D

Posted by: Paul Dobson | January 18, 2006 05:53 AM

The whole thing with who took money from Abramoff personally and who accepted money from his clients is mistating the question anyway, which make's Howells uncorrected mistake and Kurtz's even more inartful restatement all the more galling.

So read carefully WaPo as it you need to start thinking: Corruption means doing favors for a price. You need to focus on who delivered legislative outcomes or at least tried based on contributions. Not every donation from a client of a corrupt lobbyist produces corruption. Not every personal donation from a corrupt lobbyists produces corruption, even.

Kurtz was right to reiterated this is a Republican scandal. But even then it is not all Republicans, all though it sure seems like a lot of them.

Here is a thought: STOP RETAILING IN GENERALIZATIONS. Stick with the facts and stop assuming that all money in any way associated with the hand of Abramoff is equally cortupting or corrupted.

Again, who did what for whom please. God, it is not that complicated.

Posted by: Some Guy | January 18, 2006 07:44 AM

Dear Washington Post,

I checked today's corrections & there is still nothing about Ms. Howell's accusations against the Democratic Party. I believe this may be a little more important than the proper translations of "Good morning, Miss Smith" but perhaps I'm just being persnickety.

Please do the proper thing. Thank you.

Posted by: Dunbar | January 18, 2006 08:30 AM

Gov. Ehrlich announced a $29.6 billion budget Tuesday that pours cash into voter-friendly programs while insisting his spending plan -- 12 percent more than the current financial year's -- is fiscally prudent. Hmmmm.

Posted by: Annapolis Ann | January 18, 2006 08:35 AM

My comments were deleted! Why?
Your reputation is being ruined! Why?

Print an explanation, a retraction, an apology, ANYTHING! Have a little more respect for your readership than to treat us with silence.

Posted by: DH | January 18, 2006 08:56 AM

Willis wrote "Writing as someone who was involved in researching campaign contributions for these stories, I'd like point out what the Post's reporting on this has demonstrated: according to Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records, Abramoff himself never gave any money to Democrats. [snip] The Post's reporting has been consistent on these points."

Howell wrote "Schmidt quickly found that Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

Willis' final sentence is false.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann | January 18, 2006 09:17 AM

Don't shill for the wingers. Abramoff is a republican tool, and gave no money to democrats. His *clients* may have done so, but that is another (and legal) matter. Why can't Deborah Howell check her facts before writing? Why can't editors catch falsehoods? I used to appreciate the Post. But the continuing string of bad reporting and GOP shill work has put its reputation in the gutter.

Posted by: osf | January 18, 2006 09:40 AM

Really, in many ways, those of us who are silly enough to post here in hopes that the WaPo will do the honest thing and post a retraction of Ms. Howell's mistake (I'll be kind about that) are deluding ourselves. The WaPo is doing what EVERY OTHER major media organ in this country has done since Bush took office. Like the GOP's "K Street Project", their media project basically let them know that their access gets cut off if they're too "tough" on them (i.e., objective).

That all said access gets them is the right to have their spokesmodels be stenographers of glorified press releases is beside the point. Heck, look at the NYT; they sat on a story, the NSA warrantless eavesdropping fiasco, for an entire year, during an election year when it was news dynamite to boot, and published it only when they were about to be scooped by one of their own reporters.

We're essentially cajoling people who at the end of the day, their greatest ambition is to be a slightly more well dressed version of Scott McClellan.

Posted by: DH | January 18, 2006 09:53 AM

reading peter below, i see similar discussion on
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2006/01/maryland_walmar.html
verbatim:
Maryland Wal-Mart Bill Looks Like A Go, But What About ERISA Preemption?

Update: Maryland Attorney General disagrees with my preemption analysis (thanks to Matt Bodie at PrawfsBlawg for the tip).

This just in: House Overrides Governor's Veto on Maryland Wal-Mart Bill.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting in this article:

Maryland's Senate voted today to become the first state to enact a law forcing large employers -- namely Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- to spend a certain amount of their payrolls in the state on health insurance for their workers.

The Senate voted 30-17 this afternoon to override Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich's veto of the bill last year. The Maryland House, needing 85 votes for an override, is expected to vote this evening.

The bill proposed requiring employers with more than 10,000 workers in Maryland to pay a penalty to the state's health-insurance program if they fall short of paying the equivalent of 8% of their payroll in the state for health insurance for those employees.

Only four companies are large enough in Maryland to be covered by the bill; Of those, only Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart might fall short of the 8% threshold and therefore pay a penalty. Wal-Mart representatives told Maryland lawmakers last year that the company's contributions toward health insurance for Maryland workers equaled between 7% and 8% of its payroll in the state. Wal-Mart employs 16,988 workers at 53 stores and two warehouses in Maryland.

