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By Washingtonpost.com Editors |  February 17, 2006; 12:20 PM ET  | Category:  Journalism
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As they say on the more common blog comment boards, "Frist!"

Nice to see the time-out-in the corner is over. Perhaps both sides are ready to act like grownups.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 17, 2006 12:47 PM

I'm certainly ready to be convinced that this is a real move to openness. We'll see.

Posted by: Max Renn | February 17, 2006 01:04 PM

Now that the microphone is back on, shall we resume where we left off?

As I understand things, there are four money flows from Jack Abramoff:

1. Jack Abramoff's personal campaign contributions. Perhaps $150 thousand.
2. The normal campaign contributions--mostly to Democrats--that Jack Abramoff's Indian clients made and continue to make in order to support legislators whom they regard as on their side in issues of special concern to Indians. Perhaps $3 million.
3. The extra campaign contributions--almost all to Republicans--that Jack Abramoff directed his Indian clients to make as part of his lobbying efforts on their behalf. Perhaps $6 million.
4. The fees--perhaps $80 million--paid to Abramoff and company, of which perhaps a quarter was respent as "lifestyle enhancements" for an overwhelmingly Republican group of legislators friendly to Abramoff. Perhaps $20 million.

With respect to these money flows, a few questions naturally arise:

1. Would anybody trying not to mislead their readers who had to summarize these money flows in one sentence do so by writing--as Deborah Howell did--that Jack Abramoff "gave campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans"?
2. Would anybody trying not to mislead their readers who had to summarize these money flows in one sentence do so by writing--as Jim Brady did--that Jack Abramoff "directed [Indian] clients to give [campaign contributions] to members of both parties"?
3. What do Deborah Howell and Jim Brady think they are doing in their thumbnail summaries of the money flows from Abramoff? Is there any way to interpret these thumbnail summaries other than as attempts to mislead readers? If so, what?

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 17, 2006 01:38 PM

By the way. Make as much noise as you want about "Oh, the Post.com is separate from the Post paper", but at the end of the day, if you (.com) print the writings of the Paper People, the readers see you and they as the same.

And you, the .com, will find that criticism of the article will often fall upon the just and the unjust, the posters and the writers.

Simply because printing something lends an air of, shall we say, tacit approval. Especially when what you've printed is, say, an Ombudsman article purporting to be God's Own Honest Universal Truth About This Or That, Supposedly Independent From The Non-Existent Political Biases of the Newspaper, and Not At All Ever Influenced By Anything Other Than Truth, Certainly Not Any Personal Political Bias of the Author.

If you print something like that without some sort of disclaimer that says "The above article is solely the opinion of the author and in no way reflects the official position of the Post.com or the Post Paper", you'll probably share the flak for what the author said.

I would imagine that it would be difficult to try to tell people that an ombudsman piece is just an opinion piece, when it purports to be 100% pure unbiased scientifically measured and verified fact.

As opposed to a politically biased fluff piece meant to report talking points faxed in by the SpinMeisters.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 17, 2006 01:45 PM

You asked if Deborah Howell and the Post had apologized? I don't think so. I can find nothing along the lines of: "Deborah Howell regrets the error." or "The Washington Post regrets the error."

Do they recognize how badly they messed up? I think so. For example, contrast Howell's January 15 column:

'News reports described [Abramoff] as a "confidant" of then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and "influential" among conservative lawmakers. In the fall of 2003, a lobbyist called to tip Schmidt.... 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. "It was enough to get me interested," Schmidt said.... Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) began a congressional investigation, and the Justice Department started its own probe. Schmidt kept tabs on those.... Schmidt, Grimaldi and Smith reported on Abramoff's ties to members of Congress and their staffs, whom he lavishly wined and dined, took on expensive foreign trips, and gave skybox seats.... Republicans... say The Post purposely hasn't nailed any Democrats [in this story]. 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.'

With Howell's January 22 column:

'I wrote that he gave campaign money to both parties and their members of Congress. He didn't. I should have said he directed his client Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties. My mistake set off a firestorm. I heard that I was lying, that Democrats never got a penny of Abramoff-tainted money, that I was trying to say it was a bipartisan scandal, as some Republicans claim. I didn't say that. It's not a bipartisan scandal; it's a Republican scandal, and that's why the Republicans are scurrying around trying to enact lobbying reforms. But there is no doubt about the campaign contributions that were directed to lawmakers of both parties....'

The switch from Howell's "stay tuned," when asked why Democrats haven't been indicted, to "It's not a bipartisan scandal; it's a Republican scandal, and that's why the Republicans are scurrying around trying to enact lobbying reforms" is a big shift. Recall how thoroughly the January 15 column appears to have been scrubbed to make the scandal look nonpartisan. The closest Howell comes on the 15 to telling her readers that Abramoff is a Republican is to say that he was "quoted in stories about Republican politics." If you count named partisan affiliations you see a careful balance: two Democrats (Reid and Dorgan) are mentioned as having gotten "Abramoff compaign money"; two Republicans (DeLay and Rohrbacher) are mentioned as having been personally close to Abramoff (although Howell takes DeLay back at the end of the article); and one Republican (McCain) is mentioned as a harsh critic of Abramoff.

Why are the mentions of partisan affiliations so carefully balanced by Howell in her January 15 article? One possible clue is contained in a complaint by Chris Cillizza that an unnamed Post editor had taken a Democrat who was "not a sitting member of Congress... [and] unnecessarily included [him] for, frankly, balance" in a list of ne'er-do-wells. Cillizza goes on to say: "I did not read the final edit and therefore was unaware that Ballance had been added to the list. I apologize for my editor's error (he's been flogged)."

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 17, 2006 02:29 PM

For anyone interested. No, the average American does not feel the story concerning V.P. Cheney is "over". The Press Secretary should check polls before speaking contrary to what 71% of the American public feels.

The issues which I believe concern most American's which this Administration would like to sweep under the rug are glaringly obvious.

In normal circumstances with an average citizen of the U.S.A. under almost no circumstances would the a hospital fail or choose not to inform the police of this type of situation. If these individuals were the average citizen the police would have been on the scene within less the 15 minutes so that a proper and thourough investigation could take place. So the scene would not be altered or tainted by the participants, the weather, or wild animals disturbing the area. The decision by the states attorneys office to file or not file charges would not take minutes or hours. Instead it would take months before a decision is made and only after weighing all the evidence, witness reports, and measurements and photos of the scene.

I'm not writing this to construe a conspiricy theory, nor am I claiming a cover up. But for anyone with a fair amount of knowledge knows that this is not the "normal" procedure or time frame.

The average citizen does not benefit from 15 hours to contact U.S., State or private attorneys and coordinate witness accounts before being contacted or interviewed by the police.

No Sir, although V.P. Cheney finally addressed the press 5 days afterwards, the way this was handled was definately not ordinary and the American public deserves better answers.

Posted by: Gloria Stephens | February 17, 2006 03:15 PM

I just finished reading all the comments you have allowed to be posted regarding Ms Howells columns on the Abramoff issue. Frankly the remarks remind me most of Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads, but of course with the politics reversed. Does nobody engage in civil and objective discourse anymore??

Posted by: Jim Damron | February 17, 2006 03:23 PM

My GOD, people, give up the flagellation of Deborah Howell. She wrote something she shouldn't have, she acknowledged that, LET'S MOVE ON! You can continue to whine here all you want, but you are not playing to anyone who is going to be convinced by your incessant carryings-on. It was not a good thing. There are other not-good-things that deserve our attention and that one is old news.

My thing is what Cheney said about the day of the shooting. "It was one of the worst days of my life."

Well, Dickie-poo, it was a pretty bad day for Harry, also. It ain't all about you.

Posted by: Pat | February 17, 2006 03:28 PM

I just finished reading Jim Brady's treatise on his martyrdom and victimhood. I await the papal review of his miracles in his attempt to be canonized.

Specifically, let's look over Jim's words:

"This all raises a question: Why are people so angry? It was a mistake, it was corrected. Part of the explanation may be the extremely partisan times we live in."

People were so angry because it was a grievous factual mistake by the one person at the paper who's supposed to be capable of doing intern-level research.

People were so angry because requests for correction were ignored for day after day by the author, and the only comments regarding the error were non-apologetic excuses and confabulation by Post employees who 1) disagreed with the readers who said it was an error, 2) copped an attitude about it in online live Discussions, 3) claimed to have hard documented proof that it wasn't an error, and promised they'd post it that day... and then did nothing of the sort.

3) People were angry because it was "corrected" by a half-hearted post by the Ombudsman rather than a formal correction in the paper. The Ombudsman never apologized, she pulled what might today be called "a Cheney". She said, "Well, this bit of information was a little bit misread by the readers. It meant this."

No "Sorry, I was wrong, and I regret making the error and then trying to defend it rather than admitting the error."

It was more "You misunderstood what I said. When I wrote A, it meant B. You misunderstood."

The Post has to just grow up and admit that the inflamed sentiments were caused by the grievous and irresponsible nature of the error, moreso than the partisan appearance of the error and the fact that all You Little People Readers are Big Meanies.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 17, 2006 04:26 PM

I think it will be time to "move on" when the Post -- and Jim Brady in particular -- does so. Brady's piece in Outlook last Sunday about the horrors he has suffered (help, help, I'm being oppressed!) insistently repeated the tired falsehood that Howell made an "inadvertent mistake," and then insulted our intelligence further by offering up the excuse -- baseless at worst, misleading at best -- that Abramoff "directed" his clients' contributions to Democrats.

The readership, including yours truly, grasps the notion that even Professional Journalists make mistakes, and that they can be forgiven for same when they acknowledge the error. In this case, unfortunately, the problem is that Brady and Howell insist on compounding the original error. That's neither professional nor journalism.

Posted by: mark | February 17, 2006 04:31 PM

And you are going to beat these people into submission, into a place where they obey your commands?

I don't think so.

It's not worth it. It truly is not worth it. There are so many more topical fish to fry. This issue smells like the four (longer?) week old fish that it is.

If you want people to listen to you, you have to submit a message that interests them, not one that will just make them roll their eyes and move on.

Posted by: Pat | February 17, 2006 04:51 PM

Right on, Pat. There's simply no reason for all the vitriol that permeates the blogosphere.

One of the surest marks of maturity is the ability to disagree without being disagreeable.

This trait is sadly absent in much internet discourse.

Posted by: David I | February 17, 2006 05:05 PM

On the topic at hand, would it be possible for you to clarify further the exact process washingtonpost.com will use to maintain adherence to its minimal but firm rules? Specifically:

Do you now allow criticism of Post and post.com staffers’ work performance? It’s quite clear (to those of us who read or posted comments that you deleted during the “fiasco”) that some deleted comments were tough criticism of inartful writing, dubious phrasing, omission of fact, and less-than-elegant word choice. Since it appears that, in the past, you have interpreted such tough criticism as personal attacks and removed the comment, can you be very exact about where your line exists between personal attacks (intended as job performance criticism) and tough criticism (which you have taken in the past as personal attacks and deleted)?

What is, for your purposes, profanity? Are we talking about George Carlin’s seven words, or do you have a broader, more comprehensive proscribed list of words or, perhaps, phrases? Is “masking” acceptable, where the commenter uses the first and last letter of the dirty word, filling the middle with comic-strip-type top-row-qwerty-keyboard characters? Is “dyslexic” profanity allowed, where the writer transposes the first letters of a series of words, making the meaning and original intent quite apparent while not technically using dirty words? Finally, are words that have different meanings depending on context allowed, e.g. the last name of our current president and the first name of our current vice-president?

How will you determine who I am when I post a comment? Is there a registration process including e-mail bounceback? What methods will you use to determine if someone is actually who they claim to be? What methods will you use to prevent commenters from assuming the identities of previous commenters in order to get that commenter banned from your blog?

Is there staff assigned to provide filtering, to verify identities, and to distinguish between tough criticism and personal attacks? How many staff are assigned and what is their job description? Could you please post on this blog the guidelines for their work product?

Finally, what weight is given to comments posted here that request (or point out the immediate need for) a correction to Washington Post or washingtonpost.com content? Need blog commenters use all methods to reach you and the editors of the Post in order to secure a correction? Will the Post editors read this blog, and will they provide formal corrections to Washington Post content based on comments made here?

I hope you’ll enjoy your re-engagment in the 21st century, and that we (your readers) will too. Thank you.

Posted by: TeddySanFran | February 17, 2006 05:10 PM

And here's something interesting about Post policies and goals, from Jay Rosen's PressThink http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2006/02/16/chn_ftz.html:

"I thought I would be featuring at PressThink this week a long and (I thought) very interesting Q and A with John Harris, the political editor of the Washington Post. It was completed over the weekend, but at the last minute Harris pulled the plug and decided against publishing the interview, which we had worked on for several weeks. (I’d tell you the reason, but I don’t know the reason.)"

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 17, 2006 05:47 PM

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

Posted by: David Ehrenstein | February 17, 2006 06:49 PM

In the last series of posting on the Abramoff misrepresentation by the Post, the Post promised to provide documentation to support the statement that "Abramoff directed his clients to donate to candidates of both parites". The donation records clearly indicate that donations from tribes to Democrats dropped once Abramoff was representing those tribes. Where is the promised documentation?

Posted by: Lawrence Allen | February 17, 2006 07:03 PM

Ms.Howell made a sloppy mistake and instead of admitting that mistake, she got defensive and derided those that dare point out that mistake.

Yes, some were very rude and made it far too personal, but the saying "I think she doth protest too much" is applicable here. The idea that you guys at the Post just realized that internet trolls exist and that people are more likely to be insulting when they are able to hide behind a 17 inch flat panel monitor, is a bit annoying. I mean, are all of you that pampered and removed from reality? Those of us who blog accept it, for better or worse, as part of life on the internet and having a public hissy fit about it does little other than distract attention away from the real issues- or perhaps that was your intent. If so, it worked.

But after the whole affair ended, I realized I don't have a lot of faith in Howell as the Post's public editor.

I don't see Howell as representing, or looking out for, the Washington Post's readers - in addition to this recent scandal I am reminded of her reaction to the whole Bob Woodward controversy with respect to Plamegate not so long ago- her reaction seemed directly proportional to Woodward's status and power at the Post and her take on it was totally predictable. She comes across as a Company Woman through and through- not a great characteristic for someone in her position.

Hopefully the Post will get over it's need to try to present every scandal coming down the pike as somehow "bipartisan" in nature, out of an obvious fear of being labeled part of that evil "liberal, elite media."

Whether it's the shoddy job the media (yes, including the WaPo) did reporting on the administration's claims leading up to the Iraq war (out of fear of being labeled unpatriotic or antiamerican?)or the deferential tone it uses in reporting on Cheney's shooting accident (did you find that other "witness" yet? You know, since Armstrong changed her story like 4 times in two days, maybe you guys need a witness that isn't in the pocket of the VP's office?). I see a very real difference in the coverage of Bill Clinton's years in office and how you cover the Presidency of GW Bush. And no, just because you get slack from both the left and the right doesn't mean "we must be doing something right"- so don't let yourselves off that easy, please.

Posted by: Stacy B. | February 17, 2006 07:24 PM

In your February 12th article entitled "BLOG RAGE" you wrote, "How did it feel to be mugged by the blogosphere?" and I was wondering what you meant by this?

How were you "mugged"?

Posted by: Tim Robinson | February 17, 2006 07:34 PM

By way of introduction....this is coming from someone who defended Jim Brady repeated, both under my own name, as and "ami" over at Jay Rosen's Pressthink, as someone who was on 'the side of the angels'. I assumed that Brady really did see the potential of the internet to improve and enhance mainstream 'journalism', but that the nature of the contractual relationship between WPNI and the Post resulted in Brady being "compromised" --- that Brady was the best we could expect from someone in his position--- and that he was doing as good a job as could be expected.

In other words, I used to be on Brady's side. But after his performance of the last month, its difficult to see him as more than just another corporate hack.

For all of Brady's complaints and whining, two simple facts stand out

1) Deborah Howell's original column remains without a "correction" -- in other words, WPNI continues to permit flat out false statements about Jack Abramoff giving his money to Democrats to remain on its website.

2) There were numerous "polite" objections to the original, grossly inaccurate Howell column, but those "polite" objections were ignored. The only reason that the Washington Post got around to admitting that this was a "Republican scandal" rather than a "bipartisan" one was because apparently so many people began publicly spewing obscenitites at Deborah Howell after her "non-correction" that the comments on post.blog had to be shut down --- and that became a major media story that resulted in the Post finally having to tell the truth about Abramoff.

"civil discourse" didn't work. Getting angry, making personal attacks, and spewing obscenities worked.

Mr. Brady can make all the rules he wants, but unless and until he and his staff begins to respond appropriately to reasoned and polite criticism in a timely fashion, he's gonna need to hire a whole new crew of people whose sole job is to week out the entirely accurate but "impolite" criticism of his work.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 17, 2006 07:43 PM

Tough criticism is welcome...

Apparently, not if your name is Paul Lukasiak.

Posted by: dave | February 17, 2006 07:48 PM

Well I wonder if Mr. Brady would tell us when the Post will be releasing the documents he claimed Post reporters possessed that proved that Mr. Abramoff directed funds from his clients to democrats.

Paul, have you asked this question again lately?

Posted by: Davebo | February 17, 2006 07:50 PM

Mr. Brady
Why is it that, to date, the comments of Paul Lukasiak -- which contained only fair criticism and no profanity -- are among the expunged?

Here are some of them pulled from the various internets:

------

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

-----------

We are still waiting for WaPo to produce these documents which show that Abramoff "directed" his clients to give to Dems...

Still waiting....

Still waiting....

Posted by: Gioele | February 17, 2006 07:56 PM

Dear Mr Brady

I read at http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/
that among the comments you deleted was the following
"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"

I read that the Washington Post deleted this comment (as well as Willis's claim if I understand correctly).

As far as I can tell, Mr Lukasiak's comment contains no vulgarity or personal attacks. It seems to me to be a to the point argument based on demonstrable facts. I read that it was deleted from this site. I assume that this accusation is false and Mr Lukasiak's to the point, relevant, factual comments are and have been available to all readers of www.washingtonpost.com.

No doubt the irresponsible bloggers at
http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/ made this all up out of whole cloth and you can point me to the url that directs me to the polite non obscene argument that www.washingtonpost.com a site which welcomes reasoned criticism would never attempt to supress or delete.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann | February 17, 2006 08:11 PM

Why is it that, to date, the comments of Paul Lukasiak -- which contained only fair criticism and no profanity -- are among the expunged?

just for the record....some of my comments -- especially one that was an immediate reaction to Howell's non-correction, did include some language that was not "family friendly"

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

Paul, have you asked this question again lately?

no, because I spent a whole lot of time researching what the Post has reported on, and the "documentation" that they apparently based their claims on --- and the bottom line is that they don't have bubkis (not a dirty work, Mr. Brady) to back up their claims.

There is absolutely no evidence that shows that Jack Abramoff personally directed a penny to any Democratic candidate or cause.

What is true is that Abramoff worked for two major lobbying firms, and those firms did lots of perfectly legal "legitimate" lobbying. Abramoff had a "team" that included Democrats, but "Abramoff's clients" were actual clients of his lobbying firm, with Abramoff in the role of "lead lobbying" for those clients -- but the "lead lobbyist" was not the only person who lobbied on behalf of the clients for that firm.

Abramoff was doubtless involved in some way in suggesting contributions to Democrats --- for instance he almost definitely played a role in compiling the "Coushatta Request" list that the Post excerpted -- and it may have even had his name on it. But does that mean that Jack Abramoff said "send $2000 to Tim Johnson's campaign"? No -- its far more likely that one of the Democrats who worked for the lobbying firm said "put Johnson's name on the list--- he's supportive of Native American causes, and he from the same state as Daschle.

(lets not forget that in 2002, the Democrats controlled the Senate. There is another document that appears to be related to the Coushatta Request list that shows that while contributions for both Democratic and GOP Senators were solicited, contributions for ONLY GOP candidates for the House were solicited. THAT was Abramoff's influence. )

(Of course, the Post refuses to publish the entire list....and my research indicates there is a good reason for them not doing so --- the "Coushatta Request" list is exactly that....a REQUEST list, and most of the requests were never honored. The full list will show that not only were Democrats far less likely to be "suggested" for contributions, they were far less likely to received contributions that were suggested--- and that the combined total of all money contributed to dems on the Coushatta Request list was tens of thousands of dollars less than Gale Norton's personal "charity" got from the tribe. The Post, however, barely mentions Norton's relationship with Abramoff, despite the fact that Abramoff organized fundraisers for Norton's "charity" at which she was the guest of honor-- and Abramoff's clients paid top dollar to attend.)

In other words, there is no point in asking the Post for their proof --- because I did the research myself, and found out that there is nothing to back up the claim that Abramoff "directed" money to Democrats.

Unless, of course, by "directed" you mean "The sales clerk directed me toward the shoe department, but I didn;t see anything I liked, so I left without buying."

But "Directed"....as in "told what to do"---it never happened.

....the Post knows that Abramoff directed nothing to the democrats, and are using the ambiguous nature of the word "directed" to hid their dishonesty.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 17, 2006 08:33 PM

"Frankly the remarks remind me most of Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads, but of course with the politics reversed."

eactly- because asking a newspaper to fact check their articles is just like advocating racism, misogyny, and homophobia!

Posted by: moral j. equivalency | February 17, 2006 08:46 PM

I had mistakenly assumed that sometime in the month or so since Howell wrote the column in which she incorrectly stated that "[Abramoff] had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," a correction would have been appended to the column, or inserted in the column.

Obviously I was wrong; I've just looked at it and unless I missed it there is no acknowledgement that it is unambiguously wrong on the facts.

Should there be? Would someone at the Post explain the ground rules on this type of thing?

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 17, 2006 09:54 PM

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."

It has been more than a a month since Deborah Howell had a head-on collision with the truth and Willis promised to publish those documents held by the Post that would demonstrate that Abramhoff "directed" Indian money to Democrats.

Hey Jim Brady; where are those documents?

Posted by: Seeker of the truth | February 17, 2006 11:06 PM

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.

Thank you.

Posted by: Ted | February 17, 2006 11:21 PM

Let's hope the far left can contain themselves here.

Richard Cohen's anti-math column on Wednesday was terrific. Check out the discussion of it at
http://scrutator.net/?p=71

Posted by: Leonidas | February 17, 2006 11:30 PM

"Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats."

Stop whining oh ye of the looney left. Pelosi and Reid are going down big time here. Abramoff had them in his pocket.

Posted by: Leonidas | February 17, 2006 11:31 PM

Oh yes, the purpose of the Washington Post is to make a profit for its stockholders. By law. Let us not pretend.

Posted by: Eli Rabett | February 18, 2006 12:48 AM

Leonidas,

Nice proof there...

Posted by: Pb | February 18, 2006 01:02 AM

Please address paul lukasiak's post.

Respectfully, and not using "bad words" yours,

Cozumel

Posted by: Cozumel | February 18, 2006 01:11 AM

If there is one thing that confuses me about this whole thing, it is the following:
The only people who you are going to reach by reopening the blog are people who specifically are reading this blog, as I can't imagine that a lot of people who get their news by watching the Fox News Channel are really going to care.

Now, probably half, maybe more, of the comments here reference Paul Lukasiak's inoffensive, fact-based comments that were removed and not put back and/or the fact that there's been no correction to Deborah Howell's original column. So, it doesn't appear that you're going to be very successful in proving to the people who care about this blog that:
-You are only deleting posts with offensive language.
-You are concerned with the truth and getting out facts and only that.

Why do you keep saying that these are your policies? They clearly are not.

The explanations here are pretty clear:
-There are, in fact, no documents proving that Abramoff directed donations to Democrats. Thus, you can't answer Mr. Lukasiak's question, so you try to hide it. Evidently, that approach hasn't succeeded.
-At the beginning of the uproar, you decided that you'd rather have Howell's untrue statements go uncorrected than report actual facts. After some time passed, printing the correction would make you look pretty pathetic.

Why can't you just stop the charade and admit that you mishandled the whole debacle in the first place, run a correction, and stop making untrue statements?

Posted by: DanM | February 18, 2006 01:18 AM

Many thanks Brad, Taniwha, Paul, and others for your efforts. Noticed and appreciated!

Posted by: Stu in C | February 18, 2006 01:24 AM

Cohen and Krauthammer.

Appelbaum, Broder, and Will.

Kissinger and Kirkpatrick.

Oh my.

Posted by: nobody | February 18, 2006 01:27 AM

I've read all the comments here and add my voice to the chorus led by Paul Lukasiak:

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle | February 18, 2006 01:33 AM

"We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions."

An intern would know better than to post this. More assertions you can't back up, eh Willis?

Posted by: ww | February 18, 2006 01:46 AM

Comments on or comments off, these questions will continue to be asked until you actually answer them.

Posted by: InsultComicDog | February 18, 2006 01:47 AM

My comments disappear before my very eyes

Posted by: ww | February 18, 2006 01:52 AM

I hope this blog isn't just an echo chamber---will the Post online be answering some of these questions?

Posted by: Marky | February 18, 2006 01:53 AM

"Ms.Howell made a sloppy mistake and instead of admitting that mistake, she got defensive and derided those that dare point out that mistake."

No. They weren't sloppy or made mistakenly, Stacy B. They were carefully crafted and calculated.

How dare you call her a hack.


(screenshot)

Posted by: ww | February 18, 2006 01:59 AM

Why were we angry?

The reasons are quite simple and it's puzzling to us that you (WaPo) don't get it or at least say you don't get it.

The anger comes from our commitment to our democracy and a belief that a robust fourth estate is essential to that democracy.

The Post's failings vis-a-vis the big stories of the day and it's continued support of journalists/commentators with well known conflicts of interest are the reasons for the anger.

The refusal of Howell/Brady to address direct and clear questions that have been put by Paul Lukasiak (among others) while Brady is out doing media whining about the bad faith of angry progressive bloggers has created enormous cynicism and distrust of Brady now in addition to Howell.

There is a very simple way to address that distrust. Just provide answers to the questions that have been asked of you by Paul Lukasiak.

Posted by: aspTrader | February 18, 2006 02:01 AM

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."

and:

WaPo - "Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed."

Equally silly statements. Neither is truthful.

Posted by: ww | February 18, 2006 02:14 AM

Mr. Brady,

If you haven't yet done so, I suggest that you read this open letter to you, by jukeboxgrad, a Daily Kos diarist: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/1/27/22034/6577

It's long, but it's well worth reading. He makes what seem to me valid points about the scrubbed comments from the first time around. I'd like you to consider addressing some of the points made in that post.

Posted by: Anthony Cartouche | February 18, 2006 02:29 AM

Jim,

I wanted to thank you for your personal replay to my e-mail comments, and pose a few questions beyond what I raised with you earlier.

Thanks,

-Jeff

Posted by: Jeffraham Prestonian | February 18, 2006 02:39 AM

http://jprestonian.blogspot.com/2006/02/word-directed.html

.

Posted by: Jeffraham Prestonian | February 18, 2006 02:39 AM

Dear Mr. Brady,

As a newspaperman, I'm sure that you've heard as much cursing and invective in the newsroom or in the bars, as you recently heard from your internet readers concerning the maladroit Ms. Howell. People were angry, and I think justifiably so, for her attempts to make the Abramoff-Republican scandal somehow bipartisan.

Bristling defensively, rationalizing away the blatant falsehoods propagated by Ms. Howell, and then shutting down a website because a few people have uncivilly cursed her is a rather jejune response to criticism, don't you think? Besides, most of the criticism seems to me to be valid, even if some of it was "inartfully worded" -- as Howie Kurtz described Ms. Howell's reporting.

Now, you continue to misconstrue the truth, while admitting that Ms. Howell erred (although you say it was "inadvertent"). It may have been careless on her part, but why then didn't she immediately admit her mistake and apologize? Deborah Howell printed blatant falsehoods in your paper. Ms. Howell wrote: "[Abramoff] had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." This is not poor wording, it's a lie. Jack Abramoff never gave one red cent to Democrats or to the Democratic Party.

To pretend, to insinuate, to print anything contrary to that true fact is to fabricate, to prevaricate, and to do steno-spin for the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

And yet you continue repeating the canard that "In fact, Abramoff directed clients to give to members of both parties." What is your proof of that? How do you know for a fact that Abramoff "directed" the tribes to give to Democrats when I believe that the factually proper statement is that the Indian tribes, after contact and association with Abramoff, actually REDUCED their contributions to Democrats. So, in reality, Abramoff was busy directing money away from Democrats and toward Republicans.

Dwight L. Morris and Associates, a nonpartisan firm specializing in campaign finance that has done research for many media outlets, did an extensive analysis of campaign donations from all of Abramoff's tribal clients. Their analysis shows that:

• In total, the donations of Abramoff's tribal clients to Democrats dropped by 9 percent after they hired him, while their donations to Republicans more than doubled, increasing by 135 percent after they signed him up.

• Five out of seven of Abramoff's tribal clients vastly favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones.

• Four of the seven began giving substantially more to Republicans than Democrats after he took them on.

• Abramoff's clients gave well over twice as much to Republicans than Democrats, while tribes not affiliated with Abramoff gave well over twice as much to Democrats than the GOP.

Jack Abramoff is only the tip of the iceberg of purely Republican scandal and corruption. There's nothing bipartisan about this one. Or about DeLay's. Or Libby's. Or Rove's. Or Cheney's. Or, dare I say, Bush's. The chickenhawks coming home to roost are all Republicans.

If you would, please have your crackerjack investigative reporters look into this. And then, if I'm right, please print an apology to me and all of your readers in a prominent place on your website.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
David Wyles

Posted by: David Wyles | February 18, 2006 03:15 AM

I've too have read all the comments here and add my voice to the chorus led by Paul Lukasiak:

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.

Posted by: brownbuffalo | February 18, 2006 03:18 AM

I have a question about a post that appears to have been removed from these comments after it was published on this site. The writer, Semblance, posted at 11:33. I have seen a screen shot of the post; it immediately followed Leonidas' 11:31 comment.

Can you please tell your readers under which of your rules Semblance's comment was un-posted? Can you also tell your readers how many posts have been removed from this thread after being posted?

Thank you.

Posted by: TeddySanFran | February 18, 2006 03:24 AM

dear mister jim brady, wapo, et al.,

Do you (Still?) believe that Black Jack Abramoff contributed to Democrats?
OR
That "Black Jack" directed others to contribute to Democrats?

IF "yes", then Why?
"Why", as in where is the evidence to support this?

... as in, Why should you be believed?
... as in, Why should you be read?

see?
no one is trying to be mean to you.
folks just expect honesty.
... and when you force them to ask for it,
try to avoid the emotional reaction.
... go for a more dispassionate interested response.

catch more bees with honey

Posted by: yellowdog jim | February 18, 2006 04:22 AM

Mr. Brady,

I’m glad to see you have decided to re-open the blog.

I have several questions that may help some of us who are troubled by the Post’s attitude following Ms. Howell’s op-ed piece.

1. Could you please describe the position (role and responsibilities) of the ombudsman at the Post? IMO, I just don’t believe that the ombudsman should be writing in-accurate op-ed pieces.

2. There was a grudging admission that an error was made. Why hasn’t there been a printed correction of the mistake?

3. In your article on February 12, 2006 you state “I noted the investigative nature of her questions and suggested that when she was done playing Columbo, she might actually discuss the topic we'd invited her to discuss.” Could you please explain how in one paragraph you want to play the role of a martyr and you make a vicious personal attack?

4. What has bothered me the most about the aftermath of Ms. Howell’s op-ed piece is what I perceive as a whiney, arrogant, patronizing attitude by Post. All those terrible words that were used! Mr. Brady, you state “Only, the word "comments" doesn't convey the obscene, vituperative tone of a lot of the postings….” Have you read Ms. Howell‘s interview with the National Press Club in 1993 Check out http://npc.press.org/wpforal/how2.htm and do a search for Adios. Now tell me, was the use of profanity like that by Ms. Howell appropriate?

Posted by: Steve | February 18, 2006 05:47 AM

evidence.....please!

Posted by: rkrider | February 18, 2006 07:30 AM

Missing : Correction to flawed op-ed .
Missing : Evidence for the assertion that republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.
Missing : Impartial Ombudsman .
Missing : Openness in government.
Missing : Free Press.
Found : Martyr .


Posted by: ac-n-nc | February 18, 2006 08:43 AM

Actually, I am no longer interested in the answer to Paul's question, because it's normal for lobbyists to suggest to clients that they hedge their bets by giving money to both parties.

What really does interest me, and what should be precisely the kind of question that would interest an ombudsman, is:

1. Why did a column in The Washington Post ever contain the suggestion that Abramoff was equally entangled with both parties? And

2. When the error was pointed out, why did the same columnist continue to inappropriately drag Democrats into the scandal by bringing up the irrelevant point about Abramoff supposedly "directing" money to both parties?

The story is about illegal and unethical behavior by Abramoff and Republicans, not about routine - and legal - campaign support of Democrats by the tribes (which has always existed). Democrats have nothing to do with Abramoff's illegal and unethical activities on behalf of the GOP. If stories about the scandal mention Democrats, it should only be to clarify the fact that this is part of a Republican program and has nothing to do with Democrats.

Yet, a column appears to be trying to cover up the story by falsely stating that Abramoff personally gave money to Democrats.

When the columnist is called on the error, she tries to "correct" it by continuing to inappropriately bring the Democrats into the story although in fact they have nothing to do with the story.

What, then, is the source of these two pieces of GOP spin, and how did they work their way into the paper's Ombudsman column?

I believe that the Post needs to carefully consider the fact that there is at least one conduit that seems to be able to funnel misinformation directly onto the paper's pages - misinformation which, by an amazing coincidence, is exactly the same as GOP talking points. It should be of grave concern to the Post that some facility is at work that directly sabotages the Post's stated goal of fairness and accuracy.

Isn't this exactly the sort of thing an ombudsman should be investigating?

Posted by: Avedon | February 18, 2006 08:46 AM

I would still very much like to know whether the Post knows if any of its reporters or columnists are on the take, as Armstrong Williams was. It's been quite well established that the White House and various private organizations have paid writers to give them favorable coverage in the media, and I would like to see some solid evidence that the Post's reporters aren't skewing their stories at the behest of corporate or administration sugar-daddies.

Is that really too much to ask? A little accountability?

Posted by: Wally Whateley | February 18, 2006 08:59 AM

MS. Howell admits a mistake in her follow-up article but the post (including washingtonpost.com) have failed to correct the original article. Please correct this.

Posted by: germartz | February 18, 2006 09:09 AM

Evidence?

Evidence?

Evidence?

Where is the evidence?

Posted by: Sandia Blanca | February 18, 2006 09:12 AM

The Post should also be clear when reporting about the Abramoff scandal that the scandal is NOT simply that he gave money (and directed his clients to give money) to politicians.

Lobbyists do that all the time.

The scandal is that Abramoff made specific quid pro quo deals with members of Congress to give them X dollars in exchange for a particular vote or other official act to be performed.

So far, the evidence suggesting specific quid pro quos relates almost exclusively to Republicans.

It's only "almost exclusively" due to a few AP reports pointing out that Harry Reid -- a longtime supporter of various Indian tribes and also a longtime protector of Las Vegas's gambling interests (big surprise) -- acted consistently with his long-held positions during a period when some Indian tribes continued to make contributions to him. Those facts could be consistent with specific quid pro quos made in advance, but those facts are also consistent with a group giving money to a politician who they know supports their position.

Now, how complicated is all that? Why must the media make so many dumbed-down references that suggest all donations from Greenberg Traurig clients were tainted "Abramoff money"? It's the bribery, stupid!

Posted by: Sean | February 18, 2006 09:20 AM

I continue to believe that when the history of these time is written, one of the great themes will be the utter failure of the mainstream press to do its job. Instead of informing their readers and "afflicting the comfortable", the press now echoes and supports the propoganda and power of the ruling government and the economic powers that support it. This whole discussion, where so-called "journalists" find themselves either unwilling or unable to acknowledges facts presented to them by their readers, simply, it seems, because those readers don't belong to the right class of people, is a prime example.

I completely support Mr. Lukasiak's request, post your evidence.

Posted by: popomo | February 18, 2006 09:23 AM

About a year ago, "CmdrTaco" of Slashdot posted an essay on his attempts to work with traditional media to help them understand and take advantage of the Internet.

Now, CmdrTaco is all of about 25 years old. He no doubt has a goatee and a large collection of Star Trek t-shirts. And worst of all he pocketed a bunch of money during the dotcom mania (although not I think the full 3 million he was offered for his site).

But - he also founded and operates Slashdot. A discussion site with 900,000 REGISTERED members that received upwards of 20,000 comment postings on a slow day, and can easily hit 3,000 comments on a contentious post.

Slashdot is also hit with profanity, obscentity, and technical cracking attempts that are at the upper limit of anything seen on the Internet; it is the favorite target of 16 y.o. obsessive crackers everywhere and I would be willing to bet it gets hit harder than most US military sites. Yet he and his co-founders have kept the site operating, relevant, and profit-making for 6 years now.

So, what happened when the Slashdot dudes tried to help the traditional media? Either as consultants, or even for free (Taco wanted to find a way to help his hometown paper stay in business; he offered to develop a full Internet marketing plan and web site for them gratis). Zilch. Nada. Zippo. No one would hire them. No one would listen to them. None of the traditional media criticism outlets would publish their whitepapers.

These guys run a site with _900,000_ members (about 100,000 of whom are active at any time) that has made a profit (suspected to be a substantial profit, but of course they aren't saying) from day 1. They have technology that handles the most offensive obscenity possible without damaging the free flow of strong comments. But no one in the traditional media will listen to them.

Sound familiar?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | February 18, 2006 10:09 AM

The truth shall set you free!!! Well over half of this country is very tired of reading UNTRUTHS. Use your common sense, and if you are competent enough to actually write about the FACTS, then we all will STOP BEING ANGRY! Oh, and as a result, your readership will increase dramatically, if you even care about that.

Posted by: harriett | February 18, 2006 10:34 AM

We are still waiting for that Abramoff evidence! I'm sure it will be posted any minute now! The clock is ticking! Tick Tock, tick tock! Any minute now, huh? Tick tock, tick tock! Wonder what the hold up could be? Tick tock, tick tock! Well, can't wait any longer, gotta go to the bathroom! Be right back! Tick tock, tick tock! (to be continued) tick tock

Posted by: Don Adams | February 18, 2006 10:54 AM

Dear Mr. Brady:

I am disappointed that I have yet to receive a reply from you to my e-mail responding to your column of last week. I wrote my note a week ago (as of tonight) and you apparently opened it two days ago.

Mr. Brady, you seem either not to understand or not to care that it is your (and Ms. Howell's) response to the genuine concerns of your readers that has fanned so much outrage. You have been dismissive of our arguments and have willfully refused to engage us on the merits.

Instead, you paint us with a broad brush and then switch the discussion to one of style and etiquette over substance.

I ask once again: Do you hear what we are saying? Do you understand that our complaints were not merely over some one-time, technical error that can be corrected like a typo? If you refuse to comprehend that point, then you will continue to feel justified in viewing and portraying our response as an overreaction.

Our comments and criticisms were not over one mistake but rather go to the core of how the Post (whether print or .com) is doing, or failing to do, its job.

Once again, many of us believe that in the quest for "balance" the Post is denying objective facts. In bending over backwards to appear "fair," the Post and other media outlets are failing to hold this Administration accountable for its actions.

That is the discussion we would very much like to have. Your and your colleagues' continued refusal to grant that this is an issue worthy of consideration is what poisons the atmosphere and makes matters worse, not our mostly civil if sometimes heated attempts to engage you.

Your reply remains most welcome.

Posted by: CityGirl | February 18, 2006 10:55 AM

my goodness! very swift censorship ... you guys are truly clueless about why the Internets are upset at the WaPo Blog ...

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 18, 2006 11:08 AM

As to why those engaged readers who took the trouble to post at washingtonpost.com might seem "angry", think this essay by Jay Rosen over at huffingtonpost.com hits deeply:

===
[...]
Well, it's not beyond me. The way I look at it, Cheney took the opportunity to show the White House press corps that it is not the natural conduit to the nation-at-large; and it has no special place in the information chain. Cheney does not grant legitimacy to the large news organizations with brand names who think of themselves as proxies for the public and its right to know. (David Gregory of NBC News: "I see myself as a proxy for the public that has raised questions about what happened.") Nor does he think the press should know where he is, what he's doing, or who he's doing it with.
[...]
From the Caller-Times it got to the Web, then the AP and CNN. And there you are: The American people were informed of the basic facts (though not at the speed journalists want) and Cheney did not have to meet questions from the press, an institution without power or standing in his world. "I thought that was the right call," Cheney said yesterday on Fox. "I still do."
[...]
My friends, Dick Cheney did not make a mistake when he routed around the press. He followed procedure-- his procedure. As Bill Plante, White House reporter for CBS News said at Public Eye, "No other vice president in the White Houses I've covered has had the ability to write his own rules the way this one has. He operates in his own sphere, with the apparent acceptance of the president."
[...]
==========

I get the impression that Cheney and Rove don't like each other that much. But I think Cheney, Rove, and McClellen are in absolute agreement and work in lockstep on controlling the news by (1) making the Radical media such as Fox their primary outlet (2) manipulating the traditional media through ultra-tight message control and demeaning confidentiality agreements.

In other words, they are gaming the system. And the WaPo's most dedicated and passionate readers would like some response from the WaPo as to whether or not it (a) understands the concept (b) agrees or disagrees that it is being gamed in the fashion (c) if it agrees, what is it doing to counteract (d) if it disagrees, explaining why the WaPo's storylines seem to match so closely with Rove's talking points so often. "Peppered with shot"! Forsooth.

Are those questions acceptable by your standards? If not, do you see any purpose to an open web site?

Cranky

PS Suggest you post your policy and requested format for in-line links. I wanted to link the Huffington Post post above but did not to avoid being filtered out. Not linking is a bit rude to the source though.

Posted by: Cranky Observer | February 18, 2006 11:20 AM

It seems like the real question here is what is the role of the press? Is it to avoid being called "liberal?" I thought it was to inform the public on the truth, whatever it is.

Are you trying to tell us that you don't know what the real Abramoff scandal is? Is it acting as a lobbyist? If so, everyone he had contact with should be suspicious. Shouldn't the real scandal be the "quid pro quo" money, that is giving money and getting results? What about Abramoff's phony charities and slush fund? Why are we not hearing about that?

I agree with many of the previous posters, if there is evidence that Abramoff was directing donations to Democrats I would like to see it.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope | February 18, 2006 11:26 AM

let me rephrase in more genteel tones a comment that was swiftly censored here earlier.
The highly-credentialed and very professional journalists at the Washington Post have certain similarities to the curvaceous and well-endowed terpsichorean entertainers at Gentlemens Clubs. Appreciative citizenry arrive to view the stimulating "artistes" and while there imbibe spirituous beverages for a price. This profit on the liquids, the very cornerstone of capitalism, is the real achievement of the endeavor.
Similarly, newspaper advertising sales requires that readers be catered to. Supercilious and superior attitudes drive away the eyeballs.

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 18, 2006 11:40 AM

Great video of comparative shotgun patterns by a guy (said by some to be a local nutball) in Texas:
http://www.thetalentshow.org/archives/002331.html

A 280 shotgun at 30 yards don't penetrate a SINGLE layer of clothing, and embeds no more than 1 mm into the skin of a (already dead) chicken.

Any chance the traditional media will report on this, or run similar tests?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | February 18, 2006 12:20 PM

"No use of profanity is permitted."

Profanity is a term that comes from the Latin "profanum" that derives from the designation for the area in front of the temple ("sacrum"). Webster's says it means "to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt."