Wal-Mart spokesman Nate Hurst declined to comment on Wal-Mart's plans should the override effort succeed.

All of this, of couse, is very interesting to this employee benefits guy, but I wonder whether such a law would survive ERISA preemption?

Recall that Massachusetts and Illinois are considering legislation which would require employers to foot the bill for employee health care through a "pay-or-play system." My previous post discussing those laws is here.

My first impression conclusion here is probably the same conclusion I came to there: it all depends on whether Wal-Mart self-insures its health plans. If it does, the deemer clause should lead to ERISA preemption of the state law; if not (that is, it insures its health plans through another company), it should be saved from ERISA preemption as a law that regulates insurance under ERISA's Savings Clause.

Posted by: peterprinciple | January 18, 2006 09:54 AM

Good call DH. But rather than sit back and let them continue to get away Scott-McClellan-Free with it, we'll continue to call them on their blatant denigration of the concept of a free and independent press based on honesty and integrity.

Every day, every blog, every comment, every live discussion, we must continue to bring up Howell and the Post's smear. Every time.

Posted by: Flappy | January 18, 2006 10:12 AM

Fat state surplus, slim hope for slots
Ehrlich concedes flush finances will sap legislative will to act on top priority
By Andrew A. Green
Sun reporter
Originally published January 18, 2006
Good news for the budget means bad news for slot machines in Maryland, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. conceded yesterday, acknowledging that flush state finances will sap the legislative will to act on his top priority.

During the 2002 campaign and his first years in office, the governor pushed for slots as the best way to balance the budget without raising taxes. Even last year, when state finances were improving, he sought to tie expanded gambling to school construction, a top fiscal priority of legislators.

Advertisement
But with a $1 billion surplus this year and another surplus expected next year, Ehrlich said fiscal need is no longer an effective stick to drive the issue. He said he believes slots will pass but not until the legislative session after the 2006 election.

"Clearly the fiscal reality of the time made slots a more attractive option" at the beginning of his term, Ehrlich said after releasing his $29.6 billion spending plan yesterday.

But the governor has not given up on slots. He said he expects pressure from neighboring states where they are legal - including Pennsylvania, where the machines are coming soon to racetracks - to make slots in Maryland inevitable.

"Pennsylvania's going to clean our clock," he said.

Ehrlich introduced slots bills in each of the past three years. His bills - or ones similar to them - have passed in the Senate but have stalled in the House. Last year, the House passed its own slots legislation, but it was rejected by the Senate when House leaders refused to negotiate the details, saying any changes would destroy their chamber's fragile compromise.

The governor has not said whether he will reintroduce slots legislation this year. He gave an unclear response during a news conference yesterday, saying, "We're actually putting in a bill this year - last year"; his aides were not available last night to elaborate.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, the chief slots opponent in the legislature, said he doesn't expect a serious push for expanded gambling this year.

"It would be hard," Busch said. "Not only is this an election year, but the fact that you have the unemployment rate that you have and the surplus you have, I don't know how you make a case for slots."

Ehrlich tried to make the case at a news conference yesterday where he released his budget. Slots at racetracks would save the horse racing industry, he said, which in turn would prevent horse farms from being sold to developers - reducing sprawl and helping to protect the Chesapeake Bay. And more money wouldn't hurt, he said.

"Of course, we would have another billion or even two if we had passed slots in our first year, and that would make everything better," he said.

Maryland Jockey Club President Joseph A. De Francis said he hasn't talked to anyone in the administration or the legislature about slots this year, but he said an election year shouldn't stop anyone from taking up the issue. It has been thoroughly debated for the past three years, and the House and Senate could easily find middle ground, he said.

In the meantime, he said, the need for slots is greater than ever in the racing industry. Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns the Laurel and Pimlico racetracks, is in negotiations with the Maryland Racing Commission over a plan to cut racing dates this year. Also, slots in Pennsylvania will draw more people away from Maryland's tracks, he said.

Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation in July 2004 to allow slot machine gambling at its racetracks and other sites, but efforts to establish regulatory structure sputtered for months.

The state has yet to issue lucrative slots licenses, but a seven-member Gaming Control Board is expected to distribute licenses to 14 of 25 applicants who met a December deadline.

Pennsylvania's move to legalize slots has officials in West Virginia and Delaware considering a response. Delaware's governor has proposed more slot machines and extended hours at that state's racetrack casinos to cope with the competition, but some lawmakers are pressing for casinos in Wilmington and sports betting and table games such as blackjack, poker and craps. West Virginia's racetrack casino operators also are pushing for table games, and that state's legislature is expected to take up the issue this year.