What is profane, then? This is certainly a contested issue. Here are some places that it has been contested recently:

1) Prisoner abuse photos. "Bad taste" is the term the Washington Post uses in explaining why it does not publish the prisoner abuse pictures. What religious values (or secularized religious values) go into the production of standards of taste, and does it actually reflect a victory for pluralism, or is it weighed to the tastes and beliefs of a few? Was it bad taste for Cronkite and CBS news to bring pictures of the Viet Nam War into our living rooms?

2) That's the same question at the core of the rioting that continues to claim lives in Pakistan, Libya and other countries. For the rioters, the cartoons are profane by the definition cited above, while for some European and American papers they clearly are not.

These examples show that profanity is not something everyone agrees on, in part because it is often based on secularized religious values (and the term itself is a secularized religious term). It is important to keep this in mind when we turn to:

3) Abramoff's donations. Again, we see a "clash of cilivizations." Let me explain:

Worshipping at the temple of "he said, she said," MacNeil/Lehrer journalism, the need to declare scandals bipartisan is clearly a deeply held value at the Post. And it is easy to see why this might be -- tossing one faction out of the Washingotn ecosystem might disrupt its fragile balance. Rocking the boat and pointing the finger at the guilty party (literally, given the effectiveness of the K Street project) would risk a violent campaign against the Post, of the kind that has effectively neutered the New York Times.

But many of us who pay taxes without efficacious Washington representation (liberals and Greens, for instance), the system of checks and balances is our only means to political salvation. We daily see it "abused" and treated with "irreverence," and "contempt." In other words, we see the corruption that has grown to become a major part of your Washington ecosystem as more profane than anything in our memory. For you to, in effect, defend that corruption, is in our eyes more profane than any violation of Puritan-derived language codes. Make no mistake, you are one of the bullwarks that stand in the way of this administration's efforts to dismantle the systems of checks and balances.

So who is more profane? A handful of people who use email to slander you and your writers with "foul" language? Or a newspaper with a circulation of five million that refuses to accurately report on the extent to which one faction is amassing influence in Washington?

My answer is that both are, because in each other's eyes we are acting with contempt towards each other's core values. So why are you still opining about "profanity" on the part of powerless emailers in this space and in your public comments? It bespeaks a lack of understanding of the dynamics of the situation, of the nature of pluralistic society, and, indeed, of the very reasons that many of us read your paper.

Posted by: MarkC | February 18, 2006 12:22 PM

Finally, the comments have returned.

Use of foul language is inappropriate under any circumstances. The Post is a family newspaper. Members of the Graham family would never resort to vulgarity to express themselves. I applaud the paper's use of profanity filters.

Cooler heads have prevailed, yet the Post still refuses to admit its fabrications.

Knowing that the Post refuses to do so forces one to question everything that is printed in the paper. The Post cannot re-earn its readers' trust if it will not admit wrongdoing.

Journalists must be completely candid when they are called on misstatements; Deborah Howell (who, admittedly is not a journalist) has not been.

I made a mistake, Howell claims. But she did not make a mistake. Her writing was deliberately false.

Mistake connotes an inadvertant or unintended error. When one writes, however, every word the deliberate product of one's mind, as is the decision to omit every word not used. Further, the decision to submit the finished product for publication is a second, deliberate act.

Because words have meanings, when one says that "Jack Abramoff gave campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans" one means that Jack Abramoff gave campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans. That statement simply is not true. Whether the statement is true or false, making the statement is a deliberate act, not a mistake. When the statement is false, one of two things happened. Either the writer knew the statement was false, and wanted to convey false information, or the writer didn't know the statement was true, and committed it to print without any regard (that is, reckless disregard) as to whether the statement was true or false.

Regardless of which occurred in Ms. Howell's false statements about Abramoff, causing the statement to be published was an act of dishonesty on Ms. Howell's part. Her actions were no better (and no worse) than those of Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley or Mr. Abramoff himself.

As the Post refuses to acknowledge that what Howell did was not a mistake, it cannot be trusted. Of course, Howell alone is not responsible to the paper's lack of credibility. Responsibility must be shared by Bob Woodward (who failed to tell his readers the truth about his role -- and his conflicts of interest -- in the Plame investigation) and Susan Schmidt (who tells us that Jack Abramoff was a benefactor to his religious community even though he used his religion to steal from his fellow Jews).
I could go on, but those examples suffice.

Deborah Howell has been given a two-year contract as ombudsperson, and the Post must honor that contract, for both legal and moral reasons. A bad bargain is still a bargain.

Yet the Post is under no obligation to actually publish Howell's falsehoods. And when it does, it ratifies them. So the Post does allow Howell to speak for it.

Posted by: Roger Ailes (not affliated with the Fox News Channel) | February 18, 2006 12:24 PM

Dang it!! Those documents are still not out yet!! Oh well, the clock is still ticking! Tick tock, tick tock! I'm sure they will be posted real soon! By the way, I saw Mr. Whittingtons press conference yesterday. I don't know why he felt like he had to apoligize to Cheney! After all, he was the one who was shot! I thought he was a nice looking elderly gentleman! Didn't think he looked at all like a quail! Well, still waiting on those darn documents! Tick tock, tick tock.....

Posted by: Don Adams | February 18, 2006 01:25 PM

"Right on, Pat. There's simply no reason for all the vitriol that permeates the blogosphere."

There's plenty of reasons. Go hang out at Little Green Footballs for a while and ask yourself how many times and how many different ways must I be disparaged before I actually become insulted.

Posted by: bob | February 18, 2006 01:56 PM

.
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Posted by: Roger Drowne EC | February 18, 2006 02:19 PM

You are doing the right thing here. Anonymous blasts do not constructive dialogue make.

GW

Posted by: fast2write | February 18, 2006 02:24 PM

BTW: I'm enjoying Linton Weeks' coverage from New Orleans...

http://www.locustfork.net/blog/

Posted by: fast2write | February 18, 2006 02:26 PM

Mr Brady, Ms Howell and others at the Post and the Post.com continue to evade the issue, which is journalistic competence and journalistic ethics. And I continue to be amazed and disappointed in the quality of the Post, which has steadily declined since the death of Katharine Graham.

Posted by: Jim | February 18, 2006 02:27 PM

Proof please!

Couple of questions for you:

1.) If 'the bastion of truth' refuses to be 'the bastion of truth', then what exactly are you?

2.) Do you hold your heads up high?

Posted by: ßuck | February 18, 2006 02:30 PM

The Post has still failed. The paper tried to make the issue the blogosphere, as opposed to their own inaccurate reporting.

It's a shame.

Posted by: Mike | February 18, 2006 02:48 PM

I wrote a gentle and a detailed e-mail to Mr. Jim Brady regarding some recent problems with the Wash Post and requested his reply. He did not have the decency to reply. No wonder some bloggers out of sheer frustation provoke him. But it seems now that this is the only language he understands, provocation! Then he whines about how everybody is attacking him.
I think Mr Brady should get out of this victim complex and be a editor enough to take these things in his stride.

Posted by: Anrup | February 18, 2006 02:56 PM

I'd like to reiterate that we're waiting with bated breath for some real evidence.

Maybe we should invoke a time limit - say -24 hours from the time this blog reappeared - (that's very generous) -
If no evidence appears, we'll have to all finally admit that Mr. Brady lies - openly, loudly and in full view of the American public. (oh, is "lie" a dirty word, my bad)

Posted by: M Mernitz | February 18, 2006 02:57 PM

I too would like some evidence of the Post's assertions. From all accounts I have seen, the assertions are false. This brings into question whether the Post is deliberately posting untrue (aka lies) statements or has just made a mistake. At this point I believe the Post is deliberately lying. The Post has refused to provide the "evidence" that they claim to have.

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.

Posted by: PostCrunchies | February 18, 2006 03:00 PM

WaPo will present a scandal as non bi-partisan, when that scandal is a Democratic one.

Until then, we'll have to learn to live with WaPo's extended pretzel calisthenics on any and all Republican scandals, to try and convince us there's some Dem taint in there somewhere.

Or, we can get our news elsewhere.

Posted by: meade | February 18, 2006 03:08 PM

Thanks for turning the comments back on. I think it can only be a good thing for everybody involved. While I have been surprised and disappointed by some of Mr. Brady's moves in this whole affair, I am actually impressed that he is trying to meet problems head-on and to maintain this forum at all.

However, Ms. Howell has only dug herself deeper and deeper. I would like to know if there will be any attempt by her to address the problems of her reportage. Why has she treated so many well-reasoned comments with utter disdain? Rather than addressing the issues that led to this imbroglio, Ms. Howell posted a statement basically saying that anybody criticizing her is mean and motivated by partisan zeal. Deborah Howell made a mistake. When her readers asked for accountability she responded with dismissiveness followed by open disdain. Of course we are angry.

I hope the Post will give some thought to hiring a person to listen to reader complaints and address concerns calmly and without calling names. If someone representing the Post does this, I'm sure we can do the same.

Please note that I mean what I am writing here. This is a fair criticism and not a 'personal attack' or 'hate speech.'

Posted by: polychrome | February 18, 2006 03:09 PM

I have lost all trust in the intellectual capabilities of the Washington Post columnists after reading the astounding claim by Mr. Richard Cohen that writing is the highest form of reasoning.

With this epiphany, all that has happened before makes perfect sense.

Posted by: lib | February 18, 2006 03:25 PM

....the Post knows that Abramoff directed nothing to the democrats, and are using the ambiguous nature of the word "directed" to hid their dishonesty.
Posted by: paul lukasiak

It appears the quest to expunge untruths from this organization is no more painless than justice brought to untruths of the current administration. The subject is perhaps better opted left here to rot if it were not for the eyes and ears the untruths have rested unquestioned and for the high risk of misinformed and manipulated masses. Unwilling to accept dishonesty, an attempt to untwist deception exposes our patriotism and expresses optimism towards a fair and balanced society.
Thank you Paul Lukaisiak.

Posted by: ppp | February 18, 2006 03:29 PM

I am still baffled as to why no reporters have asked the tribes whether and to what extent Abramoff directed contributions to Democrats. Given the controversy surrounding this question over the past several days (weeks?), it seems someone would pick up the phone and start interviewing the tribes.

Truly, truly baffling.

Posted by: terry | February 18, 2006 03:35 PM

Exerybody at WaPo.com, thx for reactivating the comments. Imho WaPo is the leading newspaper in adopting blofs and reader comments. Though, for a true dialogue, a much more timely response from reporters, editors and/or ombudswoman is necessary. In the correction on multiple valid reader requests isn't acceptable. I hope we'll see some improvements in the future.

Regarding the recent columns from Ms. Howell, I'm still not convinced that she has the right idea about how the job has to be done. For instance, half of her article about the Cartoon controversy is describing her own stance towards the problem. Well, sry, but Ms. Howells opinion is totally unimportant. She is not a columnist, her task is to report the comments, requests and corrections coming from the readers and the response from journalists and editors. Yes, Mr. Getler published a lot of his own opinion, too, but it isn't satisfying that Ms. Howell seems to take the failings of her predecessor as a role model. More reporting about the readers feeedback and less added opinion, pls!

Oh, and btw, I'm still waiting for that story on Mr. Abramoffs "direction" of his clients donations, too. There has been enough time to finish that article. Publish the evidence now or print a correction and an apology. After all, a newspaper is about publishing the news, not about spreading unsubstantiated rumors.

Posted by: Gray | February 18, 2006 03:45 PM

Sry, copy error. I need an editor! :)

"For the correction of multiple valid reader requests, a 4 day delay isn't acceptable."

Posted by: | February 18, 2006 03:47 PM

On the subject of Dafur .... when will the United States stop suggesting it's military as a sticking plaster for these conflicts?

Has Iraq taught Bush nothing?

Efforts would be far more productive if spent on championing (instead of undermining) the introduction of binding global law that criminalises the kind of horror we see in Dafur, and ensures that no expense is spared on bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Posted by: Brian Coughlan | February 18, 2006 03:51 PM

I thought it was very poor form for the Washington Post to invite Jane Hamsher of the blog firedoglake to participate in an online chat on its blog controversy a couple of weeks ago and then for the Post's moderator to allow at least two personal cheap shots at Jane to be posted to the forum. Shouldn't your chat moderator be held to a higher standard than that?

Posted by: ahab | February 18, 2006 04:27 PM

Lets stop asking the Post for the proof it claims it has for "Abramoff directing money to Democrats". It obviously hasn't got the proof --- it doesn't even have any significant evidence. All the Post has is the highly ambiguous word "directed" -- which it has consistently and deliberately used to imply the falsehood that Deborah Howell wound up saying flat out.

That is the real scandal here -- its not that Deborah Howell wrote something that was obviously false, its that Deborah Howell read the coverage by Sue Schmidt and her colleagues and inferred what Schmidt & company deliberately implied in her reporting without actually stating it --- that Abramoff was giving money to Democrats and Republicans, and that his corruption of the political process was "bipartisan" in nature.

Howell's "error" was in not understanding the essential dishonestly of the Post's political coverage -- how the "new rules" require that "future" access must be maintained even if it means that "today's" truth suffers, because without access for tomorrow's story, there is no "scoop". Howell believed what the Post was telling its readers "between the lines" --- Sue Schmidt never actually said flat out that Abramoff gave money to Democrats --- she just made lead the readers to conclude that had happened by arranging her "facts" in a certain way. Howell read Schmidt's reporting, drew the obvious conclusion that Schmidt wanted her to draw, and stated it as fact.

In other words, Howell's error was not so much in printing something that was untrue, but in not realizing that every word that appears in the Washington Post is "spin", and that the Washington Post bears a closer resemblance to a novel with an "unreliable narrator" than it does to a newpaper presenting "the first draft of history".

We will never get the truth from the Post --- its not in the business of truth, its in the business of access and influence peddling.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 18, 2006 04:28 PM

Saying that Abramoff directed his Indian clients to contribute to democrats appears to be dishonest. Exposing the quid pro quo would be the responsible thing to do. Also, feeling the need to show two sides of a story isn't always the honest way to go, as many times both sides are not equal. He said, she said isn't news. Stand up, shoulders back, take a deep breath and be a mensch.

Posted by: sneakypie_brown | February 18, 2006 04:48 PM

The paramount function of a newspaper ombudsman is to acknowledge and correct factual errors perpetrated by its staff. He or she acts as the readers' representative, and must be seen to be impartial, honest, and above all independent. Without that appearance, the post of ombudsman invites derision and the paper would be better off without one.

An instructive comparison can be drawn between the Post's handling of its "Dems dirtied by Abramoff, too" embarrassment and the New York Times' handling of its scandalous suppression of the warrantless wiretapping story. While the two transgressions are hardly in the same league, both have attracted considerable attention because they're widely seen as classic examples of a trend toward increasingly partisan reporting - and suppression - that, in the view of many, undermines an essential cornerstone of democracy.

The NYT's ombudsman had the courage to launch a blistering attack on the one man who has the authority to fire him; the executive in question has made the best of a bad job by simply failing to respond - as has the Times' owner.

But the Post's ombudsman, instead of simply acknowledging a factual error, tried to mitigate it by, in effect, perpetuating it. Then, in the face of the resulting outcry, the very people she is supposed to be policing made matters worse by jumping in to defend her, thus further compromising any remaining appearance of impartiality - without which her whole function is valueless.

The crucial difference here is surely that in the Post's case the public fury was directed not at a reporter or editor but at the Post's ombudsman - the person who above all others cannot afford factual inaccuracy, cannot plead deadline pressures and cannot, if she's independent, share the blame with the editors and sub-editors who check a reporter's copy prior to publication.

It isn't the alleged obscenities posted to their online blog that freaked the Post's staff (everyone who invites online comment faces that problem), but the fact that so many complainants were demanding the ombudsman's resignation or dismissal. The Post's staff knew that unless she did choose to resign they were now in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' position: keep her or sack her, either way their reputation for reliability and impartiality would take a dive. But worse, from their point of view, if the Post were forced to fire its own ombudsman no-one's job would in future be safe from the possibility of public retribution.

Although they knew that their angry online public could hardly avoid stating that she had disqualified herself as a person suitable for the post of ombudsman they therefore chose to invoke their "no personal attacks" rule and then to further undermine her independence by defending her with links to a series of stories that contain more anti-Dem innuendo than anti-Dem fact and by reference to unpublished lists they claim to possess. As a result they now have no choice but to sit out the remainder of her tenure knowing, and knowing that their readers know, that they are supposed to be kept on the straight and narrow, and have their reputation for accuracy maintained, by someone who is as a result of this furore unlikely ever again to be offered such a position.

Newspapers dread, and are likely to mishandle, a situation in which the reporter becomes the story (e.g. Miller, Woodward) but there's no sign that until now they'd even considered the problems that would arise if the ombudsman became the story. It's interesting to note that the Guardian's Ian Mayes, current president of the Organisation of News Ombudsmen, has so far chosen not to touch this story, instead boasting of an Indian newspaper's adoption of the Guardian's ombudsman model, or asking whether his paper has expended too many column inches on a reality TV show.

Posted by: PJB (UK) | February 18, 2006 04:59 PM

As various commenters have pointed out, there are important unresolved questions with regard to Howell's credibility, and also with regard to Brady's credibility.

Brady, you've told a story that simply doesn't add up. I've demonstrated this, in great detail. Upthread (2/18, 2:29 am) someone posted the coordinates of my article on this subject, a diary that was recommended by 349 dKos members; I think this indicates I'm probably not alone in my belief that certain important questions remain unanswered.

It's long overdue that you address the glaring holes in the narrative you offered. A good start would be to release the 420 messages (my estimate based on your statements) you deleted, ostensibly because they were so offensive. Trouble is, there's good reason to believe these messages never existed. Addressing this mystery would be a helpful step in reclaiming your credibility.

In the absence of such steps, it seems inevitable that many readers are going to stick with the conclusion they've reached, that you and post.com are not to be taken seriously.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad | February 18, 2006 05:30 PM

to follow up on mr. lukasiak's (as always, jesus paul, i'm not worthy) post above: he doesn't even mention that deb howell's job is not to function as an interpreter of sue schmidt, it is to represent me. and paul. and jukeboxgrad. and jane hamsher. and roger ailes (the good one).

that is, she reps us, the readers. she acts, however, like that is the furthest thing from her mind when she is working on a story.

Posted by: Robert Green | February 18, 2006 05:54 PM

I'm told that I can not say anything obscene here, but they have not defined "obscene," so it is an all purpose, open-ended, meaningless rule. Not acceptable.

I am told that they reserve the right "to edit or otherwise alter content...for any reason whatever without consent." No one has a right to change what I have to say and leave my name on it. That is the worst sort of media corruption immaginable. Not acceptable.

This comment section is clearly a joke and not a very good one. Feel free to edit this post to your heart's content, wp.com. It's the last chance you'll ever get.

Posted by: John West | February 18, 2006 06:17 PM

Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania !

Posted by: George Orwell | February 18, 2006 06:36 PM

What is the role of the press? If it is to provide the essential truth of current events to it's readers, could you please post:
- the evidence showing Abramoff directed his clients to give money to Democrats;
- an explanation of how this money influenced the Democrats (i.e. do they appear to have changed any of their stances, views, or votes after receiving the money);
- an explanation of how this lobbying is different from any other lobbying. Does taking money from an Indian tribe who was bilked by Abramoff equal wrongdoing and if so how?

If the role of the press is to provide balance on political issues (i.e. if X was just arrested for killing someone, then we must also let readers know that Y once shoplifted), then please carry on as you are and don't have your ombudsmen print a retraction.

The Washington Post can do better. It shouldn't whine when it's readers point this out (even if vulgarities are involved.)

Posted by: Steph in Denver | February 18, 2006 06:56 PM

OK, so we're "blogging about blogging."

What if we have a new topic -- like say, related to a current event?

I'll start: I'm concerned about the NSA oversight. It seems like Congress is sweeping alot under the rug, not just with the NSA issue, but the larger issues of oversight, and statutory compliance.

What's the plan to look at the larger issues of Congress failing to review this matter, or is this up to the blogger?

These are my concerns: [ http://tinyurl.com/9hvgm ]

Has America turned into a "leadership only if the bloggers comment on it"? If that's the case, then the White House needs to be quiet and start listening: It appears the only catalyst for statutory compliance is public discourse. The White House approach has been the opposite, hidden in the dungeon.

Posted by: Constant | February 18, 2006 07:54 PM

Many who speak, do so with a totally innate editing process that works at varying speeds according to the individual's intellect, thus allowing for the proverbial "slip of the tongue" to occur. Such an occurrence can be rectified immediately or thereafter, depending if it is self-realized or brought to the speaker's attention by the listener. It is however, on a very intimate level between the speaker and its audience.

A much narrower allowance must be given to the written word, for the impact from a "slip of the finger" is felt far greater and is more of an inherent danger to everyone. It not only misleads the reader, but it also sets forth in motion as a fact what will in turn be repeated or misquoted often enough as to become an accepted truth (the written word seems to often have a greater value of importance and truth attached to it – as evidenced by differing societies over several centuries). Therefore, the editing of the written word is a much greater responsibility for all involved and should not be treated lightly. If you wish to produce a work of fiction or opinion, then clearly present it to your reader as such. If, however, your work is non-fiction or the reporting of news, then present it accordingly to your reader. You either have truth and fact or you do not. You should not subjoin them or censor them as a way to fill a page, regardless of your perceived right or reason.

Now, with that off my chest, Mr. Brady, would you please explain the following comments you wrote in defense of The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com:

1. "The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com are separate, for-profit businesses. At both The Post and washingtonpost.com, the news and business departments operate separately. Most of our revenues come from advertisers. That way, they have no sway over news coverage or editorials."

How can all this be true? You write that the Post is a “for-profit business” and it was always my understanding that a business lives or dies according to its profits (or as you say, "revenues"). Since "Most" (thus insinuating that the Post has other sources of revenues) advertisers are responsible for your profits, my reasoning tells me that your source of revenues would definitely have to have some "sway" over your business decisions since the Post’s very existence are indebted to them. Of course, I do not mean to imply that each and every article appearing in your paper has to get approval from the Ad Department or your other benefactors. However, to write that there is “no sway" cannot be true.

2. "The newspaper's ombudsman, whose contract guarantees her independence, welcomes reader reaction and writes a weekly column. The newspaper also welcomes criticism or comments in letters to the editor."

Clearly this is not true, because as the facts so eloquently stated previously in this comments section can attest, when asked to defend falsehoods printed as truth, Ms. Howell and yourself saw no need to offer corrections, merely justification. When further pressed by readers (albeit some in a discourteous manner - although, having spent time in both a newsroom and a board room and having found the language in each to be much more offensive, makes me very curious about your protestations) to correct the inaccuracies, it appears that Ms. Howell needed to be protected from the bullies and you saw fit to stifle all comment and inquiry. Neither one being a professional behavior I would expect. To use a phrase of my generation, a total cop-out on your part.

It seems from your actions (or should I say in-action) and comments, that true freedom of speech should only apply to the press and that only they should have the ability to determine what constitutes proper speech or comment, thus allowing that individuals can and should be edited or censored for their own good and your own protection. Funny, when I studied the Constitution, I never did comprehend freedom of speech in this same manner. How silly of me. I also found it rather sad and ironic that when numerous other "news" agencies reported on the reasons for your shutdown of the Post’s blog comments, they too did not bother to investigate fully or find out the truth behind the shutdown. They presented only an overview of your comments and thereby reduced the cause of the shutdown to the juvenile and insulting language and actions of fanatical left wing bloggers. Dialogue always takes work and its fruits are sweet. It also takes great effort. Mr. Brady, don’t you believe that truth, freedom, honesty and integrity are ideals worth the effort. Dealing with honest inquiry and differences by acting like a 3 year-old who refuses to acknowledge their error by taking their toys and going home accomplishes nothing.

I post my comments and concerns here, knowing what afflicts the Post also afflicts other leaders in journalism and news and I will write my opinions there. Also, I believe it is a societal laziness and complacency affecting everyone to certain a degree - little is expected of us and thus we expect so very little in return. However, with the advancement of technology making our world a far more intimate space and its limitations now being realized, this new Century brings us all new problems and challenges. Survival will depend on our responses and how we use our advancements in tandem with the lessons of the past and not make them exclusionary to each other. The Washington Post and other entities, who somehow have been misguided through their arrogance or quest for power and profit, should never entertain the belief that they have the right or obligation to silence, censor or control any lawful individual who has the ability to think, speak, question or act independently and separately from them. To entertain such a thought is to trample upon and rip to shred the most basic freedoms and rights given to us as individuals and as a Nation.

I believe that The Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence along with the Bill of Rights set forth the foundation of this Nation, and that Constitution along with its Amendments (to change and revoke past inequities) put in place a series of checks and balances. I also believe that many factions today raise the names of these documents and wave them about recklessly to further their causes and agenda without ever having read them or studied them beyond elementary grade history class. These documents I mention are far more than symbols, yet unlike the human outcry that seems to take place when Americans see the Flag trampled upon, hardly a whimper is being heard as the true foundation is being destroyed and shredded, although the outcry is there – just not of the fanaticism variety that seems to be considered news.

We don’t have to agree with each other, but we should and do need to respect each other’s right to opinion and lawfully disagree. Our very differences are what made us a unique country in this world. Truly a nation of pioneers from many lands with various languages leaving behind all that was familiar to come here and begin anew, trying to create a better life. When we start to close our minds, our hearts, our mouths and our borders, we begin to deprive our Nation of its very lifeblood and thereby suffocating it to death.

Posted by: | February 18, 2006 07:59 PM

Sorry, that long winded comment was mine - did not mean to leave it unsigned.

Corrinna

Posted by: | February 18, 2006 08:02 PM

Mr. Brady, as I said in my email to you a few days ago: The Washington Post is obsolete. Each morning I sit with my coffee and read my paper, but, alas, I've already read most of the stories there on the web the night before...

The paper is obsolete -- tend to your web site, Mr. Brady.

The news business is now two way. The sooner you learn to discuss (rather than propound) the better off you will be.

Posted by: Bob | February 18, 2006 08:09 PM

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood | February 18, 2006 08:26 PM

You might want to check out this recent editor's note is a competing newspaper for an example of what a real correction looks like. Note in particular the lack of whining, the acceptance that a genuine mistake was made. Also note the absence of trashing the people who pointed out the error.

Posted by: Observer | February 18, 2006 09:21 PM

Oops, guess I can't post links. Oh well, you professional journalists can find the editor's note in question in the latest NYT Book Review, the one regarding the (mis)quote from Catharine MacKinnon.

Posted by: Observer | February 18, 2006 09:23 PM

I would like to point out to readers of this blog that Ms. Howell is now apparently the Ombudsman for Countdown; her current column is all about the apparently inappropriate attire worn on Keith Olbermann's show by a Post employee who is, confusingly, neither fish (reporter) nor fowl (columnist). Debbie is puzzled!

Posted by: TeddySanFran | February 18, 2006 09:53 PM

The Next Hurrah looked at the question of Abramoff directing contributions:

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2006/01/abramoff_direct.html

Posted by: Bob W. | February 18, 2006 10:02 PM

"We will never get the truth from the Post --- its not in the business of truth, its in the business of access and influence peddling."

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 18, 2006 04:28 PM

That is a tad harsh in its generalisation, but there is a fair amount of truth to it, at least with respect to some of WaPo's staffers.

Posted by: | February 18, 2006 10:15 PM

According to Deborah Howell's latest column, Dane Milbank “has been taken to The Post's version of the woodshed” for wearing orange on a cable show. If this is true, it begs the question...what was Ms. Howell’s punishment for misrepresenting the truth?

Posted by: RBG | February 18, 2006 10:25 PM

What really confuses me is why Ms. Howell and the Post in general don't seem to take the opinions of the online community more seriously. The general tone of Jim Brady's column, and even more explicit in Howell's 'response' has been akin to "these internet people are not as civil and sophisticated as our print audience. It's a shame we have to tolerate them at all, much less put up with their criticism. It's all just conspiracy and posturing."

But we are operating in an environment where this is not conspiracy theory. Over the past few years we have seen numerous scandals involving highly-placed reporters and columnists who took money from the White House to spread propaganda as news. We have also seen abuses of respected news organizations by people addicted to access. Even the Post has been embarrased by Bob Woodward's unethical behavior.

Given all this, it is not just conspiracy theory to wonder why talking points are repeated verbatim and partisan story arcs are perpetuated. The best way to maintain dignity is to address factual problems IMEDIATELY and to treat readers with valid concerns as if they are mature adults.

Seriously, the major media organizations have suffered some embarrasment over the past five years and it is not unreasonable to ask questions when things seem fishy. I really can't believe that they apparently are still in denial about this.

Posted by: pughd | February 18, 2006 11:03 PM

Vice-President Cheney showed his gratitude to the Post (and everyone else except Fox news) for all the leaks you published for him and the WH when he granted Brit Hume an "exclusive."

Posted by: John Casper | February 18, 2006 11:15 PM

Hello, we are still waiting for the EVIDENCE that Abramoff has any responsibility for money flowing to Democrats.

Posted by: Sandia Blanca | February 18, 2006 11:37 PM

The sad part is that I Want To Believe in the Post. Sadder still, this has gone on so long that whether they finally show the promised "documentation" or offer an apology, the damage is done.

Remember, we're talking about the *ombudsman* here. That's supposed to be *our* last recourse, and that's why people are upset. The damage is irrevocable.

Posted by: mpowers | February 19, 2006 12:29 AM

Now there were two posts removed. One from right never wrong and one from me. Why do they remove posts that have no bad language or insults. Could it be political? Maybe things are even more sinister than we thought.

Posted by: fuzzy cat | February 19, 2006 12:49 AM

To those who say we should forgive Howell's "mistake" and "move on":

It is 2006. The K Street Project, whether under that moniker or not, has been in operation for over a decade. It has been no secret.

Nor has it been any secret who Jack Abramoff is and what his role has been with regard to the GOP. He has been a hardcore "movement conservative" who marched alongside Tom DeLay to advance GOP interests.

Now, this has all been public knowledge for years. YEARS. Nobody who knows anything about D.C. politics would ever mistake Abramoff for some random lobbyist. Perhaps a lay person would. Someone who hears the title "lobbyist" and assumes that Abramoff would favor Republicans simply because they happen to be in power. But not anyone who, presumably, is qualified to write on the subject for the Washington Post.

Now, what was Howell's alleged "mistake? There are three possibilities:
(1) She mistakenly believed that Abramoff was not an ultra-partisan movement conservative.
(2) She knew Abramoff was an ultra-partisan, but sloppily implied otherwise.
(3) Howell knew that Abramoff was an ultra-partisan, but intentionally was misleading for some reason. Perhaps she herself is a GOP partisan. Perhaps she fears internal or external pressure to appear "balanced" and felt that portraying Abramoff as a bipartisan actor would avoid accusations that she is -- horrors! -- a liberal.

It is virtually impossible to believe that the first possibility is the correct one. No D.C. journalist could credibly claim ignorance of Abramoff's behavior over the past decade. Even if a journalist were presented with evidence that superficially indicated that Abramoff "directed" money to Democratic pols, an alarm bell should have gone off. Because it is SO UNLIKELY that Abramoff would ever help Democrats, a journalist would be expected to double and triple check any evidence that purported to show money flows from Abramoff to Democrats.

Moreover, if Howell was genuinely ignorant, she would likely have had a different reaction to the readers' complaints. She would have feared that she had gotten the story completely wrong and rushed to check everything before getting defensive.

The second possibility is more plausible. Certainly, one can imagine that Howell might have initially crafted a sloppy sentence. But, again, if that were the case, Howell would have slapped her forehead, said to herself, "how in the world could I have implied that JACK ABRAMOFF was giving to Democrats?" and issued a correction. But, as we all know, that didn't happen.

So, we move along to the third possibility: Howell deliberately tried to deceive her readers. Willful deception best accounts for both the initial "mistake" and the subsequent stonewallling.

So, why did Howell try to deceive Post readers? Interestingly enough, I really don't care. I no longer concern myself with wondering whether bad journalism is due to laziness, cowardice, or rank partisanship. Bad journalism is bad, regardless of the motivation for it. I am only interested in complaining when it occurs. The lazy will improve or quit. The cowardly will begin to fear angry Democrats as much as petulent Republicans. The partisans will dig their heels in and be exposed. In the end, hopefully, we can drag journalism back to respectability.

Posted by: space | February 19, 2006 01:00 AM

"Richard Cohen's anti-math column on Wednesday was terrific."
Yes, we're all on pins and needles waiting next weeks’ installments concerning the colossal waste of time that the study of Music and Art represents.

Re: Howell
Mr. Brady, you reap what you sow. Should you find it impossible to own up to the moral and intellectual dishonesty, advise you get a jump on the situation now and drop the paper's reading level to ‘5th grade’ in preparation for your new readship.


Posted by: Iam Freejack | February 19, 2006 01:04 AM

The American experiment demands the free press try to get it right. What are you afraid of?

Posted by: jimbo | February 19, 2006 01:05 AM

Is it me or is this year's Olympics falling on a darker mood? Perhaps the real question should be, why do I feel the mood at all?

Since the start, there have been some really interesting stories, what will soon become tales of great althletic accomplishment. Is the U.S. doing as well as had been expected, well, that all depends upon if everyone got caught up on all the hype. But if you look at the people and the efforts they are putting out (or not putting out) you can find some pretty good stories of courage and determination. The stuff that makes America the country that it is, great and strong.

With Black History being celebrated, it seemed almost Zen-like for the ground breaking win of Shani Davis, to become the first African American to win Gold in a Winter Olympics. But then, that is part of the ongoing progress towards a better and more equally represented America. African American's can only add to the overall quality and accomplishment of the Olympic efforts.

But then, there is that mood thing again. It was so disappointing, when someone asked, as was reported, Chad Hedrick (who held the lead in the race that Davis had just Gold in) if he was happy for his American team mate, Davis, because he had won the Gold Medal. (Both men now had won Gold medals) but Hedrick's answer really drove to home, why what Davis had just done was so important. This was a history making event, and yet, all Hedrick seemed to be concerned with, was bitterness and I guess anger, for having lost, perhaps?

Come on people, this is the Olympics, where is the true Olympic Spirit? Hedrick didn't seem to have any trouble saying something nice about fellow team mate Joey Cheek, who won the Silver, why such hate for the African American, who was carrying the weight and burden that only African American's can truly understand, yet, shine in the light and glory of a venue like the international Olympics.

One could easily mistake the ugly comments or the way Hedrick acted, to be racist, because he is from the South, or just as bad, because the only nice thing Hedrick could muster up was towards Cheek, who is not African American.

America, the whole world is watching! This is not just another game. This is the Olympics, and true champions, Olympic champions should not sink to such a low spirit and take away from us, the viewers, the feeling that our great nation has tried so hard, the greatness of the athlete's accomplishments and goals.

I don't know if Chad Hedrick's comments towards Shani Davis are racist or not and in truth, that isn't the important thing, because when winning becomes the only thing, one seems to loose the joy and fun and grandness, which are and should be the Olympic Games.

Posted by: Victor Darnell Hadnot | February 19, 2006 01:17 AM

"The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." Are these just words?

Do any individuals and organizations live by principles or is it all powered by agendas based on unquestioned beliefs?

I hope to find some journalists worthy of the name. These will be the ones that act on principle (like Woodward and Bernstein in that Watergate movie - oh, was that just a movie? But I thought they were real people doing real things based on real principles. Where can I find such people today?).

Posted by: redking | February 19, 2006 01:36 AM

What part of the second definition in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary entry for "ombudsman" does Deborah Howell not understand?
http://m-w.com/dictionary/ombudsman

Posted by: Ben | February 19, 2006 03:09 AM

I am sick to death of "everyone's OPINION is equal." No. It's not. When speaking of gravity, if one says "If I throw a ball in the air, it will come down" and another says "If I throw a ball in the air, it stays up in the air" -- are these equal statements? Are they opinions? Is one FACT and one not? We get the same from Bush and "Intelligent Design."

Americans need to start acting like adults -- or at least someone who has completed 6th grade.

Posted by: Shell5960v | February 19, 2006 03:13 AM

Since it appears apparent Ms. Howell is through with her Abramoff column and has no desire or feels pressed to respond to any of the questions people have raised in the recent past, I'd like to move on and request she write a column in which she can give us her thoughts on the "closed case" of the Vice Presidential "shooting imbroglio." Specifically, I'd like to read her thoughts on the various inconsistencies reported by the press, including The Washington Post in the matter.

Posted by: Ben | February 19, 2006 04:00 AM

I'll believe that WaPo is sincere when they release the original, offensive posts.

I've taken part in, and run, many forums over the years and I can't think of a single (even remotely) legitimate reason to not publish them to interested parties.

But you know what they say; better to be thought an [redacted] than open your mouth and remove all doubt. Which is why the posts will never be released.

Until then, everything WaPo does is suspect.

Regards,
bodhi

PS: Sorry for the self-censorship, gentle reader, but someone's delicate sensibilities might be offended by the i-word, even though it's a common phrase in the English vernacular.

And we can't have that.

Posted by: Bodhi | February 19, 2006 05:19 AM

I agree that Millbank appearing in hunting gear was in poor taste, and that there is something broken about news reporters appearing on opinion shows.

But what irks me in the column is this:

Most of the critical mail I got last week came from conservatives, but I've also received complaints from liberals when they think Milbank has skewered Democrats, especially in a Jan. 31 column about a liberal political event that featured former attorney general Ramsey Clark and antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan.

How in heavens name does she know whether a writer who is unhappy with somnething is conservative or liberal? Is there some kind of freakin' WaPo email labeling system that sets a C or an L flag on incoming mail?

This notion--that people who write in are inherently tendentious--is a fundamental obstacle to her doing her job. The notion that accuracy is a partisan issue, that telling the truth is a partisan issue is a Bush administration narrative (h/t to Peter Daou and Glenn Greenwald) that has made its way into WaPo's reporting, and even, its ombudsman's oversight. This is a very troubling problem. The first rule of journalism used to be "Get it right." Howell's commentary seems to say that the current rule is "Get it even."

The idea that when someone writes in and says "you got this wrong," the first response is not "damn, did we?" but is "what side is the writer on?" is very troubling.

Truth is not a partisan issue. Reality is what it is. Good taste is not a partisan issue either, nor is the smearing of journalism with TV political comedy.

IMO, Millbank shouldn't have done what he did. But Howell has to do something to cure herself of the notion that everything is driven by partisanship. It mostly isn't. Most people just want the government run well, and run as unobtrusively as possible.

That's why my hometown (which actually has been a victim of islamic terrorism), NYC, voted overwhelming against Republican Bush and overwhelmingly for Republican Bloomberg.

Posted by: JayAckroyd | February 19, 2006 07:29 AM

Sorry for the poor formatting. It didn't occur to me that simple html tags like bracket i---close bracket i would be unsupported.

Posted by: JayAckroyd | February 19, 2006 07:31 AM

Ms. Howell's new article is out and it begs another question on her performance as ombudswoman. It comes after Cheney's hunting accident, so we would expect that it's full of commentaries from readers who are not satisfied with the reporting. But Ms. Howell dedicates all the space to the huuuuuge controversy about Dana Milbank wearing an orange vest during an interview. No joke, check it yourself! We have to believe, after all that coverage, the most urgent problem of the readers is Milbank making a joke. Well, imho only Fans of Dick Cheney see a problem with that, but is it just by chance that Ms. Howell solely adresses the issues of republican readers again?

Excuse me pls, has this really been the point which draw the majority of comments? Didn't the Post get a significant amount of feedback adressing other aspects of that matter, for instance why there hasn't been a more aggressive coverage, for instance if its responsible for the VP to go hunting and have beer for lunch, regarding his heart problems and the medication. Or maybe why there hasn't been an interview with the ambassador of switzerland who participated at the hunting trip?

Ms. Howell's work again leaves the impression that she's really independent - independent from any obligation to present a fair and balanced review of the reader's feedback.

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:06 AM

"Ms. Howell's work again leaves the impression that she's really independent - independent from any obligation to present a fair and balanced review of the reader's feedback."

Don't misunderestimate me, pls. By saying "fair and balanced" I don't want to demand that right wing and left wing issues should get equal share. Imho the ombudswoman should point out what has been the major issues readers had with WaPo reporting, regardless of the orientation on the political landscape. If the feedback on the orange vest has been the overwhelming concern of the readers, with all other aspects of the hunting accident drawing only an insignificant amout of comments, ok. But Ms. Howell should clearly say so. Her latest column leaves the impression that she swept lots of valid questions under the rug.

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:31 AM

I still haven't seen any documents yet! The clock is still ticking! Tick tock, tick clock! I'm beginning to wonder if there are any documents! You're doing a heckufva job Brady! Tick tock, tick tock. Maybe I can get my lawyer to get them under the "Freedom of Information Act"! Still waiting. Tick tock, tick tock...

Posted by: Don Adams | February 19, 2006 09:47 AM

The Post continues to censor blog posts. I have just had two removed. (Don't be surprised to see this one disappear into the memory hole as well.)

Neither post contained profanity. Neither contained a personal attack on a Post writer (or reader).

Rather, the posts addressed the question of what, precisely, is considered a "personal attack" and what is considered to be the "tough criticism" that Mr. Brady claims is welcome. To illustrate my confusion, I used the issue of Susan Schmidt's objectivity and professionalism. Note that I did not personally attack Schmidt's objectivity and professionalism (although I admit that my tone my have suggested that I endorse such criticism). I merely noted that (a) people widely question Schmidt's professionalism and (b) have given her a nickname to reflect their opinion of her style.

In one post, I typed the nickname. But in the other I simply ASKED whether it was true that her nickname was being filtered.

In light of all this, I would appreciate it if Mr. Brady would address the following questions:

(1) Is questioning the professionalism and objectivity of a Post writer considered to be a "personal attack"? If so, why?

(2) Are all critical nicknames of Post writers verboten? If not, what, in particular, is so offensive about Schmidt's, since it appears to be based entirely on her professional conduct (whether fairly applied or not)?

(3) Why was one of my posts, which simple ASKED whether it was true that Schmidt's nickname was being filtered, deleted for no apparent reason? Incidentally, I reviewed the posting guidelines and found nothing which would suggest that merely discussing posting guidelines is grounds for deletion of posts.

The Post.com appears to be continuing with its "delete first, ask questions later" comment policy. Enjoy this comment while it lasts.

Posted by: space | February 19, 2006 09:54 AM

Excellent, my first (and non-abusive) post was deleted.

Washington Post, you people ROCK!

I have a tip: There are reasons your reporters have nicknames.

WHen are you relelasing the proof that Abramoff directed contributions to Democrats?

Posted by: Lettuce | February 19, 2006 10:04 AM

Please answer Paul Lukasiak....

Post these documents you claim to poesess...


Or awknowledge they were inventions.

Or try to survive in the face of the mistrust and ridicule you have brought upon yourselves.

DaveGood

Posted by: DaveGood | February 19, 2006 10:15 AM

The US Government its Corporate State Controlled media have spent incredible fortunes on their lies and propaganda. TV shows, movies, newscasts, all of these involve investments in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet blogs running on spare change are getting the truth out, and the reason is simple, because we ARE telling the truth, and the truth is what the people are starting to realize they must have. Tar and Feather the Liars!

Rebellion To Tyrants
http://www.crusaderbunnypants.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Brian Fejer | February 19, 2006 10:22 AM

Her latest column leaves the impression that she swept lots of valid questions under the rug.

Her latest column made it abundantly clear that she really has very little interest in doing her job as ombudsman for the Washington Post newspaper.

Why is Howell so interested in what Dan Froomkin (who is employed by WPNI, and not the Washington Post) says and does, when she should be responding to readers concerns about the contents of the Post itself?