"While it is an election year, and while there apparently is not the budget crisis there was a couple of years ago, the urgency surrounding the issue with the horse industry in Maryland is greater than ever," De Francis said.

Del. Eric M. Bromwell, a Baltimore County Democrat who was the lead sponsor of the slots bill that passed the House last year, said he is talking to his co-sponsors about reintroducing it. He said he thinks that the bill is the best compromise, and that, although the state's fiscal health is good now, deficits are projected for the next few years.

Legislators are often reluctant to take up controversial topics in election years, but Bromwell said slots are a crucial political issue in districts such as his.

Alan Friedman, the head of Ehrlich's legislative office, said the governor will unveil his agenda tomorrow, but he wouldn't say whether it will include a slots bill.

Others in the legislature said they can't imagine another serious slots push this year.

"Politically, it's not going to happen," said Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, the Republican leader from the Eastern Shore, who opposes slots. "Even though the governor wants it badly, even though [Senate President Thomas V.] Mike Miller wants it badly, I think with Speaker Busch's position and with the economy the way it is, politically it's not going to happen."

Posted by: sunspot | January 18, 2006 10:27 AM

openminds said: "Also, while for all practical purposes this is indisputably a Republican scandal, the narrow liberal-blogger definition of whether any Democrats took money 'from Abramoff'--which neatly excludes contributions he directed his clients to make--amounts to foolish semantics."
Has anyone yet made this point and backed it up by something other than repeating it over and over. Where did this originate? Are any of Abramoff's clients saying this? Perhaps this is something that has escaped the echo chamber and now we all have to hear it over and over until we are hearing it in our sleep. It's bad enough I hear Kudlow in my sleep telling everyone how great the economy is doing. Again, where in the world does this bs come from.

Posted by: HmblDog | January 18, 2006 10:44 AM

From her column about Woodward, her imposing herself into a spat between The Washington Post and the washingtonpost.com re the Dan Froomkin column and now this, Deborah Howell has show herself to be anything but the readers representative.

How dare some readers question Woodward's integrety, how dare some readers object to her comments about the White House Briefing column, and how dare anyone want the facts about something so important in the governance of the country and the law breaking by the Republican members of that government.

That's all people want of the news, the facts. They are then intellegient enough to make up their minds. They may also read the opinion pieces in the post and make up their minds if they agree with the opinions written.

Deborah Howell has shown herself to be at the very least dismissive of, and at the very worst offended by some of the readership of the paper and website. She has shown herself, to be partial and not to willingly represent all of the readers of the post and their concerns, and as such should not be in the post she holds. Her distain for some of the readership of the Washington Post and washingtonpost.com is palpable and comes through all of her writings to date.

Posted by: Curious | January 18, 2006 10:57 AM

Charles Babington or the Post is refusing to answer on-line questions regarding Howell/Kurtz/Willis this morning.

Posted by: california_reality_check | January 18, 2006 11:17 AM

Dear Ms. Howell, Howie Kurtz, WaPo et al:

CNN says you're full of it-

"White House spokesman Scott McClellan tried to portray the lobbyist as an equal-opportunity giver Tuesday.

But a search of Federal Election Commission records since 1998 found no personal donations from Abramoff to Democrats, and about two-thirds of the more than $4.4 million in donations from Abramoff, his clients and associates in the same period went to Republicans, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign-finance watchdog group."

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/01/18/congress.ethics/index.html

I suggest you issue a retraction before more egg winds up on your face.

Posted by: DH | January 18, 2006 11:50 AM

The ombudsman column in question is gone. Sort of. It's no longer linked from the front page of OmBuddyWoman's column page.

Posted by: SCORE! | January 18, 2006 12:37 PM

Still no correction forthcoming from Ms. Howell or the Post for Sunday's false statements. I assume she is busy working hard on her mea culpa column?

Posted by: Karin | January 18, 2006 01:24 PM


What happened to the Washington Post? I grew up in the Watergate era, and remember how Woodward and Bernstein fought the administration to get the truth about presidential abuses out to the public. Now the paper seems as much of the problem as the solution. Deborah Howell spouting RNC talking points, Woodward covering up conversations with administration sources about illegal acts -- where does it end. Can we please have our paper and editorial courage back that we remember from our youth?

Posted by: Mike | January 18, 2006 01:52 PM

Obviously no one at Wa Po is reading these comments, or at least they would posted the link that was provided by Mr. Jeff Lean in the Onlive Chat today. The link leads to a document that is a copy of the email from Abramoff that 'directs' the recipient to send contributions to a few clients, some of whom are democrats.

In my opinion the document is a weak defense of the charge being levelled here that Ms. Howell made a (knowingly?) false statement in her article on Sunday, but it does provide some sort of cover to her defenders on Wa Po.

It seems that a concerted effort was made by some at Wa Po to make it look as if the Abramoff scandal is a bipartisan one. Two glaring examples of the statements that lead one to such a conclusion are (a) Ms. Howell's promise in her article to the Republicans to keep looking for further reports, with the oblique implied suggestion of Dems' involvement, and (b) the totally out-of-place reference, in the piece by Howard Kurtz, to the Rich Lowry's concession about this being a Republican scandal. The reference by Kurtz makes him appear to be a water carrier for the Republicans.

Posted by: lib | January 18, 2006 02:26 PM

Regarding the post by PeterPrinciple: The Wal-Mart Plan is called the "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Associates' Health and Welfare Plan", and their Plan is self-funded, as are most large Plans. The insurance companies that operate the WMT Plan act under what is known as an "ASO" agreement, or Administrative Services Only. WMT pays the bills, not an insurance company.

As such, the new Maryland Statute is pre-empted, under ERISA 514.

Posted by: Peter Parrott | January 18, 2006 03:20 PM

Regarding the post by PeterPrinciple: The Wal-Mart Plan is called the "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Associates' Health and Welfare Plan", and their Plan is self-funded, as are most large Plans. The insurance companies that operate the WMT Plan act under what is known as an "ASO" agreement, or Administrative Services Only. WMT pays the bills, not an insurance company.

As such, the new Maryland Statute is pre-empted, under ERISA 514.

Posted by: Peter Parrott | January 18, 2006 03:21 PM

I too was waiting for the apology. This is (at least) the third strike. Woodward/Plame, Harris/Froomkin, now Abramoff/Howell.

One less paper you need to deliver guys.

Posted by: Alex | January 18, 2006 07:30 PM

FIRE HOWELL NOW!

Posted by: Semblance | January 18, 2006 08:41 PM

It sounds to me like Peter Parrott is parrotting the Wal-Mart line. THIS is what Wal-Mart told the press this week: "Both the U.S. Chamber and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce have called into question the validity of the bill under ERISA," Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said yesterday. "I'm sure that is something our attorneys are looking into as we decide our course of action."

Posted by: erisana | January 18, 2006 09:33 PM

Hey, the Washington Post doesn't have to answer our criticisms.... It's not like we're the Administration or anything...

Posted by: Bob | January 18, 2006 09:37 PM

It has come to my attention via Media Matters that Deborah Howell has decided that answering her critics is, in fact, not in her job description. This is utterly absurd. The last time I checked, that is the veritable definition of ombudsmanship, to address questions raised by readers.

Perhaps she thinks that there are better ways to use her time than to answer legitimate questions about bias in the Post's reporting and her own writing, but I think that if this is the case, then she should be stripped of her position and taken off of the Post's payroll.

I used to be disgusted by these kinds of partisan puppet-shows in the media. Now, I'm just more disgusted.

Sincerely,
David Ferguson

Posted by: David Ferguson | January 18, 2006 09:40 PM

Are you sure you want an ombudsman
who refuses to respond to criticism?
Do you understand the role of such a
person?
Maybe you need to think about restructing
your organization?
It seems that you are confused about
the purpose of a major newspaper in a
democracy.

Posted by: afterthought | January 18, 2006 10:06 PM

Now that you're finally getting the message, you've decided to stick your fingers in your ears so you won't have to listen to it any more.

Perhaps letters like this make you mad.
Perhaps ten letters like this make you madder.
Perhaps a thousand letters like this make you even madder....

What kind of public response is this to legitimate questions on the part of your readers?

Remember--the Abramoff scandal is a Republican scandal. No Democrats took money from Abramoff or his PACs. What part of none don't you understand? Several Democrats took money from the same tribes who donated to Abramoff. However, they had been giving money to these Democrats before Abramoff began cheating the tribes. Abramoff even expressed a desire to get his "hands on some of that moolah."

Harris, Howell, Schmidt, Willis, Kurtz--spreading disinformation thicker than a farmer spreads manure.

If this were simply a matter of partisan politics, it might be an interesting diversion, but you have become enablers and promoters of an opportunistic group of counter-revolutionaries whose aim is no less than the destruction of the Republic. We are the Weimar Republic, Washington Post, and you are aiding its demise.

We who care about the preservation of the Constitution have no choice but to continue to protest your intolerable behavior.

If you continue to be pigheaded, we will continue to persevere.

Posted by: notjonathon | January 18, 2006 10:07 PM

Was Ombudswoman Deborah Howell's decision not to answer legitimate criticisms of WaPo's reporting her own decision or was it ordered by someone higher up in the Corporate food chain? Will she be getting a promotion and corresponding change of Title? Just wondering.