Why is Howell so interested in Dana Milibank's extracurricular activities --- stuff that Milibank does when he's not working for MSNBC, and not as a Washington Post reporter? As others have noted, the Post's coverage of the "Cheney Shooting Someone in the Face" story left a lot to be desired --- at the very least, couldn't the post have hired someone to fire a shotgun at a watermelon from 30 yards away to see if Cheney's story was plausible? But Howell is more concerned with Milibanks sartorial choices than the Post's failure to do its job.

Here is a question for Ms. Howell.... why did it take someone who is a reader of Mr. Brady's least favorite blog (www.firedoglake.com) to go to Washington DC to get a copy of the transcript of the "secret" session held on February 3rd concerning evidence in the Libby trial that was released on Monday (you can find a link and an analysis of the transcript at http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2006_02_12_firedoglake_archive.html#114029171588101956.) Why did it require another blogger (Tom Maguire at Just One Minute) to get ahold of and post for the public Patrick Fitzgerald's response to Libby's legal team's request for more "discovery" documents? (you can read Tom's take on this response at http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2006/02/the_latest_fitz.html -- the original document is linked from there as well?)

Why, in fact, was it the bloggers who first examined the documents released the Fitzgerald letter that was released in early February and publicized the facts that

1) email that was supposed to have been archived that was relevant to the Plame investigation was missing....

2) Libby claimed under oath that his "superiors" had authorized him to leak classified information to reporters

3) Despite the claims of many right wingers, there were only 5 journalists who knew that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA at the time that fact was publicly disclosed by Bob Novak----and every single one of them had been told about Wilson's wife by someone in the White House...

All of these stories were REPORTED by bloggers, not by the Washington Post, despite the fact that they were based on publicly available documents....

Why is that? And why is Deborah Howell more concerned about what Dana Milbank wears on TV than on what Sue Schmidt, Jim Vandehei, and the rest of the Post DC staff IS NOT reporting about....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 10:24 AM

Wow. That failure to post the documents that you claim show that Abramoff directed money to Democrats as well as Republicans -- that's gonna come back and bite you in the butt. Uh oh -- I hope butt is not considered an obscenity around here.

Perhaps we could get Len Downie to publish those documents. They would certainly be considered newsworthy if they in fact exist.

Posted by: AJ | February 19, 2006 10:37 AM

Discussing a reporter's work -- or any topic -- critically is fine and, as stated in our rules, encouraged.

Use of critical nicknames for Post reporters, editors, public officials, other commenters, etc., is considered a personal attack and posts containing personal attacks will be removed.

Posted by: washingtonpost.com | February 19, 2006 10:47 AM

AJ:

The problem isn't that they won't publish them, per se. The real problem is that they won't say what they are, where they were obtained, or where anyone else could obtain them. They won't make them available in a way that falls short of publication.

I'm at the point will, quite honestly, I think they are lying. That may not mean much to the WaPo staff. They appear to believe that simply calling "partisan! partisan!" is enough to protect themselves from explaining their behavior.

Whatever. As Paul Lukasiak (Who, incidentally, has the second most misspelled name on the internet. The first is Bob Somerby.) demonstrates, bloggers can do independent research. If WaPo wont do its job, blogs like firedoglake will begin to pick up the slack. Will blogs replace the traditional media entirely? Of course not. But what will happen is that some traditional media outlets will recognize the power of blogs and distributed investigation. These media outlets will outpace the dinosaurs. If Howell, Brady, and the rest of the WaPo staff want to disrespect their readers then its their tarpit.

Posted by: space | February 19, 2006 11:05 AM

"I agree that Millbank appearing in hunting gear was in poor taste, and that there is something broken about news reporters appearing on opinion shows."

The problem -- and this is something that Howell ought to consider part of her remit -- is that while Millbank is no longer one of the Post's White House or Congressional reporters, he is still considered as such. If he's to become a sketch writer, along the lines of the sketch-writers in the British dailies, he needs to start writing like one. He now falls awkwardly between two stools, not reporterly enough to be identifiable as an analyst, and not breezy enough to be identifiable as a commentator.

Posted by: Nick S | February 19, 2006 11:16 AM

Removal of that comment at 10:38am does prove a point though, doesn't it? It made it through your "screening process" and was only later removed by someone at the Post reading the comments. The same thing happened during the brouhaha in January, yet you tried to explain away the missing comments as though they never appeared in the comment section at all, and weren't "archived" by anyone when in fact, they were.

Posted by: Just saying... | February 19, 2006 11:43 AM

The Jessica Lynch story was a Sue Schmidt spectacular. It was a vehicle for spurring on a mass of feel-good, patriotic fervor. It was also incorrect in most aspects, e.g. automobile crash not a fire-fight, cared for carefully and respectfully by Iraqi medical team not 'slapped around'.

This is one reason why Susan Schmidt has received criticism from informed readers.

Posted by: MikeC | February 19, 2006 12:04 PM

"Use of critical nicknames for Post reporters, editors, public officials, other commenters, etc., is considered a personal attack and posts containing personal attacks will be removed."

Oh, heavens! Oh, dearie me! A critical nickname! Pass the smelling salts!!!

Since when did "journalists" become such delicate hothouse flowers? I seem to recall a time when "critical nicknames" were relished by writers who thought it was a sign they were doing their jobs.

Does "whiny ass titty baby" qualify as a "critical nickname"? Then delete away, dearie!

Posted by: dave | February 19, 2006 12:07 PM

Mr. Brady,

Where are the documents?
We are STILL waiting.

This reminds me of Chertoff's original excuse for not responding fast enough to hurricane Katrina. Chertoff: "When I opened the morning paper it said 'New Orleans Dodges a Bullet' so that's why we thought everything was going well"

NOT ONE SINGLE PAPER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD REPORTED THAT "New Orleans Dodges a Bullet", Mr. Chertoff was lying thru his teeth, he NEVER saw any such story.

So, Mr. Brady it has the appearance that you are pulling a "Chertoff" in regards to these documents you report to have.
Post them!

Posted by: Arliss | February 19, 2006 12:11 PM

Nick S--

As the Media Matters study of bias on the Sabbath gasbag shows, the use of what you would suppose to be opinion-free journalists to "balance" the right wing folks (I was gonna use a common term on the web, referring to a type of fastener, but I don't suppose that is permitted. It feels like pre-war Poland under the current moderating policy here. [sheesh. Am I allowed to say that? I guess we'll see. Or I will, anyway]) who have dominated the shows in the last five years.

Leave aside that they are frequently not as objective as they purport to be (can you say Judith Miller?), putting them on these shows blurs their role as reporters. Millbank has the same problem at the Post already.

At the Times, Bill Keller implemented a policy discouraging those appearances. I think he (and Howell) are right about this.

Posted by: JayAckroyd | February 19, 2006 12:21 PM

Caricature and parody of public figures by the use of nicknames is considered abuse? None of the obvious nicknames or monickers that Cheney has acquired through his shooting accuracy and care will be permitted?

I suppose that means I can't post a link to a Toles cartoon, or to a Maureen Dowd column.

You do know what is going to happen, don't you? Some clever reader with time on his hands is going to test the limits--post a series of references to, say, Susan Schmidt that come increasingly close to saying the banned nickname. I'm not doing that here, btw. But I do point out that everyone knows the nickname, and even though I didn't use it, readers have it in their heads now.

You really need to rethink this. You're just gonna end up looking silly.

Again.

Posted by: JayAckroyd | February 19, 2006 12:35 PM

Winston,

I doubleplus superagree with your assement of the situation.

Posted by: Seward Selutt | February 19, 2006 12:35 PM

Interesting to see that Deborah Howell has now added the role of fashion critic to her portfolio.

Still, she seems to be a slow-learner about what her real job is at the Post.

As Stephen Stanford of Saltillo Mississippi is quoted by Ms. Howell with regard to Dana Milbank's recent appearance on Keith Olbermann's TV program: 'If you are going to keep using his (Milbank's) work, how about labeling it as opinion not news.' "Ms. Howell responds "Exactly."

Perhaps Ms. Howell should take "exactly" her own advice and label all the material she puts into her own column as "opinion" rather than factual criticism (the latter which I thought that she supposedly was paid to do).

By the way, when can we expect to see the documents proving that Abramhoff directed Indian Tribal monies to the Democrats?

I am getting older by the day and live only to see that documentation published by the Post.

Posted by: Seeker of the Truth | February 19, 2006 12:42 PM

Please stop labeling your readers. It is not productive and it is needlessly divisive.

Like Mr. Ackroyd above, I am greatly troubled by Ms. Howell's and Mr. Brady's tendency to assign politically-oriented labels to people who have complaints about the Washington Post.

Moreover, it appears that Ms. Howell and Mr. Brady give more thought and credence to the complaints from people that they perceive to be on the "right," and dismiss the complaints from people whom they perceive the be on the "left" as partisan attacks that are not worthy of attention.

This is, after all, her third column addressing "conservative" complaints, while "liberal" complaints have been censored and deleted, and the complainants have been publicly and repeatedly labeled as uncivil (and worse.)

Apparently, the first thing that Ms. Howell does when she receives a reader complaint is to label the complainant "liberal" or "conservative."

Apparently the "liberal" complaint is "directed" to the delete bin and the "conservative" complaint is highlighted and carefully and lovingly researched and addressed in Sunday's column.

For one entire month, people have been calling for, yea, demanding, proof for the Washington Post's statement that it possesses evidence that Abramoff donated money to Democrats with quid pro quo, despite the fact that no evidence apparently exists for that statement. (It is, of course, the quid pro quo that would be illegal, not the lobbying. Even I know that.)

Yet, Ms. Howell's slander remains in the annals of LexisNexis uncorrected.

Posted by: James | February 19, 2006 12:45 PM

Ms. Howell,

I just read your rant about Dana Milbank's wardrobe while on Keith Olberman's MSNBC show. Dana expressed political humor and many of us found it very amusing and certainly not offensive.

It is quite obvious that you want only your conservative bias expressed and dissenting opinions (whether expressed seriously or with humor) quashed.

You appear to be trying to control through intimidation or coercion what Mr. Milbank writes. I do not think it is your position to inject your political bias into what your reporters say or write.

I really think you over step your bounds and that you should go Cheney yourself.

Have a nice day. :-)

Posted by: Concerned Reader | February 19, 2006 01:12 PM

It's unfortunate that Ms. Howell continues to misunderstand her job as Ombudsman at the Washington Post, and even more distressing is that she continues to use that role to engage in writing opinion columns and behaving unprofessionally.

Her most recent piece--Crossing the Line on a Cable Show? (Feb. 19, 2006)-- in which she impugns the integrity of Dana Milbank's journalistic ethics is yet another example of her bad behavior.

I suppose if one wanted to be really uptight about it you could make the argument that as a representative of the Post Dana Milbank should have toned it down a bit. But it hardly warrants an entire column in the Sunday edition of the post. And I certainly don't think it warrants the questioning of Mr. Milbank's journalistic integrity by suggesting that he ought to be an editorial columnist rather than a journalist; which is exactly what she did:

"It all comes down to what Stephen Stanford of Saltillo, Miss., wrote: "If you are going to keep using his work, how about labeling it as opinion and not news?"

Exactly."

I'm sorry, did Ms. Howell just impugn Dana Milbank's entire body of work because he wore an orange stocking cap and striped vest and gloves on the Countdown with Keith Olbermann? Mr. Milbank's appearance on Countdown was perhaps a little over the top, but there's a distinction between writing a piece for the post and appearing on Countdown (even if you are doing so as a representative of the post). And an Ombudsman for a national newspaper ought to be required to understand that distinction. Further, if the Ombudsman is going to make charges about the integrity of one of the paper's own journalists, perhaps she ought to provide some evidence for the charge. Does Ms. Howell have any evidence whatsoever that Mr. Milbank's writings for the post (and not his appearance on Countdown) are based in opinion rather than fact?

Howell claims that the paper was besieged with email complaining about the incident. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that the concern coming from the Post's readership was enough to justify the column. But there's one more thing about the column that really bothers me:

"Suffice it to say that he has been taken to The Post's version of the woodshed and told not to do that again."

Since when is it the job of the Ombudsman to publicly disclose disciplinary action taken against an employee, when to my knowledge, the paper made no such public statement on the issue? Presumably, these things are handled between Mr. Milbank and his direct supervisor. I'm assuming that Ms. Howell is not Mr. Milbank's direct supervisor and therefore whatever knowledge she has on this subject is the equivalent of office gossip.

I didn't realize the Washington Post had decided to turn its Ombudsman into a gossip columnist. Perhaps the column should be renamed "Dear Debbie."

Posted by: Marisa McNee | February 19, 2006 01:18 PM

Watch it! "Debbie" is a diminuative for Deborah and Mrs. Howell is not to be belittled in any way. That is considered a personal attack by current Washington Post Standards and must be redacted posthaste.
Don't even think of calling him "Jimmy" either...

Posted by: Emily Post | February 19, 2006 01:26 PM

Ms. Howell:

Question?

"Suffice it to say that he [Dana Milbank] has been taken to The Post's version of the woodshed and told not to do that again."

Did Len Downie use a paddle or a switch?

Posted by: Disciplinarian | February 19, 2006 01:37 PM

It amazes me that Howell and other journalists take the complaints of conservative bloggers so much more seriously than those of liberal bloggers. The complaints about Milbank are completely ridiculous, illustrating nothing except the complete and utter humorlessness of the right (OMG! a journalist made a JOKE! call the police!). The complaints about the Abramoff mistake were absolutely correct and serious. Yet the crazed humorless right-wingers are taken seriously by the Post, and the left-wingers are treated as insane freaks for their legitimate complaints. What a strange double standard.

Posted by: M.A. | February 19, 2006 01:50 PM

"Use of critical nicknames for Post reporters, editors, public officials, other commenters, etc., is considered a personal attack and posts containing personal attacks will be removed."

Heh.

Indeed.

Posted by: Columbo | February 19, 2006 01:52 PM

Does it strike anyone else as interesting that most of the people in this thread who ascribe nefarious motives to and broadcast blanket personal and professional condemnations of Deborah Howell and Sue Schmidt aren't willing to sign their names to their comments?

I don't know how good Schmidt and Howell are at their jobs, though the New Republic (not exactly a conservative mouthpiece) said the Post's Abramoff coverage has generally decent. But at least they sign their work.

And before you say, well, why don't you say who YOU are, I'll tell you why I don't. There's no way I'd put my name out there for all of you qualified critics to savage.

Posted by: A Reader In Arlington | February 19, 2006 01:59 PM

To the Esteemed Mr. Brady and Ms. Howell:

The truth shall set you free. And it'll also allow you to, in the oft-repeated words of Scotty McLellan, move on. I guess that Omby job ain't all it's cracked up to be these days.

And know this: the days of mere proles shuddered to start a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel are gone.

Bits are free (as yet) and the public will have their say. You can fight it or you can use it to improve our Democracy. We're still waiting for you to make the right choice.

Posted by: Zappatero | February 19, 2006 02:02 PM

I read Howell's recent Column again and tried to rearrange it in order to make room for other reader's comments on the hunting accident reporting. Turned out it's no problem:

"Dana Milbank can be controversial with readers. Milbank wore hunting gear -- an orange stocking cap and striped vest and gloves -- on Keith Olbermann's show Monday night and made several meant-to-be-humorous remarks about Vice President Cheney's hunting accident. I got hundreds of e-mails, many prompted by conservative blogs. A number of readers asked the same questions as Mark O'Brien of Mechanicsburg, Pa.: "Is Milbank an opinion columnist or a reporter?" and reader Eric Welch: "Does Dana Milbank's wearing of a bright orange hat and vest to cover the vice president's accidental shooting of a friend convey professionalism and objective journalism by Washington Post standards?"

Milbank, a national political reporter, writes the frequent Washington Sketch column on Page 2 and also does the occasional news story. Editors here do not consider him an opinion columnist. However, Washingtonpost.com, which is under different management than the print Post, lists Milbank as an opinion columnist. Milbank said, "I realize there's a fine line between making observational judgments and expressing an opinion."

Liz Spayd, assistant managing editor for national news, said Milbank's column, "observes and reports about the theater of politics." and "In that role, he has a little more freedom than a conventional staff writer might." Spayd said she felt Milbank "crossed the line" on his TV appearance. "What he intended as a playful joke was viewed by many as mocking and unprofessional, and understandably so." Suffice it to say that he has been taken to The Post's version of the woodshed and told not to do that again."

Well, imho everything really important is said here. And this way the ombudswomans report concentrates on readers and staff quotes, and not on Ms. Howell's opinion. She is ombudswoman, not a opinion columnist.

I dropped half of the article that started with this passage: "Most of the critical mail I got last week came from conservatives, but I've also received complaints from liberals when they think Milbank has skewered Democrats, especially in a Jan. 31 column about a liberal political event that featured former attorney general Ramsey Clark and antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan."

See the problem here? In order to create a balance for rightwing criticism on Milbank, Howell's digs in old feedback and cites leftwing complaints from two weeks ago. Sry, but imho this is window-dressing. She should have reported about this issue then, not warm it up just to create a false balance. This is just what WaPo has been flamed for in the past: Trying to balance news that will be annoying to one side with issues that are painful for the other, how farfetched it may be. This isn't reporting the news anymore, this is a false policy of appeasement. And the most devastating example of this has been the Abramoff story.

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 02:07 PM

"Does it strike anyone else as interesting that most of the people in this thread who ascribe nefarious motives to and broadcast blanket personal and professional condemnations of Deborah Howell and Sue Schmidt aren't willing to sign their names to their comments?"

No. That's common behavior in the blogosphere. Oh, and what's your first name, Mr. or Ms. Reader?

I sign all my comments with "Gray". I'm Andy Ludwig, and that's no secret. I've signed with both names at the Froomkin thread. Now, does anybody think that this additional information changes the content of my posting above in any way?

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 02:13 PM

Re: "Liz Spayd, assistant managing editor for national news, said Milbank's column... said she felt Milbank 'crossed the line' on his TV appearance. 'What he intended as a playful joke was viewed by many as mocking and unprofessional, and understandably so'."

Does Liz Spayd also think it was "mocking and unprofessional" for Scott McClellan to wear an orange tie--and Jeb Bush to put on an orange sticker--out of what they claimed was fear of the vice president? Did any of those she claims took this view of Milbank take the same view of McClellan and Jeb Bush?

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 19, 2006 02:14 PM

I'm not sure it is wise for the WaPo to expose themselves by this bloging process. You see, Mr. Lukasiak is back asking the SAME questions. By the way WPO last year at about this time was just under $1,000 per share. Last trade was $749 with the bid at $721. Looks like there might be some unrest with the stock holders regarding the way the paper is run. Hope you folks figure it out before it's too late. Good luck.

Posted by: california_reality_check | February 19, 2006 02:16 PM

I'm still waiting for an answer about whether the Washington Post thinks it is appropriate for its Ombudsman to relay office gossip to its readers.

Most organizations have policies about workplace gossip, does the Washington Post?

Posted by: Marisa McNee | February 19, 2006 02:18 PM

I'm glad WaPo has comments again. It shows that WaPo is looking forward, not trying to retain absolute control of the message.

The trend is that the corporate media will adapt and share common space with the public online. The corporate media publications which do not do this will continue to decrease in stature and importance.

I'm also glad that Dana Milbank shared a little humor at Cheney's expense. It's a step in the right direction, toward Dana's reconciliation with the public after his errors in judgement in his coverage of the Downing Street Memo hearings in the basement of the capital.

Posted by: Balzac | February 19, 2006 02:19 PM

1. What do we want?

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (so help me God).

2. When do we want it?

Now would be a good time.

Posted by: redking | February 19, 2006 02:23 PM

a commenter upthread referred to us as the far left. another, the looney left. fyi there is no far left in this country there is just the left. the only wacko minority in the party are the far right left like lieberman. the mainstream left is what we are. you can paint us as angry(i guess your idea of 'normal' is passively noticing your elections are ripped off, war, lies, inaccuracies etc) does that make you feel justified in making assertions you can't back up? because it angered us? if you highlight name calling , does that in anyway justify your inaccuracies. your inaccuracies are either just a stupid mistake or... intentional. ms howell, did you write a column dressing down sue shmidt for her lynch reporting? where are all the 'mainstream' left in this country? the ones who are so everyly respectful and reasonable who take no offense in the direction this administration country has headed. while the right wing never refers to their own far right(ann, pat ,dobsen?) who clearly do not represent anything mainstream, as extreme there seems to be no end in accusing average liberal, the majority of us, as far left. do you think we all come out of the closet to post here. listen to us, we are the masses , calling you out. it will do you ne good to percieve us as out of the mainstream. we represent the majority of your readers, and we can tell when you are decieving us. i am not afraid to identify myself.

Posted by: annie robbins | February 19, 2006 02:44 PM

Is there a reason why the Bush administration's unbelievable approval of the UAE govt-owned company's attempt to run US ports doesn't make the headline in the Washington Post?

Is there a reason the Washington Post hasn't dug back some history on how America gave Venezuala control of key refineries (under CITGO), and how Hugo Chavez is now making threats? Back then, Venezuala was an ally, not now. Who's to say UAE will be an ally in five years time?

Americans are worried! But our true worries NEVER EVER get conveyed in our beloved newspapers, like the Washington Post. Instead we read about a private hunting accident in rural Texas and an arrogant white house press corps.

Why does this worry me - a republican? Because this administration which I voted for, seems strangely divored from reality! This is very reminicent of the days before Katrina when we kept screaming for leadership in the White House, but they seemed pre-occupied with something else. Are we seeing the same thing all over again? with no lessons learnt?

Then Chertoff (who should've been fired by Bush) goes on ABC to defend the sale of US ports to a country with known ties to terror and complete disdain for Israel.

The same way Bush seemed absent as the Chinese were about to purchase US oil companies. The same way Bush seems deluded about the importance of protecting our borders and reinforcing border and port security.

Americans are begging the media to do their jobs, and see if there are lobbyists behind the scenes that seem to distract this president, because something's wrong with him, and Chertoff! This isn't about "protectionism" - as these companies are not privately owned, they are owned by governments. And yes this is about "protection" of our national security.

Commmmmmon! Somebody's gotta speak on our behalf! WPost do your job!

Posted by: mwestman | February 19, 2006 02:45 PM

Wow! I can't believe you actually deleted my last post. This blog really has decended into self-parody.

Posted by: space | February 19, 2006 02:47 PM

this reader would appreciate the ombudsman focusing more on:

1) What subjects/topics the Post decides to report on; and
2) The factual accuracy of said reports.

rather than the appropriateness of what someone decides to wear when they go on television. These are serious times, and the Post needs to focus on its pubication more, rather than worrying about its reporters on television.

Posted by: exhuming mccarthy | February 19, 2006 02:57 PM

exhuming mccarthy:

I agree with you. Nevertheless, IF the ombudsman is going to concern herself with the behavior of WaPo writers on TV, I would suggest that Bob Woodward deserves a much closer look than Milbank.

You could have an entire J-school class based on the ethical transgressions of Woodward involving the Plame case. Oops! Was that a "personal attack" or a "tough criticism"? We will see momentarily.

Posted by: space | February 19, 2006 03:10 PM

So I have also had a comment deleted that included no profanity, no personal attacks on writers or other readers. No mention of individual employees by nickname or otherwise. The comment was simply a satirical comparison of how the WaPo handled the recent Abramhoff flap to how the same thinking might have looked during the Lewinsky scandal. Has anyone started a blog to demonstrate the legitimate non-profane criticism that the Post continues to delete from here?

Posted by: ben brung | February 19, 2006 03:14 PM

that is a good question ben. it would be very interesting to compile

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 03:19 PM

ben brung, space and others - If you are expecting fairness at the WaPo look elsewhere. Nothing has changed, unfortunately.

Posted by: california_reality_check | February 19, 2006 03:21 PM

The "Saving Private Lynch" reporting took place long before Howell became ombudsman.

At the time, if memory serves, it was not the Post's way to name the names of Post writers who had been taken to the woodshed -- or maybe it was not Michael Getler's way -- but rather to say that "a reporter" had done such-and-such, which seems inappropriate.

That's how he handled, for example, Ceci Connolly's Fox News editorializing against Al Gore for a speech on "[s]olid, substantive, good legitimate domestic issues ... which just [didn't] seem appropriate" to her, and Sue Schmidt's attempt to get a fellow who wrote her a critical E-mail message fired from his job.

No names, and very little description of what had occurred.

Maybe we should be somewhat grateful to Howell for clearly identifying who she's writing about and what she believes they've done -- while continuing to ask for accuracy and corrections where they're needed (as in her original Abramoff column, which is still un-corrected as far as I know).

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 19, 2006 03:23 PM

Mr. Brady, regarding the numerous postings complaining about censorship here, it seems the arbitrary deleting of posts equals the worst examples of the blogosphere. Is this really what you meant when you promoted "a continuing conversation with our readers"? Well, it's a strange conversation where one participant doesn't answer but is busily preventing others from hearing certain opinions...

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 03:30 PM

oops, didn't fill in the name! It's me, Gray

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 03:31 PM

Curious that you removed my comment in which I said that when asked why I was cancelling my Washington Post subscription, I replied Howell and Brady, to which she gave a weary sigh.

A sure indication that she had heard that before and many times.

The Post exists to maximize shareholder value. You are not doing that.

Posted by: Eli Rabett | February 19, 2006 03:31 PM

Given the character of the comments that are being removed, I have to ask: Did the Post ever run a story about just how much of Susan Schmidt's reporting on Jessica Lynch was inaccurate, and why?

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 19, 2006 03:47 PM

And I can't resist this...

Susan Schimdt, February 22, 2004: "Under Abramoff's guidance, the four tribes -- Michigan's Saginaw Chippewas, the Agua Caliente of California, the Mississippi Choctaws and the Louisiana Coushattas -- have also become major political donors. They have loosened their traditional ties to the Democratic Party, giving Republicans two-thirds of the $2.9 million they have donated to federal candidates since 2001, records show..."

"Loosened their traditional ties to the Democratic Party..." That sure doesn't sound like Susan Schmidt thinks that Abramoff "directed his client Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to members... from both parties," does it? So why do Howell and Brady claim that it does?

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 19, 2006 03:50 PM

There are two threads to the Post's editorial strategy. One, the more obvious one, is to move to the right in order to take ground away from the Washington Times and prevent the Times from gaining circulation.

The calculation was that progressives would have no place to go and remain with the Post. The miscalculation was the failure to account for the rise of the Internet, both the Blogs and access to worldwide media. The Post is losing circulation at a substantially higher rate than other papers (2.7% vs 1.9% locally).

The second was a concious policy to recruit reporters with a right wing agenda in response to the Republican strategy of "working the refs". This gave the paper a push during the 90s, but their loyal rewriting of RNC faxes (I guess Emails now), is alienating many of the Post's subscribers.

Now those who created these two strategies cannot admit that they were wrong, and since the publisher is one of the prime strategists, maybe no one can, but there are only two ways the Post can avoid a descent into obscurity. The first would be a shareholder revolt as circulation and advertising revenues shrink. The other would be the founding of a serious paper in DC with a progressive editorial policy.

Posted by: Eli Rabett | February 19, 2006 03:51 PM

this is a test

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 03:53 PM

I don't think you're software filtered yet Paul.

Posted by: ben brun | February 19, 2006 03:54 PM

(note....although I used no obscenities, nor engaged in any personal attacks, a recent post I wrote did not get through...so I'm gonna try to get it through paragraph by paragraph to see what exactly the problem is.....)

A reader wrote:

"Does it strike anyone else as interesting that most of the people in this thread who ascribe nefarious motives to and broadcast blanket personal and professional condemnations of Deborah Howell and Sue Schmidt aren't willing to sign their names to their comments?"

Actually, its not in the least interesting. What would be interesting is if the Post reponded to legitimate questions from people who are willing to use their full names, while ignoring those who use only pseudonyms.... but since the Post ignores virtually all questions if they don't come from the "right-wing", it really doesn't matter. Stupid questions about what Dana Milibank wears on TV get immediate responses from Ms Howell, while serious questions about the nature of the Post's coverage on important issues get ignored by Ms Howell....while Mr. Brady refuses to allow Jay Rosen to publish statements that were made "on the record" to Mr. Rosen.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 03:55 PM

Hello, Professor DeLong ... I haven't been able to get to your blog today; are you aware of any problems with it?

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 19, 2006 03:55 PM

(well that got through...here are the next two paragraphs...)

Rosen goes to great lengths to treat his "interview" subjects fairly, allowing his subjects to review his interviews to allow those subjects to correct ambiguities or mistatements. Brady apparently used Rosen's 'fair play' efforts to complete shut down the publication of an interview on which Rosen had worked for hours..... (and, btw, I'm no fan of Jay Rosen -- as anyone can attest.)

I mean, personally, I stopped asking for the documents that Harris, Howell, Willis, Schmidt, and the rest of the Post claims provides proof that Jack Abramoff "directed" contributions to Democrats. When I looked into what little Howell and her cohorts did provide, I discovered that their "evidence" actually disproved their assertions. So I did further research.....and there is literally nothing which in the public record that suggests that Jack Abramoff was personally and directly involved in getting any of his clients to contribute to a single Democratic candidate. Zero. NADA. NOTHING.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 03:57 PM

(well, lets try the rest...)

Now, Howell, and Brady, and Schmidt, and Willis know this as well as I do. But the more we keep asking this question, the more likely it is that they will come up with a new "spin" on the meager facts that they do have that can indirectly tie Jack Abramoff to contributions made to Democratic politicians.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 03:59 PM

Dog, I noticed this, too. Try the secondary:
http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 03:59 PM

Thanks, Gray - that worked; I'll bookmark it.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 19, 2006 04:04 PM

here is the sentence that the Post bans...

Of course, those "ties" are no more solid than the "ties" that connect Jack Abramoff to

[something that happened that apparently the Post doesn't want us to talk about. It involves a visit by certain individuals involved in a certain major historical event to a facility owned by Mr Abramoff....]

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 04:04 PM

Where are the promised documents proving Howell's and Brady's allegations that Abramoff 'directed' money to Democrats?

Readers, keep in mind that even if the allegation is true, it wouldn't implicate Dems in any criminal wrongdoing. Despite what GOP spinsters would have you believe, the scandal isn't that lobbyists direct their clients to donate to politicians.

The scandal is the Abramoff committed SPECIFIC CRIMES (fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials), above and beyond the legal, if sleazy, lobbying activities that occur every day in Washington.

I would also like an explanation of this web page: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2006/01/18/GR2006011801026.html on the Washington Post web site.

The page features a graphic showing three scaps of paper. The largest of the three is a list of politicians of both parties, the names and addresses of their campaign organizations, and a column of figures next to very brief desciptions of the politician's status.

It appears that this is meant to give the impression that the column of figures represents dollar amounts directed to the politicains by Abramoff, but this is never explicitly stated.

In fact, the text on the page doesn't even mention the scrap of paper in question, which by the way is not sourced, and is shown sans header or any other identifying marks.

It seems to me that if the Post could explicitly explain this graphic, it would. But it doesn't.

Simply put, the page appears to be intentionally misleading, and quite egregiously so.

I respectfully request that the Post either fill in the blanks on that page, or remove the page from the web site. As is stands, it's just more gossip and innuendo.

Posted by: VictorLaszlo | February 19, 2006 04:05 PM

This is a test

Posted by: Submission Problems | February 19, 2006 04:07 PM

Could you let us know who it was in the Bush administration spoke to Walter Pincus and Mike Allen on October 3, 2003?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40012-2003Oct3?language=printer

Tell us that and you will make Fitzgerald's job much easier. As well as making an unprovoked attack on Iran more difficult.

Posted by: John Cleary | February 19, 2006 04:07 PM

Testing.

Posted by: jurassicpork | February 19, 2006 04:27 PM

I saw Dana Milbank on Keith Olbermann's COUNTDOWN and always appreciate his equal opportunity snark.

His schtick with the blaze orange hunting gear was hugely funny given the context--COUNTDOWN is irreverent, and this was a pre-heart attack sendup when everyone. left and right, seemed to be reaching for comic relief.

Finally, I'm sorry to hear that Milbank has been disciplined over the event.

Is that the Mighty Wurlitzer, once again, I hear wheezing distantly in the background?

Just asking.

Oh, and Deborah Howell is, once again, all wet on this one.

Posted by: Kris Stoever | February 19, 2006 04:29 PM

wow, this is really bizarre.

Now, the story that I'm trying to explain here is, imho, complete nonsense --- its only relevance to the discussion is that the idea that Democrats are somehow tainted by the Abramoff scandal relies upon the same kind of "six degrees of separation" type of reasoning you need to connect Jack Abramoff to a certain cave-dweller. But the Post doesn't even want us to mention the absurd possibility that Abramoff is connected to someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan, while pushing an equally bizarro theory that Abramoff was personally ordering his clients to contribute to Democratic candidates, and they were doing his bidding without question.

That's censorship, in my book. Its okay that the Post doesn't want to answer questions its really can't honestly answer without looking foolish -- but not letting us use comparisons to explain how foolish the Post is acting is a bit much....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 04:30 PM

So, now it appears Ms. Howell has taken to chastizing WaPo writers who appear with bad fashion sense, on network television (ie. Dana Milbank in bright orange vest on the Countdown with Keith Obermann)?

I think Ms. Howell is no longer effective in her current role here at the WaPo- she herself has become the story and a lightening rod for controversy and she seems to not be able to resist this turn of events, determined as she is to stick it to those that dare criticize her and to try her hand at playing the eternal victim in order to distract attention from her own mistakes.

Had Howell corrected her mistake right in the beginning, rather than getting defensive and making it about her ego, none of the resulting controversy would have transpired. But her refusal to do so just demonstrated that her ultimate loyality is not with the Post readers, but with protecting her own ego and agenda.

Posted by: Stacy B. | February 19, 2006 04:31 PM

So, Ms. Howell was SHOCKED by the vulgarity of the controversy on this blog?

She's got quite the potty-mouth herself it would seem- http://npc.press.org/wpforal/how1.htm

Posted by: Stacy B. | February 19, 2006 04:33 PM

OK. I'm going to try my earlier satirical comparison that was deleted with the language altered slightly.

I was just imagining the current WaPo mindset applied during the Lewinski scandal . . .

"We may have misspoken a little when we said Monica also had relations with Newt Gingrich. We probably should have said she directed her friends . . ."

Please don't try to tell me there is anything in here more obscene than what the Post printed at the time of the incident. A satirical comparison to make a point is not a personal attack.

Posted by: ben brung | February 19, 2006 04:34 PM

"And before you say, well, why don't you say who YOU are, I'll tell you why I don't. There's no way I'd put my name out there for all of you qualified critics to savage."

Um, well, okay......

IAC, I post under my name. I think you should, too. There's nothing to be afraid of. Those phosphors can't mug^H^H^H (forced to revert to an ancient indication of an edited comment method because of lack of html support) hurt you.

Oh, and feel free to send me email. jay@ackroyd.org.

Wasn't that easy? Step right up and join me in my pursuit of transparency and accountability.

Posted by: JayAckroyd | February 19, 2006 04:35 PM

So WaPo, can you spell out the responsibilities of the ombuds[wo]man?

Is Debra Howell's job to provide prophylactic protection to the paper or is she to represent the readers?

Newspapers are supposed to be the interface between the three branches of representational government and those represented. The reason for the 1st Amendment is not to protect media companies, it is to ensure that the public has unfettered access to news. The system works best when the news is accurate and timely.

As members of The Represented, we only have one real option. Vote with our feet (dollars). Given that reporting has become very expensive, we can't simply vote with our feet in our desire for simple statements of FACT. Where we going to go, the Washington Times? The New York Times?

We the people need you to do your job, otherwise the First Amendment will just become another tool for official tyranny and information dissemination. The Howell/Abramoff coverage scandal at your paper makes it difficult to trust you as a source. This is a tragedy.

It seems to me that the WaPo management has learned too much from the Bush/Cheney administration. Specifically, redefine after the fact so you are always in compliance.

Kind of a 1984 meets Brave New World...

Posted by: Ken Scarr | February 19, 2006 04:37 PM

Brad DeLong -- I seem to recall that the Post addressed its Jessica Lynch coverage some time ago. A Google search brought me to these:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A2760-2003Jun16

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A43466-2003Jun27

Posted by: Arlington | February 19, 2006 04:37 PM

With her latest article, Debbie Howell says to liberals: Go Cheney yourself.

Posted by: lib | February 19, 2006 04:38 PM

Ms. Howell needs to address the Texas swearing story. Shame on her.

Posted by: jerry | February 19, 2006 04:38 PM

test

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 04:40 PM

testtest

Posted by: test test | February 19, 2006 04:42 PM

I commend Deborah Howell for saying that by being associated to Abramoff even by some sort of "six degrees of separation" stretch you are tainted by the scandal(i.e. being his victim makes your money dirty). Using her logic, and a few from LTE's from the Wyoming statewide Paper (Casper Star Tribune), I was able to indict my House Rep. Barbara Cubin for a whole lot of stuff, as I note in my LTE to the CST. You're doing a heck of a job Howellie!

Editor:

Former College Republicans president and criminal Jack Abramoff scammed Indian tribes out of millions of dollars. In writing to fundamentalist Ralph Reed, he laments: "I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I'd love to get our mitts on that moolah! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out." It appears he is complaining that tribes still give to Democrats.

Recent letters by C.P. Abrassart and Bill Scarlett inform us that not only are Abramoff's personal donations tainted, but all political contributions from tribes he was swindling are as well. Is this guilt by association for the Indians that got ripped off, or simple racism? I don't want to accuse anyone of being racist. Let's assume guilt by association.

In "Tribal Money linked to GOP Fundraising," Washington Post (Dec. 26, 2004), we learn Abramoff controlled skyboxes at venues around D.C. and U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin used his skyboxes (rental value around $1,000 a night) on numerous occasions. Abramoff also provided catering (price unknown). Cubin sold tickets at the Abramoff venue as a fundraising scheme.
An enterprising reporter should look into how many times Abramoff helped Cubin get "moolah." Did she ever declare the skybox/catering "in kind" donations associated with Abramoff (and if so when)? How much money was raised at these Abramoff parties? Since Washington is a pay-to-play environment, who attended?

Cubin donated $250 of Abramoff money to charity; I assume she made more at her Abramoff parties. Will she return this Abramoff tainted money?

Further, Cubin has been indignant at returning $22,500 she received from Abramoff pal Tom DeLay's PAC. It was a laundering operation to transfer corporate money skirting finance laws.

Seriously, the $250 donations that look good going to charity are chump change, when a Tom DeLay PAC or fake charity (DeLay and Abramoff both had them) launders millions of dirty dollars. Did I mention they also supply (i.e. bribe) Congress-spouses and former staffers with high-paying fake jobs?

Cubin leaned on Abramoff and has repeatedly voted to weaken House ethics rules (c.f. H. Res. 5, Roll Call No. 6). Are we still talking guilt by association?


Posted by: P Hughes II | February 19, 2006 04:52 PM

Dear Mr. Brady:

I would like to know whether Ms. Howell continues to be prejudiced against Southern Baptists (to the extent of calling a sermon "s..." Wait, no. I can't use that word in this blog. But Deborah Howell did here:

Deborah Howell: Interview #1 (pp. 1-19)
February 15, 1993 in Washington, D.C.

Howell: Not a lot. I was raised a Southern Baptist. . . . When I was twelve years old, we were going to this Baptist church in San Antonio. I was listening to this preacher, and he said something about Mary, "the so-called queen of heaven by the Catholics." It was very anti-Catholic. I listened and I said a twelve-year-old's version of, "What is this shi t?" I just got up and walked out.

I would also like to know whether Ms. Howell refers to any of the colleagues at the Washington Post as "a......." No, wait. I can't use that language on this blog. but Deborah Howell did here:

Howell: I learned there are a lot of as sholes in the newspaper business. The city editor was a real jerk, and he was always trying to hurt my feelings.

I wonder whether Ms. Howell advocates that we respect our parents, or still uses language to discuss their proper disciplinary actions such as calling them "s..." Oh, darn. I almost did it. But I won't. Not on this blog I won't. But Deborah Howell in 1993 said in an interview:

Howell: She was a wonderful mother in the sense that she was a great stay-at-home mother. She was very supportive of me. I remember her spanking me as a child and the usual kinds of things. The only time I ever remember her giving me a total and complete batch of s hit was when I lied to her about smoking, and she knew better.

found at http://npc.press.org/wpforal/how1.htm

So I am really confused. Are there places where obscenities are allowed, or employees for whom they are allowed, or is contrition in order?

Posted by: Sue S. | February 19, 2006 04:52 PM

paul: are you referring to that ex-German-student who ended his airplane flight too abruptly having spent some leisure time offshore in Florida on platforms owned by the political associate of Grover Norquist?

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 04:56 PM

Okay, according to Howell the proper response to right wing blogs (aka Powerline, Instapundit) is to say "How High", but insulting liberal blogs is just fine.

You can see the distain of the MSM toward liberal and progressives both in the WP and on the Sunday talk fests. Katrina Vanden Hueval was treated with distain by Cokie Roberts on This Week - just because she raised a connection between the shooting and the secrecy of the VP's office.

But you wouldn't even have to listen to the liberal/progressive view to improve the oh-so-obvious right-wing/establishment bias. If Deb Howell and Cokie Roberts got off the Washington cocktail party circuit and found out what real Americans are worried about (pensions, job security, health care), it would be an improvement.

Posted by: narexbyrnes | February 19, 2006 04:59 PM

Do the WashPo owners have any idea of HOW BAD this all looks? The paper's credibility sinks lower and lower every minute.

Something must be done.

Posted by: Semblance | February 19, 2006 04:59 PM

I think that for the sake of transparency, Washington Post should change the title of Ms. Howell's position at the paper to 'Chief Liason to the RNC'.

That will have the salutory affect of all these whiny liberals ignoring her articles defending the Republican party from the assault by the truth.

Posted by: lib | February 19, 2006 05:00 PM

i tried to ask my previous question using direct names but was prevented from even posting. Great filters. I had to resort to tortuous circumlocutions to evade them. Shades of Communist China!

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 05:02 PM

if you have no facts, you must retract. to date, no retraction has been published of the smear of elected Democrats that were allegedly (with no facts to support such an allegation) "funded" by Abramoff along with the known Republican recipients.

Posted by: TiredFed | February 19, 2006 05:07 PM

today, while checking out a right wing blogs comments over the latest latimes piece about the niger docs/wilson/plame story http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-niger17feb17,0,2450481,full.story
the comment section refers back to back to the 7/04 susan schmidt article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A39834-2004Jul9.html rife w/inaccuracies, some examples below. as anyone who has followed this story knows that the cia repeatedly came to the conclusion the docs were forged. according to latimes" The State Department's intelligence wing, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, also judged the sale "unlikely," according to a recently declassified report obtained by Judicial Watch, an independent public interest group in Washington"

the article carries water for the administration and it is unfortunate at this late date is still used as a reference for right wingers in a fantasyland that wilson was some how complicit the 'confusion' over the assertions of yellowcake in niger. since you are in the business of debunking the wapo columnists you think are engaged in partisan reporting. could you do a little follow up on this story and all the gross inaccuracies?

"And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical "

(!!!!!!!!!!!!)

"Still, it was the CIA that bore the brunt of the criticism of the Niger intelligence. The panel found that the CIA has not fully investigated possible efforts by Iraq to buy uranium in Niger to this day, citing reports from a foreign service and the U.S. Navy about uranium from Niger destined for Iraq and stored in a warehouse in Benin. " (already thoroughly debunked.)

"The agency did not examine forged documents that have been widely cited as a reason to dismiss the purported effort by Iraq until months after it obtained them. "

pg 14 in the senate intellegence report she sites under the heading of ' conclusion' stated clearly that the assesment that iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program was not supported by the intelligence provided to the committee.

latimes
"The CIA didn't send its own operative because the agency considered it "a wild goose chase," said a former senior intelligence official. "

"Paul Pillar, who retired last year after 30 years at the CIA, said that the White House attributed the charge to the British because the CIA wouldn't vouch for it. "

"The White House withdrew the charge that summer after CIA officials again concluded there was no solid evidence to support it. "

aren't there more important stories at the post than Dana's orange attire?

Posted by: annie again | February 19, 2006 05:08 PM

From a post by Brad deLong-

One possible clue is contained in a complaint by Chris Cillizza that an unnamed Post editor had taken a Democrat who was "not a sitting member of Congress... [and] unnecessarily included [him] for, frankly, balance" in a list of ne'er-do-wells. Cillizza goes on to say: "I did not read the final edit and therefore was unaware that Balance had been added to the list."

If that's balance, then shouldn't you publish a story about a Democrat shooting someone in the face? It doesn't have to be true, as long as it all balances out, right?

Posted by: Jones | February 19, 2006 05:08 PM

I'm afraid I don't understand why it is that when 'conservative' bloggers [especially viciously racist and hateful ones like Michelle Marlkin] complain about something, the Post races to impale itself on its sword and swear the offending thing will never hapen again.

Yet, when so-called 'liberal' bloggers compain about something in the Post, they get demonized. Is that because of the media's 'liberal bias'?

By the way, have we seen the proof that Jack Abramoff 'directed' money to Democrats yet? When will we?

Posted by: drindl | February 19, 2006 05:08 PM

wilson:

I'm referring to that same German student,

Posted by: p.lukasiak | February 19, 2006 05:09 PM

Abramoff directed money to Democrats like he supported religious institutions. Show us the photos of Jack munching on a porkchop sandwich at a Baptist Social on a Friday night...

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 05:15 PM

paul, what german student. can you give me a name i can google?

Posted by: annie | February 19, 2006 05:26 PM

test for annie

Atta

Abramoff

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 05:28 PM

abramoff

9-11

sun cruz

mafia

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 05:29 PM

jones hits the nail on the head. the washington post has some excellent articles. it just seems that fair and balanced means truth and then lets balance it with fantasy

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 05:30 PM

modified versions of test words are removed by human intervention (not software intervention) within an hour at this time of day. Wonder how much time these folks have to spend on watching the watchers.

Posted by: testing the limits | February 19, 2006 05:32 PM

that German student has a first name of a person its not wise to make caricatures of. the 2nd name is spelled aye-tee-tee-aye
seeming the WaPo Chinese filters dont let proletarians utter that name

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 05:32 PM

Is it true that the Washington Post considers the word "Steno" to be "profanity or [a] personal attack[]"? Wow.

Posted by: Aaron Swartz | February 19, 2006 05:32 PM

thank you for the refresher. i forgot he was a german student.

Posted by: annie | February 19, 2006 05:44 PM

Wow, I am really interested to see that the Democrats are linked to Gus Boulis's murder!
Hat tip to Paul Lukasiak for showing how Democrats are connected. Democrats received Abramoff money; Abramoff money paid for the hit on Boulis; ergo, Democrats are tied in with the Gus Boulis Murder.
This calls for an investigation!!

Posted by: George W. Atta-Boy | February 19, 2006 05:51 PM

I cannot believe Deborah Howell, Jim Brady and the Washington Post are afraid of our Open Letter to the Washington Post. So much so that you actually deleted my own comment, which had no profanity at all, because I never use profanity in my blogs, on radio or anywhere else, though I do have a blue humor streak in private.

God help this republic, which depends on the free press. If your clan would have been in charge during Watergate, Richard Nixon would have gotten away with it.

Posted by: Taylor Marsh | February 19, 2006 05:52 PM

"thank you for the refresher. i forgot he was a german student."

You're memory is perfectly ok, Annie. He's been an egyptian student who also had a Saudi passport and studied in Germany, where he was registered as a citizen of the United Arab Emirates:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Atta_al-Sayed

Paul, would you call an Egyptian or a Saudi studying at Berkeley a US student???

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 05:55 PM

Mmmmmm...

Is Deborah Howell in any way related to Richard Cheney?

They both have that "in your face attitude".

Posted by: Ceci | February 19, 2006 05:57 PM

Why has there been no retraction/correction to Howell's erroneous article?

Posted by: cdj | February 19, 2006 05:58 PM

The most difficult part about reading Ms. Deborah Howell's opinion pieces in the Washington Post is understanding exactly what she means.

Here are some examples.

"...I think his [Dana Milbank's] appearance on MSNBC last week was a mistake in judgment."

Does she believe his appearance was a 'mistake in judgement' or that his attire and perhaps a remark or two were 'a mistake in judgment'?

"I got hundreds of e-mails, many prompted by conservative blogs."

Is it two hundred? Thirteen hundred? A million hundred? Why not just say? And is 'many' 6? Most? Or 'this many'?

Howell poses this question through a proxy: "Is Milbank an opinion columnist or a reporter?"

And then in response follows with this: "The answer isn't simple." However, neither in this nor in the following paragraph does infer or report that Dana is an opinion columnist. So as a reader I'm left rereading those paragraphs (and the rest of her column for that matter) to understand where the promised compexity lay. She observes that washingtonpost.com lists him as an opinion columnist and notes that he reported the factual number of Bush eye blinks as evidence. That left me scratching my head.

I'm also distracted by Howell's observation that: "Suffice it to say that he has been taken to The Post's version of the woodshed and told not to do that again."

Though some people don't mind working in environments where personnel matters are handled by opinion columnists its not the sort of work environment I would enjoy. Usually such disclosures are handled by someone in the chain of command of the person being reprimanded. Or perhaps HR.

Finally Howell ends the article with this:

"It all comes down to what Stephen Stanford of Saltillo, Miss., wrote: "If you are going to keep using his work, how about labeling it as opinion and not news?"

Exactly."

And if I'm understanding that correctly - and its sometimes difficult to understand exactly what is being implied by Deborah's writing - I'm I to take it that the means by which the Washington Post vets its stories, rather than by, say fact checking, is to review a reporter's attire?

Hmmmm...


Posted by: tryggth | February 19, 2006 06:00 PM

The larger issue for me as a reader is the lack of understanding of the role of the ombudsman and of the importance of the words that Ms. Howell demonstrates in her column. I used to read Michael Getler's column regularly, and it provided great insight into the decisions that are made at the paper, and showed a real commitment to the integrity and importance of the Post reporters/columnists and a respect for the intelligence of the Post's readers. His columns never read like someone wagging a finger at anyone, and when he did criticize, he would explain why . He would also examine why the decisions that he didn't like were made, and demonstrated a real ability to see "the big picture" - that not everyone sees things in one way, and that not every situation is black and white. Ms. Howell's column's biggest fault for me as a reader is not about one particular column, but in the general lack of nuance and detail in approaching the issues she discusses. I often feel like she wrote her column in the hour before the deadline, without reading (or watching) whatever she is analyzing. This lack of nuance is also apparent in her assessments - a nuance that most of her readers can handle, and probably expect. Her column reads like talking points instead of careful analysis and does a disservice to her fellow reporters, columnists, and most important, the readers.

Today's column is a good example. Ms. Howell didn't discuss the way reporters go about appearing on television (do they have to clear it with their editors? do they have to get their comments screened? what does "taken to the woodshed" mean at the Washington Post?). How did Milbank's appearance compare to the rest of the coverage of the Cheney shooting? What is Keith Olbermann's show like? Was the substance of Milbank's appearance out of iine with the rest of the show? Did he say something that wasn't true? And why, oh why is Ms. Howell more concerned with scolding him to the (ahem, educated) readers instead of discussing why the lag in the White House's disclosure of the incident was such a big deal? Milbank's appearance did not make him a bad writer, or make his opinions any less valid. The inlcusion of some of his descriptions from previous columns (Bush and Alito) also seems out of context - he's a newspaper writer giving an account of what happened - the appearance and presentation of public figures can be important to a story, and provide important insight into what the talking points public officials use really mean. Imagine talking about Tom Delay's mug shot without describing the smile on his face. Can you write about Bush's appearance at the Coretta Scott King funeral without discussing his reactions to the comments made during the ceremony? Again, Ms. Howell shows an aversion to detail and providing the whole story to readers.

I understand that the online format adds a new dimension to the role of anyone monitoring the interaction between the readers and the Post. I don't think that's the problem in this case - it's easy to blame the negative feedback on the people giving it - it's much harder to look at yourself and consider what might be drawing the ire, and to think beyond whatever partisanship may be involved. I think that if Michael Getler was still doing the column, these problems would not be occuring, and that the ombudsman's column would continue to help the Post build its relationships with readers. Ms. Howell's column is not serving its purpose. At this point I think Dan Froomkin does a better job at analyzing the news and discussing what it means for readers and for "the big picture". And he does it for multiple news outlets every day. Ms. Howell can't seem to do clear analysis on one topic once a week. I hope things improve - I think the Post does an excellent job overall in covering the news, and that is why Ms. Howell's sub-par performance is so upsetting. It does not fit in with the standard of quality that is maintained everywhere else in the both the paper Post and post.com.

Posted by: Longtime Reader in DC | February 19, 2006 06:04 PM

I really loved Debbie's column today. I'm so glad she's willing to take objective criticism from conservatives without fear of what the moonbat liberals will say. She should consider guest-posting on Powerline; I think it would add a lot to her credibility to be seen in that company.

Posted by: RightIsNeverWrong | February 19, 2006 06:06 PM

Forget this crappy comments blog. The Wapo is like the New Pravda. Comments welcome as long as it does not disturbe their propaganda efforts or expose their lies.

Waste of time.

Hey man, what are you waiting for ? Delete this comment like you did my earlier one.

Sad tool...

Posted by: ch2 | February 19, 2006 06:10 PM

Longtime Reader, 100% ack on your very comprehensive analysis. Thx!

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 06:11 PM

Howell to Become Next Post Ombudsman

By D'Vera Cohn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2005; Page A02

Howell, 64, is a veteran of the news business who is active in national journalism organizations and has described herself as "feisty and aggressive.

Unless she is called on a mistake, then instead of being aggessive (inclined to behave in a hostile manner)or violent, destructive, belligerent, or antagonistic she may take her blog and go home.

Posted by: JMN | February 19, 2006 06:11 PM

I just want to say that the Washington Post should not mind the accusation that Ms. Schmidt's reporting parrots talking points of the administration.
Strip the charge of its emotionally charged, value-laden implications, and what you have is the charge that Ms. Schmidt is relaying the unvarnished words of the administration to the public.
What is the problem? I don't want a reporter to interpret the adminstration's views; I am delighted that fine reporters such as Ms. Schmidt give me the news from our wonderful President without filtering or spin.

Don't let the moonbats intimidate you---you guys ROCK!

Posted by: RightIsNeverWrong | February 19, 2006 06:14 PM

" She should consider guest-posting on Powerline"

wow, i couldn't agree with you more rightie! in fact, she would fit in so well there a permanent position might be just the ticket!

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 06:17 PM

"By D'Vera Cohn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2005; Page A02

Howell, 84, is a veteran of the news business who is active in national journalism organizations and has described herself as "feisty and aggressive."

Thanks, I didn't know that

Posted by: Jill | February 19, 2006 06:18 PM

Testing

Ole 60 Grit

Posted by: Steve | February 19, 2006 06:19 PM

CORRECTION:

In two previous comments, I made reference to an inteview conducted by Jay Rosen with Jim Brady that Brady subsequently refused to allow to be published.

That information is incorrect. The interview with Rosen was was John Harris, the Post's Political editor, and Harris has refused to allow the interview to be published.

I apologize for the error, and any confusion it may cause, and hope that the censors here will go back and place an editors note of some sort referencing this correction to the original posts. I'd also like to thank "radish" over at firedoglake for bringing this error to my attention.

*****************
see how easy that it, Ms Howell?

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 19, 2006 06:19 PM

Good job, Paul. But shame on us that nobody noticed that...

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 06:23 PM

Two Comments:

1) Reformat the comments so that topics can be sorted by topic. Reading miles of thread on a hodge-podge of subject matter is really unproductive.

2) WaPo.com should let their interns run the blog. It is apparent that the actual managers don't "get" this new-fangled technology and its editorial capabilities. Please put it in the hands of people who understand blog culture.

It is unfortunate that the previous comment regarding this site becoming a "self-parody" is spot on.

Posted by: Greg Roach | February 19, 2006 06:24 PM

Michael Getler set a very high bar for ombudspersons during his time at the Washington Post. I appreciated too little at the time, I'm afraid, the way he carried out his duties. If he mentally labeled his complainants before addressing their complaints, it never showed in his columns. He didn't hesitate to criticize the editorial staff when warrented, but also explained to his readers when he thought that they were out of line. He to my recollection never resorted to personal attacks upon the folks who wrote in or called to complain; at least he didn't in writing, or in interviews. A thoroughly professional ombudsman, I'm afraid I never realized how very, very good at his job he really was. Until now.

Posted by: James | February 19, 2006 06:25 PM

There has been a comment about signing real names for this blog.
I assume that most people posting to this blog have registered with the Post in order to read the articles. So they have our email address and IP address and know who we are.

Probably feeding all the info to the NSA so they can identify all of us subversives who have the audacity to question the objectivity of some of the Post's writers.

Posted by: Steve | February 19, 2006 06:27 PM

I would like to see more reporting on how the Clinton/Gorelick wall has hampered our intelligence gathering. My main complaint with the Washington Post is that you are still afraid of publishing the truth about how Clinton decimated our intelligence protections and left us open to attack. A comparison between Clinton and what Bush is trying to achieve with his wiretapping of foreign terrorists would be very helpful.

Posted by: RightIsNeverWrong | February 19, 2006 06:27 PM

"Use of critical nicknames for Post reporters, editors, public officials, other commenters, etc., is considered a personal attack and posts containing personal attacks will be removed."

But I think calling someone a stenographer is one of the highest forms of compliment!

So much for "respecting all opinions".

Posted by: Nick | February 19, 2006 06:36 PM

So let me see if I understand WashPost policy now: when left leaning blogs complain about misstatements of fact, the Omdbud cries foul and the entire system is shut down with much whining; when right leaning blogs complain about matters of dress code and opinion giving by opinion givers, the Ombud snaps to and does their bidding. Very clever how the paper of Woodward and Bernstein has thrown away their reputation and credibility by sucking up to the neo-con movement and the administration's lackies. I guess now you are simply the paper of Woodward, Brady and Howell. Shame on you.

Posted by: Greg in NY | February 19, 2006 06:43 PM

t*st

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 06:45 PM

Yippee; the blog is back up! Thanks to all of the wonderful people here- especially the fair and balanced Jim Brady and Deborah Howell. Last time I posted, my words got deleted along with all those rude and awful obcenitities; Oh Well, it's okay, I'm sure it was all for the best. Just wanted to say that I though Robin Givhan wrote the Post's fashion commentary, but I think Debbie is doing a MUCH better job. That orange outfit that man wore looked awful and who names a man Dana anyway? Sounds kinda French to me! I don't know why people have to be so mean to our President and fight about politics all the time. Thank goodness the people here at the Post are so smart. It reminds me of Fox news channel on the TV; only with reading!!!Jeepers! I sure typed alot; I'm tired now, gotta go! Love, your friend, Kimmy

Posted by: Kim | February 19, 2006 06:46 PM

Cohen is right..math is for LOSERS!!!!!

Posted by: timmy tickles | February 19, 2006 06:47 PM

Deborah Howell's own statements
from the 1992 National Press Club interview:

When I was twelve years old, we were going to this Baptist church in San Antonio. I was listening to this preacher, and he said something about Mary, "the so-called queen of heaven by the Catholics." It was very anti-Catholic. I listened and I said a twelve-year-old's version of, "What is this ****?"
-----


Will you censor?

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 06:47 PM

"I guess now you are simply the paper of Woodward, Brady and Howell."
Pls don't forget Harris, Greg!

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 06:47 PM

About Cohen's anti-algebra column...

What I find most interesting about Cohen's column is that he's apparently missed the all-too-obvious realization that his so-called "reasoning" is just as readily deployed against ANY form of intellectual development as it is used against the cause of learning algebra.

So he could just as readily have used his assertions to suggest that learning to read is not worth the effort, so that we end up with the sweet irony of "a man who makes his living via the written word arguing in favor of a particular form of illiteracy".

The LA Times series is a must-read for anyone who cares about the role of education in a democracy (the algebra article was the second in that series).

The LAT series is a great example of well-researched and well-considered journalism. Cohen's column is not.

Posted by: cieran | February 19, 2006 06:49 PM

More of Deborah Howell's own statements
from the 1992 National Press Club interview:

She was a wonderful mother in the sense that she was a great stay-at-home mother. She was very supportive of me. I remember her spanking me as a child and the usual kinds of things. The only time I ever remember her giving me a total and complete batch of **** was when I lied to her about smoking, and she knew better.

...


Howell: "Adios, m*****-*****r." [Laughter.] I didn't. I said, "See ya." And I walked out, and I started to work on the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in two weeks. I only had to work five days a week, too, but I had split days off and split shifts. I'd come to work at 5:45 in the morning, work till noon, go home, and come back and work three to six. It was just screwy. And I liked it, and I had a good time.

...


Will you censor?

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 06:49 PM

Media Matters makes some great points on Howell's column:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200602190002

Posted by: Semblance | February 19, 2006 06:50 PM

"Yippee; the blog is back up! Thanks to all of the wonderful people here- especially the fair and balanced Jim Brady and Deborah Howell."

hehehe! Now that's a hot and sharp comment! Is Kim the short form of Kimchee? :D

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 06:51 PM

More of Deborah Howell's own statements
from the 1992 National Press Club interview:

Howell: Yes, it became clear to me they had never had a woman in management, and I walked in to the managing editor's office and said, "You know, if I don't get this job, I should get another job. I mean, I'm good enough that I could be management. I'm certainly as good as the guy you picked. So I think you ought to consider me. I feel like kind of *****d over."

...

Howell: A guy. I had been going with a copy editor in Corpus Christi, and he left to go to work on the Minneapolis Star. We corresponded, and I decided I had to get out of Texas sometime. Remember there was no good journalism in Texas then. I'm working in probably the best newspaper in Texas. San Antonio papers were s****y; the Houston papers were s****y; the Dallas papers were s****y. There was no good journalism. There's no place to go to learn anything. The papers are crummy! So I knew I had to go up north, so I thought, "Well, why not go to Minneapolis?"

...

He gave a total and complete batch of **** to the reporter who works for me. I'm sitting back in the bedroom, listening to this whole conversation, thinking, "Oh, Lord, why me?" I was actually glad when he decided to drop out of the U.S. Senate race. It wasn't clear if he could win the nomination or not, and it was going to get very ugly. He just decided that at [age] fifty-five, forget it. I was just as happy that he got out of the U.S. Senate race, because it was really hard.

...

Will you censor?

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 06:51 PM

"If you are going to keep using his work, how about labeling it as opinion and not news?"

Exactly.

No, not exactly. Any newspaper should insist on factual accuracy from reporters and columnists. Howell, the readers' representative at The Washington Post, did not do that in her column.

Posted by: Media Matters | February 19, 2006 06:52 PM

More of Deborah Howell's own statements
from the 1992 National Press Club interview:

There was one guy, Jim Shoop, I really liked him a lot. He was a friend who was working for me, and he really wanted to be city editor, and I got the job. He was my political editor, so he was really key, because I was entrusting to him some of the things I couldn't do because of Nick. He was giving me a batch of **** about something, and I said, "You know, Jim, I know you wanted this job and I know you didn't get it and that I got it. Sometimes you resent the fact that I have it. I've got to tell you something. You were my hero as a reporter. In the days I was a young reporter around here, you were always my hero.

...

Howell: Being more participatory in management, paying attention to workers, not treating them like ****, standing up for people who worked for me.
...

That earned me respect among the troops, so I went in with their respect, and I don't think I ever abrogated it. On occasion I got a batch of **** because...

...

Uh-huh, till 1979. And then a new editor was hired from the Washington Post, a fellow named Steve Isaacs. He came in and he thought we were all for ****. "I'm from the Washington Post, and I know journalism, and you all are hicks." And he was kind of a j**k. He wanted to get rid of me because he didn't like the fact I was married to Nick, and he didn't like any of us. He wanted to get rid of the entire editor corps.

...

Howell: Yeah, and he didn't like women. I had already heard that; it was his rep [reputation] at the Washington Post. One day in a meeting with the managing editor, he called me a "dumb (**t," and I got really p****d. I said, "No one calls me that, not even my husband when he's mad at me." And it was overheard by a number of people, and it was just a firestorm. He was forced to apologize, but I thought to myself, "I've got to get out of here."

...

Will you censor?

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 06:53 PM

I too was amused to see the irrational leftists come to the defense of algebra. LOL---with the income level of the average lefty, counting with fingers is all they need.
Seriously, the poor math skills on the left are just another reason to ignore them.
If academia were not so full of leftists, the brilliant Donald Luskin would have Brad Delong's job at Berkeley, and he would be bloggin his approval for the Post's reporting.

Posted by: RightIsNeverWrong | February 19, 2006 06:56 PM

More of Deborah Howell's own statements
from the 1992 National Press Club interview:

Moorhus: Have you had the staff come to you with personal examples of other staff behaving in racist or s**xist ways?

Howell: Oh, yeah. For years—I mean, this happens. Sometimes it's important, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's somebody who has taken something the wrong way when it wasn't meant, sometimes it's somebody really just being a little too friendly when they might not ought to be. Sometimes it's serious. I have on tape the whole story about Steve Isaacs and him calling me a "dumb (**t," don't I?

Moorhus: Yes.

Howell: I think I do. Geez. That's the most serious example I've ever had of that kind of name-calling.

...

Moorhus: Personally.

Howell: Personally, or out in the office. This is a pretty informal office. I'll go out there and call somebody a j**k if I think they're being a j**k. [Laughter.] I'm pretty straightforward, always have been, if somebody's acting out. If somebody tackles me in public, I'll tackle them in public. Otherwise I'm pretty careful about doing it behind closed doors. I probably get by with stuff that a white male boss couldn't get by with.

Moorhus: What kinds of things?

Howell: Oh, putting my arm around somebody, calling someone an "a**-***e." It may have been in jest, but if I was a male, I wouldn't be calling a female employee an "a**-***e." And I may call one of the guys and say, "Aw, don't be an a**-***e." They're not going to do anything, it doesn't bother them. If it does, I think there's somebody who'd say something to me. It's all an informality, but the rules of the office are much more formal now than they were when I was growing up in the newspaper business.

-----------

These are Howell's words, will the Post censor them too?

Hypocrites...

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 06:57 PM

Haven't you lefties bloggers got anything better to do than find fault with my wife?
The nicest thing anyone has posted about her today was when Jane Hamsher described Deborah as a "foul-mouthed old Lone Star battleaxe."

Posted by: Mr. Deborah Howell | February 19, 2006 07:00 PM

Once again, in full, the profane comments of Deborah Howell from the 1992 National Press Club interview:

When I was twelve years old, we were going to this Baptist church in San Antonio. I was listening to this preacher, and he said something about Mary, "the so-called queen of heaven by the Catholics." It was very anti-Catholic. I listened and I said a twelve-year-old's version of, "What is this ****?"

...

She was a wonderful mother in the sense that she was a great stay-at-home mother. She was very supportive of me. I remember her spanking me as a child and the usual kinds of things. The only time I ever remember her giving me a total and complete batch of **** was when I lied to her about smoking, and she knew better.

...


Howell: "Adios, m*****-*****r." [Laughter.] I didn't. I said, "See ya." And I walked out, and I started to work on the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in two weeks. I only had to work five days a week, too, but I had split days off and split shifts. I'd come to work at 5:45 in the morning, work till noon, go home, and come back and work three to six. It was just screwy. And I liked it, and I had a good time.

...

Howell: Yes, it became clear to me they had never had a woman in management, and I walked in to the managing editor's office and said, "You know, if I don't get this job, I should get another job. I mean, I'm good enough that I could be management. I'm certainly as good as the guy you picked. So I think you ought to consider me. I feel like kind of *****d over."

...

Howell: A guy. I had been going with a copy editor in Corpus Christi, and he left to go to work on the Minneapolis Star. We corresponded, and I decided I had to get out of Texas sometime. Remember there was no good journalism in Texas then. I'm working in probably the best newspaper in Texas. San Antonio papers were s****y; the Houston papers were s****y; the Dallas papers were s****y. There was no good journalism. There's no place to go to learn anything. The papers are crummy! So I knew I had to go up north, so I thought, "Well, why not go to Minneapolis?"

...

He gave a total and complete batch of **** to the reporter who works for me. I'm sitting back in the bedroom, listening to this whole conversation, thinking, "Oh, Lord, why me?" I was actually glad when he decided to drop out of the U.S. Senate race. It wasn't clear if he could win the nomination or not, and it was going to get very ugly. He just decided that at [age] fifty-five, forget it. I was just as happy that he got out of the U.S. Senate race, because it was really hard.

...

There was one guy, Jim Shoop, I really liked him a lot. He was a friend who was working for me, and he really wanted to be city editor, and I got the job. He was my political editor, so he was really key, because I was entrusting to him some of the things I couldn't do because of Nick. He was giving me a batch of **** about something, and I said, "You know, Jim, I know you wanted this job and I know you didn't get it and that I got it. Sometimes you resent the fact that I have it. I've got to tell you something. You were my hero as a reporter. In the days I was a young reporter around here, you were always my hero.

...

Howell: Being more participatory in management, paying attention to workers, not treating them like ****, standing up for people who worked for me.
...

That earned me respect among the troops, so I went in with their respect, and I don't think I ever abrogated it. On occasion I got a batch of **** because...

...

Uh-huh, till 1979. And then a new editor was hired from the Washington Post, a fellow named Steve Isaacs. He came in and he thought we were all for ****. "I'm from the Washington Post, and I know journalism, and you all are hicks." And he was kind of a j**k. He wanted to get rid of me because he didn't like the fact I was married to Nick, and he didn't like any of us. He wanted to get rid of the entire editor corps.

...

Howell: Yeah, and he didn't like women. I had already heard that; it was his rep [reputation] at the Washington Post. One day in a meeting with the managing editor, he called me a "dumb (**t," and I got really p****d. I said, "No one calls me that, not even my husband when he's mad at me." And it was overheard by a number of people, and it was just a firestorm. He was forced to apologize, but I thought to myself, "I've got to get out of here."

...

Moorhus: Have you had the staff come to you with personal examples of other staff behaving in racist or s**ist ways?

Howell: Oh, yeah. For years—I mean, this happens. Sometimes it's important, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's somebody who has taken something the wrong way when it wasn't meant, sometimes it's somebody really just being a little too friendly when they might not ought to be. Sometimes it's serious. I have on tape the whole story about Steve Isaacs and him calling me a "dumb (**t," don't I?

Moorhus: Yes.

Howell: I think I do. Geez. That's the most serious example I've ever had of that kind of name-calling.

...

Moorhus: Personally.

Howell: Personally, or out in the office. This is a pretty informal office. I'll go out there and call somebody a j**k if I think they're being a j**k. [Laughter.] I'm pretty straightforward, always have been, if somebody's acting out. If somebody tackles me in public, I'll tackle them in public. Otherwise I'm pretty careful about doing it behind closed doors. I probably get by with stuff that a white male boss couldn't get by with.

Moorhus: What kinds of things?

Howell: Oh, putting my arm around somebody, calling someone an "a**-***e." It may have been in jest, but if I was a male, I wouldn't be calling a female employee an "a**-***e." And I may call one of the guys and say, "Aw, don't be an a**-***e." They're not going to do anything, it doesn't bother them. If it does, I think there's somebody who'd say something to me. It's all an informality, but the rules of the office are much more formal now than they were when I was growing up in the newspaper business.

-----------

These are Howell's words, will the Post censor them too?

Hypocrites...

Posted by: Gioele | February 19, 2006 07:02 PM

Thx for the mediamatters link, Semblance! They make an important point:

"This is a key distinction that appears to have escaped Howell in her February 19 column -- the difference between opinion and fact, negative opinion and factual falsehood. Columnists may or may not be allowed to express opinions, although Howell quotes Post editor Liz Spayd suggesting that even that is off limits for a news columnist like Milbank; what they can't do -- whether they are news or opinion columnists -- and what Howell failed utterly in her column to call Milbank on, is base those views on false information."

So why did she mention negative response from leftwingers on Milbanks 1/31 story at all if she didn't want to address the issues and correct the wrong facts? And why now, 14 days later, and not before? A thoughtful reader (hehe) thinks he has an explanation:

"In order to create a balance for rightwing criticism on Milbank, Howell's digs in old feedback and cites leftwing complaints from two weeks ago. Sry, but imho this is window-dressing. She should have reported about this issue then, not warm it up just to create a false balance. This is just what WaPo has been flamed for in the past: Trying to balance news that will be annoying to one side with issues that are painful for the other, how farfetched it may be. This isn't reporting the news anymore, this is a false policy of appeasement. And the most devastating example of this has been the Abramoff story."

Exactly!
I think I got that exactly right!
:D

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 07:03 PM

Will you censor?

Posted by: By dam Jirm | February 19, 2006 07:08 PM

Attention WaPo editors! I have some bad news...

I'm writing a short script that will check WaPo.com's site for new comment-able pages. The script will fetch a fresh copy of the page every, say, 30 seconds, and compare it to the last page fetched.

When a new post is found it's recorded. When a post that previously existed is found to not exist, the deleted post is flagged. And of course I'll have a copy of that post to see what was so offensive.

I will then have a running database of all posts made and which of those were deleted. The next time WaPo tries to pull this nonsense again, we will have proof.

You got away with it once. =)

Regards,
bodhi

Posted by: Bodhi | February 19, 2006 07:11 PM

"If academia were not so full of leftists, the brilliant Donald Luskin would have Brad Delong's job at Berkeley, and he would be bloggin his approval for the Post's reporting. "

we need more teachers, i'm sure if rightwing students tried to get teaching credentials/jobs they would be as welcome as they would be joining the military. it takes a social conscious to enter a career without financial benefits, something the right moonbats are sorely lacking.

Posted by: ar | February 19, 2006 07:14 PM

Incredible! They deleted that posting of the media matters article! Ok, I thought too, it was a bit long, but deleting it? Or was it because the reader signed with "Karl Rove"? Who knows if it hasn't really been spinmeister Karl?

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 07:20 PM

Donald Kuskin? Do you mean the Donald Luskin of Voodoo Economics fame?

Posted by: Milton Friedman | February 19, 2006 07:21 PM

we need more teachers, i'm sure if rightwing students tried to get teaching credentials/jobs they would be as welcome as they would be joining the military. it takes a social conscious to enter a career without financial benefits, something the right moonbats are sorely lacking.

I suggest googling "internet troll" and doing a little reading and maybe some thinking about how likely it is that anyone would refer to Donald Luskin as "brilliant."

Just Sayin'

Posted by: Carpbasman | February 19, 2006 07:24 PM

Mr. Deborah Howell, you missed that single other positive post, where somebody acknoledged that your spouse names the journalists who are critizised, while during Mr. Getlers turn they were anonymous.
OK, I think, too, that's an improvement. I hope that saved your day.

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 07:24 PM

So, to review:

When Bob Woodward spends years implying he's not part of the Plame story while making pronouncements about how important it is, it's worth barely a mention in the WaPo, except an editorial that says it might not have been the best choice, and an almost offhanded comment from his editor saying he was somewhat displeased.

When Sue Schmidt acts as the conduit for character-defaming leaks and from a special prosecutor's office, and later, apparently plagarizes the work of a dead New York Times reporter (http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/01/the_late_david_.html), it's not even worth a mention. When she later implies that Abramoff gave money to both political parties and this wasn't in the least bit true, the WaPo backs her.

When Dana Milbank writes an article demonstrating he doesn't understand how cloture works, and stating that people who advocate the majority position on whether President Bush should be impeached for breaking the law are part of a lunatic fringe of American politics, the alleged ombudsman of the WaPo characterizes his critics as complaining about "skewered Democrats".

When Dana Milbank wears a hunting outfit to poke fun at the Vice President for shooting a hunting companion and then not reporting it for almost a day, he deserves public humiliation.

I get it. Sure. Professional misconduct that ought to get you fired or demoted, OK. Stupidity and inaccuracy that normally require humble retractions, OK. Poking fun at a public figure, not OK. Just the priorities I expect from a leading national newspaper.

Posted by: Cujo359 | February 19, 2006 07:26 PM

RightIsNeverLeft, yup, why is Luskin not Prof somewhere? I guess there are two reasons for that:

1. "His self-written biography says that he attended Yale from 1973-1974, but "Dropped out to join the real world as soon as possible." "

2. "Donald Luskin is the Chief Investment Officer for Trend Macrolytics LLC, an investment consulting firm."

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 07:29 PM

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 07:29 PM

I suggest reading my above post regarding internet trolls.

Someone is having fun at the expense of the credulous.

Posted by: Carpbasman | February 19, 2006 07:32 PM


I remember when Dana Milbank wrote a very snarky column about Representative Conyers' hearings on the Downing Street Memo.

Getler was inundated with complaints. Getler addressed all of those complaints in a column, informing the readership that Milbank was now an opinion columnist and not a reporter. He then took the editors to task for not assigning a "real" reporter to cover the hearings, because it was "obviously a subject that many people cared deeply about."

Yes, Getler set a very high bar for ombudspersons. Rather than classify and characterize the complaints as "right" or "left" he addressed complaints themselves, without attacks upon the readers who complained.

Moreover, to my knowledge Mr. Getler never wrote a column that concerned internal disputes. Who knew that there existed so many personal animosities among the staff of the Washington Post? Not I, until very recently. The Washington Post has dirty laundry! Some of the staff don't like the opinions of other staff!


Yes, a very, very high bar indeed.

Posted by: James | February 19, 2006 07:34 PM

Ms. Howell,

What kind of cookie did the right wingers give you for throwing Dana Milbank under the bus today? A ginger snap? Maybe a macaroon? I like macaroons, myself. Or something with peanut butter.

Posted by: Fair&Balanced | February 19, 2006 07:37 PM

Sorry to have to bring this up, but the issues regarding The Posts reporting on the Abramoff story are not ancient news. Mr. Brady himself reinforced the his story titled "Blog Rage"
----
"In fact, Abramoff directed clients to give to members of both parties, but he had donated his own personal funds only to Republicans."

Is there any proof that Abramoff told his clients to donate to Democrats? Has a memo been released or a client letter or something that we haven't heard about? Many of Abramoffs clients were giving money to Democrats and Republicans before becoming his clients. They gave LESS after he represented them, not more, so does that sound like he directed them to give or hold back from Democrats. Brady and the Post still haven't corrected the story and are still pushing a partisan spin story.
----
This was in my letter to the editor sent on Feb. 12th. It was not published, and I cannot say that I was much surprised. After all the Post must receive hundreds if not thousands of letters a day and cannot publish them all. But it does not change the fact that your organization still has not corrected the record.

Now as of Friday night you have stated that you in fact have just the sort of proof that could have shown that you were correct all the time. You have been called upon to back up this claim and release copies of the documents that you allege to have. This goes far beyond one story. This is now a story, not of the actions of an admitted felon, or of your ombudsman or the civility of your readers, but to the core of any news operation: it now goes directly to the credibility of your entire organization. Your readers, subscribers, employees and shareholders are watching.

And look, not a single foul word. Just like my last post. Let us see if this will also be deleted or if the Washington Post will rise to the challenge, defend its honor and tell the truth. Release the documents or release the ones who have mislead your readers.

Posted by: Jonathan Ehrlich | February 19, 2006 07:41 PM

Count me among the latest batch of those who have lost all faith in the impartiality and objectivity of a paper that, frankly, I used to count as one of the best and most prestigious in the world.

Howell's latest column has changed my positive opinion of the Post. I've seen her brush off egregious mistakes in reporting, and refuse to add a retraction to a story, even when it's clear to everyone that it's seriously deserving one, yet Dana Milbank deserves to be admonished for his ridiculous apperance when appearing on MSNBC?

If you want to win back readers like me who have all but given up on the Post, I implore you to fire Howell and get an ombudsman who really is non-partisan and objective!

Posted by: Random Guy | February 19, 2006 07:45 PM

well james, ms howell probably relished informing all of us dana had to take a trip to the woodshed. although she wasn't explicit we all know what goes on in a woodshed and its not just a slap on the wrist. usually it involves pulling down your pants and having to bend over. ms howell plays the part perfectly of a goody two shoes, teachers pet, tattle tail, just the sort of person we all enjoy sharing our work/home space with. i would hate to see how mr brady quivers should ms howell turn her poison pen in his direction!

Posted by: ar | February 19, 2006 07:46 PM

The Post should have no qualms in reporting on the bipartisan nature of the Abramoff scandal.
There are always some bad apples, and they are in both parties. The Republicans have been very transparent in dealing with their scandals, unlike the Democrats, who can't seem to ride themselves of the taint of Byrd and Kennedy.

For the person who doesn't respect Luskin: your politics are obvious. The facts of Luskin's debates with Delong speak for themselves.

Posted by: RightIsNeverWrong | February 19, 2006 07:47 PM

"The Republicans have been very transparent in dealing with their scandals"

Huahahahaha! Noe way!

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 07:51 PM

I think it's time for all the Kossacks to go back to they're leftie blogs, so that we who appreciate the hard work being done by The Washington Post staff can show our appreciation here without being attacked.

Thanks to Mr. Brady for putting up with all this invective and personal attack. Thanks also to Deborah Howell for recognizing that just because some readers of the Washington Post also read conservative blogs, it doesn't mean they are "right-wing crazies" and shouldn't be respected and listened to. It's hard work, being a fair and balanced newspaper, and The Washington Post is to be commended for making an effort to be less Democrat-orientated. Cheerleading for the Clintons was never a good idea, yet the Post did that throughout the nineties. Now, we have an online editor as well as an Obmudsman who understands that American values are best represented by President Bush. I don't care who Jack Abramoff gave money to, either -- that is so 2005!

I am also really glad their not allowing swearing here any more. That really got out of hand. You all go swear on Kos and that watercatpond place -- let us for whom The Post is now edited enjoy this blog!

Thank you.

Posted by: Happy Conservative | February 19, 2006 07:51 PM

watercatpond place! i love it. thank goodness you didn't print the name. wapo as made a real effort never linking!

Posted by: ar | February 19, 2006 07:56 PM

I guess your right, carpbasman. I really have difficulties in deciding who's a snarky troll and who's an honest madman...

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 08:00 PM

Media Matters says:

Summary: In her February 19 column, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell claimed that liberals have complained that Post columnist and reporter Dana Milbank has "skewered Democrats." But Howell said next to nothing about complaints liberals have registered about Milbank's work. Instead, she simply wrote that liberals have objected to Milbank's columns "skewer[ing] Democrats" and made no effort to consider the actual flaws in his January 31 column, including at least one outright falsehood and one distortion.

Mr. Campbell Browb

Posted by: Dan Senor | February 19, 2006 08:03 PM

Sorry, but I haven't been married long enough to have had the time to learn to spell my new name

Posted by: Mr. Campbell Brown | February 19, 2006 08:06 PM

Do I have this correct? Criticize the administration's response to a VP shooting someone in the face earns you a scolding by the ombudsman. Praising the administration while participating in the outing of a covert CIA agent earns kudos from the ombudsman.

Please feel free to correct any error in my logic.

Posted by: clonecone | February 19, 2006 08:13 PM

On WahingtonPost.com at 5:11 pm PST 2/19/06 there is a headline that says:'Beijing blocks "sensitive" words'.

Oh the irony!

Mr. Kettle! Meet Mr. Black.

Posted by: lib | February 19, 2006 08:13 PM

James:

[On Michael Getler] - That's how an ombudsman should act - fix the story, and keep the internal recriminations private. Instead, we seem to have just the opposite. Just who is supposed to be placated by taking reporters to "the woodshed"?

Posted by: Cujo359 | February 19, 2006 08:15 PM

wilson46201: Why does WaPo.com hate alliteration?

Posted by: J.W. | February 19, 2006 08:16 PM

I've been following this blog for a while, but this is my first comment. I just want to say that I think the Post will not have credibility with its readers if it relies only on Ms. Howell as ombudsman. To create balance and increase credibility, I suggest adding a neutral outsider with experience in media criticism AND the internet. Michele Malkin would be an excellent choice.

Posted by: Reaganaut | February 19, 2006 08:18 PM

Has Sue Schmidt ever been to the woodshed?

Posted by: clonecone | February 19, 2006 08:18 PM

I don't often post because Mr Jim needs so much attention, but I must step up for Mrs Howell who is doing so much for Mr Brady and for Mr Howell too, and Mr Bush, our wonderful and inspiring Leader. I just hope Mr Bush will be leading us for many more years and if that happens we will in part have Mrs Howell and all her devoted assistance on his behalf to thank, on our knees, of course. So keep on telling it the way Mr Bush wants it Mrs Howell. We are all raptly listening and heeding and bowing.

Posted by: OfJim Mrs Jim | February 19, 2006 08:18 PM

frankly, I rather respect a reporter who is so accurate with her quotes that it seems she has been taking them down verbatim in shorthand. No shame in that game!

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 08:21 PM

A national political reporter for the Post, Milbank writes Washington Sketch, an observational column about political theater in the White House, Congress and elsewhere in the capital.


Exactly

Posted by: JMN | February 19, 2006 08:23 PM


Yes, Mr. Getler set a very high bar. Whenever he would receive a passel of complaints, he would carefully research the origins of the complaint, reviewing the offending story and the background of it, interview the reporters and the editors, and clearly put a lot of thought into the validity of the complaints.

Many times, he found no merit in the complaint after careful review. But did Mr. Getler engage in personal characterizations and attacks upon the persons who complained? No! Did he place the blame on owners of blogs who wrote about or mentioned the offending piece? No! Did he book himself on radio shows, pundit shows, and grant interviews to sympathetic blogs all to denounce the manners and breeding of those who lodged a complaint? No!

Mr. Getler might write a column with a careful explanation about something that the reader might perceive to be in error or biased. His readers may not have agreed with his assessment and explanation. But he did address them as though the person deserved to have their complaints addressed.

In other columns, Mr. Getler would agree ruefully with the readers' complaints, such as the use of anonymous sources. Although he tried very hard, the ombudsman made no inroads into alleviating those particular complaints. In those instances, he might write a column denoucing the practice, but never denouncing reporters or editors personally for it. He might also include in his column how he felt that the complaints were justified.


Yes, the previous ombudsperson set a very high bar. Very high indeed.

Posted by: James | February 19, 2006 08:24 PM

Bob Novak is even better than Sue; he even keeps the typos in his columns.

Posted by: Roland Evans | February 19, 2006 08:25 PM

Dana got a whuppin, Dana got a whuppin, Nah Nah Nah Nah.

Did I do good Michelle, did I huh? I did good huh Michelle, I did good didn't I?

Posted by: JMN | February 19, 2006 08:30 PM

Ms. Howell's article regarding Dana's appearance on Olberman's program assumes that those who were upset at how easy it is for any reporter who is paying attention to ridicule the Vice President's behavior were "conservative bloggers." Oh? And exactly how did she know and conclude that? That is an insult to conservatives, many of whom are appalled by the continued arrogance of this VP.

The fact is, many American's probably think the VP's behavior should be ridiculed, and think "good for Mr. Milbank" for seeing that. Unfortunately, given Ms. Howell's article, in which she presumes to take a Dana publically "to the woodshed" for what many see as accurately capturing the absurdity of the Cheney shooting incident, The Washington Post appears to be functioning without a competent ombudsperson.