Posted by: Metiche Menendez | January 18, 2006 10:10 PM

as you are no longer interested in your loyal readers perhaps you should just bundle up editions of wapo and deliver them to karl r*ve at the wh. and he can deliver them to his cronies as talking points and save yourself the dwindling distribution costs. congrats uberfrau howel.

Posted by: charles | January 18, 2006 10:23 PM

Please publicly release the job description of your Ombudsman. Any further amplification on how the Washington Post perceives the purpose and duties of the position would also be helpful.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Posted by: Brooklynite | January 18, 2006 10:29 PM

I found this posted at Crooks & Liars:
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/01/18.html#a6762

I guess not responding to criticism anymore is one way to handle it-even though she initally tried to do that. Deborah could maybe admit that there was an error and correct the problem. Howard Kurtz acknowledged as much. Who would fault her for doing that? This is the route she took via FishbowlDC:

Omb Learns Lesson
Posted By: Deborah Howell
Date: 1/13/06 5:45:52 PM EDT

"The omb lesson is that I replied to mediamatters.org last week that I thought I had been misrepresented. That's just brought another attack. From now on, I don't reply."

I hope after a little time goes by she'll reconsider. Would she refuse to comment any further if the pressure came from Brent Bozell? The Washington Post would probably fall all over themselves to accommodate his complaints.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Excuse me! But I thought (and please correct me if I am mistaken), that the Job of an Ombudsman/woman *WAS* to reply to legitimate questions and concerns, and to correct errors and omissions when needed?

If she isn't going to do that, why has she got the job? In fact, why has she got a job at all?

It just keeps getting worse. Well, it's your grave WaPo... Keep digging!

Absolutely disgusting! Rove must be very proud of his toy poodles at WaPo!

Posted by: Paul Franks | January 18, 2006 10:32 PM

Many conservative pundits from Bill O'Reilly to Rush Limbaugh to Deborah Howell portray Media Matters as a partisan and error-prone organization out to smear conservatives.

There's your story.

Is Media Matters, like O'Reilly and Howell contend, an error-prone smear organization?

What mistakes have they made? Have they tried to conceal them? Have they apologized for them? How accurate are they? Can the public reasonably trust them?

Same question for their conservative counterpart. How accurate is AIM? etc.

In the meantime, Howell's burying her head in the sand is hardly a change. Up until now, her head has been planted firmly in her rear.

Posted by: jerry | January 18, 2006 10:38 PM

It's a sad day when newspapers are driven by politics rather than the truth. Ms. Howell should go and get a job on K Street.

Posted by: Michael Jones | January 18, 2006 10:49 PM

I had hoped that someone at the Washington Post would have demonstrated enough integrity to foster a candid discussion of Deborah Howell's assertion that Democrats had received funds from Jack Abramoff. Since the data is readily available (at fec.gov, for example), it seemed obvious that the people at the Washington Post would stand up for an open discussion on the facts of this matter.

I assumed that in the interest of good journalism, the personnel of the Post would either (a) stand by Howell's statements via demonstration of some validating evidence, or (b) show the good grace to admit such evidence doesn't exist, which would naturally lead to an apology for being so wrong on the facts of this assertion.

Instead, we get Ziegler-esque cruft like "inartfully worded" standing in for honest and open discussion.

Well, I never thought I'd see the day that reading the Washington Post would cause me to recall the obfuscation techniques of the Nixon administration. But here we are...

Posted by: Cieran | January 18, 2006 10:53 PM

The Post's credibility is at stake. I suggest Ms. Howell be moved to another job. She is not competent for the job she has.

Posted by: greyhound | January 18, 2006 11:05 PM

Two years ago I cancelled my subscription to The Economist. Last year I cancelled my subscription to The New York Times. I can't cancel the Washington Post because I don't subscribe. In any case, Howell should be fired because she is clearly a partisan. And newspaper stocks should be sold because they are destroying themselves through terrible work.

Posted by: DJ | January 18, 2006 11:17 PM

As I had suspected, no one at Washington Post is reading these comments, as I refuse to believe that they are so arrogant as to ignore these very legitimate comments.


So this forum is just for you all to vent your frustrations while the staff at the Washington Post goes merrily along trying to shill for the party in power.

Izvestia and Pravda indeed. At least those papers were upfront about where their loyalties lay.

Posted by: lib | January 18, 2006 11:30 PM

Can someone at the Washington Post tell us how Ms. Howell was selected for this position? Was she selected for this position to appease those on the far right and the Whitehouse?

Share with us the process Washington Post - show some the of transparency you expect we all expect from the Government and businesses you cover.

Clearly she is NOT unbiased.