It is astounding that the Post continues to allow this woman to presume to represent the interests of the Post's readers, who are losing respect for the Post every time she writes an article. Senior management must surely realize by now that Ms. Howells does not have the confidence and respect of the readers and should no longer be permitted to represent their interests.

Hello? Your readers are voting with their comments, management. Wake up.

Posted by: John Chandley | February 19, 2006 08:37 PM

ssssss sssssss sssssss s s sssssss
s s s ss s s s
s s s s s s s s
ssssss s sssssss s s s s s
s s s s s s s s
s s s s ss s s
ssssss s sssssss s s sssssss
ssssss s s sssssss
s s s s
s s s s
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s s s s
s s s s
ssssss sssssss sssssss

Posted by: testing | February 19, 2006 08:40 PM

I want to remind the users of our blog, because it is our blog, that if you can't say something nice about the host of our blog, you can always find another blog. This is what is called Freedom Of The Press. It is in the Constitution for all you liberals who don't know about our country's history. I sometimes think the only people who care about our Constitution live in Washington, DC, like our Illustrious and Esteemed Leader and Mrs Howell. If you want to learn what has happened to Freedom Of The Press, keep coming here, otherwise go to another blog where you can say what is on your mind.

Posted by: Haily Arbusto | February 19, 2006 08:44 PM

Well, I for one, would I'd like to defend Ms Howell and Mr Brady. Contrary to what the raving lefties are saying -- and, once again, their incivilities make me feel quite faint -- Ms Howell and Mr Brady are doing a bang-up job fiercely preserving the integrity of the WaPo.

Frankly, the dastardly Mr Milbank's antics were quite indecorous. (Fancy poking fun at a Republican in that fashion.) Fortunately, we can all rely on the rectitude (wrecktitude?) of Ms Howell and Mr Brady. With such mighty and vigilant defenders of truth, justice, and the American way, we can all sleep safely at night.

PS: Congratulations to the estimable Michelle Merkin for alerting Howell to the unseemly deeds of Milbank.

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 19, 2006 08:44 PM

These pranks must stop. It is becoming very difficult for those of us who enjoy The Post -- and also enjoy the opportunity to praise The Post and Post Employees in this blog -- to enjoy this blog and praise its employees. Liberals have tested and re-tested the filters and you have yet to learn the basic lesson: you are not welcome here. This blog is for we who like The Post and wish to praise it.

I must also agree with Reganaut who posted earlier -- clearly, finding deviation from approved approval of The Bush Administration within the pages of The Post (not to mention on cable comedy shows) is more than a full-time job. I would recommend an Obmudsman Department (headed of course by the Excemplary Deborah Howell!), and in additon to the Excellent Idea of putting Ms. Malkin to work there, I think there is another person who would add Excellence to Obmudsmanship: Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Onlien. While it might be difficult to get Ms. Malkin and Mr. Goldberg to come to work at a media outlet viewed (correctly) as part of The Liberal Democrat Estabishment, think of the opportunities to correct what little imbalance remains!

I hope other blog commenters (NOT you watercatpond elite) will support this idea, say so in these comments, and suggest other Excellent Ideas for members of the New Obmudsman Department.

Thank you!

Posted by: Less Happy Conservative | February 19, 2006 08:46 PM

Why Bentley, I am so proud to see you came to defend Mrs Howell and Mr Brady just when I did. It must be said again, this is about Freedom Of The Press and those who would attack that Freedom with their careless words and ideas.

Posted by: Haily Arbusto | February 19, 2006 08:47 PM

Jane nails it:

http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2006_02_19_firedoglake_archive.html#114038298076695473

Posted by: dave | February 19, 2006 08:48 PM

Btw, how about a joke?

Just married couple in Las Vegas. She is unhappy that her husband wants to leave for home, so she thinks about a way to force him to stay one more night. So, when he is under the douche, she cuts in the seams of his trousers. He comes back, puts his trousers on, and bang! There's the naked truth - the trousers are bust.
"Hon, we can't go to the airport this way. You need new clothes and we'll miss the plane. We'll have to stay 'til tomorrow!"
"Stay? No! Sew!"

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 08:49 PM

JW: brilliant! What hath God wrought indeed! Thomas Alva Edison was a telegrapher here in Indianapolis as a youth...(not a tachyographer)

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 08:51 PM

Until I read it in Howell's column, I had no idea that it was conservatives who objected to Milbank's appearance in a hunting jacket. I thought it was very inappropriate. Frankly, my first reaction was to think that Milbank was trying to help the VP minimize the accident through the use of humor---which is a strategy the White House was clearly employing last week.

I consider myself a fairly typical liberal, so I'm sure my reaction was shared by many "left wingers". So I have two questions for Ms. Howell.

1) Do you know for a fact that those who wrote you emails critical of Milbank were right wingers, or do you infer that from your contacts with right wing bloggers?

2) What is the journalistic function of identifying a complaint as left or right wing?

Posted by: Marky | February 19, 2006 08:54 PM

On cue from the Less Happy Conservative, I would suggest that WaPo start a blog called the Liberal Whine, and redirect all the complaints of the liberals about the Post and especially Ms. Howell's articles to that blog, which should be out of bounds to Ms. Howell and Mr. Brady so their feelings are not hurt by reading the 'emails' of these nasty human beings who not only have this bad habit of finding falsehoods in Washington Post reporting but also the temerity to point out these mistakes. And then they want correction and apologies too! How rude can one be!

Posted by: lib | February 19, 2006 08:57 PM

I was invited to applaud at one of our great and powerful helmsman's speeches. I don't think there would be any censoring of my comments about our appointed one's use of language if I reported on it here. I don't know what the Lefties are so upset about, we can post important news and comments unless they are harmful to the security of our country. You Lefties want to give aid and comfort to the enemy, but I thank God and Mrs Howell and the appointed CIC (not necessarily in that order) for protecting us from the enemies within and without.

Posted by: JustRightGal | February 19, 2006 08:58 PM

Oh, so Lil' Debbie doesn't like Dana Milbank mocking Dick Cheney. Too bad. I'm in the mood to mock Big Time and (unlike Lil' Debbie) I don't kiss his behind. These jokes are all taken from rec.humor.funny (you know, part of the "Internets").

======================

I read the headling "Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter" to my wife. She asked "Who did he shoot". I answered "some rich Texas lawyer".

Without hesitation, she said: "Shame he's not hunting with Scalia any more".

========================

Tough week for the administration. Scandals. Leaks. Sagging poll numbers.

They deserve a break. I suggest Bush and Cheney take time off. Go hunting....

=======================

The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has announced that his nation will comply fully with the United Nations' requirements for regular inspections of Iran's nuclear power program. Iran has resisted such inspections recently and vowed to continue its nuclear development work in secrecy, causing Western nations to worry that Iran was developing atomic weapons.

"We have contacted the inspectors and invited them to inspect any facility, at any time, and to seal or even remove any equipment or documents they feel are not in keeping with the United Nations' demands." said the president. "Our only request is that they convey a message to United States Vice President Richard Cheney, that there are no quail in Iran."

Posted by: decaffeinated | February 19, 2006 08:58 PM

I'm heartily sick of all you loony liberal carpers taking potshots at Sue Schmidt. I believe I support the majority when I say that her amanuensis-ness is her strongest point as a journalist. If only ALL reporters were as committed to quoting the administration with that level of accuracy, we'd be a better country and the WaPo would be an even better newspaper. Please appreciate her craft: it's not often that we get to witness this level of political ventriloquism. Appreciate it while you can.

Ingrates.

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 19, 2006 09:05 PM

"Tough week for the administration. Scandals. Leaks. Sagging poll numbers"

Very true

Posted by: eus onets | February 19, 2006 09:06 PM

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 08:49 PM

Stay?No!Sew! I don't get it. But it sounds funny. That's how people should be on this blog, funny and and clean at the same time. The Washington Post has the best Ombudsperson ever in Mrs Howell, who knows how to keep things in perspective for the safety of her readers.

Posted by: RightAway | February 19, 2006 09:07 PM

Could our ombudsman please do her job and correct her errors regarding Abramoff and bipartisan corruption.

I'll fully posit that Democrats are as corrupt as Republicans -- the shameful parade in Ohio with Paul Hackett, not to mention the backroom attacks on Mfume in Maryland would be my Exhibit A -- but in this __particular case__ Abramoff is factually a Republican gonif. Darn it all (per guidelines), you messed up Ms. Howell. Admit it, apologize and be done.

Re. Milbank, I am having my doubts about said ombudsman neutrality. Cheney shoots pal (who happily survives so far), hides out from the local law for a period roughly equivalent to the time required to metabolize alcohol and Milbank, Jeb Bush, and Scott Whazzisname all wear orange and make jokes.

Along with the entire contents of my office (have you ever heard a paperclip laugh?).

And we come down on Milbank? Context is all ... don't we think it's important to mention:

1. That, given the militarism and "shoot first" reputation of the administration, the actual shooting by a prime member of the crew is just maybe a little darkly humorous, and that

2. It's a bipartisan joke

Unless, of course the poor guy dies or you're Iraqi.

R.

Posted by: R. Corner | February 19, 2006 09:10 PM

"Stay?No!Sew! I don't get it."

Right, RightAway. I guess the joke was lost in translation. The original, german punchline is "Bleiben? Nein! Nähen!"
:D

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:11 PM

Ms. Howell, I am not a huge fan of Dana Milbank, but he is funny. Not only is he funny, he is real smart. Ms. Howell based on what I have read from you, you are neither. You're tone in your latest piece reminds me of
Bruno Kirby's character in GOOD MORNING VIETNAM: 2nd Lt. Steven Hauk.
When Milbank appeared on Olbermann's show, we were still in the grip of the Vice-President's first layer of spin. It was Harry's fault the Vice-President shot him and Harry wasn't seriously injured. Neither of those turned out to be accurate, but Milbank did not know that when he appeared in orange. You slammed a very talented Post asset based on information that he didn't have at the time.

Posted by: John Casper | February 19, 2006 09:12 PM

"We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features".

If the Lefties would just read the rules (or get someone to read for them, he he) they would understand that they are 'encouraged' (which is really nice of the Washington Post, by the way) to analyze, comment on and even challenge...' The rule does not say over-analyze, say mean or contradictory things, or get physical with washingtonpost.com. But I don't think Leberals play by the generous rules granted by Mr Brady and Mrs Howell. For shame.

Posted by: JustRightGal | February 19, 2006 09:15 PM

Mr Woodward, how good of you to treat us like professional journalists and stop by! I hope the Liberals know how important Mrs Howell is now!

Posted by: RightAway | February 19, 2006 09:18 PM

"Milbank did not know that when he appeared in orange."
Very good point, JC. Actually, I saw that picture of Milbank and I assumed that he's a fan of the netherlands' national soccer team, known as 'oranjes'. Does Ms. Howell really has confirmed information that this explanation is not true?

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:19 PM

Gray, are you suggesting that Howell writes anything that isn't thoroughly researched, precisely expressed, and scrupulously fair?

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 19, 2006 09:24 PM

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:11 PM
"Bleiben? Nein! Nähen!"
Na gut, mein guter Mann, viel besser auf deutsch! And I'm always right ;-) because I don't want to be wrong!

Posted by: | February 19, 2006 09:25 PM

Why do you censor my comments? I have not violated your terms of service. Five times now for mentioning Schimdt being a reliable parrot of GOP talking points.

I have not "attacked" you. I have stated an opinion as a reader, soon to be "ex-reader" of your fishwrap. An ombudsman, to my knowledge, is supposed to represent readers, not ignore, berate, or belittle their concerns.

NOW ANSWER the substantive questions raised by Delong and Paul L., already Brady.

Posted by: Alaskan_Pete | February 19, 2006 09:29 PM

"Gray, are you suggesting that Howell writes anything that isn't thoroughly researched, precisely expressed, and scrupulously fair?"

I've seen enough Hollywood movies to know what's the only safe answer in questions likes these:

"I invoke the fifth! 5th ammendment! 5th ammendment!"

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:30 PM

Dana Milbank today on CNN's Reliable Sources said that he was indeed wearing the color of the Dutch national Olympic Teams. Holland is ruled by the 'House of Orange'. I guess it's no more tulips for Debbie!

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 19, 2006 09:34 PM

"I guess it's no more tulips for Debbie!"

Oh my goodness! This may have dire consequences for WaPo, just like the newsweek debacle! After all, the Netherlands have been part of the "coalition of the billing" in gulf war I. Secretary of State Rice will have to express her condolences to the dutch royal family for this blatant discrimination of 'oranje' fans!

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:42 PM

Personally, I think Deborah Howell shouldn't play softball like she's been doing with liberals who disagree with her. WaPo, please consider promoting Ms. Howell and giving her a team including Lucianne Goldberg, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter to help her beat back these lunatics. It's time to show The Washington Times how to really play ball!

Posted by: RightIsMight | February 19, 2006 09:44 PM

I'm beginning to suspect that many of the statements in support of Ms Howell and Mr Brady are not what they appear to be, and I am dismayed. Can't you people debate substantive issues without resorting to sarcasm and salty language?

Good grief, last time when Mr Brady shut down the blog, I fainted from all harsh language [Luckily, Mrs Stanforth had the smelling salts handy.] True, I didn't actually see much "harsh language", but from Mr Brady's accounts, that's just as well... If I had, I may never have regained consciousness.

What's at stake here is the civility of our political discourse. All this brouhaha has been terribly upsetting for Mr Brady and Ms Howell.

But none of you seem to understand this. For shame.

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 19, 2006 09:48 PM

You lefties should all go home! Ms. Howell, thank you for standing up for real Americans. I am sick and tired of the liberal press and I am glad you are one of us. Keep up the good work. And thanks for trying to get rid of that Froomkin guy. We on the Right really love that the Post has come over to our side!

Posted by: RealAmerican | February 19, 2006 09:50 PM

That's a good idea RightIsMight but I'd also include in Deborah's new team Midge Decter and Andrew Sullivan. Can't hurt to cover all your bases.

Posted by: RightAsRain | February 19, 2006 09:52 PM

"In March (of 2004), at the ultimate Washington insider event—the annual Gridiron Club dinner—(Robert) Novak starred in a skit about the Plame leak. Dressed in a top hat and cut-away coat, the columnist hammed it up in front of an audience of his peers, crooning to the tune of “Once I Had a Secret Love.” Novak sang off-key about outing “a girl spy” thanks to “a secret source who lived within the great White House.” And he finished it off with a killer closing line, delivered with a wink and a grin: “Cross the right wing you may try / Bob Novak's coming after you.” The audience howled."

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0412.sullivan.html

Ms. Howell:

I understand that the incident mentioned above actually occurred before you became the Ombudsman for the Washington Post, but I was just curious if you believe that Washington Post columnist Robert Novak made a mistake in judgment or should have been "taken to the woodshed" for this episode, in which he makes light of the fact that he had revealed the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA NOC (Non-Official Cover operative) working in the area of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Thanks. I appreciate your input.

Posted by: Moonlight | February 19, 2006 09:55 PM

RightAsRain:

You omitted Joe Klein and Novakula.

Posted by: decaffeinated | February 19, 2006 09:56 PM

"please consider promoting Ms. Howell and giving her a team including Lucianne Goldberg, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter to help her beat back these lunatics."

No No No! RightareMite, the team idea isn't bad, and you're right that at least six balls, melon-sized, are needed for this game. Yet, Ms. Howell is a notorious rightwinger so she has to be accompanied by a team for the left flank. We suggest the incredible flexible Arianna Huffington, Cindy "the unstoppable movement" Sheehan, and Barbara Boxer for that additional punch.

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:59 PM

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 09:50 PM

Yes, I'm all for the English language, especially as it is used here at the blog and by Papagei-Suess.

Posted by: RightAway | February 19, 2006 10:02 PM

Mevr. Howell is een verschrikkelijke journalist en oneerbiedig naar ons land. dit betekent een duel of oorlog.

Posted by: Queen Beatrix | February 19, 2006 10:02 PM

No ombusteam would be complete without Daniel Pipes of http://meforum.org and http://www.campus-watch.org and Flemming Rose of Jyllands-Posten fame (cultural editor). Those two would make fine additions and could speak to the concerns of the university professors in America and the American-Muslims.

Posted by: MightMakesRight | February 19, 2006 10:05 PM

Dang, I didn't understand a single word, but this sounds like a declaration of war from Her Majesty, the Queen of Netherlands. This can get ugly! Remember, the dutch made the limies have quite a hard time in the 16th and 17th century...

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:07 PM

"Flemming Rose of Jyllands-Posten"
Oh yeah, good choice for a not-so-softball game. This guy got some incredible huge balls! But I prefer Salman Rushdie who's playing in the same league. More experience!

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:10 PM

Washington DC is largely African-American. Mrs. Howell could use on her obmudsman team a diversity specialist - maybe she could get Alan Keyes to move to DC for his perceptive observations on race relations. Surely WaPo circulation would swell in Anacostia with his help !

Posted by: Stepin Fetchit | February 19, 2006 10:14 PM

"Personally, I think Deborah Howell shouldn't play softball like she's been doing with liberals who disagree with her. WaPo, please consider promoting Ms. Howell and giving her a team including Lucianne Goldberg, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter to help her beat back these lunatics. It's time to show The Washington Times how to really play ball!"

You, sir, have hit the nail on the head. The time has come, I'm sorry to say, to confront this vast left-wing conspiracy with our superior Moral Fiber and Intellect. I cannot imagine anyone better equipped to do this than Goldberg, Merkin, and Coulter. Let the lefties quail (laugh if you want, I don't care) with fear at this prospect. Little do they know, but the right-wing baseball bat of justice is poised right above their heads.

Ms Howell? Stand your ground. We all KNOW that Abramoff bribed Dems too. The lefties psychopathic fixation with 'proof' is offensive when applied to someone of your unimpeachable integrity. Ms Schmidt? Don't be deterred from your fearless dictation. Without you, how would Rove be able to inform us of what he wants us to know?

Exactly.

And Mr Brady? Until the loony lefties can untwist their pantalettes and get over their obsession with facts, fairiness, and evidence, you must continue to censor them.

Remember, Mr Brady: the baseball bat of justice.

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 19, 2006 10:16 PM

Back to topic: I'm a little bit disappointed that Ms. Howell didn't address the open questions surrounding the 'hunting for friends' trip of the VP. After all, some new explanations have surfaced that make the 'straight shooting' approach of the WaPo reports look quite foolish:
http://jonswift.blogspot.com/2006/02/what-really-happened-on-armstrong.html

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:18 PM

"maybe she could get Alan Keyes to move to DC for his perceptive observations on race relations."

Shouldn't be too difficult! In the past, he was eagerly changing locations for the promise of getting his name into a newspaper. This guy can play in every position! Only problem: His statistics aren't so convincing...

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:21 PM

Just as bad was the way the Post rushed to press with the clumsy "swift boat" smear of Congressman Murtha. It did not take a crystal ball to know it was coming or that it would be a hoax, but the Post rushed a smear and a hoax to press. A nonstory that was 40 years old and it had to be rushed to press ?

To put management in 20 words or less, you fire people whose only defense is "niceness," because they aren't competent and they aren't even nice.

Posted by: Gregg Silk | February 19, 2006 10:23 PM

Hmm, apropos minorities, we shouldn't forget to add people of different ethnic origins to the team. Thinking of Ms. Howell's unfortunate foulplay against the 'oranje' team, a teamplayer with a dutch background would be a good choice. Someone like that Van Den Devil girl at the Nation. Doesn't WaPo altready have such a person that could be transferred? I've heard about a Susie Van Der Stenografie...

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:29 PM

Mr Keyes has committed himself to running against Teddy "third rail" Kennedy in our fair Commonwealth. He isn't going anywhere because he's needed here, well unless Mr Santorum would consider putting his hat here as well as in Pennsylvania. You heard it here first, Mrs Howell!

Posted by: JustRightGal | February 19, 2006 10:30 PM

Marky makes a good point: "Until I read it in Howell's column, I had no idea that it was conservatives who objected to Milbank's appearance in a hunting jacket. I thought it was very inappropriate. Frankly, my first reaction was to think that Milbank was trying to help the VP minimize the accident through the use of humor---which is a strategy the White House was clearly employing last week."

I think this is right--IIRC, that was the day that Jeb Bush put an orange sticker on his chest and Scott McClellan wore an orange tie, both saying they were doing so because they had been warned the vice president might show. Cheney originally deployed two lines of spin: (i) it was Whittington's fault for sneaking up behind Cheney, and (ii) it's a not-very-serious accident with a humorous side. Milbank was (a) being funny and (b) reinforcing the White House's desired spin.

So why does Howell think that what Milbank did--which was also what Jeb Bush and Scott McClellan did--was "inappropriate" mocking of Cheney and Whittington? Deborah Howell's column implies that it was because Malkin and PowerLine directed their readers to her.

Without knowing--or noticing--or thinking about--the blaze orange tie on Scott McClellan and what this told her about White House media strategy, Deborah Howell, in Jane Hamsher's words, "hops to like a Texas toad."

I'm sure you can think of words to describe Deborah Howell. Here are some that occur to me: powerful keen-eyed ombudsman with a brain that puts Einstein to shame; a rock of journalistic independence; one of the truly incredible wonders of our age.

Posted by: Brad DeLong | February 19, 2006 10:32 PM

the Post has a perfectly good Hollander already on the staff -- Jim something-or-the-other. From his nickname, it seems he is a lifeguard or something at the corporate swimming pool. Maybe his wife (who was a Tom Delay staffer) could help him with his stories?

Posted by: Queen Beatrix | February 19, 2006 10:36 PM

JustRightGal, that sounds like a plan, but I'd hate for Mr. Keyes to have to give up the govenorship when Mr. Santorum picks him as his running mate for the Presidency in 2008. With the reach-out-to-commonsense-voters campaign they'd come up with, they'd be unbeatable by any Democrat, including Hillary. It would probably be akin to the Nixon landslide in 1972! Happy days are here again!
You heard it here first too, Mrs Howell!

Posted by: RightAsRain | February 19, 2006 10:42 PM

*Correction*

In my 10:42pm comment I referred to Mr. Keyes' "govenorship" when I obviously meant "his stint as Senator."

Posted by: RightAsRain | February 19, 2006 10:44 PM

Is Ms Hamsher a staffer for Mrs Howell? I am quite impressed by the comment 'hops to like a Texas toady'. Because Mrs Howell can use all the help she can get since the liberals have brought us to level 'orange' alert with their hijacking of blogs. Why don't they just go back to that catpond or whatever.

Posted by: RightAway | February 19, 2006 10:48 PM

"Jim something-or-the-other"

Dang, it's on the tip of my tongue...VanMorRison? VanDerBilt? VonDemHai? Yeah, I guess that's it, VonDemHai. A dangerous man, a real predator, just like a shark...

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:49 PM

RightAway, I was more impressed with that line from "watercatpond" that goes "that foul-mouthed old Lone Star battleaxe." Now, that's CLASSY! I agree with you about level orange. I just hope these cheeseheads don't drive us into level fuchsia!

Posted by: RightMakesWrite | February 19, 2006 10:57 PM

K, guys,I have to sleep over our ombudsteam ideas. It has become late here, or rather early in the morning. Blame the time difference...

Btw, time difference, may this be an explanation for the 18 hour delay? What if that Armstrong Ranch isn't really in Tx, but somewhere else on the globe? Were Tricky Dick Cheney and his bad of brothers (and sisters) on a secret mission to find Osama, the write offs for the missing WMDs or even Jimmi Hoffa's body? Where on the world is that place that has a 18 hour time difference? Sweet dreams! :D

Posted by: Gray | February 19, 2006 10:57 PM

RightAsRain, let's just pray that the liberal media (not including the Washington Post, thank God--if they can dump that Froomkin fellow) will not try to derail the Santorum/Keyes candidacy by looking into minor ethical issues. I guess that's what Mrs Howell is here to stop, with her effort to raise political discourse from the gutter.

Posted by: JustRightGal | February 19, 2006 10:59 PM

Mr Gray,
I think the moon, or Mars perhaps, could account for the 18 hour delay. The Mars Mission might explain it. But we can't speculate without hard facts on our blog that is under the benevolent guidance of Mr Brady and Mrs Howell.

Posted by: RightAway | February 19, 2006 11:08 PM

I am so glad that the Post finally has an ombudsman that I can agree with. Plus she has been in the newspaper business for a really, really long time and she knows that it is the job of newspaper people to support the government no matter what.

I hear people say that things are going wrong in this country and I just shake my head. Our president is told by God what to do and then he does it. The US government is God-driven and will take care of all the evildoers if the loony liberals just stay out of the way.

It is un-American to question our president, this paper, or Ms. Howell, so stop it!!! The Washington Post and Ms. Howell do not have to provide any proof of anything to all the complainers that write in here. The complainers should realize that and just stop writing.

This blog should be restricted to people who love God, our country and the American way, for God's sake. The president who talks directly to God knows best and we are lucky that we have papers that support him no matter what!

Posted by: right as rain | February 19, 2006 11:16 PM

Ya know, I'm not sure what it is gonna take to get through to the WaPo PTB. We have well researched and civil analysis, snarky humor, and seriously frustrated and in-your-face factual challenges.

The image I'm having is one where young squires are scrambling to find anything, no matter how trivial or obscure, to support the dishonest, agenda-oriented slant of Howell's remarks. Meanwhile, the old knights are defending the crumbling castle.

What is it gonna take? Credibility is a precious thing, and there was a time when the castle bards got the facts straight.

Way back when.


Posted by: ahunt | February 19, 2006 11:19 PM

How far does the ombudsman's purview extend to non-WaPo content (blogs, TV) and when will it address WaPo content? (other than to applaud, echo and defend)

Posted by: AlanDownunder | February 19, 2006 11:23 PM

Mr Hunt, don't you mean 'credulousness', not 'credibility'? 'Civility', not 'correction'?

Posted by: RightAway | February 19, 2006 11:25 PM

I think that it is wise and very appropriate that there is some censorship control on this plog. I am really tried of all of the profanity and cursing from the left wing wing nuts. President Bush has given us a very good example for civil publich speach by limiting audiences and carefully selecting out individuals that would make rude remarks about his grasp of the issues. We are a nation of laws, and have been since our inception. The Washington Post in the best in the business and time and time again I am heartened by your inportance on the national scene.

Posted by: RepublicanMom | February 19, 2006 11:31 PM

Continuing on the theme of right/left complaints, let's consider other subjects.
How about the global warming debate? The two main questions are:
1) Is there significant global climate change going on now? (this is the preferred term now, over global warming)

2)Are human activities a cause of global climate change? If so, to what degree?

I am pretty sure that there are "right" and "left" positions on these questions. I assume that as part of its reporting, the Post will diligently inform the reader which fact is right or left on the matter.

There are several questions on economic matters where the readers should also be informed of the left vs. right positions, for instance about budget deficits, SS projections, and so forth. I will defer to Professor Delong in suggesting which questions need left/right delineation.

Of course, another obvious question for left/right analysis is whether God created the world, and if he did it in 7 days. I think it would help coverage of evolution/ID debates enormously if the readers knew which positions were right and left.

I look forward to more left/right elucidations from the Post.

Posted by: Marky | February 19, 2006 11:35 PM

Why on earth is Howell commenting on Dana Milbank's appearance on TV? Please, read the definition of an ombudsman. You are not supposed to be wasting time on this kind of inner-circle stuff but responding, respectfully, to READERS' concerns about your newspaper. Get a dictionary.

Posted by: Gary Morris | February 19, 2006 11:43 PM

Mr Marky, Please do not turn the news into a political football. There is only one answer to all of the issues you have raised, but the White House Committees exploring these sensitive issues have not reached any conclusions yet due to the sensitivity of these issues. The Washington Post will tell us what is decided when the White House is ready. In the mean time, states like Kansas are trying to address these concerns in a legal way. We are a nation of laws, sir, not of wild speculation. This blog is not for your insinuations.

Posted by: JustRightGal | February 19, 2006 11:44 PM

Howell's hatchet job on Dana Milbank was the journalistic equivalent of shooting him in the face. Can anyone seriously call her the reader's representative? The only reader she seems to be representing is Mary Matalin.

Posted by: pdaku | February 19, 2006 11:50 PM

I am sorry. When I chose my name "right as rain," I did not realize someone else had used it. As God is my witness, I meant no harm. Just think of me as the small "r."

Sorry for the confusion!!!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 12:17 AM

Deborah or can I call you Debbie?

I need some help. Today I saw a bad word in an article by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek. Would you mind taking him to the woodshed and doing your thing to him.

I'm so glad that the Post has put you in charge of fashion and cleaning up the language of so many Americans.

Perhaps you could talk to VP Cheney also regarding the color of his ties. I thought that was a pink tie when I saw him in the interview. When I was in school we didn't wear pink because that wasn't a real man color.

Posted by: Johnnie | February 20, 2006 12:19 AM

We have finally got our forum back and if I do say so, with quite generous and supportive hosts in Mr Brady and Mrs Howell. Why would anyone want to go anywhere else? We have a direct line to the White House and we don't need to worry about being highjacked by those agenda-driven liberals. When you just have ideas and sources but no authority, how can you get your point across? Respect the authoritah here!

Posted by: RightAway | February 20, 2006 12:22 AM

Some of my friends are starting to sound worried about this administration, saying that it's really beginning to look like the Nixon administration all over again. I don't see it that way at all. Didn't Nixon have price freezes on everything? President Bush would never do that. Didn't Nixon's Vice President have to resign in disgrace? I really don't see that happening with Vice President Cheney. Mr. Cheney is an honest, decent, god-fearing man and so is Mr. Bush. I feel so much safer knowing that God is on their side cause it means when the rapture happens, I'll be right there along with them in the New Jerusalem walking down golden streets and houses made out of precious stones. Anyway, I got carried away there for a moment...

Mrs. Howell, can someone at The Post do a story one day comparing the Bush administration with the Nixon administration? I feel that when people see in print the vast differences between the two they'll know for sure that the Bush/Cheney team is nothing like the Nixon/Agnew/Ford team and they'll worry less. People need that, don't they? They need security and reassurance.

Posted by: RightAsRain | February 20, 2006 12:26 AM

Republican Mom - You are so right! When I hear all those loony liberals complaining that our president only speaks to "select" groups, I just want to laugh out loud. If those liberals would learn how to act right, maybe they could hear our wonderful president speak.

Everyone needs to realize that our president is a busy man, plus he has a hard job. When he speaks to us, it is to tell us what the truth is, not to ask us our opinions. God has told him what to say. It is our job to listen!

Remember, I am the small "r." Thanks!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 12:27 AM

Big "R" - We are so lucky to have a paper like the Washington Post that prints whatever our president says and tells us it is the truth. That makes everything so much easier and I feel safer.

I am glad Ms Howell is not afraid to discipline people like D Froomkin and that man who wore the orange outfit on TV (sorry, I forgot his name, but maybe he'll be gone soon, anyway). She sure showed them the error of their ways. I don't worry when people attack Ms Howell cause I know she has a contract - thank God!

Remember, God is on our side. I hope you are not mad at me for using your name. I will always be small "r" out of respect to you!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 12:38 AM

Big "R" - Actually I didn't use your name. God picked it for me, but I think He told me to use a small "r," cause He knew you had already chosen the big "R."

Isn't God wonderful? - He is all knowing and all powerful. Every night I pray that God will let me meet our wonderful president cause I wonder what nickname the president would choose for me.

God bless our president and the Washington Post!!!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 12:46 AM

I pray that everyone who posts here loves God as much as President Bush and I do. Don't worry about what is happening in Iraq. God is guiding our president!!!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 12:51 AM

right as rain? May I call you "small r?" Well, small r, I'm so glad we got that straightened out. I felt bad when you showed up and didn't realize I had already chosen this name. If it helps the others, my name doesn't have any spaces. Plus, they can think of me as Big R I guess.

You got that right, small r. I thank God daily for the Washington Post and Mrs. Howell. I feel reassured that she's there to help keep that rowdy bunch in line. Hopefully their numbers will dwindle to the point where the few remaining troublemakers will up and quit. It couldn't happen a day too soon. The Washington Post has finally seen the light, praise the Lord, and taken on its new conservative clothes just like God would have them do.

small r, I hope you'll do like me and try to think up some suggestions for stories that we can pass along to Mrs. Howell. I think she could become our new best friend and maybe we'll see more of the types of stories we'd like to see.

Oh, by the way, if you like you can think of me as Big R! I've got a big heart to match the Big Name, praise the Lord.

Posted by: RightAsRain | February 20, 2006 12:52 AM

now I know why our Vice-President chose the Corpus Christi Caller-Times to break the shooting story. Mrs. Howell had worked there (really!) so he knew it was a standup kinda place. Perhaps he actually called her first before he let Divorcee Armstrong talk to the paper? Mrs. Howell sure seems tight with this Administration!

Posted by: Wilson46201 | February 20, 2006 01:00 AM

Big "R" - I am so glad you finally answered me. I thought you were mad at me. I know you will like being big "R," sort of like Vice President Cheney likes being Big Dick. I wish people would leave him alone. I don't know if God speaks directly to him, but if not, I know our wonderful president can help Big Dick find the way.

I love this blog - it is the first one where I really feel that I fit in. God bless the Washington Post and all the wonderful contributors!!! And God, please bless Ms Howell twice!!!!!!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 01:12 AM

GOSH, it's nice that those liberals have gone back to their watercatpond or wherever they go to swear and mock the President. Now that the "right" people are commenting here, I was wondering if there were some issues we could ask Ms. Howell and Mr. Brady to see if their friends the reporters at The Washington Post could start investigating. For instance, I keep reading that Mrs. Clinton has raised a lot of money for re-election to the Senate. Since the Democrat party drove that nice Distrcit Attorney out of the race against her, it seems to me that Mrs. Clinton doesn't need all that money. Could The Washington Post investigate why Mrs. Clinton keeps raising money and who she's raising it from? Why does she need all that money? I would rather read about that than this silly Abramoff stuff, which is so 2005.

Another issue I would like to see The Washington Post investigate more about are where all that money comes from for those dirty-mouth liberal plogs like Media Mattering or whatever it's called. They sure do spend a lot of money insulting the patriotic folks who work at Fox News and CNN. Where does their money come from and how do they keep in business? No one reads them -- not any decent people I know, anywyas.

Here's another issue I think The Washington Post should look into: why is there only ONE Fox News channel? It seems to me that there is a really big audience for fair and balanced news nowadays, and that maybe there is some conspiracy to only allow one Fox News Channel.

Maybe The Washington Post could also look into whether the liberal media elite in this country all went to the same schools, or all live in the same neighborhood, or all think the same way, and WHY they do. This kind of research would really help God-fearing and patriotic Americans understand the filter through which they get their news, which our President talks about so often. I think Americans need to know more about the filter that stands between them and getting the right news from The Bush Administration.

I know I've gone on quite a bit -- but it is such a luxury to find a forum that is respectful of all views and not just liberal views -- and I really, really want to thank The Washington Post, Ms. Howell, and Mr. Brady for all their hard work and dedication to helping us understand the news of The Bush Administration.

To paraphrase Harriet Miers: Best Blog Ever!

Posted by: Happy Conservative | February 20, 2006 01:24 AM

I think Matt Stoller of mydd.com puts it best:

I would hope that Howell rethinks her assumptions on who is and isn't a journalist and how journalists can operate within different roles, because we desperately need someone at the Washington Post as a reader representative to help guide the institution. And right now, that person isn't Howell, however tough-minded a journalist she might be or might have been.

(Also, as the release on DVD of "All the President's Men" comes out this week, please do not ever lose sight of the Post's role in the the taking down of the corrupt Nixon administration. That was just a "third-rate burglary," and nowadays the administration practically skywrites its misdeeds and it is still intact. With apologies to Dana Priest, where have all the intrepid reporters gone?!)

Posted by: blogstituent | February 20, 2006 01:37 AM

I'm saying a special prayer tonight for The President, Vice-President Cheney and Mrs. Lynnne Cheney, the nice man who got in the way of Vice-President Cheney when Vice-President Cheney was hunting but is now okay -- Yay! -- and Fox News. But most expecially, Deborah Howell and Mr. Brady, who have made this blog so GREAT!

Also, I am going to pray for those stinkypond people that they see the Light and learn to be guided by Our President.

Posted by: Do the Right Thing | February 20, 2006 01:40 AM

Anyone know if Robin Wright is still with the Post?

Don't recall seeing any of her stories lately? Great reporter who I suspect now regrets leaving the LA Times.

Posted by: Steve | February 20, 2006 01:46 AM

Someone wondered what happens when Ms Howell takes someone like the man in the orange vest and hat to the woodshed. Silly - she doesn't mean that she does it herself! She is too busy for that.

I think I remember that someone asked that question but I can't find it anymore so maybe I imagined it. Anyhow, it's pretty late, so I better sign off.

Night all and God Bless!!!!

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 01:49 AM

Small "r"
I asked the question.
Apparently there must be more going on that we imagined because the thought censors certainly didn't leave it up very long. Now it really makes me wonder if there is a story about Debbie taking them to the woodshed.

Posted by: Johnnie | February 20, 2006 01:52 AM

Who said anything about a woodshed? Move along people, nothing to see here....

Posted by: GOP Dad | February 20, 2006 01:54 AM

Has everyone at the Post lost their sense of humor? I don't care who you are Dana Milbank on Keith O. was just funny. It's not like he showed up on Meet the Press dressed in orange.

Posted by: | February 20, 2006 02:03 AM

I met a man beside the firewall
Who said: two vast and empty halls of stone
Stand in the city. Near them, on the mall,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is WaPo, King of Mainstream Media:
Look upon my works, ye Bloggers, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of those colossal wrecks, in troubled air
The newsprint crumbles, rips, and blows away.

Full disclosure: this was mostly not written by me, but some of it was.

Posted by: Charles (my real name) | February 20, 2006 02:15 AM

Jim Brady says, "The newspaper's ombudsman, whose contract guarantees her independence..."

Does her contract specify what happens if she completely loses the respect of her readers? That is what has happened here.

Posted by: Semblance | February 20, 2006 02:19 AM

Just curious,
You state in your house rules:
"Tough criticism is welcome; personal attacks on writers or other readers are not."

Yet for three days now the post by Leonidas - February 17, 2006 11:31 PM has stated on your website "Stop whining oh ye of the looney left."
Is this considered acceptable behavior? Name calling and provoking?
As a member of the left I find it unaccepatable to be called crazy. Do the WB blog censors agree with me?

Posted by: daveh | February 20, 2006 05:52 AM

I think it was stupid and improper of Dana Milbank to appear on Olbermann in orange hunting gear. What I question is why Deborah Howell wasted so many inches of copy addressing it. Perhaps if the overwhelmingly liberal and moderate readership of the Post is becoming disenchanted with her and her paper, at least she'll have Michelle Malkin as a friend. Aren't there more important, substantive issues for this woman to write about? Like the interesting questions posed by Colbert King in his recent column, i.e., why crimes against black people go unreported by the Post. But, I think Deborah probably doesn't give a damn about such things. Neither does the Post, which is why I read other papers whenever I can.

Posted by: Joel | February 20, 2006 05:53 AM

Let's say that a Democrat is elected President in 2008, perhaps with a Democratic majority in the Senate if not the House. Improbable due to the Diebold situation, I think, but not totally impossible given W Bush's current approval rating of 38% and falling.

What is your (that is, the WaPo's) expectation for how that Democratic President will treat the Washington press corps? Do you think he will go back to the interactive, reality-based, question-answering style of Clinton? Or will he hire himself a couple of Rove/McClellen equivalents, clamp down his own message discipline, and punish the DC press corps exactly as Rove has punished it for the last 5 years?

Admittedly it would be more difficult for a Democratic President, as the Democrats do not own an equivalent of Fox, but with enough discipline I think it could be done. How would you react? What if things don't go "back to normal" next time?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | February 20, 2006 08:03 AM

Can we just get to the bottom line here: WaPo released a story that was not just wrong but obviously wrong and was proven wrong using publicly available government records. The powers that be at The Washington Post, rather than correct the story or issue a retraction, elected to spin a slightly different version of the same story with the same misleading slant.

The Washington Post has said that they have documents that will prove that they did not mislead their readers, but despite being called on for sometime to release these records, have instead launched a series of attacks and more misinformation. They have asked its readers to believe that they are the victims, martyrs to the right to publish misleading accusations. This is a smokescreen for their failure to do their jobs: act as journalists.

In the process the WaPo editorial board, ombudsman and leadership have tarnished the reputation of the Post and seriously called into question the credibility of its reporting. The credibility of a newspaper is its only real asset because without that there is little reason to consider it as a reliable source for news. Compare this situation with the NYT and Blair or The National Review and Stephen Glass. If the leadership of the Post cannot or will not come forward with the documents it alleges to have; or cannot or will not print a retraction, it is time for this leadership to step down before it does any more damage to the integrity of the paper.

Posted by: Jonathan Ehrlich | February 20, 2006 08:12 AM

The Washington Post has now adopted the Bush Administration tactic of never acknowledging any mistake or failure, and of attacking its critics.

The public no longer has any other option but to stop subscribing to a newspaper that has become an organ of propaganda for the Bush administration.

Amen! WAPO used to be a grand newspaper. I'll pray for its soul.

let's see if this post will be removed for "inappropriate" (i.e. critical) comments.

Posted by: Devil's Advocate | February 20, 2006 08:29 AM

I think we should all repost this comment (made by another above) until the WaPo answers it.

"MS. Howell admits a mistake in her follow-up article but the post (including washingtonpost.com) have failed to correct the original article. Please correct this.

Posted by: germartz | February 18, 2006 09:09 AM "

Posted by: Taniwha | February 20, 2006 10:48 AM

Someone above asked if Sue Schmidt was ever taken to the woodshed?

For the record, yes, she was. During Monica period, Ms Schmidt tried to get a reader fired from his company, because he wrote her an email (using his company email id) criticizing her biased reporting. She actually contacted that company and tried to get him fired. That reader was not fired and Ms Schmidt was taken to the woodshed
for her unprofessional behavior.

Now the question is: Will Mr Graham take Ms Howell to the woodshed for 'outing' Mr Milbank's woodshedding?

I know Ms Katherine Graham would have. Actually, if Ms Graham were still here, Ms Howell would have been long gone from Wapo.


Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 10:56 AM

I am a 20-year subscriber to the Post. I read it daily and Sunday. Obviously I don't read every word- I'd have to be retired to do that. Howell is now in the don't-waste-your time column. She's not trustworthy, she's not interesting, and she doesn't represent her readers. So I don't bother with her. Unfortunately, more and more of the Post is falling into the skip-it category.

Posted by: Joe Ruby | February 20, 2006 10:59 AM

Ms. Howell could you please take a moment and apologize for your error re: democrats taking Abramoff money. Also maybe you should sign up for the Post fashion column. While I have precious little respect for Dana it hardly seems appropriate for your comments to attack his manner of dress as opposed to perhaps sharing what your readers had to say about it.

Posted by: S. Stewart | February 20, 2006 11:36 AM

The moderation policy for comments on this blog has become a parody of itself. Apparently, "s---o" has joined the FCC's list of seven dirty words that cannot be permitted to sully the senses of Post blog readers.

I'd complain, except there's nobody allegedly representing the readers except Shambudsman Deborah Howell.