Posted by: opposition radio | January 18, 2006 11:39 PM

Well, it's been awhile and I see no correction, no retraction and now silence. It does not look good. Perhaps Ms. Howell should do the right thing in explanation and apology for such odd reporting.

Posted by: coriolanus | January 18, 2006 11:39 PM

One can't help but be stunned by the huge outpouring of comments in defense of Ms Howell.

Posted by: Leisler in NYC | January 18, 2006 11:45 PM

The Washington Post now has an ombudsman who doesn't respond to criticism other than from the Heritage Foundation. Even the Columbus Dispatch has reached that depth of absurdity. To think this was once the nation's great newspaper.

Posted by: Klyde | January 19, 2006 12:21 AM

Does Ms. Howell not answering critics from the public make her a non-budsman?

Posted by: boing!!! | January 19, 2006 02:01 AM

Ms. Howell has recently stated that she will no longer respond to criticism.

I'm sorry, but isn't it the ombudsman's *job* to respond to criticism?

Posted by: Concerned Reader | January 19, 2006 02:05 AM

'Bout time for a retraction, don't you think, Ms. Howell? You've been proven wrong. It's time to correct the record.

Posted by: Rat | January 19, 2006 02:29 AM

How about a clear, succinct list of criteria which Ms. Howell and the WaPo use to determine which readers receive a response and which she will ignore?

Comprehensible guidelines might put the "omni" back in ombudsman. . .

Posted by: gloriousbach | January 19, 2006 08:45 AM

Count anouther post reader unsubscribed!

Posted by: gop | January 19, 2006 09:10 AM

Does anyone at WP get the feeling there is some upsetness on the part of your readers?

What ever happened to transparency and accountability? The whole idea of an ombudsman is to serve as an intermediary between the readers and the paper.

Can anyone argue that Ms. Howell is doing this job effectively? When will WP top brass wake up to their responsibility to their readers to respond and correct their mind-boggling politically charged errors?

Posted by: Hannah B. | January 19, 2006 09:16 AM


If the Post wants to maintain any credibility, it should reassign Ms. Howell immediately.

Posted by: Greg | January 19, 2006 09:20 AM

I already posted a comment a few days ago expressing alarm over the ombudsman's sloppiness and/or GOP shilling in trying to falsely link Democrats to the Abramoff scandal. Since then I've been checking back at this blog and the Post's correction page daily looking for a correction, apology or any kind of response from Ms. Howell to all these readers who are genuinely upset about it. The longer the Post allows this problem to fester the more serious is the breach of trust with the readers.

Posted by: djork | January 19, 2006 09:22 AM

I do hope that the volume and tenor of the messages here relay to the Post's 'leadership' that there is an army of watchers now--an army that is outraged with the hijacking of American journalism.

We want the truth, and we want it NOW!

Posted by: drindl | January 19, 2006 09:26 AM

I pretty much agree with everyone above.

Posted by: Andy | January 19, 2006 10:11 AM

That's good, because I pretty much agree with everyone below.

Posted by: johnnyr | January 19, 2006 10:27 AM

I'd like to call Ms. Howell's attention to a commencement address I happened to find on the internets she has such little regard for....

http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:3GK8-snbBcYJ:www.colorado.edu/journalism/boards/bylines/school
/messages/47.html+%22Newhouse+News%22+%22Deborah+
Howell%22&hl=en

I think it might sound familiar to her...she delivered it, but apparently doesn't believe in the same things now (if she ever did)

The highlights:

Torn between Letterman's Top 10 and the Ten Commandments, Howell split the difference and referred to her "top ten commandments" she wanted journo grads to remember so that they didn't "screw it [her profession] up."

Even assuming that the speech was transcribed rather than Howell giving over her text, it's a terrible piece of composition. The theme is not seen through consistently, and she counts down from what she says is the "most important thing." Such sloppiness, tsk, tsk (she chides grads that errors in spelling, her title or grammar cause her to "ashcan" thos letters). On to the Top 10 fun--

10. "Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it's the only thing. **** Sweat the small stuff. Have you heard the line: 'If your mother says she loves you, check it out'?"

9. "Don't be afraid to look dumb and ask stupid questions. Accuracy demands it."

8. MAJOR IRONY ALERT (MIA) "So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you're wrong. Know when to say you're sorry. Don't get defensive about it."

7. MIA "Don't be a jerk."

6. "Have respect for the English language. There are rules. Follow them. Nothing irritates our readers and viewers more than grammatical errors or making up words." (Well, maybe making up facts irritates us just a scootch more...)

5. "Treat your trade, your sources, your audience and the janitor with respect. Be someone who gives a damn about your town, even if you're just passing through.
Give folks the benefit of the doubt. Put yourself in the place of the people you're covering. **** [N]ever fail to remember we're reporting on people with reputations and families that we can carelessly ruin. "

4. "Sometimes you have to do a story when there is heavy pressure not to do it." She relates a story of standing up to some businessman (invented imho), and brags about putting an Archbishop's DWI on page 1 (is that really page 1 news?)

"If the news organization you're working for wants you to pull punches once, pay attention and see if there's not a good reason. If they do it all the time, look for a new job."

3. "Do not disregard the spiritual, the inspirational good news, if you will. **** And don't scoff at the notion of the divine. I don't care whether you believe in God or not. I don't care whether you're religious. But you should not insult your readers by writing snidely about their beliefs, however bizarre they may seem to you." (Like the belief that honest reporting is more than he said/she said)

2. "Look for diversity in everything ---- diversity of race, gender, income level ---- in your sources, in opinions"

"I think that anonymous sources should never be used for gratuitous opinion, especially a damning opinion. If someone wants to tell you something bad about someone anonymously, they almost always have an agenda. Don't let them use you.
Don't write for sources; write for readers and viewers."

1. Completely nonsensically given the theme of the address -- she launches into an anectdote about an old-guard reporter she followed around once who told her: "This sure is better than working for a living."

Considering that Howell doesn't bother to earn her pay by complying with her job description, yeah, I'd have to say it is...

WHERE IS YOUR RETRACTION, CORRECTION, APOLOGY AND RESIGNATION MS. HOWELL??!!

Posted by: BQ | January 19, 2006 10:36 AM

An ombudsman without the "om"? I'm confused how the position can allow one not to respond to critics. What, then, is her job? Certainly her position can have nothing to do with fact verification. Are editors at the post truly so busy and humble that they need a budsman just to respond to praise? Considering the negative reaction of the public, and the damage she's doing to the paper, I'd say she must be the most remarkably gracious praise-receiver ever.

Maybe her expensive position can be downsized as your paper continues to receive less and less of it.

Posted by: Shrink in SF | January 19, 2006 10:39 AM

you keep calling yourself an "ombudsperson"

I do not think that word means what you think it means...

Posted by: Vizinni | January 19, 2006 10:46 AM

I am from Nepal, where the Washington Post--because of its takedown of Nixon--had represented the power, the courage, the truthfulness and independence of the media; that such an act was possible further reflected the greatness of a country that nurtured an atmosphere where such things were possible. But especially with the WMD coverage, the WaPo has lost that mystique and the American press, perhaps unreasonably, is now seen as a lapdog to power, run by moneyed shills.

It saddens me that the paper that I once idolized has sunk so low. I mean, now you even have an ombudsman who won't respond to its audience, to criticism?! And she states this publicly, thereby making a mockery of her position. Even in the Third World, where I come from, the papers haven't quite sunk to this level of parody.

God bless America!

Posted by: Dho Cholecha | January 19, 2006 10:58 AM

Take heart, post "journalists."

We're going to arrange bulk purchases of your newspaper. Copies will be given away as promotional souvenirs, along with Michelle Malkin books and purple-heart bandages.

So there's no longer any need to worry about marketing to the "self-respecting" crowd.

Posted by: Scaife & Co | January 19, 2006 11:28 AM

Why all this criticism of Howell?

She clearly adheres to the standards of the NEW Washington Post as previously exmplified by John Harris and Leonard Downie, Jr, not to mention Bob Woodward himself.

All of whom share the same journalistic standards as Judy Miller et al at the Times.
What are facts and accountability compared to a good salary?

Posted by: lonewolf | January 19, 2006 11:30 AM

Ms. Howell repeats a right-wing talking point that was put forth to suggest that Jack Abrahamoff has contributed to Democrats, and your columnist defends her, claiming that she can't be held accoutable for an "inartfully worded" statement?

Isn't the "artful wording" of statements more or less your job description? You know, presenting the facts in a way that is not misleading, either accidentally or deliberately?

Everyone makes mistakes. But I'm sorry, Ms. Howell's inability to apologize for her mistake or make a correction, along with the fact that this error tracks perfectly with a Republican talking point, suggests to me that she did not make a mistake and instead intended to deliberately mislead your readers.

This is a high crime for any reporter, and it's especially egregious for an ombudsman. I am shocked that the Washington Post is doing nothing about this, and is instead allowing Ms. Howell to voice her intention to ignore your readers.

When you next walk into your editorial board room, do not be surprised to see enormous mushrooms, a white rabbit, a queen playing cricket with a pack of cards and a little girl wandering about. Because it's Alice in Wonderland time at your newspaper, people.

Posted by: theorajones | January 19, 2006 11:30 AM

Until Howell is gone, there is no ombudsman at the WP.