Posted by: mark | February 20, 2006 11:55 AM

So, when are you going to print a loud-and-clear correction to your factually incorrect, objectively wrong, false claim that Abramoff directed money to ANY Democrats? No mealy-mouthed prevarication, no hemming and hawing, no subterfuge, just simple, objective-reality-based corrections to the blatantly and consciously false storyline that Abramoff directed money to the Dems.
As a scientist myself, there is no issue here. I go with reality, being required (science, you know) to deal with reality as it is rather than "reality" the way I want it to be. I see data, evidence, what have you, and I see it points to one self-consistent conclusion and only one (otherwise the data is crap - leading to multiple conflicting conclusions) and I, correctly and ethically, stay within the bounds of the actual data, offering up the only conclusion that works with that data. See how that works? If I err on the data or on my conclusions based on that data, then I am ethically bound to offer up a correction OR retraction. Se how that works?
So, let's see the WaPo and, in particular, YOU Deborah Howell, display a commitment to reality and ethics and offer up a clear, forthright, non-dissembling correction to the Abramoff "incorrect conclusion" (I'm being charitable here) you and the WaPo STILL refuse to flush away. Offer up an full-on correction/retraction of the factually challenged claim you make that Abramoff directed money to Democrats. There's no room for maneuvering here. The data is what it is and it ain't supporting your fallacious conclusion. Abramoff directed NOT A DIME to any Democrats, period. That is the data/evidence so work with it as it is rather than as you want it to be.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates | February 20, 2006 12:00 PM

Why, Praedor, all you need to do is "stay tuned." Deborah Howell *promised* that "this story is nowhere near over."

Prescient words, those last one.

Posted by: mark | February 20, 2006 12:05 PM

"this story is nowhere near over." - mark

The story IS apparently over. The Republican-controlled Congress has made it plain and clear they're not really concerned about lobbyists and their influence. The winds have changed, the fire has gone out, and all anyone is talking about is the carnival flower Mary Matalin wore on Meet The Press yesterday. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Posted by: Phil | February 20, 2006 12:19 PM

Like Joe Ruby above, I too am a 20-plus-year subscriber to the Post. Like him, I too am saddened to see what has happened to Katherine Graham's great paper.

Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 01:00 PM

Via Digby, I understand that the following comment from Paul Lukasiak was deleted from this blog. I am reposting it here.

Paul said (among other things):

Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 01:00 PM

I tried to repost Paul's comments that were blocked. And it did not go through.

Those interested can read it at:
http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 01:02 PM

A commenter (Dr. Cb, Brushed w/ mediocrity) at digbysblog writes this:

After the Brady/Howell "fainting couch" episodes, I sent Jim a polite, non-anonymous e-mail (as he requested), with a link to the study of the data. Here was his (admittedly polite, and hey, he didn't even have to bother) response:

Thanks for your e-mail... Sorry you did not enjoy or agree with the article, but appreciate you taking the time to read it. Deborah and The Post's senior editors have posted links to articles and graphics to support the paper's reporting on the Abramoff issue at http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/ ...off_covera.html and http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/ ...ah_howell_.html. The fact that less money was directed is not a antidote against the reporting that says Abramoff did direct some money to Democrats. One is not proof against the other. 800K is not a small number.

Thanks,
Jim Brady

Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 01:11 PM

ecoast,

You must be mistaken. They said comments were welcome! There's absolutely no way they would delete or block any comments that were not filled with obscene language. There must be some hate speech or swear words in that post. Otherwise, they would NEVER delete or block it.

You know full well that the WaPoMeisters promised to open up discussion again when we said we were sowwy, and pwomised to be good. Therefore, the comments that you're trying to repost must be hate speech.

After all, there's no reason to think they'd block or censor posts that were clean, merely because they might be critical of the Post's handling of the issue. There is NO WAY that a bastion of truth like the Post would remove posts that were critical investigation. The Post is NOT an institution to fold under the uncomfortable eye of criticism.

Why, just look at how quickly they reponded to Paul L.'s questions about the claims of documentation re: Abramoff and Dems! Those were posted within minutes, and therefore proved instantaneously that the Post wasn't merely talking out of their collective ear.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 20, 2006 01:11 PM

You can see Mr Brady's tortured logic in my comment above.

Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 01:15 PM

Of course, we all know that now. Mr. Brady made clear to us weeks ago that Abramoff telling his clients to cut down donations to Dems to a bare minimum but maintain them at a level that was appropriate for a semblance of bipartisanship is the exact same as him directly funneling his personal, tainted money to Dems.

But let's not forget that that is not what Ms. Howell put in her original article. Which the Post has yet to pull, amend, update, or correct. Sure, there's other related articles to it, but the original article still stands without being fixed or corrected.

Because when the Washington Post prints it, that means it is not illegal. I mean, that means that it is true.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 20, 2006 01:23 PM

Paul writes at firedoglake and I am rephrasing here:

Those connections are no more solid than the ones that connect the infamous former lobbyist to the fall 01 attacks because some of those responsible visited a facility co-owned by the lobbyist.

Posted by: ecoast | February 20, 2006 01:23 PM

since most of us are grown-ups here, it would be interesting if the Washington Post webpeople would post somewhere the "Carlin 753 Banned Words" used on the Blog filters... how do we know what the rules are if the rules aren't posted? what constitutes obscenity or profanity? if we know the "naughty bits" we can indulge in elegant circumlocutions formerly suitable only for Victorian novels or Chinese websites...

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 20, 2006 01:31 PM

Here are the words that will not be allowed on this program any more:

...
...

Semprini?

Posted by: Taniwha | February 20, 2006 01:38 PM

I have yet to see any Democrats refute the evidence showing that Democrats are tied to the Gus Boulis murder.
Democrats received Abramoff money; Abramoff money paid the Boulis murderers---you see now that Democrats are tied to the Boulis murder.
Actually I'm honestly surprised that the Post has not made this connection----they are probably still too afraid of the liberal bloggers.

Posted by: RighteousPoster | February 20, 2006 01:58 PM

Righteous wrote:

"Democrats received Abramoff money; Abramoff money paid the Boulis murderers---you see now that Democrats are tied to the Boulis murder."

Oh, the connections go much deeper than that. Boulis was greek, Greece is the birthplace of Democracy--- in other words, the birthplace of Democrats. And at least one of the alleged perpetrators was from Queens, New York. We all know that New York is full of Democrats.... and except for a few Log Cabin types, we all know that "Queens" means "Democrats".

I'm sure that Sue Schmidt will be picking up on these obvious connections soon....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 20, 2006 02:16 PM

How does one apply for the job of an ombudsman?

Seems like an easy job with the added benefit that you can be totally oblivious to the definition of your duties and hide behind the fact that your contract is for two years during which no one can touch you.

Posted by: lib | February 20, 2006 02:49 PM

She says whatever master speaks
Tallies numbers only that like us

Enemies can only reek,
Ne’er shall they mock nor blight us

Only the powerful get to speak
Suborned, she feigns as righteous

Ugly truths remain oblique and
Exposé’s fallacious

Posted by: Mac Rostic | February 20, 2006 03:08 PM

maybe it really was a mistake for Ms. Howell to send that incorrect article to the printers? perhaps a playful kitten on the desk accidently pressed the ENTER key while Debbie was musing whether to send the offending story?
blame the cat, not the author!

Posted by: wilson46201 | February 20, 2006 04:03 PM

Dare you never question her
Edicts that bestow
Balance and propriety

Hark and you will hear her
Opine and Ombuds
With not a shred of anxiety

Examine not the tint of red that
Leaves her pen
Lest it gain her notoriety

Posted by: Mac Rostic | February 20, 2006 04:41 PM

Bye bye Dick, we hardly knew ya'

Posted by: Dick | February 20, 2006 04:09 PM

( #102 or #202 for whoever's keeping count )

Posted by: BuhBye | February 20, 2006 05:01 PM

hey - did anyone notice the cillizza/balz piece on 'Special Care for Big Donors'? i thought maybe we might get into some real reporting about the way the way the Bush Administration lets big donors write legislation – but no! it was about hillary clinton! really, i swear to god. clinton had a fundraiser - you know the kind that george bush and dick cheney have every day of their lives – so this is News, why? because the wapo says so.

christ. did the post win any awards for Most Disingenious and Irrelevant Reporting?

Posted by: drindl | February 20, 2006 05:02 PM

right as rain I thought we'd settled all that about the nicknames. Oh well, if you're gonna get a new one, I want a new one too. You get yours from the god-fearing President Bush. I want Karl Rove to give me mine. Real good!

Praise the Lord!
Big "R"

Posted by: RightAsRain | February 20, 2006 05:57 PM

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 05:43 PM

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu

Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu

Posted by: BuhBye | February 20, 2006 06:03 PM


Journalists need ombudsing to
Improve their precision

Mistakes ignored with arrogance
Betrays your biased prism

Reasonable requests denied spur
Anger and derision

Deleting only to defend your
Yellow journalism

Posted by: Mac Rostic | February 20, 2006 06:08 PM

Is it OK to say that I agree with Mr. Richard Cohen about Algebra? I could never do it either and I'm doing fine (except here where my comments keep getting disappeared).

Do you think it's their religious nature? I was going to add something about Yaweh, but I won't.

So long, for a while, maybe a long, long while................

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 06:09 PM

Has anyone figured out the purpose of this comment section yet? Will the Post be answering any substantive questions posed here? If not, it's just a poorly appointed sandbox.

Posted by: Marky | February 20, 2006 06:11 PM

Marky, I'm not sure but I think the sole purpose of this comment section is to provide training for the interns on the proper use of the mouse: right-click, delete.

Posted by: Heywood | February 20, 2006 06:18 PM

She writes whatever master seeks
Tells only what delights him

Enemies allowed only to reek,
Ne’er shall they mock nor blight him

Only power gets to speak and
Seldom has to face us

Ugly truths remain oblique and
Exposé’s fallacious

Posted by: Mac Rostic | February 20, 2006 06:27 PM

"Has anyone figured out the purpose of this comment section yet?"

I'm still hoping the comment section can shame Brady and Howell into resigning. Keep hope alive!

Posted by: Semblance | February 20, 2006 06:41 PM


I'd also like to know if there are any plans for the Washington Post dot com to address any substantive questions that are raised in this comment section. Obviously someone is reading them because my educational post on the profession of fluffing was deleted.

I'm not convinced, however, that the Washington Post dot com understands exactly what a substantive question is, when originating from the comment area riffraff.

Interactive is a great buzzword, but few people in the newspaper word seem to understand or appreciate that the emphasis is on the "inter" part, i.e., between "them" and "us."

Otherwise, as Marky says, it's just a sandbox.

Posted by: James | February 20, 2006 07:06 PM

Really, this is absurd. How many comments have to be posted on this thread before Howell or Brady respond? The only reason this issue isn't dead and buried is because they refuse to answer legitimate questions. More to the point, they refuse to retract their misleading statements. Would they be this reticent if they really believed they were right? I don't think so.

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 20, 2006 07:08 PM

The word amanuensis isn't allowed? Thin skinned...

Posted by: clonecone | February 20, 2006 07:22 PM

Mr. Bentley Stanforth III, I thought you were a nice person (yesterday I was thinking how you probably looked like Mr. Tucker Carlson, the clever man with the bowtie) and now you are being rude to Ms. Deborah Howell and Mr. Jim Brady! I'm shocked and surprised at you!! Don't you know they are both Very busy people? You know, I am starting to think the Washington Post should let only people who live in the neighborhood write on this blog. You should have to give your social security number and your real address and stuff to make sure people who don't belong are the only ones who can give their opinion. You mean people are probably from New York or California or something with your big ideas and bossy comments and fancy poetry. Who knows, you might not even be American! Go complain about your own newspapers and leave our little local newspaper alone. Just because you smarty pantses don't understand our President and his ideas doesn't give you the right to ask so many dumb questions. Can't you be more patriotic? Sorry to be so grumpy but you are getting on my last nerve with all of this fuss. Love to Ms. Deborah and Mr. Jim! from Kimmy

Posted by: Kimmy | February 20, 2006 07:29 PM

Love your satire, Kimmy

Posted by: Ron | February 20, 2006 07:46 PM

I used to enjoy reading the ombudsman's column. It told me what other readers were concerned about, and what the writer was doing or had done to bring these concerns to management's attention, and what their response was. But Ms. Howell's column reads much more like an editorial from a conservative columnist than a report from the ombudsman's desk. If she were doing her job (as I understand it), she would accurately report the level of concern (or ire, or outrage) concerning news stories, or report concerns about bias, or do any of the other things that previous holders of the job have done. She would most assuredly not be commenting on the news itself, or asserting things that were not factual (and failing to adequately correct her error), or taking it upon herself to chastise other writers. The Post should dust off the job description for this job and review it with Ms. Howell.

Posted by: Oldhouse | February 20, 2006 07:51 PM

Can I tell you a secret? I don't really agree with Mr. Richard Cohen's take on studying Algebra, but I was afraid to say so for fear my comment would disappear. Isn't it amazing how a little fear shapes the discourse?

I wonder if this comment will live on?

Posted by: right as rain | February 20, 2006 07:55 PM

To the bounder who's using my name: please desist.

All of this confounded communist raving serves to confirm that the administration should enact harsher sedition laws forthwith. To be sure, the odd dissenting voice is perfectly acceptable provided it can be expressed in suitably chivalrous terms -- thereby sparing Mr Brady and Ms Howell an attack of the vapours.

At least the said "journalists", and the redoubtable Ms Schmidt, can rest safely in the knowledge that when the dissenters are rounded up, they will not in among them.

Regards,
-BS

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 20, 2006 09:56 PM

Secret energy task force? Special flight for members of Bin Laden Family after 911? Arabs flying into the twin towers and with known arab members in the US prior to the 911 flights and still nothing done, we now turn over port security to the UAI?

What next, give Sadam a job running our prison systems.

Perhaps Bin Laden can get on the GOP ticket in November.


Robert from Denver

Posted by: Robert | February 20, 2006 11:08 PM

Well, Brady is cuttin'-and-pastin' up a storm, because he sent me basically the same email reported earlier by ecoast (February 20, 2006 01:11 PM).

Posted by: mark | February 21, 2006 12:55 AM

In todays WP
"Journalist posting to Internet contends with censors and with ambivalence of fellow citizens."

Oh never mind they were talking about China not the Post!


Posted by: | February 21, 2006 01:32 AM

Okay, if we are going to talk about the email exchanges we have had with Jim, I gotta tell ya: he used the same first sentence in mine as well.

What he did, also, was ask me for some examples of his mysogyny, which I had accused him of when first writing.

Jim asked me for EXAMPLES of something. !?
-

Posted by: TeddySanFran | February 21, 2006 01:48 AM

Rage Against the Post parties! Second Tuesday of every month, starting Tuesday, March 14. On a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis we'll be having house parties to discuss and rail against the Post. City Guide: Why no attention to the Urban Scene? Why no coverage of DC's sizeable gay community, unless they're in drag? The Ombudsperson: What the heck is with her? The Post.com: Why does the Post report when the editor is "mugged" online, but not when scores have been mugged on 14th street in the past two months?
I can't give out addresses on here, but ask around for a party near you. Bring friends and then sponsor the next one. Parties currently scheduled for March 14 in: Columbia Heights, Shaw/Howard area, Shaw/Logan area, and Woodly Park. Look for us and you will find us. (No cameras -- some whisteblower Post reporters will be there in cognito.)

[This post was deleted earlier. Let's see how long it takes to delete again.]

Posted by: Joel | February 21, 2006 03:46 AM

It appears the Post is not using its interns to delete the comments. The job has been outsourced to China.

Posted by: Dave Vanleer | February 21, 2006 04:15 AM

To Mr. BS III: Is that you Ignatius?

Posted by: Myrna Minkoff | February 21, 2006 09:44 AM

Maybe now that the long weekend's over some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

I've been hoping Avedon Carol would show up again, but maybe she did and got deleted for some reason (although she's generally a lot better-spoken than I am). She put up a question on her blog, The Sideshow, that should be here ... so I'd like to ask it:

The sentencing memo presented by the prosecutors in the "Duke" Cunningham case labels the illegal activities to which Congressman Cunningham pleaded guilty "unparalleled corruption" and a "stunning betrayal of the public trust."

What was the editorial judgement that led to this "unparalleled" and "stunning" story making it only to the inside front page?

Did Post editors think that the hand-written "bribe menu" on Cunningham's congressional stationery -- listing the specific amounts for each tranche of loot and the amount of federal contract money Cunningham would allocate to the briber in return for each bag of under-the-table cash -- just wouldn't make a good front-page graphic?

Or what?

What was the Post's editorial thinking on this ... ?

Oh, and back to my original question: Shouldn't there be a correction posted inline or at the bottom of Howell's original Abramoff column, noting that the claimed facts weren't facts after all? So that someone who reads that column -- what is it now, five weeks later -- would see that the Post corrected the error?

Just asking.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 21, 2006 11:13 AM

COMMENTARY" WITHOUT "OPINION." This comes a bit late to the piling-on that The Washington Post's ombudsman Deborah Howell has received over her tetchy Sunday column attacking Dana Milbank's MSNBC appearance in orange hunting gear, but my point is a bit peripheral. While Howell's column was trivial and misguided, some of the confusion it evinced over what crosses the imaginary line between "commentary," which is good, and "opinion" or "bias," which are bad, or at least should be accurately labeled, does, I think, in part stem from the peculiar mandate of a "news analysis" column like Milbank's.
Howell quotes Milbank's editor describing the column, Washington Sketch, thusly: "[Milbank] observes and reports about the theater of politics...His column is not ideological. He doesn't take a stand on issues or pass judgment on policy." Milbank has described the column similarly in the past and here assures Howell that "I realize there's a fine line between making observational judgments and expressing an opinion." But the strictures built into this kind of set-up (hardly unique to Milbank's column), in which reporters are tasked with providing what-it-all-means commentary and analysis but are prohibited from displaying any ideological or substantive convictions -- any "opinions" -- are, to say the least, problematic. Such strictures help to ensure that these kinds of pieces will emphasize the genuinely lamentable features of mainstream American political journalism -- the centrality of theater and triviality, the smug contempt for substance, mindless "balance" and pox-on-both-houses analysis, etc.

It's why, as a reader who had greatly appreciated Milbank's coverage of the first Bush term as a White House reporter, my heart sank a bit when he started up this new column. It's not just the fact that there are plenty of cheap knocks against liberals in Washington Sketch (here's an example) amidst the snarky attacks that anger the right. It's the fact that, as when straight reporters appear on the news chat shows to offer commentary or are tasked with providing interesting takes in "news analysis" pieces, the prohibition against ideological or substantive belief virtually guarantees that even at its best, such commentary will merely reinforce standard news narratives and reflect the conventional wisdom.

It also means that ideological disputes become trivialized; conservative commentators have long begrudged Milbank for his background in liberal opinion journalism, but in his new incarnation, the extent of the guy's serious, objectionable ideological "bias" comes in wearing an orange hat on TV.

--Sam Rosenfeld

Posted by: SamIAm | February 21, 2006 11:22 AM

From Richard Cohen today: "[L]eftist critics of the war mindlessly cheered on the special prosecutor, thinking (if that's the right word) that his investigation would somehow bring down the administration. All it did was bring down Miller."

Two words that somehow slipped past Cohen without registering:

(1) Scooter.
(2) Libby.

Cohen hasn't heard about the Libby indictment.

"The greater Washington region - including the government of the United States - is our primary focus."

Any thoughts about something like that appearing in your paper? It would bother me ... but I'm not a professional journalist. Just trying to understand your thinking.

If that's the right word.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 21, 2006 11:49 AM

THe Post's actions censoring legitimate commentary on this blog reminds me of the time that John Adam's administration charged and convicted me and Benjamin Franklin Bach of sedition.

Posted by: James Callendar | February 21, 2006 12:27 PM

The question has been posed......

does this comment\blog\thread serve any purpose, since Wapo appear to ignore it?

You bet it does!

Because when shareholders in Wapo start asking why the value of thier shareholding has dropped some twenty odd per cent in the last year....

They need only look here.

And they'll be looking

DaveGood

Posted by: DaveGood | February 21, 2006 01:46 PM

Mr. Brady,

What does this mean:

"Comments about and criticism of the website can be sent to executive.editor@washingtonpost.com or posted in this blog's comment forums. We'll do our best to respond to your suggestions."

Where will you respond? It must be somewhere else than here because I've seen no response at all to any of the valid points and questions posted here.

Can you post a link to it for us? I'd really like to read your responses.

Thank you,

Posted by: Philip | February 21, 2006 02:19 PM

I just wanted to pass on Gene Weingarten's comments on this thread...

"Arlington, Va.: Dear Gene -

Wow. I just came from reading the over 400 comments posted to date on the post.blog site, and I need something to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Such rudeness-laced lunacy really frightens me. Why do people feel they have the right to behave this way?

I'm a liberal, but I would NEVER want any of these freaks to be associated with me or my cause.

washingtonpost.com: Post.blog comment thread .

Yawn.

Gene Weingarten: They're still yammering about Deb Howell's column!

By the way, for the record, I don't think her "mistake" was even significant. It was a minor error, clearly made without political agenda, and mostly semantic.

Oboy. Now THIS chat will be inundated with raving loons."

Posted by: aflapr | February 21, 2006 02:35 PM

Gotta love how we keep capturing screenshots and filesaves of non-profane posts that they keep deleting apparently solely because they dislike criticism.

Question why the original Howell/Abramoff article has not been corrected? Have your post deleted.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 21, 2006 02:40 PM

Appears that Gene is still channeling Debbie's mind:

Gene Weingarten: "They're still yammering about Deb Howell's column!

"By the way, for the record, I don't think her "mistake" was even significant. It was a minor error, clearly made without political agenda, and mostly semantic.

Is the "liberal in Arlington" who asked this question of Weingarten this question the same poster as "conservative in Arlington" who condemned anyone who had the temerity to question the accuracy of Brady or Howell.

Posted by: Seeker of Truth | February 21, 2006 02:55 PM

Stick a fork in this comment section, please.

********** IT IS WAY PAST THROUGH! **********

Posted by: I Am NOT Kidding | February 21, 2006 05:37 PM

Oh I don't know; I rather like it. Especially that last one from Chinese Freedom Seeker.

Posted by: Marg | February 21, 2006 08:59 PM

So, does anyone from the Post show up here to do anything except delete whatever is deemed offensive?

I think most if not all of us would welcome it ...

Just saying.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 21, 2006 09:04 PM

Well if Gene Weingardner thinks that Howell's error was minor, then the fact that some of Weingardner's readers are alcoholics means that the following statement

Gene Weingardner is an alcoholic

is just a minor error that requires no correction....

Posted by: paul lukasiak | February 21, 2006 09:22 PM

I concur with Mr Whinegarden! As this blog has amply demonstrated, one can't be too careful when making a commitment to feedback, dialogue, and accountability. When engaging the Great Unwashed in a "dialogue," one has no control over the substance and manner of their questions. Mr Brady and Ms Howell have issued their edicts, yet still the Unwashed aren't satisfied.

Mr Brady, I implore you, ignoring dissent is no longer sufficient: the time has come to stifle it. If you don't, I fear that your magisterial grasp of events will succumb to their miniaturism and obsession with facts.

Ignatius? No.

Posted by: Bentley Stanforth III | February 21, 2006 09:54 PM

You guys? Are winners.

It's astonishing to me that enforcement of rules that are standard operating procedure in the comments sections of many Web sites are "censorship," according to the standards of the people commenting on the postblog.

Posted by: Jim | February 21, 2006 10:43 PM

Jim,
The Post has been censoring many comments that have no profanity, nor contain any nicknames.
I think it is silly to object to nicknames, and censoring profanity is fine by me.
The Post is deleting substantive comments, and not answering any questions whatsoever.
There is no interactivity on this blog except what happens between the poster and the Chinese censor.

Posted by: Marky | February 21, 2006 11:22 PM

I would like to say a word to the jackal who wrote today's editorial, "Port Security Humbug." You criticize Congress for being disingenuous or acting on supposedly stale news about this port deal. You seem to be forgetting that Congress responds to the concerns of the PEOPLE (in theory, anyway), and the PEOPLE have found out late and are either correct in their gut instinct that this is bad news, or they haven't been sufficiently INFORMED to decide for themselves whether or not this is a good idea. You seem to applaud the concept of a CEO presidency, but we the people are left on our own to decipher the fine print the administration heaps on us daily. It is a full-time job keeping track of all the ways the oily Bush administration shakes us and our country's resources down, and you have done us no service either with your dismissive editorial.

Posted by: Carmen Lowe | February 22, 2006 03:30 AM

It is sad to see that while the Post excoriates the Chinese for censoring the Internets, on the homefront the Post itself censors legitimate criticisms of itself while not deigning to answering questions raised.
It will be interesting to see how long this comment itself will remain on the Blog.

Posted by: Wilson E. Allen | February 22, 2006 09:35 AM

Maybe now that the long weekend and a day of catching up have passed, some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 22, 2006 10:27 AM

"United Arab Emirates to run port operations at six of our largest ports under proposed deal!"

This is outstanding news!

I hope the President continues on and begins to sell off our national parks, public forests, mineral rights, chemical companies, petrochemical deposits, nuclear power plants and all of our electrical infrastructure including the Hoover Dam and everything else of value our nation holds sacred to help pay down that federal debt which as of February 17th was $8,248,495,902,663.05

He should auction off The Liberty Bell and especially The Statue of Liberty. That thing's FRENCH anyway.

P.S. The Wall Street Journal and the Carlyle Group says this deal should go through and that's all I need to know.

"Don't mind the forest... it's only a bunch of trees."

Posted by: DubyaIsGod | February 22, 2006 10:41 AM


>><><>even if this werent a waste of physical paper, its still a waste...this is a gargatuan like-unminded stream of total filth and polution; except that there isn't anything mentioned or iterated here ever with enough substance to matter except, as we all will know, a pathetic waste. wlgj36@hotmail.com

Posted by: javaron | February 22, 2006 01:22 PM

I still haven't seen any documents! The clock is still ticking! Tick Tock, Tick tock! I'm sure doubting that those documents even exist! I think Jim Brady should do the right thing and resign, but before he does he needs to fire Deborah Howell! Still waitin'! Tick tock, tick tock...

Posted by: Don Adams | February 22, 2006 08:17 PM

Okay -- maybe now that the long weekend and a couple of days of catching up have passed, some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 23, 2006 12:52 AM

My belief is that George W. Bush is one of the worst presidents in our history. Why do I believe this? Starting the war in Iraq, inadequately planning and managing this war, the disastrous response to Katrina, lack of concern regarding the environment, ignoring scientific knowledge which conflicts with administration policies, irresponsible tax cuts, secret prisons in eastern Europe, torture of prisoners, threat to our civil liberties... I could go on, but I don't have all day.

The thing is--I read the Washington Post. That's how I know all this negative information about the current administration. I don't intend to waste my time criticizing the newspaper. I intend to use the available time between now and November to help defeat Republicans.

Posted by: clr | February 23, 2006 11:19 AM

The mods are about deleting comments again! Comments that do not include profanity or attacks, but merely push them on the Howell issue. They're obviously uncomfortable about it.

So, in response, I say:
""Shouldn't there be a correction posted inline or at the bottom of Howell's original Abramoff column, noting that the claimed facts weren't facts after all? So that someone who reads that column -- what is it now, five weeks later -- would see that the Post corrected the error?""

Posted by: Taniwha | February 23, 2006 11:38 AM

Come on now! You said there was documents that Abramoff bribed democrats too! So lets get 'em out! The clock is ticking! Tick tock, tick tock! Still waitin'!! Tick tock, tick tock....

Posted by: Don Adams | February 23, 2006 11:56 AM

Your failure to discuss and/or publish the documents you say you have that somehow back up your assertion that Abramoff directed money to Democrats is embarrassing. You obviously want to move on ... but you can't. We'll keep bugging you. And if that doesn't work, we'll bug Len Downie and Donald Graham. And we'll bug the ombudsman whose behavior is at the heart of this. After all -- it's her job to respond to reader concerns. And my concern is that you are willing to publish a statement that you claim you have the evidence to support -- and you play coy with that "evidence".

Posted by: AJ | February 23, 2006 02:31 PM

QAuote: "So, in response, I say:
"Shouldn't there be a correction posted inline or at the bottom of Howell's original Abramoff column, noting that the claimed facts weren't facts after all? So that someone who reads that column -- what is it now, five weeks later -- would see that the Post corrected the error?"

Do all that work for just a lttle "minor error?" If the Post has to do that, they will not have adequate time to delete all the strong, moderate, and weak criticisms of the staff and all the snary humor, sarcasm, and ridicule which the editor and omsbudsman so richly deserve. Besides Jim Brady currently is occupied with recovery from the vapours.

Posted by: Donny | February 23, 2006 08:53 PM

To Mr. Adams or any other interested party. I suggest an ongoing count of how many days have gone by that the Washington Post has had an incorrect statement in an article posted without a correction, or solid evidence to prove the statement. That falsehood is as big a stain on the Washington Post's credibility as the stain on the blue dress was to Bill Clinton's legacy. A running count of the days (we're up to 30 something right) should at least add to the level of humiliation the Washington Post should be feeling. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock....

Posted by: Alan H. Liskov | February 24, 2006 12:34 AM

Alan H. Liskov,

I did a Google search to find the original story written by Debbie Howell. The byline says Jan. 15, 2006. Counting today as Feb. 24, that's 40 days.

Wow, an anniversery! Forty days, and more to grow on, I suspect.

Posted by: Cujo359 | February 24, 2006 02:07 AM

To the White House amanuensis who wrote today's editorial, "How to Lose Friends," how nice of you to stoop to explain to the little people what the president's job description does and does not entail. If he is too important to be bothered with this port deal, why would he then bother to insert himself into the Shiavo family's personal business? And how can you say that objections are irrational without explaining why they are supposed to be irrational? Really, the arrogance is staggering.

Posted by: Carmen Lowe | February 24, 2006 02:47 AM

It's way past time that editorials should have by-lines. Understandably, some unsigned editorials are merely the news organization's position on a topic or issue, and were possibly written by committee (the RNC comes to mind). In the days of yellow journalism, there may have been reasons the author wanted to remain anonymous; perhaps physical retribution was high on the list. This is the 21st century. No one is going to kill an editorial writer for what they've written. Come out of the closet, chickens! Tell us who you are.

Posted by: Philip | February 24, 2006 03:20 AM

Okay -- maybe now that a week has passed, some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 24, 2006 10:07 AM

To Alan H. Liskov and cujo 359,
40 days and 40 nights! Thats how long the Bible big flood lasted, wasn't it? 40 days and 40 nights this big lie, er, oops, untruth has been raining down upon the Wash. Post credibility! Amazing!! Boy, if I had any documents, I think I would put them out there to save a little face, wouldn't you? Old father time moves on! Tick tock, tick tock! Would you believe maybe 40 years? Still waitin', tick tock, tick tock...

Posted by: | February 24, 2006 10:23 AM

Oops, forgot to post my name on that last one! Sorry! Ain't it funny how time slips away! Tick tock, tick tock..

Posted by: Don Adams | February 24, 2006 10:33 AM

Uh oh, they deleted the one I forgot to put my name on! Must of been because I used the "L" word (lie)! Oh well, I will try it again: To Alan H. Liskov and cujo 359, 40 days and 40 nights! Wasn't that how long the big flood in the Bible lasted? 40 days and 40 nights this big "untruth" has been raining down upon the Wash. Post! I believe if I had any documents, I would put them out there to try and save a little face, wouldn't you? Oh well, father time marches on! The clock is still ticking! Tick tock, tick tock...

Posted by: Don Adams | February 24, 2006 10:47 AM

SECRET RULES?
My story suggestion was deleted a few hours after posting it last night!

What rule did I break?

Is it too sensitive politically to suggest that The Washington Post investigate (they used to do that I hear) the claims made in a film about 911 regarding connections to the UAE?

My post included a link to the full film, "911 Loose Change". Was that the problem? Where is the rule on that? Are there secret rules at play here?

Washington Post, please stop covering up and start uncovering cover-ups (I still love the old Bernstein and Woodward. I love your glory days! I do!)

Posted by: redking | February 24, 2006 11:54 AM

Post.com says:

"We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features."

But if you do "analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com," it will be deleted, not "censored."

This what happens when you appoint an ex-sports writer/editor to supervise a blog encoraging robust free speech. They think all, criticism is unsportsmanlike conduct.

Posted by: Donny | February 24, 2006 12:26 PM

WAshingtonpost.com also says:

"Washingtonpost.com shares the newspaper's values, but has a different mission. In this space, we can be faster and more complete. It also allows something invaluable: a continuing conversation with our readers, and among them. Given who reads The Post and washingtonpost.com, many of you know a great deal about the subjects we cover in print and online. Please share what you know.

"Given the press of deadlines and our own imperfections, we recognize that we won't always reach our goals. We're committed to acknowledging and correcting mistakes as quickly as possible. The newspaper's ombudsman, whose contract guarantees her independence, welcomes reader reaction and writes a weekly column."

When are all these activities going to start?

Posted by: | February 24, 2006 12:29 PM

The only thing that the ombudsman's contract appears to grant independence from is "relating to or providing representation of the reading public". It's become clear to me that she has little interest in representing the readership OR calling for accountability from the newspaper or its staff.

She's apparently turned her column into a personal attack podium from which to degrade people like Froomkin, Milbank, etc., and from which to cheerlead "inartful and misleading" reporting.

Note: This post contains criticism of the operations of the Washington Post and its staff. It will be screen-capped as soon as it is posted, in order to provide a formal record on the blogosphere after it is quickly deleted by the admins for daring to criticise the Sacred Cows of the Post.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 24, 2006 12:37 PM

To redking:
Aw, for the good ole days of watergate when reporters like Woodward and Bernstein actually got off their butts and went after the truth! But, i'm afrid those days are long gone, thanks to george bush! He uses tax payer money to get them to not tell the truth! Yeah, its sad but true! He's actually been caught at it and fessed up!Just ask his buddy Armstrong Williams!Those reporters really have a lot of pride, don't you think? Yeah, those were the days! Sigh! But, alas, they went the way of the hula hoop, mom's apple pie and accountability in our government! I don't know if you are or not, but I am old enough to remember all those things! I was a young man when watergate happened. Young and niave. I believed that crook Nixon right up to the final days. But, redking, I learned a good lesson from that! Thats why I don't believe a word george bush says any more! Believe me, he makes Nixon look like a choir boy! You know, lie to me once,shame on you, and lie to me twice, and, er, aw, er,er... Anyway, I am still waitin' on those documents that Jim Brady has and the clock is still ticking! Tick tock, tick tock...

Posted by: Don Adams | February 24, 2006 12:50 PM

To: Washington Post
Subject: PRINCIPLES TO LIVE BY

1. The truth.
2. The whole truth.
3. Nothing but the truth.
4. Public acknowledgment of factual errors.
5. Public correction of factual errors.

If I have to choose one and only one of the above I take #1.

Posted by: redking | February 24, 2006 01:03 PM

The Post just wasn't ready for your tenaciousness. They thought you'd give up by now. That shows you how dense Deborah Howell is on the mistake she made. Jim Brady could have turned this situation around with a little humility. Instead, we're 40 days and counting, with no resolution in sight.

Posted by: Taylor Marsh | February 24, 2006 02:47 PM

Taylor:

One is brain dead and the other has a tin ear.

Posted by: Donny | February 24, 2006 05:56 PM

Miracle of Miracles!

Old "tin ear Jim" seems to be learning something; Better late than never.

I see that the Marky post to Jim, the Jim post to Marky, and the Don to Jim have been restored.

Will wonders never cease?

Posted by: Don | February 24, 2006 06:03 PM

After seeing Mrs. Howell's job performance, I have discovered that the Washington Post has ombudsman-program-related-activities.

Posted by: Wilson E. Allen | February 24, 2006 07:33 PM

Atrios says:

Cementing his place as a Bush media lackey of the first order, Fred Hiatt, the Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Post, reaches a new low - stooping to the New McCarthyism:


". . . Congress . . . pours most of its Iraq-related energy into allegations of manipulated intelligence before the war. "Those aren't irrelevant questions," says Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). "But the more they dominate the public debate, the harder it is to sustain public support for the war."

"What Lieberman doesn't say is that many Democrats would view such an outcome as an advantage. Their focus on 2002 is a way to further undercut President Bush, and Bush's war, without taking the risk of offering an alternative strategy -- to satisfy their withdraw-now constituents without being accountable for a withdraw-now position.

"Many of them understand that dwindling public support could force the United States into a self-defeating position, and that defeat in Iraq would be disastrous for the United States as well as for Mahdi and his countrymen. But the taste of political blood as Bush weakens, combined with their embarrassment at having supported the war in the first place, seems to override that understanding.

This is one of the most despicable things ever written in the Media. It disgraces WaPo that it was published by their Editorial Editor Hiatt. Oh by the way, this also explains why Lieberman will be opposed strenuously and why no qiuarter shall be given him. I wonder if he and Buckley still get along?"

But it is EXACTLY this New McCarthyism that has driven truth and honesty from political discourse. It has made us shrill. The truth stares us in the face and we are to pretend it does not exist. Well, Bill Buckley said "Enough." As has some of the other elements of National Review. I discuss this on the flip.

Posted by: Bill B. | February 25, 2006 04:26 PM

Integrity Politics
Saturday, February 25, 2006; Page A16
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/24/AR2006022401702.html

"No one, though, should fall for phony enforcement of the sort peddled by Senate Democrats in their lobbying reform bill. Their measure would establish a Senate Office of Public Integrity -- but it would have authority over lobbyists' compliance with the rules, not senators'. They'd be left to the ethics committee. Public integrity, it seems, only goes so far."

Right out of Karl Rove/Ken Mehlman's playbook, I'd say.

Posted by: | February 26, 2006 02:27 AM

MY RESTORED POST DELETED AGAIN!
To: Washington Post
Subject: SECRET CENSORSHIP

If you would like the Administration to follow the law it would be a good example for them if you did the same. Start with your 'award-winning' web blog.

You have set your rules for contributors. But you do not follow them.

You pull and restore and re-pull posts at the whim of some anonymous person you have authorized to do so.

I suggest you stop acting like a Watergate administration and become publicly responsible for your actions. If you are going to censor posts, then do so up-front with stated reasons and responsible parties attached.

What is your problem with trusting your readership? Do you think we can't handle the truth?

You do not have my respect when you engage in cowardly secret censorship.

Posted by: redking | February 26, 2006 10:57 AM

To redking,
They deleted another one of mine too! The only thing I can figure out with mine is maybe tick tock is profanity. Anyway, where are the documents? The clock is still ticking! Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock,tick tock... stil ticking... tick tock,tick tock, tick tock...I'm beginning to think those documents are a figment of somebodys imagination!! Wonder who's? If they get tired of all the nasty tick tocks, and the documents are legit, maybe they will post them... still ticking...tick tock,tick tock...be back later to check for the documents... tick tock, tick tock...

Posted by: Don Adams | February 26, 2006 11:49 AM

Don't feel that you are being singled out for being deleted and re-deleted, the four Marky, Jim, Don posts also have been re-deleted. Karl must be playing games with us.

Is this a geat blog or not?

Posted by: redking | February 26, 2006 11:52 AM

Alert!

Ken Mehlman has been hired by Jim and Debbie as the official post.blog censor to make sure that Karl does not allow deleted posts to be restored.

Posted by: Don | February 26, 2006 11:57 AM

ID THEFT:
Someone just posted this under my name. I ain't mine!

Washington Post: You could implement a log-in procedure for posting that would use verifiable names instead of allowing anyone to post under anyone's name as you do now. Tighten up your security!

=====NOT MY POST - BELOW=========
Don't feel that you are being singled out for being deleted and re-deleted, the four Marky, Jim, Don posts also have been re-deleted. Karl must be playing games with us.

Is this a geat blog or not?

Posted by: redking | February 26, 2006 11:52 AM
=====NOT MY POST - END=========

Posted by: redking | February 26, 2006 12:12 PM

BUSH-LIKE BLOG RULE ETHICS?

The Washington Post is acting like a petty tyrant in it's administration of this blog

(Quick, anyonymous deleter (no, no! please, stay hiding in the shadows. Do NOT show your face! But quick! Delete this post! It does not glorify your newspaper as a demi-god of fair play and free speech.)

My new cynicism for The Post is due to its arbitrary and inconsistent application of its 'rules'. In this they differ little from Bush administration's "I am the law" position on rules.

Instead of replying to criticism's they choose to delete criticisms in an attempt to silence critics.

Is this any way to run a newspaper?

Posted by: redking | February 26, 2006 01:56 PM

Does the washingtonpost.com website have an official ombudsman?

I sent an email to Ms. Howell in which I included the contents of an email I sent to Mr. Brady and she replied with:

"I can only send to Brady and hope he will reply. I'm not the official ombudsman for the website. Deborah"

Posted by: Philip | February 26, 2006 06:55 PM

Philip, i suspect you of lying.

You said: "Does the washingtonpost.com website have an official ombudsman?

I sent an email to Ms. Howell in which I included the contents of an email I sent to Mr. Brady and she replied with:

"I can only send to Brady and hope he will reply. I'm not the official ombudsman for the website. Deborah" "


I doubt that story to be true. Because if deborah Howell were actually to get off her pedestal (made entirely of high horses stacked and glued together with a glue made of sheer arrogance) in order to reply to a lowly reader, I think she'd be more likely to tell you to get back in your little place, shut up, and quit questioning the marching orders from her old texas powerbroker buddies. Considering how little she cares about the people she supposedly represents.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 26, 2006 08:58 PM

I'm not lying Taniwha. Post your email address in your next comment and I'll forward the email to you intact, with all the headers.

Posted by: Philip | February 26, 2006 09:22 PM

Nah. I'm sure the Post BlogMods would probably sign it up for a bunch of spam. Anything to discourage criticism.

Posted by: Taniwha | February 26, 2006 10:50 PM

That's probably true. Then again, I suppose that's why gawd gave us throw-away email accounts.

Posted by: Philip | February 26, 2006 11:16 PM

"In this space, we can be faster and more complete. It also allows something invaluable: a continuing conversation with our readers, and among them."

Heh. Indeed.

Posted by: InstaPostit | February 27, 2006 01:15 AM

"Tough criticism is welcome". Jim Brady, executive editor, Washington Post .com !! This says it all!! Well, heres what I say!! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Posted by: Don Adams | February 27, 2006 09:52 AM

Taniwha,

I received three e-mails (defensive and self-justifying but civil) from Deborah Howell shortly after her initial column and subsequent dust-up appeared.

And Deborah is the official ombudsman for the WP -- she has a contract (as she herself pointed out) so I don't know where that's coming from.

Posted by: AJ | February 27, 2006 10:25 AM

I recieved one email response from Ms. Howell. I asked her if she didn't feel like she should resign. Her one word response was "Nope"! At least I got a reply, by golly!!

Posted by: Don Adams | February 27, 2006 01:16 PM

"I can only send to Brady and hope he will reply. I'm not the official ombudsman for the website. Deborah"

That is a direct quote from an email Ms. Howell sent me in reply to an email I sent her. In fact, it's ALL she wrote in her reply. I don't know how to make that plainer than I already have, other than posting the email, headers and all on a website somewhere.

As some renowned Senator once put it in the 70's, "English is my mother tongue." (or words to that effect). By stating that she isn't the official ombudsman for the website, I "interpret" that to mean Ms. Howell is the ombudsman for the print newspaper and the website doesn't have an "official ombudsman."

Sheesh! Let's debate semantics, why don't we...

Posted by: Philip | February 27, 2006 01:51 PM

Save those comments from Debbie: they are the only truthful thing she has written to date for the Post.

Posted by: Dana | February 27, 2006 03:09 PM

Doesn't Len Downie have an e-mail address? Or Don Graham?

Seriously, the stonewalling and cowardice of Brady and Howell on this subject are striking.

Posted by: AJ | February 27, 2006 09:34 PM

Okay -- maybe now that ten days have passed, some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | February 28, 2006 02:56 AM

AJ: "And Deborah is the official ombudsman for the WP -- she has a contract (as she herself pointed out) so I don't know where that's coming from."

Is it her contract that makes her work more for Karl Rove than the readers?

Posted by: Taniwha | February 28, 2006 07:58 AM

Taniwha,

Howell screwed up in an effort to provide "balance" -- she got called on it and reacted defensively. She provided a half-baked correction with a heaping helping of self-justification. Her boss, Brady, then compounded the error by not responding to reader responses to her "correction." While Rove cannot be unhappy with this turn of events, there's no reason to think that Howell or Brady were doing anything other than seeking "balance". But it has backfired on them and the next time they seek "balance", I think they'll be a little more careful about wielding the brush with the tar on it.

But that doesn't help this time because they are STILL refusing to set the record straight -- which is why I believe Len Downie and/or Donald Graham should be involved at this point -- because Brady claims he's got docs that prove that Abramoff directed money to Democrats ... but he won't produce or further discuss them. If he has them, that's news. If he doesn't after claiming he did, that's also news. And that's Len Downie's job -- he's the news editor.

Posted by: AJ | February 28, 2006 08:30 AM

Names & Addresses at The Post

Donald E. Graham, Chairman of the Board
GrahamD@washpost.com

Leonard Downie Jr., Executive Editor
DownieL@washpost.com

If those don't work try adding the middle initial before the @ sign.

Posted by: | February 28, 2006 09:22 AM

No, just "malign neglect"!

Posted by: JIm | February 28, 2006 11:00 AM

Having these blogs to comment on is a nice feature but I'd like to see a comment section at the end of each of Deborah Howell's columns.

Posted by: Philip | February 28, 2006 11:31 AM

Philip,

Us little people are not allowed to speak to Ms. Howell. She does not answer to us poor rabble.

Posted by: Taniwha | March 1, 2006 09:11 AM

Taniwha,

Have you e-mailed Howell? I did two days ago asking for a charification of her role -- she responded and said she is ombudsman only for the print edition and that neither the WP Company nor the online edition have an official ombudsman.

Thanks to whomever posted the Draham and Downie e-mail addresses.

AJ

Posted by: AJ | March 1, 2006 10:59 AM

AJ,

The Post Online reprints the articles from the Post Paper; content, including corrections, from the Post Paper are posted on the Post Post Post Online Post.

Until the Post Online updates, corrects, or removes the original, intentionally fallacious article wherein Howell posted fairytale information ("Abramoff gave money to Dems"), then both the Post Paper and the Post Website are, in effect, unrepentantly yellow in their journalism.

Deb Howell may have written a half-hearted mea culpa, which contained more than its fair share of "I'm a victim, I got the vapors from you meanies who yelled at me when I lied"... but that's not good enough. A real, honest journalistic body would print a formal correction and remove or update the original post. When it does so, the Post will regain its status as a relevant and respectable body of journalism - right up there with, say, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Boston Globe, the London Times.

Posted by: Taniwha | March 1, 2006 12:32 PM

Taniwha,

You're right. Sports writers know this, for cryin' out loud. You can change the online version of the story and note in footnotes what it used to say for the sake of posterity and consistency with what was printed. There's no excuse for this save lack of imagination or integrity.


Posted by: Cujo359 | March 1, 2006 05:26 PM

Video Shows Bush Being Warned on Katrina
Officials Detailed a Dire Threat to New Orleans

By Spencer S. Hsu and Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 2, 2006; A01

Where exactly in this riveting story was mention made of President Bush later quoted as saying "No one could've forseen the levee failures?"

Posted by: Philip | March 2, 2006 12:24 AM

That is a rather strange omission to the piece.
I just read it myself because I couldn't believe from the previous poster that you would leave that part out of your story...
Since, as far as I can tell, that IS the story.

Bush's bald faced lie.
Followed by his and the Administration's criminal negligence.
But without the "No one could've forseen the levee failures?" comment, it doesn't even make sense why you would think this was news.

Posted by: Pete | March 2, 2006 12:43 AM

Bush's bald faced lie.
Followed by his and the Administration's criminal negligence.
But without the "No one could've forseen the levee failures?" comment, it doesn't even make sense why you would think this was news.

Why are you protecting this genocidal president? He is killing us with his incompetence, ignorance and criminality.

Posted by: Outraged | March 2, 2006 03:04 AM

On your coverage of the video showing Bush being briefed on Katrina: Your story did not mention that President Bush said that no one could have imagined the levees breaking. But, this meeting shows that people were concerned about the levees breaking. This seems to me to be a big point. Especially when the story mentions the Katrina report as a way to figure out what went wrong. But if Bush himself is lying about what the preparations were, I think we know where a huge piece of what went wrong. In short we elected a person hopelessly incapable of handling anything let alone a crisis. But he can lie about it pretty well. Thank you,

Posted by: Jeff | March 2, 2006 06:02 AM

Your coverage of the Bush administration's denial that no one could have predicted the levees would be in danger was abysmal.. in fact - incompetent is closer to reality.

George Bush clearly lied to the American public and you can't bring yourself to mention it.

Posted by: John Wilson | March 2, 2006 06:28 AM

Disappointed about the Post's failure to reconcile the difference between the conference call video and Bush's claim that "no one could have anticipated" the levee failures?

Why not bring it up to Debbie Howell, the Post's crusading ombudsman? After all, she's there, every day, in the trenches, to fight against this sort of failure of the paper to provide real news to its readers. Where lesser beings in her place would fall to the temptations of politically motivated bias and inner-beltway backscratching, she maintains her flawless, almost holy integrity by ALWAYS, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, defending the newspaper's responsibility for truth and the whole truth over the tendencies of entrenched former journalists to simply become mouthpieces for their powerful cocktail party friends.

Trust Debbie. Bring it up to her. She'll whip out a column immediately that excoriates the newspaper for intentionally leaving out info that would make the Leader look bad.

When Ms. Howell retires, she should be awarded a statue which thanks her for her service to America, and puts her up there with the greats of journalism - Edward R. Murrow, Nellie Bly, Jack Anderson, and Ida Tarbell.

Posted by: Taniwha | March 2, 2006 01:06 PM

You know, when I first read the article by Spencer S. Hsu and Linton Weeks, Washington Post Staff Writers, Thursday, March 2, 2006; Page A01 titled "Video Shows Bush Being Warned on Katrina, Officials Detailed a Dire Threat to New Orleans" and noticed the quote of Bush didn't find its way into the article, writing Ms. Howell wasn't the first thing that came to mind. You see, I read the article on the washingtonpost.com, not in the paper edition, and I was recently told by Ms. Howell that she wasn't the "official ombudsman" for the website. This seemed a conundrum to me. What to do, what to do...

Next, I thought to myself, "Philip, you should write the authors of the article, since that kind Mr. Brady just informed you there was an easier way to contact The Washington Post journalists." So, I clicked on the journalists' names and up popped an input box in which I could type my query. It was short. It was sweet. It was to the point. I didn't want to ask a long, drawn-out question because I know how busy The Washington Post journalists probably are. You know, what with all the truth, justice and the American way to report on, I'm sure Spenser and Linton probably need a new pair of loafers with all the leads they're chasing down.

So, I clicked on "send" and my short little email was on its way, off to the journalists, followed by a response that, as Carl Sagan might have put it, said: "Since we're so busy and billions and billions of people read our paper, don't expect an immediate reply."

Here, I wait; almost fifteen hours later, waiting, waiting for even a canned response that my email was received. Waiting,... and my inbox remains empty. Waiting. Clicking "refresh." Waiting. I thought about writing Dana Milbank or Jim VandeHei, even though they weren't involved with the article, but I don't want to get them in trouble with Ms. Howell. Plus, they're probably in makeup, getting their television faces put on for appearances soon.

To make a long story short, as they say, how would my washingtonpost.com internet experience be more enjoyable if I had written to Ms. Howell directly, Taniwha?

Posted by: Philip | March 2, 2006 03:11 PM

Is the article not from the Post Paper staff? If so, Ms Howell will be the ombusdsdsdsman for that, and you know that as soon as you contact her she'll put on her "S" cape and go out after those bad writers who write shallow and inartfully worded tripefests.

Remember, she's the ombudsman for the newspaper, out there EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF THE DAY crusading HARD for the readers!

She will NEVER LET YOU DOWN. She once saved my kitty from a tree.

Posted by: Taniwha | March 2, 2006 03:36 PM

Goodness gracious! Heavens to Besty!

While trying to convince myself to write Ms. Howell, I just saw a story on CNN about a man who got attacked in Florida (I think) by a wallaroo, of all things!?!

I didn't even realize Florida had Outback Steakhouses and now people are getting attacked by wallaroos?!

Should I ask Ms. Howell to consider writing a column about that?

Posted by: Philip | March 2, 2006 03:55 PM

Hey, Philip, great idea! I think this is the kind of hard-hitting journalism that the Washington Post can really sink its teeth into. In fact, they could start an investigative series called "When Non-native Marsupial Species Attack".

On second thought, that series idea might be too complicated for the Post's new target audience. Better just go with the single article.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 2, 2006 11:34 PM

"The Post also has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/21/AR2006012100907.html

Not to beat a dead horse, but does anyone reading these comments have a link to the article where these "copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff" were published? I'd really like to look at them and see what "personal directions" were given to the tribes. I can't imagine that these "lists" would be classified documents. Thank you.

Posted by: Ben | March 3, 2006 01:46 AM

Did I overlook them or was this the only comment left by anyone at the washingtonpost.com since comments were turned back on:

Posted by: washingtonpost.com | February 19, 2006 10:47 AM

I really don't think I understand this "continuing conversation with our readers" thing.

Posted by: Ben | March 3, 2006 02:17 AM

Okay -- maybe now that two weeks have passed, some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

Oh, and back to my original question: Shouldn't there be a correction posted inline or at the bottom of Howell's original Abramoff column, noting that the claimed facts weren't facts after all? So that someone who reads that column -- what is it now, almost two months later? -- would see that the Post corrected the error?

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 3, 2006 10:31 AM

This page of comments -- what could it be, 300 KB of text? 400? -- takes 48 seconds to load. Call it 350KB ... that's about 70Kbps, slightly better than a V.92 modem.

What could be slowing it down? All those hits from Post people eager to answer all the questions?

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 3, 2006 10:41 AM

For the two or three posters still beating their fingers posting on this blog: Please be aware that this blog no longer connects to anything but your own two or three computers. Give up!

Posted by: Jim B. | March 3, 2006 03:47 PM

An Abramoff spokesman said: "Each tribe has its own protocol for approving political contributions made by the tribe. Mr. Abramoff and his team provided recommendations on where a tribe should spend its political dollars, but ultimately the tribal council made the final decision on what political contributions to make."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/02/AR2005060202158.html

I'd really like to look at your "copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff" and see what "personal directions" were given to the tribes. Where were those lists printed in your newspaper, and what is the link (URL)?

Posted by: Ben | March 3, 2006 03:52 PM

That's not true, Jim B. Someone at the WaPo is still looking at this blog because they deleted the comment about the million dollar giveaway:
Posted by: mike | March 3, 2006 12:04 PM

Posted by: Ben | March 3, 2006 03:57 PM

Jane Hamsher quotes Romenesco:

"We've been having some vigorous discussion here -- and have been in correspondence with the ombudsmen of The Washington Post and New York Times -- about various ethical and journalism issues. We thought you'd be interested in these issues, and we'd appreciate your thoughts about them. We also think some of this should raise caution flags for your gatekeeping editors as they assess whether to use copy from competing national news organizations.

First, in this post-Jayson Blair era, we believe newspapers must be more transparent then ever about the sources of their stories. That includes acknowledging when others have beaten us to a big story. The Washington Post and New York Times each failed this standard in recent weeks.

On Feb. 7, Warren Strobel reported on a State Department reorganization that sidelined career arms control experts who don't share the Bush administration's mistrust of international arms negotiations and agreements. Exactly two weeks later, The Washington Post published a virtually identical story by Glenn Kessler. We say "virtually identical" only because the stories were written with different words. There was not a single fact in Kessler's story that was not in Strobel's, the product of weeks of careful enterprise reporting and interviews with 11 current and former government officials.

We have asked, through the Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell, who was once executive editor in St. Paul, for a published acknowledgement of the Knight Ridder story. To date, it hasn't happened. We understand that there has been vigorous opposition from the Post reporter, who has claimed, in essence, that the "trade press" had already widely reported the story, a contention that is in fact not correct. We're waiting to see what happens.
Lil' Debbie is on the case. When she's done covering the local pie eating contest and flogging Dana Milbank for his fashion gafs I'm sure she'll be all over this."

Any bets on Debbie responding?

Posted by: Jimbo | March 3, 2006 09:00 PM

Taniwha,

I agree that it is lame for Howell to claim that she is only the ombudsman for the print edition. And I agree that the Post will not have rectified their error until they issue a retraction. But we won't get that from Howell or Brady. I e-mailed both Len Downie and Donald Graham using the e-mail addresses above -- no response yet -- but they have not been kicked back either.

Posted by: AJ | March 4, 2006 08:28 PM

"Knickmeyer, a longtime foreign correspondent for the Associated Press before joining The Post, was in the morgue and reported what she saw personally, Hoffman said. Iraqi staffers for The Post were also involved in the reporting. What about Gen. Shamarri, whom no one else could find? Hoffman said he doesn't know why other reporters couldn't find Shamarri. "I can't speak for them."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/03/AR2006030302222.html

It's perfectly understandable what's going on here:

(a) The General is a fictitious character, sort of like the Iraqi who pointed to the WsMD buried in the desert and told Judith Miller of The New York Times, "Dig there!"

(b) There was a misunderstanding by the reporter in Iraq while transcribing the official U.S. Department of Defense "press release" (paid propaganda).

End of story. Move on along. Nothing to see here. And hey, guess what... I didn't have to travel to Iraq to figure out what the truth was.

Posted by: Philip | March 5, 2006 01:54 AM

Oh, by the way, I'm still waiting:

I'd really like to look at your "copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff" and see what "personal directions" were given to the tribes. Where were those lists printed in your newspaper, and what is the link (URL)?

Posted by: Philip | March 5, 2006 02:00 AM

It's been a while since I've dropped by so I'll bet I've missed a lot of the back-and-forth conversation that Jim Brady suggested would be taking place here between the Post staff and readers - what a great concept. When I was here before, it was just readers but now that staff have had a chance to get their bearings, I'm sure it's cracking. What have I missed?

Posted by: ben brung | March 7, 2006 02:49 AM

Here come the world, with the look in it's eye. Future uncertain, but certainly slight. Look at the faces; listen to the bells. It's hard to believe we need a place called hell...

Posted by: A Different Ben | March 7, 2006 03:29 PM

every single one of us, the Devil inside?

Posted by: Taniwha | March 8, 2006 09:33 AM

So you see, ben brung, you haven't missed much. It's sort of like watching the movie "The Breakfast Club" or a badly produced sequel on endless loop, with a few "bad boys" writing "bad things" on the blackboard and occasionally, the principal struts out from his office to erase parts of the blackboard while no one is looking.

Posted by: Tim | March 8, 2006 11:34 PM

Is it time to give a thank you to the Post for good investigative reporting into governing coalition attempts to minimize Sunni death counts?

Posted by: ben brung | March 9, 2006 03:08 AM

And also time to point out what an embarrassing eyesore this discussion section has become. Give it some organization and actually interact with readers or just don't bother. This is really not a good reflection on your level of interest in your readers.

Posted by: ben brung | March 9, 2006 03:12 AM

hahah! Spam! Gotta love it.

Lo how the mighty have fallen.

Posted by: Taniwha | March 9, 2006 09:52 AM

Okay -- maybe now that three weeks have passed, some Post folks will answer some of the questions that have been successfully posted.

Does it strike anyone that they may be awfully *busy* over there at the Post? Busy with heroic efforts to "get the story out" (for example, as with the Downing Street minutes), to "get the story right" (oh, I dunno -- as with Jack Abramoff's even-handed donations to Democrats as well as Republicans), and every now and then to acknowledge and correct themselves as quickly as possible when, as Wossname wrote up top there, they somehow don't reach their goal of "present[ing] the news without favor to any party or point of view."

Busy, busy, busy.

They must feel so embiggened that we're having this dialog, this invaluable continuing conversation.

With ourselves.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 10, 2006 10:23 AM

I THINK THE CONFUSION ARISES FROM SYMANTICS. IT MAY BE TRUE THAT SOME OF ABRAMOFF'S CLIENTS CONTRIBUTED TO DEMS BUT JACK ABRAMOFF HIMSELF HAS NOT GIVEN ONE NICKLE TO THE DEMS. THAT IS WHAT DEAN AND OTHERS HAVE BEEN INSISTING.

Posted by: THOMAS BOYLE | March 10, 2006 02:14 PM

It's more than semantics -- the Post claimed that they had docs that showed that Abramoff directed his clients to give to Democrats. But his clients actually gave LESS to Democrats after they became Abramoff clients than they had before -- so it would appear that it is far more likely that Abramoff tried to steer his clients AWAY from donating to Democrats at all but that some of those clients decided that it made more sense to grease palms on both sides of the aisle.

And the problem for the Post is that even though they claim to have docs that show Abramoff directing clients to give money to Democrats, they have neither published those documents nor have they seen fit to give their readers any idea what those docs might be.

And so this thread is ongoing testimony to their lack of accountability and contempt for their readers. Jim Brady and Deborah Howell really should have been removed from their positions at the Post ... but this will not happen ... and as a result, the reputation of the Post is diminished every day. Which is sad.

Posted by: AJ | March 11, 2006 02:23 PM

This has become really hilarious. Mr. Brady should be applauded for creating this cordoned off area for free speech just like the GOP political campaigns do.

May be the next step will be for the WaPo to duplicate the other GOP tactic and create a posting area where only those will be allowed to post who have been vetted to heap praise on the paper like the hand picked audiences do for our leader in the so-called town hall meetings.

I am out of here. Don't need no free speech like this.

Posted by: lib | March 11, 2006 07:30 PM

This really is hilarious in a kind of pathetic and surreal way. Use a bad word? Nope. Get a little too personal? Nope. Cross an undefined political line? Maybe not. Sell some shoes with a little spam on the side? No problem.

Just bizarre.

Posted by: ben brung | March 12, 2006 02:14 AM

Doesnt anybody still get it. 551 comments arent because people are doing this on their own. All this is because blogs sites are telling people what they should say where. This is why you get an avalache of comments. There is no reasoning here, only repeating the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Posted by: right100 | March 13, 2006 09:27 AM

Why do you seem so outraged right100? For years and years Republicans have been complaining about "the liberal media" and "the mainstream media" and how unfair it is to Republican politicians and Republican think tanks. You should be happy a lot of liberals are criticizing The Washington Post and leaving their critical comments in this forum, even if they say the same thing over and over. Look at the result! The Washington Post has been cowed and is much more fair to Republicans now that they've been exposed for the manic liberals they really are. Rejoice, brother.

Posted by: Philip | March 13, 2006 03:29 PM

right100 - So, who told you to write what you did? There wasn't a whole lot of thought in what you wrote, so clearly, by your logic, you must have been sent here by an angry blog.

Clearly you haven't actually read these letters and do a little research. If you had, you'd find out that these are the people who came up with the writing on the blogs. Others are just people who are annoyed. Still others read this stuff on blogs, as I did, then did some followup research like following the links and then looking for other source material, then writing here.

And then, of course, the WaPo simply ignored it all because it wasn't convenient to acknowledge that there might be a point. Instead, they whined about how a few messages were rude and somewhat personal.

In short, there is a great deal of thinking reflected in the letters on this comment page, and the WaPo has simply ignored it. That's why we keep repeating what we wrote earlier. We want the WaPo to understand that we're not going away until they start behaving like journalists again.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 13, 2006 03:32 PM

I saw Mr.Keith Richburg on C-Span on 3-13-06 and I wanted to thank him for the excellent presentation he gave on NATO as a viable military force he perceive it at this time and will they be able to serve in various parts of the world in the near and distant future or will they be stretch too thin or will NATO go by the way side as in the case of SEATO, MEATO and other alliances that were formed after World War II and since have been abandoned. Perhaps I will get my answer on some future seminar that Mr. Richburg will do. Thank You for your time . Rmagjr@yahoo.com (Roger Galindo NY,NY

Posted by: | March 13, 2006 08:10 PM

I have only one thing to say in response to right100 claiming that the blogs are telling me what to say . . . 404 Page Not Found.

Crap, I'll have to get back to you on that in a little while.

Posted by: ben brung | March 14, 2006 01:32 AM

It's now been two months since Debbie Howell published the erroneous article about Jack Abramoff that started all this. It remains uncorrected to this day.

Meanwhile, this "vibrant community", to coin a phrase from Mr. Brady's whinefest "Blog Rage", is more closely resembling on unplanned, overbuilt ghost town, with spam posts subbing as tumbleweeds. The only thing vibrant about this community has been the conversations we've had amongst ourselves, which we can have lots of places. This page has been allowed to grow to unbelievable lengths. It takes minutes to render on one of my computers.

Mr. Brady, if this is your idea of using the Internet to connect with your readers, you truly know nothing about working online. You can work on it another ten years and you still won't get the idea. You have to engage with your users, not leave them their own bit of digital wall to spray paint on. Until you do that, pages like this will remain a sad monument to your stupidity.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 15, 2006 01:07 AM

Cujo359 said: "You can work on it another ten years and you still won't get the idea."

Are you saying he's not too bright? Because that won't be tolerated.

I was going to suggest that you could counsel him to leave the business and sell shoes and then provide a link to sell [major brand name shoe] but I see the spam has actually been deleted. Damn, mediocre joke ruined.

Posted by: ben brung | March 15, 2006 01:56 AM

Well, it's reassuring to see that, somewhere in their busy day, the Posties found time to delete the spam after only, what, three or four days?

I figure they're right on schedule. Deleting shoestore spam is almost literally a no-brainer -- couldn't require more than a second, including both the thought and the deed. That took three or four days.

Extrapolate how long it would take to respond to a substantive question -- even just one -- including (a) actually reading the damn thing, (b) thinking about it, (c) maybe deciding that you need to ask someone else what to think about it, (c-sub-1) deciding who that someone would be 'midst all the confusion over whether the ombudslady does her ombudsing only in the dead trees, (c-sub-2) finding that someone, whoever it turns out to be, (d) discussing the question, (e) deciding to just ignore it until it goes away, and finally (f) actually ignoring the damn thing ...

... and you can see it'd take awhile.

They may not even have begun to ignore the damn thing yet.

Patience, BenBrung, patience.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.
searching for home

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 15, 2006 11:16 AM

Oops... reading back, I have to confess I mis-stated the problem. It looks like the shoestore spam must have been up for a week (since the 9th), not just three or four days, before it got nuked.

Please factor that into your expectations for responses to anything substantive.

Kind regards,
Dog

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 15, 2006 11:32 AM

ben brung asks: Are you saying he's not too bright? Because that won't be tolerated.

To me, "stupid" means you're not using the brains you have. Brady actually strikes me as fairly bright, but apparently either has limited control of his ego or doesn't have the courage to face up to reality. I'm not sure which it is, but either way, he's not making use of the gray cells he has available.

And yes, it probably won't be tolerated, but speaking truth to power seldom is.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 15, 2006 03:21 PM

Here's another example of the WaPo's new dedication to journalism. In today's Post, Shailagh Murray writes:

For months the Democrats have resisted calls from their liberal base to more aggressively challenge President Bush.

So, which liberals would that be, you might ask? John D. at Americablog did just that (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/03/washington-post-sloppy-journalism-stop.html).
Later, Josh Feit at The Stranger wrote that where she got is was apparently from a Republican party press release by Diane Tebelius, the new chairwoman (http://www.thestranger.com/blog/archives/2006/03/12-18.php#a004818).

Once again, this is sloppy journalism at the least, and shilling for a political party at worst. Real journalists would be ashamed. Too bed there are so few left at the Washington Post.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 15, 2006 05:44 PM

Hi everyone! I think this article is very interesting and useful. I always bookmarked it.
Thank You very much!!! If interesting please visit my site: http://ubtt.org/ or
ubtt

Posted by: mp3 downloads | March 15, 2006 07:10 PM

If they are urging any kind of opposition to Bush, they are liberal. It's basic common sense - gosh. We are a country at war and only a whack-job wouldn't love our little cowboy.

It's the liberal media's fault for pumping up the importance of these approval numbers before . . . um . . . ignoring them to mischaracterize the majority of the public as liberal.

Damn, I don't know how these wingnuts continue to do it. Even a few satirical sentences have given me a headache.

Posted by: ben brung | March 15, 2006 08:24 PM

Well. It's been a month. Congratulations to the Post on the invaluable continuing conversation with its readers.

Oh, and back to my original question: Shouldn't there be a correction posted inline or at the bottom of Howell's original Abramoff column, noting that the claimed facts weren't facts after all? So that someone who reads that column -- what is it now, two months later? -- would see that the Post eventually corrected the error?

Just asking. As part of this invaluable dialog.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.
invaluable

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 17, 2006 10:34 AM

"Given who reads The Post and washingtonpost.com, many of you know a great deal about the subjects we cover in print and online. Please share what you know."

I read a story about Judith Miller of former New York Times fame recently, and I'd like to see The Washington Post do a human interest story on her, now that she has more than enough time on her hands for a sit-down, tell-all. Nothing real in-depth, mind you. Maybe a story about her vacations in Aspen, yes, Aspen, land of the Ash trees whose roots are intertwined. What slopes does she ski on? What's her favorite beverage? Does her blackberry "ring off the hook" with book deals? Award-winning books? This is potential Pulitzer stuff I'm talking about here. Is anyone available from the Style section to get on this? Forget that old saying, "Haste makes waste." I want to see this story now! Besides, everyone's already forgotten who she is and you could play this up as a story on an aspiring journalist.

P.S. I STILL want to see you finally publish the "copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts." Don't sit on that story too long... people might lose interest, or forget completely that you said that.

Posted by: Philip | March 17, 2006 02:42 PM

Newspapers in an Economic Storm
"Readers who feel respected and who love their newspaper don't depart easily."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/17/AR2006031701924.html

Trust me on this... I am SOOOOOO glad I wasn't drinking something and had a mouthful when I read THAT line! Warn me next time, how 'bout it!

By the way, what are the names of those 80 people occupying those newsroom positions to be cut?
[/crosses fingers]

If you need to make more cuts, ring my digits. I have some suggestions.

Posted by: Philip | March 19, 2006 01:06 AM

If only the Post could have started listening a year ago to comments like this quote from Dean Singleton in Howell's column, they might have saved themselves a lot of grief.

"We have a generation of newspaper people who want to write and impress our peers and sources rather than impress our readers and get them to read us, whether in print or online. The economy of the newspaper today will not allow us to do that any longer."

Howell doesn't really provide any comment on this quote (as is her usual style) but I guess the fact that it is included means that it is making some impression.

If Singleton had been a blogger, they would have termed the idea obscene or some kind of personal attack but at least the message is finally sinking in. Are you paying attention Woodward?

Posted by: ben brung | March 19, 2006 04:01 AM

"There's one big intangible in all this: a paper's connection with its readers. Readers who feel respected and who love their newspaper don't depart easily."
--Deborah Howell

To anyone who, like me, has read the Words of Whoozis up at the top of this blog and looked forward to the Posties showing up for some of that down-home invaluable dialog with us readers -- don't you feel the respect?

You don't?

Well, brothers and sisters, put your hand up on top of the monitor there. Feel that warmth coming up to meet your palm? That's not really just a bunch of hot air -- it's the Warmth of Respect, sent out through the miracle of the Internet just for "y" "o" "u" (and me), from Wossname and all the Posties.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 19, 2006 10:51 AM

I see from Rumsfeld's lies in today's paper that the Post is still pimping for this sinful war. Shame on you.

Posted by: Greg in NY | March 19, 2006 01:00 PM

From Lambert on Firedoglake:

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Her masters at WaPo still aren't letting Little Debbie Howell touch national politics, but today she does have this to offer:

There's one big intangible in all this: a paper's connection with its readers. Readers who feel respected and who love their newspaper don't depart easily. If Post journalists write every story, take every photo, compose every headline and design every page with readers in mind, and the newspaper is printed well and delivered on time, The Post will be fine.

Indeed. Nice bromide. Shame about the content. And we're still waiting for those factual errors to be corrected. That would be one way to demonstrate respect. Eh?"

posted by Lambert @ 3/19/2006 12:34:00 PM

Comments (9) | Trackback (0)

Posted by: Jimbo | March 19, 2006 10:14 PM

How is it that an adbot named "Sell Nike &Jordan Shoes" can post a message here but apparently the "monitor of this board" will not allow Jim Brady or Deborah Howell to leave a response?

It's really unfair, whoever you are, and I'd like to request that you quit deleting their comments before the rest of us have a chance to read them.

If you have to filter the bad words, by all means, do that. We're grown up boys and girls here, we've probably seen those salty, newsroom words a time or two before, but please, please, do allow Jim Brady and Deborah Howell to post their replies to the many questions that have been asked.

It's the only fair thing to do. Quit censoring Jim Brady and Deborah Howell!

Posted by: Philip | March 20, 2006 08:32 AM

Philip, I see at last a great difference between us. You have the imagination and vision to hypothesize a malevolent censor -- now that I follow that scent-trail, maybe it is a disgruntled Postie, or even a Washington Times mole! -- who deliberately is acting to prevent Wossname and the ombudslady from responding to us;

whereas I came up with the dull, mundane theory that they are Too Busy doing Many Important Things ...

I'm just a lowly Dog; I suppose it's appropriate that you see farther than I. I hope we can both agree that they Respect Us Very Very Much.

All praise to the Invaluable Ongoing Dialog With Readers!

With kind regards,
Dog, etc.
searching for home

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 20, 2006 11:08 AM

Dog,

I think we're both right! I know Jim Brady and Deborah Howell respect us very much but now that I've realized the blog censors are preventing them from posting replies in here, it saddens me beyond words. I know how busy Mrs. Howell must be, working on many other important things, yet at the same time, I have no doubt she's diligently looking for those "copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts" so she can post them in here for all of us to review. It shocks and saddens me that she probably long ago already recovered those lists and tried to post the contents of those lists here many, many times, only to be thwarted by the censors. She seems a persistent, spunky type, and eventually she'll sneak those lists in here while the censors are at one of their very important censor strategery meetings. Keep the faith!

Posted by: Philip | March 20, 2006 12:24 PM

Where can we complain to Howard Kurtz? Does anyone have his email? This is what I'm trying to send to him -

I am so frustrated by you! How can you leave the chat making such a blanketly false statement. To quote "The media did a poor job on WMD and the rationale for war, as well as (with some exceptions) questioning how difficult a challenge Iraq would be once Saddam was toppled. But the "quagmire" debate of 2003 largely was not about the aftermath; it was about the shooting war and whether it would take a very long period of time to oust Saddam and gain military control of the country. On that point, obviously the quagmire types were wrong."

No they were not! You totally mischaracterize the position of those who said we would be headed into a quagmire! They cited the ethnic tension in Iraq, the possibility of a Civil War and insurgency, and the rise of a new Islamic government as the reason for the "quagmire possibility". No one, NO ONE, said that the United States would have problems toppling Saddam Hussein's government. Everyone pointed to the aftermath. Again and again you mischaracterize the position of people on the Left of the political spectrum. That is why Salon and bloggers are constantly going after you, you have no understanding of the Liberal progressive position on anything! C'mon Howie, you can do better.

Posted by: Mike | March 20, 2006 01:30 PM

Good luck with that complaint, Mike. You could try emailing Mrs. Howell and be sure to cc: Mr. Brady. Just for good measure, include these two individuals on your cc: list too:

Leonard Downie Jr., Executive Editor
DownieL@washpost.com
Donald E. Graham, Chairman of the Board
GrahamD@washpost.com

Posted by: Philip | March 20, 2006 01:45 PM

WaPo you are up to your old tricks again, I see. By the way stock is WAY down. Howell AND Brady still there? My how things stay the same. Good luck.

Posted by: california_reality_check | March 20, 2006 09:12 PM

Someone cue the "Mighty Mouse" themesong! That WaPo stock will be booming soon!

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/redamerica

Posted by: Philip | March 21, 2006 12:59 AM

Mike,

There's actually a set of documents and a summary slide show at The Memory Hole (http://www.thememoryhole.org/state/future_of_iraq/). This identified, among other possible problems after the invasion, the possibility of civil war and other sectarian divisions that might resist being solved by good intentions alone. This briefing was prepared by the State Department for the President and his staff. Apparently they slept through it.

Just more proof that people were talking about this for some time prior to invasion.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 21, 2006 04:07 AM

It shocks and saddens me that she probably long ago already recovered those lists and tried to post the contents of those lists here many, many times, only to be thwarted by the censors

Posted by: Tony | March 21, 2006 07:13 AM

Does anyone have his email? This is what I'm trying to send to him -

Posted by: Jimi | March 21, 2006 07:15 AM

Whoever reads this blog at the WaPo needs to tell Mr. Jim that the comments over at the redstate blog are locked down tighter than the green zone in Baghdad. -"Email a Comment"- In the zeal to set up a home on the WaPo for the "political majority" where they can be payed attention to, someone neglected to open the comments section. Y'all get on that now, ya heahr?

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/redamerica
"This is a blog for the majority of Americans"

[/begin snicker]

Posted by: Philip | March 21, 2006 08:16 AM

Howard Kurtz has done it again. The reason I will keep harping on Howard Kurtz is because he seems to believe he is above bias as are most of his colleagues. It is a very rare occasion when I read a story that mentions a senator or congressman that doesn't also reference his political party. Even congressman as famous as Harry Reid or John McCain still have D or R next to their names when an articile is written about them. So image my shock [sic] when I saw this paragraph from Howard -

"In the wake of the Duke Cunningham bribery scandal, involving the defense contractor MZM, the San Diego Union-Tribune has this eye-opening piece on California Rep. John Doolittle, who is among the lawmakers who have "admitted assisting either [MZM's] Mitchell Wade or Brent Wilkes, co-conspirators in the Cunningham case, at a time when the two businessmen were giving them tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions."

And what party do Rep Cunningham and Rep Doolittle come from? Well, I know Rep Cunningham, he has been in the WaPost before, he is a Republican. But what party is Doolittle from? hmmmm. Take a wild guess.

Here is my point. Kurtz is cleary a Republican. He may try to pretend he is on the middle, but he is a Republican through and through. He attacks Liberal bloggers relentlessly and makes sure to incorporate the usual "Dems are in disarray" article whenever he can. Now, he may try to play middle, but he clearly sees views on the left as extremist, more so than he views those on the right. Like Chris Matthews, he starts with two feet planted squarely on the right and it takes extreme evidence to the contrary to force him to question conservative commentators or principles. Kurtz's middle is about 10 yards to the right of America's middle. He doesn't see that. But I do.

Posted by: Mike | March 21, 2006 11:12 AM

"...the comments over at the redstate blog are locked down tighter than the green zone in Baghdad."

In view of the Excellent Invaluable Ongoing Dialog with Readers exemplified here, I'm sure that's an oversight.

Oh, and I'm feeling particularly respected now that there's an official WaPo right-wing blog in addition to the Invaluable Dialog here. How 'bout you?

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.
searching for home


Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 21, 2006 11:29 AM

Kudos on hiring the cofounder of redstate.org. It may help add SOME balance to your newsroom.

------------
Leonidas
http://scrutator.net

Posted by: Leonidas | March 21, 2006 11:34 AM

Dog, I have to agree... I do feel respected now that there is an official right-wing blog to balance the plethora of liberal viewpoints presented by the rest of the paper, but I really wish the blogger they'd picked to host the blog had been ultra-impartial former White House "reporter" JimmyJeffGannonGuckert.

Oh, and Mrs. Howell? The blog censor is probably on lunch break right now. Try to repost those "copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts" one more time. I'm sure they'll last on here long enough while the censor is finishing up his dingdong dessert for me to peruse them. Do it quickly, honey...

Posted by: Philip | March 21, 2006 12:31 PM

I think Ann Coulter would have been the best choice, in complete harmony with the attitude and policies of the ombudsmand the executive editor of WashingtonPost.com.

If Coulter was not available, Michele Malkin would have sufficed.

On washingtonpost.com, we need more rabid fire-eating conservatives who brand every critic of the administration as traitors, support the internment of American citizens, seek the death of judges who are liberal, and wish for the destruction of the New York Times building.

Posted by: lib | March 21, 2006 01:52 PM

The addition of a Red State Blogger who won't take comment... Sounds like the Bush Administration doesn't it? Is he going to be held to any standard of journalism, or will he be free to make wild assertions any time he feels like as in today's post. Seriously, if a liberal blogger had stated that he represents the "true majority of educated Americans" he would be getting creamed by the ombudsmen. Froomkin got heat from Howell for calling his column the "White House Briefing", let see if she holds Mr Red State to the same level of scrutiny. I doubt it.

Posted by: James | March 21, 2006 02:11 PM

Congratulations on the Redstate blog. Thank goodness someone is finally going to represent the views of the majority on all the issues that really affect us. I'm sure he'll be supporting working people and access to proper medical care.

"(DO shop at Wal-Mart, DON'T buy gas from Citgo)"

Stop crying about having no health care, you librul babies! The important thing is that gays aren't getting married on our watch.

Well, OK, he's a conservative. I'm sure that he'll have the sort of cultured, intellectual tastes that characterize William F. Buckley and William Safire, right?

"Red Dawn? You must know it - the greatest pro-gun movie ever?"

No, well I'm sure he anyone who can like a plodding homage to Cold War hysteria won't take himself too seriously, right?

"This is a blog for the majority of Americans."

Umm, well, OK. I guess he has enough respect for all those real Americans that he'll open his "blog" to comments, right?

"Posted by Ben Domenech | Permalink | Email a Comment"

Apparently, the majority of Americans are raving half-wits who don't have their own opinions. Living in a bubble of liberal idealism you miss these things. Thanks for setting me straight.

Posted by: Cujo359 | March 21, 2006 04:20 PM

Josh Marshall and all the leftwing bloggers are mightly impressed by the WaPo's new Red America blog:


Quote:

"Yep, I agree with Atrios and the good folks at Media Matters.

The Washington Post, or rather its online incarnation, has managed to capture the essence of the silliness of the 'media bias' debate in one easily digestible set-piece of its own making.

The right mau-maus Dan Froomkin's online column, gets the wet-behind-the-ears ombudsman to write a really silly column making her own job into a venue for dumping newsroom scuttlebutt on another reporter.

The idea, the notional claim, was that the questions -- or should we more gravely say, the concerns -- about Froomkin's column began with complaints from readers. Actually, not so. They started with a 'complaint' from a young GOP operative by the name of Patrick Ruffini who'd just come off working as official webmaster and blogger for Bush-Cheney 2004.

Like I said, mau-maued. And even pretty shabbily at that.

Now, is Dan Froomkin a 'liberal'? I figure he probably agrees with my politics more than Newt Gingrich's. But it is at most opinion journalism, aimed at hitting points of hypocrisy, deception or double-dealing in public officials. It's written by a credentialed journalist. And he hits both sides.

(In any case, let's be honest: most Dem pols who make the switch into journalism -- Stephanopoulos, et al. -- bend over backwards to create 'balance'. Most Republicans use it as an extension of their political work -- Tony Snow, etc. Anyway, another story for another day.)

So, to 'balance' Froomkin, who may be a commentator with liberal tendencies, the Post goes out and gets a high octane Republican political activist who hits the ground running with a tirade of Red State America revanchism and even journalism itself.

That's balance. That's the Post's balance.

Managing perceptions is the death of good journalism, especially manufactured perceptions, and even more those manufactured for the easily cowed.

I'm embarrassed for the Post. Embarrassed by the Post.

Their explanation doesn't cut it. If they want to make a blogger Crossfire with a firebreather on the left and on the right, they should do it. It might even be interesting. But here they've just been played by bullies and played for fools.

Jump! How high?

I can think of more than a few actual journalists at the Post who must feel a bit embarrassed too."

-- Josh Marshall

NOT!

Posted by: Jimbo | March 21, 2006 07:49 PM

Domenech caught in more lies! What has Brady wrought with the WaPo Red America blog!

"Blogger defenses of "trifecta" don't make the cut (6/20)
By Brendan Nyhan

Blogger Ben Domenech claims to have proof that President Bush said he would run deficits in times of war during a debate with other candidates for the Republican nomination, but it's not true -- and even if it was, it doesn't negate the "trifecta" lie Bush has been pushing. Blogger Bill Quick highlights Bush telling Paula Zahn he might run a deficit during a recession, but again it's not close to sufficient.

First, Domenech. Here's his key quotation:

"If I ever commit troops, I'm going to do so with one thing in mind, and that's to win," Bush said.
"And spend what it takes? Even if it means deficits?" asked the moderator, NBC's Tim Russert.
"Absolutely," Bush replied, "if we go to war." (AP, from Boston Globe)

But if you read the full transcript of the debate, you'll see that Russert never asks "Even if it means deficits?" (Jason McCullough beat me to this point.) If you want verification, watch the C-SPAN video or read the Boston Globe account. This question is absolutely fictitious. There is no match for Bush AND Russert AND "even if it means deficits" in the entire Nexis database, and I can't find the AP article in question in a Westlaw search for Bush AND "even if it means deficits" either (though Domenech claims it came from Westlaw).

And on top of all that, Domenech dismisses the fact that no one can find evidence of the Chicago campaign statement. But Bush has said at least seven times that he made this statement in Chicago (October 3, March 27, March 28, April 30, May 14, May 20 and June 14). Any partially exculpatory statements made at other times (if they exist) do not get the President off the hook, and the vague memories that Domenech cites do not count as evidence. If Bush said this, why hasn't the White House produced evidence of it despite repeated requests?

Moreover, contrary to Domenech's claim that "the comments were hardly worth reporting," Bush himself has stated quite clearly that they were. Here's what he said on April 26, for example, about how he "told the American people" of these exceptions:

I remind -- I want to remind you what I told the American people, that if I'm the President -- when I was campaigning, if I were to become the President, we would have deficits only in the case of war, a recession or a national emergency.
As for Quick, he features this quote from Bush during a September 22, 2000 interview with Paula Zahn:

Well, first, I don't anticipate the economy turning south. As a matter of fact, that's one of the reasons people ought to elect me, is to—is because I got a plan to keep the economy from turning south.

Secondly, if the economy turns south, that's a reason to accelerate the tax cut. See, I come from the school of thought that during a recession, it's important to give people more money back faster. Now, that may cause us to run a short-term deficit, but the fundamental question is: How do you cause the economy to grow?
Al Gore has said at one time that if the economy turns south, he would raise taxes, which would accelerate and deepen a recession, and that would be the absolute wrong public policy.

But Tim Russert has already dealt with the point -- in his question to Mitch Daniels on June 9, he said this:

Now, we have checked everywhere and we’ve even called the White House as to when the president said that when he was campaigning in Chicago, and it didn’t happen. The closest he came was he was asked, “Would you give up part of your tax cut in order to ensure a balanced budget?” And he said, “No.” But no one ever talked about a war, a recession and an emergency, the trifecta.

Again, here are the facts: there should be some record of Bush telling the American people about all three exceptions in Chicago. But there is not. Yet Domenech in a new post accuses me, Russert and The New Republic's Jon Chait, among others, of "standing on very thin factual ice". Nice try.

Update 6/20 3:40 PM EST: Domenech is pulling back: "I've listened to the online version of the NH debate now, and I don't hear the second part of Russert's question as printed in the AP article. Considering that most accounts of the debate don't include this part of the question either, I'm close to believing that the AP article I have is inaccurate. I've been taken in by faulty reporting before, but never by the AP. Either way, I'll post the article tonight."