Posted by: john griffith | January 19, 2006 11:47 AM

Since I don't like being deleted anymore than anyone else , I went over to that great wapolies blog and found my 2 original posts the night this began . :

Curious . When the RNC call and complain Deborah, do they have your direct phoneline , while the DNC just leave a messge with the swtichboard? Really , how do their complaints get to the top of the pile so Fast...and why is it so Easy for them to get you to include misleading details into your column...and why don't your editors care that you lie ?

I hope it's a LOT of money...and someday maybe Governorship of the Marianas....

Posted by: A.Scott | Jan 15, 2006 7:00:36 PM
...and while I am surely just a babe in the woods and oh so new to this game of yours, might I suggest that 2-4 members of the RNC calling to complain can't possibly carry more weight than over 2 dozen ( UPDATE ADDED , : Well over a thousand if we count the deleted ones , which we do ) complaints here , can it ? So then , I guess we can all expect a complete retraction of your previous false-hood , since it is US, the reader you serve , and not the RNC...or am I again just too sweet and innocent not to get how the game is played?

You've been caught , fess up .


Posted by: A.Scott | Jan 15, 2006 7:06:30 PM

The bosses must know understand that there is no memory hole , that we keep this stuff , that we know our computers well and use them for the tracking and keeping of facts so that when someone tries to control information , change the past and elminate voices, we'll be there like a ring of accusory Golem, ready to go back to our hard-drives and whip out the material you'd hoped was forgotten and lost.

And Howells oh-so-late to the party repsonse ( even though she says her new policy is Not to respond ) does nothing to remove the stain , yes the stain, of intentional deception at which she was caught . Sorry Deb, not even close .

Posted by: A.Scott | January 19, 2006 12:26 PM

As of last Friday I thought I had bought my last Washington Post. Restoring these comments goes a little way to restoring the Post's dignity, but what am I to make of the fact that, contrary to the Post's contention, very few of these posts are obscene or beyond the pale? (Admittedly, a few are, shall we say, inartful.)

There has been no correction to the factually inaccurate statement about Abramoff. There has been a public statement by Ms. Howell to the effect that those who disagree with her, and for whome she ostensibly works (the readers) can take a flying leap. The comments, once restored, have proven to be far less than the cesspool of liberal hatred and profanity the editors contend.

The Post is on the brink of a precipice. It has to decide whether it wants to be a newspaper worthy of a proud tradition of investigative journalism, or another house organ for the Washington elite. Until it decides, my quarter and dime are staying in my pocket.

Posted by: J. Ridgely | January 23, 2006 11:56 AM


In response to your editor(Straus') comment:
We may also have unintentionally caused or made the problem worse by trying to remove a few comments -- about a dozen -- that failed to make a substantive point and were simply personal attacks on Howell and others.

Here are two comments which were removed, I fail to see what is personal and "non-substantive" about them. They raise concerns for me that you were trying to censor someone for calling you out on your deletion of Willis' post: oh and by the way - where are Willis' documents showing that Abramoff donated 'directly' to Dems?

--
Willis wrote: "But contrary to what some commenters have said here, Abramoff did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees. Our reporters have documents showing this to be the case, and I have asked that we post at least some of them so that readers can see for themselves."

That was two hours ago. Now, it takes me about ten minutes to scan a document, and upload it to my own website, and post a URL -- and that's because I'm not very good at all this "internets" stuff.

Willis claims that there are documents in which Jack Abramoff directs his clients to give to Democrats. One assumes that these include signed letters or memos from Abramoff to his clients, or emails directly from Abramoff to his clients --- and one assumes that if such documents actually existed, the Post would have written about them as part of what Deborah Howell described as Susan Schmidt's "explosive" investigative work on the Abramoff scandal.....

But to date, all the Post (and Willis) have ever come up with are these facts

1. Native Americans tribes give money to both parties

2. Some Native American tribes were represented by a firm that Abramoff worked for

3. Some of these tribes gave money to some Democrats -- but since Abramoff has been around, they aren't giving Democrats as much

So, Willis, where are your "documents"? Its been two hours plus -- ten times as long as it would take for you to scan and post the "Abramoff memo" you need to show us that you aren't lying through your teeth....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | Jan 17, 2006 10:31:19 AM | Permalink
------------------------------------------------------

well, its now three hours and counting since Willis claimed that "Abramoff did direct donations to Democratic candidates and committees. Our reporters have documents showing this to be the case" and also claimed that he was going to get those documents posted...

but instead of posting these "explosive" documents, the Post deletes Willis's claim....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | Jan 17, 2006 11:29:24 AM | Permalink

Posted by: ssue | January 23, 2006 12:37 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company