Update 6/24 11:09 PM EST: Domenech hasn't produced the alleged AP article despite requests from me by email and via comments on his site. You can read me debating this issue in the comments on Domenech's original post, or in the comments below Quick's post.

Update 7/2 3:09 PM EST: Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has unraveled part of the mystery of the "trifecta". It turns out that Vice President Al Gore listed the exceptions in three 1998 speeches. When questioned about Gore's statement by the Post's Glenn Kessler, Bush economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay said the exceptions would apply to Bush as well. But there is still no evidence that Bush "told the American people" this during the campaign as he has claimed, either in Chicago or in general.

Also, I've been alerted that Domenech posted the alleged AP article (apparently slightly before the above update). I’ve found two AP articles that mirror parts of his in Nexis, but the key passage, including the fictitious question from Russert, does not appear in any articles in Nexis or Westlaw. Domenech has failed to respond to requests for a Westlaw search that can be duplicated proving its existence, and has not engaged in a serious effort to respond to many other questions raised by myself and others. Given the criticism he initially leveled at others based on this alleged source, this is irresponsible, especially from someone who writes professionally."


Posted by: Don G. | March 21, 2006 08:01 PM

WASHINGTON POST RESPONDS TO GREG SARGENT AT THE AMERICAN PROPECT ON DOMENECH HIRING:

"I noted below that I'd asked the Post for its official explanation of the hiring of Domenech.

Now WashingtonPost.com's Opinions editor, Hal Straus, has sent some answers to our questions via a spokesman, Eric Easter. For your edification and enjoyment, here are the questions, followed by Straus's answers:

Question 1: Was the hiring of Ben Domenech motivated by a desire to placate right-wing critics upset with Dan Froomkin's frequent criticism of George Bush or upset with the recent Dana Milbank appearance poking fun at the shooting episode involving the vice president?

Straus: "When WP.com launched Opinions we said we wanted this new area to be about a variety of voices across a broad spectrum of political and cultural thought. Ben Domenech's Red America is simply another reflection of that effort.

"Ben Domenech brings an original and authentically conservative voice to the site's Opinions area, where we're committed to presenting the most provocative, informed and ideologically diverse policy debate on the web.

"He's an Internet pioneer, an accomplished writer and someone who is willing to challenge sloppy thinking even if, occasionally, he finds it on the GOP side of the aisle."

Question 2: Does WashingtonPost.com have any liberal bloggers who can act as a counterpart to Mr. Domenech?

Straus: "Washingtonpost.com hires writers for their ability to add something substantive to the national conversation. As best as possible, we look for that ability regardless of political labels."

Question 3: Does the Post feel that conservative voices in general are lacking at the paper? Do you think the Post's stable of columnists and bloggers is in some way over-representing liberals?

Straus: "From George Will to Charles Krauthammer and others, conservatives have always had a voice at the Washington Post. And the site certainly also features a number of liberal writers and bloggers from E.J. Dionne Jr. and Richard Cohen, to Harold Meyerson and William Arkin."

Subsequently we returned to spokesman Easter and asked him if WashingtonPost.com intended to hire a liberal blogger to act as a counterpart to Domenech.

In response, he referred us back to Opinion editor Straus's answer to question 2: "Washingtonpost.com hires writers for their ability to add something substantive to the national conversation. As best as possible, we look for that ability regardless of political labels."

Now, the careful reader will no doubt be left unsatisfied by many of those answers. Nonetheless, I'm passing them on for discussion. Have your way with them.

It should be noted that the Post was perfectly free to tell me to take my questions and stick them deep in my posterior. It's their Web site -- they can hire as they please. So I appreciate their answering at all.

But still, asking for answers here seems to me fair game. Lots and lots of loyal Post readers appear to be very puzzled and upset about this. And they're right to be. There's plenty of evidence that this was indeed about throwing a sop to the right. After all, Deborah Howell recently wrote that the column by Froomkin, who's attracted the ire of the right, is "highly opinionated and liberal." She even added that Web executive editor Jim Brady was considering "supplementing it with a conservative blogger."

So isn't Domenech obviously that conservative blogger, then? If so, you have to wonder why the folks at WashingtonPost.com are so sensitive to their right-wing critics. That's particularly odd given that they recently were, shall we say, somewhat less responsive to liberal criticism over Deborah Howell's erroneous assertions about Jack Abramoff. Indeed, they were rather dismissive of those critics, to boot.

What's more, even if you accept the questionable idea that Froomkin or Milbank should be offset by a right-wing counterpart, Domenech is far from a fair balance for them, as Garance is absolutely right to note below. As Garance puts it, he's "more of a political operative, movement activist type."

If I had to guess, I'd say that many liberal Post readers pondering Domenech's new platform will still be left with plenty of questions indeed.

--Greg Sargent

Posted by: Debbie | March 21, 2006 08:08 PM

Letter to WashingtonPost.com executive editor -- re: blogger Ben Domenech -- by Media Matters


March 21, 2006

James M. Brady, Executive Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071

Dear Mr. Brady:

I noted with interest the Post's decision to add Republican operative Ben Domenech to its roster of bloggers.

Presumably, this decision grew out of reported complaints both inside and outside of the Post that online columnist Dan Froomkin is too liberal. It's worth noting that Froomkin himself has argued, "I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable."

But even if one were to grant the debatable premise that Froomkin is, indeed, a liberal, he is also a journalist by background and training, having spent 18 years in journalism, working for the Winston-Salem Journal, the Miami Herald and the Orange County Register in addition to nearly a decade with the Post. He is deputy editor of niemanwatchdog.org, the web site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

By contrast, while he does claim previous employment as a "political journalist," Domenech is first and foremost a partisan activist -- a Republican operative who has worked for the Bush administration and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), is currently an editor at a conservative publishing house, and who describes himself as "the youngest political appointee of President George W. Bush." He is also a co-founder of RedState.org, which describes itself in nakedly partisan terms -- "a Republican community weblog. RedState is focused on politics, and is dedicated to the construction of a Republican majority in the United States."

You recently wrote of reader comments deleted from the Post blog: "If I had let them, they would have obliterated any semblance of civil, genuine discussion." Domenech's inaugural post on his "Red America" blog for the Post referred to "the shrieking denizens of their [the Democrats'] increasingly extreme base" and "the unhinged elements of their base, motivated by partisan rage." Is that the sort of "civil, genuine discussion" you had in mind? Or do you have one set of rules for your staff and another for your readers, one set for liberals and another for conservatives?

Domenech and Froomkin are simply not comparable. In fact, as far as we can tell, the only other Post blogger with a background in partisan politics is Ron Nessen, who worked for a Republican president and who recently offered a snide and substance-free criticism of the progressive Center for American Progress.

When can we expect the Post to hire a partisan Democratic activist as a blogger to balance Domenech?

Sincerely,
David Brock
President & CEO
Media Matters for America

Posted by: Len | March 21, 2006 08:12 PM

Digby at Hullabaloo weighs in on Domenech!

"A New Goldberg Is Born

by digby


Like his progenitor, Jonah Goldberg, this new "Red State" blogger at the Washington Post proves that conservatives should never, ever (EVER) discuss popular culture. They are in over their heads and it always makes them look very foolish.

He pontificates at length about the fact that his allegedly liberal bosses (Jim Brady???) didn't know the ultimate, totally awesome, awesomliness of the film "Red Dawn." In his world this movie is what they call "cool."

Back here on planet earth, it's what 10 year olds call "cool," and everybody else calls "camp." It would be the equivalent of Left Wingers revering "Wild In The Streets" for its serious political message.

I'm with Brad DeLong. This is going to be fun."

Posted by: Jimbo | March 21, 2006 08:34 PM

Brad DeLong on The WaPo's recent hire:


"The Washington Post Disses the Right

Back in the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal editorial page's most effective and devastating right-wing columnist was left-wing nut-boy Alexander Cockburn: everyone (well, almost everyone) reading his columns would think, "If that's the left, I belong on the right."

Now comes the Washington Post pulling the same trick: hiring Ben Domenech--a man with no policy or analytic or reportorial qualifications save a couple years as a right-wing speechwriter, an unarmed man in a battle of wits--to be its right-wing weblogger. It's funny:

Red America: Since the election of 1992, the extreme political left has fought a losing battle. Their views on the economy, marriage, abortion, guns, the death penalty, health care, welfare, taxes, and a dozen other major domestic policy issues have been exposed as unpopular, unmarketable and unquestioned losers at the ballot box.... [T]he mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist - an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times.

During the discussions about the launch of this new blog, the good folks at washingtonpost.com spent far too much time in sessions with markers and whiteboard, trying to settle on a name for the column. The suggestions were all over the map - but one suggestion provided a reminder of the sociopolitical divide in this country. "What about 'Red Dawn'?" said one helpful editor.

"Well, only if you want to make people think it was a gun blog," I said, to puzzled faces.

"Red Dawn? You must know it - the greatest pro-gun movie ever? I mean, they actually show the jackbooted communist thugs prying the guns from cold dead hands."

Any red-blooded American conservative, even those who hold a dim view of Patrick Swayze's acting "talent," knows a Red Dawn reference. For all the talk of left wing cultural political correctness, the right has such things, too (DO shop at Wal-Mart, DON'T buy gas from Citgo). But in the progressive halls of the mainstream media, such things prompt little or no recognition. For the MSM, Dan Rather is just another TV anchor, France is just another country and Red Dawn is just another cheesy throwaway Sunday afternoon movie...

Hate to break it to you, Ben, but "Red Dawn" is just another cheesy throwaway Sunday afternoon movie--and one that's not nearly as visually interesting as "Dirty Dancing." "Red Dawn" is currently #2883 with a bullet among amazon DVDs, behind such wonders of the cinematic art as "Don Knotts 4 Movie Reluctant Hero Pack (The Ghost And Mr. Chicken / The Reluctant Astronaut / The Shakiest Gun In The West / The Love God?)," "Simple Life 3 - The Interns," and "Arrested Development--Season 2."

This is going to be fun"

Posted by: | March 21, 2006 08:38 PM

Editor and Publisher on new WaPo blogger"

"Post' Launches Conservative Blog, Provokes a 'Firestorm'

By E&P Staff

Published: March 21, 2006 11:35 AM ET

NEW YORK

During the recent controversy surrounding Dan Froomkin's blog at The Washington Post, editors not only decided to clearly label his column "opinion" but also to make an effort to hire a conservative blogger to balance his alleged liberal slant.

Today, the Post launched the result: A new blog called "Red America," created by Ben Domenech, co-founder of RedState, a popular community blog.

It immediately set off what Post political reporter Tom Edsall called a "firestorm" in his online chat today.

A former contributing editor to National Review Online, Domenech later became what he calls "the youngest political appointee of President George W. Bush." After a stint as chief speechwriter for Senator John Cornyn (D-Tx.), he co-founded RedState.org and became a book editor at Regnery Publishing, where he worked with Michelle Malkin and others.

David Brock, director of the liberal Media Matters watchdog group, quickly declared that while Domenech is primarily a partisan, Froomkin has spent a decade at the Post, and also worked for the Winston-Salem Journal, the Miami Herald and the Orange County Register. Froomkin is also deputy editor of niemanwatchdog.org, the web site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Starting with a bang, Domenech declared today, "This is a blog for the majority of Americans." Some may argue that this is an outdated notion, given the president's current approval rating and the latest polls showing that a clear majority of Americans favor Democrats in this November's congressional elections.

Domenech continues: "Yet even in a climate where Republicans hold command of every branch of government, and advocate views shared by a majority of voters, the mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist -- an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times ...

"While the mainstream media has been slow to recognize the growth in conservative America, smart Democrats have not. Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Hillary Clinton are not alone in recognizing that the unhinged elements of their base, motivated by partisan rage, Michael Moore conspiracies and a pronounced feeling of victimhood have dragged down the Democratic Party for far too long ...Red America's citizens are the political majority. They're here to stay. It's time to start paying attention to what they believe and why."

The launch upstaged what the Post's Edsall had hoped to talk about during his online chat today. Here is a selection of the exchanges there.

*

Rahway, N.J.: I see that you have hired Ben Domenench, one of the founders of RedState.org, a leading right-wing political weblog, to write the "Red America" blog for the Washington Post. In his current post, he immediately defames and slurs leading left-wing political blogs such as DailyKos.com. Can we assume that you will provide an equal opportunity to the left side of the blogosphere by granting a prominent left-wing blogger a column as well? Since the media fairness doctrine is long dead, thanks to Mr. Domenench's hero Ronald Reagan, I suppose there is no longer a legal requirement to do so, but it would be nice if The Post could at least pretend to give some kind of equal voice to the left.

Tom Edsall: The hiring of Ben Domenench of RedState has provoked a firestorm, if the volume of questions this morning is any measure. One theory in the newsroom is that he was hired at the behest of Dana Milbank. More seriously, I am told that this is part of the Post's web operation's efforts to provide diverse views. These decisions are, unfortunately, above my paygrade, much as I would love to have the power to hire and fire.
______________________

Iowa: I'm assuming this RedState blogger is being paid. How does the Post management justify this when the newsroom staff is being cut by 10 percent according to several reports I have read? I would much rather have The Post continue to present quality, unbiased political coverage than provide bandwidth to an avowed partisan.

Tom Edsall: Another good question. Washingtonpost.com is technically separate from the Post newspaper. The dot com is widely viewed as the area of future growth, while the paper is struggling to keep making a profit in the face of declining circulation and growing competition for advertizers. The results are very different personnel policies. The consequences for the quality of the journalism are not yet determind, although budget constraints are already limiting the scope of our work.

_______________________

Deary, Idaho: Can you ask those people above your paygrade to reconsider their decision to hire a rabid republican to "balance" Dana Millbank? There is no balance there. Granted, it is hard to find people on the left with the oblivious and offensive certainty of RedStaters. After all, the left has no Coulter or Limbaugh. But if you're going to give the far right a forum you better look hard for an anarchist or extreme radical for the other side.

Tom Edsall: The idea of trying to balance Dana Milbank poses some very interesting questions that I would love to explore, but my suggestions (hire someone with vision, who does not thrive on ridicule) would take too much space. Many of us do believe Dana is rabid.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: The hiring of the Red State Blogger is yet another example of why I cancelled my subscription to The Post and do not intend to ever re-instate it. The Post's view that it needs to "balance" viewpoints buys into the notion that The Washington Post adequately provides a forum for a liberal viewpoint. Do you really believe that The Post has an over abundance of liberal viewpoints?

Tom Edsall: In fairness to the many inquiries about the Red State blogger, the questions you raise go to some basic issues of journalism that deserve much more expansive treatment and should get answers defining the principles guiding the Post as it engages with web. I could shoot my mouth off on these questions, but they should be answered by those with the power to set policy."


Posted by: Katherine | March 21, 2006 08:44 PM

WAshington Fishbowl Bistro says:

The Post Gets Red (and Red-esigned)
The Post announced their first conservative blog, "Red America," which is authored by RedState.org co-founder Ben Domenech. One could argue (as many are) that Domenech is meant to balance out Dan Froomkin and/or Dana Milbank, but Domenech made it very clear with his beginning post that he lived further from the center than either Froomkin or Milbank


This is a blog for the majority of Americans...Yet even in a climate where Republicans hold command of every branch of government, and advocate views shared by a majority of voters, the mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist - an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times.


The decision has earned the Post much ire today, as seen in Tom Edsall's online chat today and reactions from the blogosphere.

Of course, lost in this debate is the fact that a news outlet's "bias" should exclusively be judged by its reporting...not its columnists, not its bloggers, not its owners, etc.

But that would make sense. And this is the blogosphere after all..."

Posted by: Joe | March 21, 2006 08:57 PM

Domenech later became what he calls "the youngest political appointee of President George W. Bush."

Fluffer to the Prez?

Posted by: | March 21, 2006 09:14 PM

Ugh - you fire real reporters so you can hire a Bush suck-up? Wasn't Woodward enough?

Oh how the mighty have fallen ...

Posted by: fedupwp | March 22, 2006 12:02 AM

"Red Dawn"?

More like, "Sunset for the Post".

Sad, really.

Posted by: Jeff Boatright | March 22, 2006 12:19 AM

Ben Bradley:

Congratulations on hiring your own Yellow Elephant for the sycophantic Post. It's fitting that this young man who refuses to serve makes a big deal of the movie Red Dawn. That's where the Russians invaded through Mexico, just like the Al Qaida is supposed to be doing. Domenech will be able to fill you in with that wing-nut fantasy.

Posted by: christo | March 22, 2006 12:28 AM

"I just finished reading all the comments you have allowed to be posted regarding Ms Howells columns on the Abramoff issue. Frankly the remarks remind me most of Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads, but of course with the politics reversed. Does nobody engage in civil and objective discourse anymore??"

Republicans have taught us the last 8 years or so that 'civil and objective' discourse no longer works, neither does 'nuance'.

Posted by: | March 22, 2006 12:30 AM

Had to post this ... was posted in the comments section at firedoglake (Oh, BTW Mr. Brady - there is a love letter there for you.)

Q. What's the difference between the Washington Post and the Washington Times?

A. One is a rabidly right-wing piece of fishwrap stuffed to the gills with RNC talking points, and the other is owned by Rev. Moon.

Posted by: fedup | March 22, 2006 12:34 AM

Red Dawn is awesome!

Pass the cheesy-poofs.

Quiet Mom, I'm typing my new blog.

Posted by: Urban Pirate | March 22, 2006 12:41 AM

Just a shout out to get WaPo reader acquainted w/ Ben Domenich, new WaPo blogger. Here is some of the wisdom we can all expect:

'Al Gore can suck it.' [2/4/02](Does this qualify as personal attack?)

'Antonin Scalia openly questioned the Catholic Church's opposition to the death penalty today, proving once again that he is a man of deep spiritual intelligence, a modern St. Augustine of jurisprudence.' [2/5/02]

'I believe this war will take longer than the pundits were saying beforehand, but I also don't think we're going to be forced into a long door-by-door campaign in Baghdad.' [3/30/03]

'Claude Allen is as cleancut as a razor's edge. He's a stand-up, principled Virginian.' [5/13/03]

Oh the truthy goodness. WTH here is one of my fave quotes from the WaPo gang:
"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

Posted by: Arch Stanton | March 22, 2006 12:43 AM

WaPo's answer to shallow, partisan hack reporting, stenography, and puff-pieces?

Lead the way!

Posted by: Urban Pirate | March 22, 2006 12:44 AM

So, this Domenech guy is going to be your FIRST conservative blogger? Does that mean you are using the money saved from laying off real journalists (10% of your staff must include some real journalists somewhere) to hire even more operatives and shills? Why not add Comstock and Coulter while you are at it?

BTW, if you retired the do-nothing Woodward, you probably wouldn't have to lay off anybody who works *for* the paper or the website. His name has been tarnished past the point of adding any luster to the masthead.

Posted by: hauksdottir | March 22, 2006 12:50 AM

Just when you think the Post can't sink any lower, they hire radical wingnuts. What the hell has happened to this country?

No progressive or liberal should have a subscription to this newspaper.

Posted by: Semblance | March 22, 2006 12:52 AM

I'd just about decided that I didn't have to read the NYTimes any more, the WaPo is better and interactive, too.
But a right-wing KID as an official blogger? Have you lost your collective mind? His insult-filled ravings are an insult to the public's intelligence.

Posted by: G.L. Horton | March 22, 2006 01:03 AM

Ben Domenich? Red Dawn?

Isn't that the movie where the Communists invade the United States by parachuting troops into Colorado? I guess they believed that starting a war in the condition of being completely surrounded and cut off from supplies constituted sound military strategy.

Domenich ought to earn a position in the White House, where this lethal combination of extreme gullibility and gross disrespect for military history is amply rewarded.

And as far as his blog representing "the majority of Americans", get a clue, ok? The only thing most Americans would gain from reading Domenich is a good belly laugh. I wish the WaPo would stop underestimating the intelligence of this great nation, and try merely reporting the news instead.

Posted by: G.S. Patton | March 22, 2006 01:23 AM

Not Hispanic!
Were is our guy!!!!!! (girl)
Your guy is just another white dude only younger. You choose peach fuzz over diversity? How dare you you're not supporting the troops!

Posted by: TexMex | March 22, 2006 01:41 AM

Two Questions on the hiring of Ben Domenech.

1. Are Ben Domenech and the poster "Augustine" at Red State blog the one in the same?

2. If so, does the Post agree with "Augustine"'s comment regarding the death of Coretta Scott King, "The President visits the funeral of a Communist. And phones in a message to the March for Life. I think we can get a little [angry] about this."

Posted by: ylh | March 22, 2006 02:24 AM


To the Publisher and Editors of the Washington Post:

Congratulations.

You've managed to snare the young conservative, Ben Domenech, for the Post before he could enlist in the Marines and fight for "democracy" in Iraq.

But exactly why doesn't he want to go and fight for a cause he (and your editorial board) apparently believes in? Isn't he of military age?

Well, I guess you wanted him to enlist in your courageous 101st Fighting Keyboarders for the more important duty of protecting President AWOL and Five-Deferment Dick from scurrilous attacks from the left.

How "fair and balanced" you've become since the glorious bygone days of Watergate. Always looking out for those woebegone Republicans, who only control all three branches of the government.

They need watchdogs like you to lick their hands and their... Nevermind. Good work. You deserve all of the praise you're getting for taking such a bold step. Richard Nixon would undoubtedly be proud of you.

Sincerely,
David Wyles

P. S. Here, from past posts, are a few little "gems" of the wisdom of Ben Domenech --

On Protest: "It's totally different to protest against war before troops are sent somewhere and to protest against war after our boys are over there with guns in their hands and blood on the ground. The former, in my mind, is a totally legitimate act of political expression. The latter is horrendous and vile." [3/24/03]

"I believe this war will take longer than the pundits were saying beforehand, but I also don't think we're going to be forced into a long door-by-door campaign in Baghdad." [3/30/03]

"Al Qaeda is getting smoked out in Iraq -- and anyone who thought there was no connection better line up for their serving of crow." [3/28/03]

And here is my absolute favorite find so far:

"Claude Allen is as clearcut as a razor's edge. He's a stand-up, principled Virginian." [5/13/03]

The list goes on. Please see -- http://yourlogohere.blogspot.com/

Plus, you've got that wonderful connection of his father, Doug, another Bush appointee, to Jack Abramhoff.

Please see this post by Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo --

"You see, it turns out the Domenech family came in for a number of Bush administration appointments. Not only Ben, but Ben's dad, Doug, who was White House liaison to the Department of Interior.

Or to put it more colloquially, White House guy to make sure Jack Abramoff got what he wanted with the Indians and the Pacific Island stuff.

Wayne Smith was the point man for Indian casino policy at the Department of Interior. He ended up having kind of a rough ride over at Interior. And, according to Smith, as reported last year in the Denver Post, Domenech told him "we had to pay attention to [Jack] Abramoff, because otherwise the religious right and (Ralph) Reed are going to come up and bite us, and our whole base will go crazy. They will light up our phones, shut down our phone lines."


http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007962.php


Again, congratulations, Washington Post, for hiring the young, genius conservative, Ben Domenech, who will certainly "add substantively to the national debate."

Politics aside, another brilliant move to add to your hitherto illustrious history.


Posted by: David Wyles | March 22, 2006 05:16 AM

domenech eh? "red dawn".
hahahahaha
the wapo sinks even lower. your rag is a worthless relic, and going to sink.

Posted by: brendan | March 22, 2006 09:29 AM

Well, that's our Washington Post, DC residents. No longer a gold standard. Cheerleaders for this war. Masters of truthiness and Orwellian balance. Looking more and more like a local paper, except for the large A Section exalting the Dear Leader. A local paper that does not cover Washington -- nothing on our neighborhoods, covering African-Americans only in crime articles, covering gays and lesbians only in the style section (oh, those funny drag queens!), covering local universities only when the Dear Leader and his minions speak at Georgetown.
Boycott the Post, people.

Posted by: Joel | March 22, 2006 09:45 AM

You are seriously going to "balance" Froomkin, a bonafide journalist, with Ben Domenech? Have you read his stuff?
I try and cut him some slack as he is 24 and I encourage youth to be involved in political thinking but this is ridiculous. What is wrong with the Post?
This is supposed to be a serious newspaper. Surely conservatives have some serious thinkers you could juxtapose to Froomkin?

Posted by: farmgirl | March 22, 2006 10:15 AM

"Fair and Balanced" faux news and LGF commentary is finally achieved by the Post. Ben ("Augustine") Domanech is .com's choice for "honest", "well thought out", "well-written" input. Caroline, is this far enought to the right-wing-nut base to ahieve .com's corporate business plan? Shame.

Posted by: vetfordean | March 22, 2006 10:39 AM

Ben Domenech?
Oy!
Brady owe Doug Domenech a favor, or somethin'?
Yet another Republican who gets a job because of who he knows, not what he does.

Posted by: Iam Freejack | March 22, 2006 10:57 AM

I just read this new Domenech blog, column, whatever. Let me make this as clear as possible to the Post - it was the stupidest, most insipid piece of drool I've ever seen. I will not read it ever again, and if I ever do visit its page it will be to note the adverts on it so I can resolve never to patronize those companies again. If you are trying to do everything possible to fail as a newspaper and online service, you're doing a heckuva job.

Posted by: CMO | March 22, 2006 11:22 AM

Stop criticizing my evil twin; he needs the money and the Post needs the association with the anti-axis of evil.

But never fear, Ben has already bitten the hand that feeds him; worse will come!

Posted by: Chris Domenech | March 22, 2006 11:56 AM

Where can I find the Blue State Blog on your web site?

Posted by: SCM | March 22, 2006 11:59 AM

The Devil made me do it!

AS Chris Bower suggests, we are co-opting the right-wing blogosphere.

There Is No Right-Wing Blogosphere Anymore
by Chris Bowers (MyDD), Tue Mar 21, 2006 at 01:08:50 PM EST

In our August 2005 paper the Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere, Matt and I wrote the following (emphasis in original):
Conservatives use the same tactics on blogs that they do in mainstream politics - attack the media and attack progressives. The right wing tends not to build independent online communities, using their existing offline communities to generate web sites that reinforce their politics and their ideology.

Their web presence is nurtured by institutions and is part of the conservative, right-wing media machine. The Drudge Report, for instance, is one of the largest conservative sites and frequently receives its information from Republican operatives.

Most right-wing blogs reiterate talking points that are generated from inside formal conservative institutions; conversations center on feeling victimized for being right-wing, attacking and hating progressives, and attacking and hating the media.

The political successes of this community have been largely founded in manipulating media coverage. The two clearest examples are the John Thune bloggers in South Dakota, and the Dan Rather scandal.
I still believe this, only now I feel it has developed to such a degree that the right-wing blogosphere itself has been all but annihilated. Most major right-wing bloggers have now been incorporated into the established news media apparatus. Glenn Reynolds is a columnist for MSNBC. Andrew Sullivan is a columnist for Time. Michelle Malkin is a frequently published columnist in a number of offline outlets. And now, RedState co-founder Ben Domenech has a regular column in the Washington Post. Despite being the latest in a long line of conservative bloggers to achieve "mainstream" status with the established news media, his first column was, predictably, an attack on the same institutions that just hired him and gave him space.

In short, there is almost nothing in the way of an independent right-wing blogosphere operating outside of existing, established news media outlets. The days of the rise of Free Republic have long passed. The right-wing is not building new institutions online anymore. To quote again from the report Matt and I produced:
Progressive blogs build communities of activists and generate new political activity online. Blogs and online organizations offer forums where people can actively engage in progressive politics - real involvement from people talking about politics, policy, organizing, their lives, etc. The degree to which progressive blogs encourage active engagement in political dialogue has fueled their rapid growth over the past several years.

The single most important difference between the blogospheres is this: the progressive blogosphere is introducing new actors into the political scene. The right-wing blogosphere is facilitating further organization of what was already a fairly coherent political world.
"The blogs," as they are known in many media outlets and circles and DC, are now almost exclusively the realm of progressives. The entire term "the blogs" implies a new institution operating independently of established centers of news distribution and political power. That no longer exists on the right. The right-wing blogosphere, as it is now constituted, is simply an extension of a larger message machine that developed long before the blogosphere ever existed. The right-wing blogosphere no longer holds any promise to produce new leaders within the conservative movement, or to alter the balance of power within the conservative movement in any way, shape or form.

John Aravosis recently remarked to me how amazed he was that whenever established news centers and sources of political power comment on "the blogs" anymore, now they always mean progressive blogs. I agreed with him, at the time, and after a little thought I can now see why. The right-wing blogosphere is dead. It should not come as a surprise that there has not been a major successful campaign by right-wing blogosphere for over a year now. Simply put, there are no longer any emerging online institutions on the right. While there are numerous instances where progressive bloggers are working with progressive institutions, in every case I can think of where an "A-list" blogger sis involved, they are working with other emerging progressive institutions: MoveOn, Air America, Media Matters, etc. While conservative bloggers are looking to be absorbed within established institutions, progressive bloggers continue to build new ones.

The right-wing blogosphere is dead. Long live the progressive blogosphere.

Posted by: Jimbo: | March 22, 2006 11:59 AM

Ben is an excellent speechwriter, especially when it comes integrating turtles into the subject:

Atrios said:

"I guess we've been a bit hard on Ben Domenech, as there's a pretty good chance he's provided us with one of our most comical moments in recent political history. He was a speechwriter for Senator Cornyn when this line was in his written speech:


It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right. . . . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife.

Apparently Cornyn had the good sense enough to recognize that the Republican obsession with interspecies sex is probably something best kept quiet and he didn't deliver the line, but it was in the prepared speech."

Posted by: John C | March 22, 2006 12:13 PM

Congratulations Ben D. on your new blog! I am looking forward to your dispatches from the front lines!

I can only assume that a young healthy male like yourself would enthusiastically want to join in the fight against Terror!

The military is stretched pretty thin and we could really use someone like you with superior intellect leading our troops into battle. Those insurgents wouldn't stand a chance!

Semper Fi, my brother, Semper Fi!

Posted by: Tim O. | March 22, 2006 12:37 PM

Kudos on hiring the cofounder of redstate.org. It may help add SOME balance to your newsroom.

Posted by: Leonidas | March 21, 2006 11:34 AM

I think you mean b-a-l-l-a-s-t; as in sinking like a rock.

Posted by: dano347 | March 22, 2006 01:09 PM

How ironic it is that I had heard that the WaPo has created a Right-Wing blog through progressive news sites I was reading. See, I no longer look to the Washington Post for my news... like millions of other readers I've moved to greener (and more truthful) pastures. Maybe the leadership here is on to something? Maybe you'll get more of your audience to return? I don't think so personally. A return to truthful, hard news without the Republican apologists might actually help your readership numbers. Something the Liberal Bloggers are learning firsthand. What you do ultimately makes little difference to me now, but it is a shame to see such a prominent news agency lose its way so completely in such a short period of time.

Posted by: Cloud7 | March 22, 2006 01:15 PM

Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake is mightly impressed by Jim Brady's inspired hiring of Ben Domenech.

Since the Post's censors have deleted Jane's comments from this blog, I urge everyone -- including Jim Brady -- to gopo over to FireDogLake and read Jane's comments.

Posted by: Seeker of Truth | March 22, 2006 01:36 PM

Nice work, Mr. Brady, with your hiring of Ben Domenech. I have today, after nine years, cancelled my subscription to your rag.

Posted by: Red State Blues | March 22, 2006 02:00 PM

Is our children learning?

Posted by: Bushie | March 22, 2006 02:29 PM

Here's some more wisdom from WaPo new 26 year old conservative blogger(posting under the psuedonym 'Augustine'), written after Coretta Scott King's funeral:
'The President visits the funeral of a Communist. And phones in a message to the March for Life. I think we can get a little pissed about this.'

That's certainly 'fair and balanced'.

Posted by: Arch Stanton | March 22, 2006 04:34 PM

It's official... WaPo's new blogger helps it become the Fox News of print journalism. Way to go! Just a little further until you reach "Weekly World News" status. Then little details like the truth can be ignored altogether.

Posted by: HDS | March 22, 2006 04:52 PM

Look you all may laugh, but my daughter brought home here new boyfriend...AND HE WAS A BOX TURTLE! Remember, a conservative is just a liberal whose daughter has just brought home her new boyfriend who turned out to be a box turtle. I, for one, welcome Ben Domenech, his wisdom, borne of 26 years, can protect and inform our great nation of the evils of inter-species and homosexual relations(same thing really). Also, I know that Bob Woodward has seen the CIA's damage assesment in regard to the out9ing of Valerie Plame(as he stated on the Larry King show) and I wonder if we will ever read his account of what it said in the glorious pages of the WaPo. Or does the top-secret clearance necessary to read such a document preclude Woodward from writing about it? Maybe Bob could write a story detailing the trevails of a reporter who also happens to have top-secret clearance and how his ingrained dedication to 'raporting' co-exists w/ his duty, as someone w/ top-secret securtity clearance, to maintain state secrets.

Posted by: Duck of Death | March 22, 2006 06:01 PM

People:

Ben Domenech cannot be as bad as he is being overwhelmingly described on this blog or the Red America blog.

After all, the little wet-behind-the-ears, home-schooled, right-wing wannabe blogger actually went to William and Mary College (not that it did him any good as far as being educated) rather than the Virginia colleges of choice for right-wing home schoolers (Patrick Henry College in his home town of Purcellville, Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia Beach or Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Posted by: Irony Guy | March 22, 2006 08:35 PM

Katherine Graham is not turning over in her grave, she is spinning so fast she could dig her way to China. I don't see how you can do any worse than hiring this tiny idiot Domenech, but that's what I thought when I heard the first words out of the mouth of L'il Debbie.

How does it feel to be on an ink-and-paper Titanic?

Posted by: Argonaut | March 23, 2006 10:16 AM

I feel like I'm living in Russia or old Germany and the print (in this case it includes online print) is the mouth piece of the kgbreich. For a political party representing Christians's, the Republican's sure do lie alot. Lets see, this is what 'they' want me to believe; Jack Abramoff gets money from the Indian tribes, Abramoff gives all to Republican's. Tribes give money to some Democrats, Therefore, Abramoff gave money to Democrats. I just wish American's weren't so gullible. There was a day when Republican's like we have today AND so many in the media would be hounded into carrying signs on street corners saying, "Will work for food."

Posted by: Kanne | March 23, 2006 01:36 PM

Clearly this IS nothing more than an echo chamber...did you assume we'd be passified if you simply reopened comments?

We want answers...

Posted by: John Doherty | March 23, 2006 01:41 PM

"Ben Domenech brings an original and authentically conservative voice to the site's Opinions area, where we're committed to presenting the most provocative, informed and ideologically diverse policy debate on the web."

According to several blogs, Eschaton and DailyKos probably the best-known among them, the word "original" in the quote above seems to have been -- what is the term the Post likes to use? -- poorly chosen? Ill-advised? That is, a number of columns Domenech wrote before his elevation to the Post have passages that seem to be identical to passages in similar columns written by other writers.

Any yes, aye, or nay to the buzz? I would think the Post looks carefully at new hires, so it's probably nothing. But it would be embiggening (and promote an even greater sense of being Respected) if the Posties would make a statement about this as part of their Invaluable Ongoing Dialog With Readers.


With kind regards,
Dog, etc.
searching for home

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 23, 2006 11:50 PM

So the WaPo not satisfied by having misinformers, propogandists, lazy jounalists and crusading ombudspersons on its staff, has expanded to include a plagiarist as well.

Salon.com:
'At its best, it skews the absurdity of any human relationships -- even the successful ones. As terrified as Jimmie is of losing his freedom, Anne is equally worried about becoming like her parents -- who, it turns out, are an older couple nauseatingly, demonstratively, still in love with each other.'

Domenech: 'At its best, "The Bachelor" skews the absurdity of any human relationships ‹ even the successful ones. As terrified as Jimmie is of losing his freedom, Anne is equally worried about becoming like her parents ‹ who, it turns out, are an older couple nauseatingly and demonstratively still in love with each other.'

This guy isn't even smart enough to steal from something a little less high profile than Salon. Here's more:

Steve Rhodes:
'The most important costars in the Bond movies are the spy's toys. These films usually have the audience applauding for the stunts, and this episode of the superspy saga is no different. The best of the bunch in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH is a sleek, one-man, black boat complete with jet afterburners, which looks like something custom-made for Batman. The vehicle even has the ability to dive underwater briefly while the driver holds his breath. It can turn into a car as well, all the better to engage in a typical Bond demolition derby.'

Domenech:
'The most important co-stars in the Bond movies are the spy's toys. These films usually have the audience applauding for the stunts and this episode of the superspy saga is no different. There's plenty of action and vehicles to enjoy, like the helicopter with a super-sized chainsaw attached, which cuts through cars and buildings, and a sleek, one-man boat with jet afterburners that looks like something custom-made for Batman.'

I was gonna save money on toilet paper by using the WaPo instead, but its now obvious its not fit handle such an important duty as that.

Posted by: Duck of Death | March 24, 2006 12:32 AM

Hmm ...

"1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party and that you will remove the same should you discover that you have violated this provision."

Now any last line will do here.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 24, 2006 01:44 AM


Open Letter to the Executive Editor of WashingtonPost.com --

Dear Mr. Brady,

Your new columnist, Ben Domenech, is a former Bush Administration employee and a right-wing Republican political operative. He is also, demonstrably, a dangerously loose cannon (calling Coretta Scott King a "communist") and a plagiarist of the first order, stealing material from among others, P.J. O'Rourke, Salon, and yes, even The Washington Post itself, and passing it off as his own work.

After hiring Ben to "add something substantive to the national debate," maybe you should also think about bringing back the disgraced former reporter and faux Pulitzer-Prize winner, Janet Cooke, for another stint at The Post.

Perhaps she could teach a course in journalistic integrity. Her lessons seem to have been forgotten there at The Post.


 

Posted by: David Wyles | March 24, 2006 05:50 AM

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats.

Thank you.

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood | March 24, 2006 12:22 PM

Does the WaPo approve of plagiarism?

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood | March 24, 2006 12:23 PM

I read on a blog today that the student newspaper for which Domenech wrote has put up a notice on his old stories:

"Editor's note: It has been brought to the attention of The Flat Hat that Ben Domenech, a writer for The Flat Hat from 1999 to 2001, copied from and failed to cite sources in several articles. The Flat Hat is currently investigating these allegations."

Of course, I'm not a Professional Journalist, but I do feel respected all to hell by the Post as a result of all the invaluable ongoing dialog we have which always demonstrates how seriously the Posties take us.

So as a respected party to the invaluable ongoing dialog with the Post, I'd like to ask --

Have y'all considered doing something similar? I would guess that the folks at the college paper would be happy to take part in some of the invaluable, respect-filled, ongoing dialog. Maybe they could fill you in on their investigation or something.


With kind regards,
Dog, etc.

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 24, 2006 12:41 PM

"Ben Domenech brings an original and authentically conservative voice..."

Actually, he did. He brought the voice(s) of all those other writers. The problem is the editor who failed to note the *plural* plagiarisms.

Somebody had to make the decision to find a vociferous right-wing keyboard-thumper. Somebody was responsible for vetting him (don't newspapers do research anymore?). Somebody had to make the decision to hire this person.

Ben didn't embarass the journalistic institution... what he is is obvious... the people who chose to hire him blundered.

Again.

Hiding behind a blanket statement and assuming that since Ben resigned (like he probably resigned from college rather than face honor court???) the problem is past is NOT going to deal with the underlying problem of individual executive competence and wisdom. My cat could do a better job of running your paper... she is a great judge of character and knows what is truly important. She wouldn't have accepted either his tripe or his hype... at the bottom of her litterbox.

Posted by: hauksdottir | March 24, 2006 09:41 PM

Thanks for disinviting Domenech to your party.
Please invite someone who thinks and writes those thoughts instead of someone elses.
Get your self some spiny conservatives, but get someone who has credentials, and doesn't spout Regenery BS.

Posted by: CTheGee | March 24, 2006 11:30 PM

Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats -K. Ron Silkwood- I second that!

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Posted by: USPA | March 25, 2006 05:02 AM

You know, although I'm only a Dog, and I've never been a Professional Journalist, I'm coming to realize why the Posties had concerns about the amount of time they were spending here each and every day participating in the Invaluable Ongoing Dialog with us, the Respected Readers of their Professional output.

It took a lot of time.

Time that could have been spent on other things ... like looking into the background and clip files of new writers.

I am sure that some of the non-plagiarizing writers and reporters at the Post wish that the Professional Journalists in charge had looked into Domenech's background. Even the PJ's would probably admit that it should have been done.

But was it?

If it wasn't done, or wasn't done thoroughly -- the latter seems self-evident -- then we all have to worry that the reason it wasn't done, or wasn't done thoroughly, is that the Professional Journalists in Charge were simply spending too much of their valuable time participating in the Invaluable Ongoing Dialog.

Look into your hearts, Professional Journalists, and ask yourselves --

"Did I spend too much time being Respectful of the Post's readers? Is that what caused this problem?

"Or, perhaps, did I not spend *enough* time being respectful of the Post's readers?"

I hope things improve for you soon.

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.
searching for home

Posted by: Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog | March 25, 2006 11:35 AM

"Hiding behind a blanket statement and assuming that since Ben resigned (like he probably resigned from college rather than face honor court???) the problem is past is NOT going to deal with the underlying problem of individual executive competence and wisdom."

What, exactly, are they supposed to do? Bring out a firing squad? The guy's been publicly shamed for plagiarism, as he should be. He lost his gig here, and all credibility. What more do you want?

And you ankle-biters with your "censorship" nonsense--I CAN SEE the comments you left that you claim were deleted. How is that "censorship?"

Posted by: Beth | March 25, 2006 10:12 PM

Reading Comprehension Is Good.

As of Sunday morning, this looks like a series of gross mistakes made by someone in management.

Someone who wanted a right-wing blogger, apparently to appease right-wingers unhappy with the news, which they see as biased. The idea that reporting needs to be balanced by bringing in a right-wing spinner -- there was no effort made to find a left-wing blogger for "balance," and Domenech himself affirmed that he was not a journalist -- needs to be looked at. So does the idea that the right-wingers will ever be satisfied, no matter how much is done to satisfy them.

Someone who didn't look very carefully at Domenech. How much research did it take to discover his plagiarisms? Not much, but more than someone at the Post did. How should the Post avoid this sort of an embarassment in the future? That should be discussed.

Someone who either did not know Domenech's work under the pseud of "Augustine" or considered it an asset. Augustine's views on race in particular could have been a huge liability for WPNI and the Post. The "someone" who hired Domenech didn't know his views, or knew them and liked them and wanted to see them with the name "Post" writ large across them.

"What more do you want?"

Well, I want someone in management to take a long look at how this disaster occurred and figure out what went so wrong so fast. Why don't you want that?

Kind regards,
Dog, etc.
searching for home

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Posted by: travels | March 27, 2006 09:03 PM

Andy Card = Jim Brady?

If it can happen at this White House, maybe WashingtonPost.com should think about it for Mr. Brady. You know, "He's tired and wants to spend more time with his family"?

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Posted by: Atavian-X | March 29, 2006 02:26 PM

I don't subscribe to the Washington Post because I want, wish, or expect your reporters to have secret meetings with the President of the United States. I think reporters should tell me in the Washington Post what the President says and does, not keep it a secret. And I should be told asap! Not that "long view" of history that Woodword is allowed to do. It may be enjoyable/ pleasant/ fun to sit about with the POTUS drinking ice tea and exchanging small talk but that is not why I am buying the Washington Post. And that also goes for the other newspapers and magazines that are indulging themselves in this silliness.

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