The Washington Post's Ombudsman
(Who needs an ombudsman of her own!)
Paper Shutters Blog After Ombudsman Post
Jeez! No wonder smart people are abandoning the Washington Post in droves.
|Paper Shutters Blog After Ombudsman Post |
Jan 19 7:28 PM US/Eastern
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The Washington Post shut down one of its blogs Thursday after the newspaper's ombudsman raised the ire of readers by writing that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to the Democrats as well as to Republicans.
At the center of a congressional bribery investigation, Abramoff gave money to Republicans while he had his clients donate to both parties, though mostly to Republicans.
In her Sunday column, ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on post.blog.
There were so many personal attacks that the newspaper's staff could not "keep the board clean, there was some pretty filthy stuff," and so the Post shut down comments on the blog, or Web log, said Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com.
And that last paragraph is chock full-O-lies, y'all.
Here's the latest crap
Howell has bagged, lit, and left on the WaPo's front steps:
Deborah Howell Responds
I've heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties.
Come on, Deb! Hire a damned fact checker, Hon!
A wave of nasty reader postings
on the Post's blog? Since the WaPo has deleted the comments, I guess we just have to believe the Post when they say that the comments were "nasty."
Nothing "deleted" from the internet is ever really deleted.
As for that "shuttering the blog" deal...
Don't you just love being able to capture and archive web pages?Read all of those blog comments
, which the WaPo thought it had deleted, and make up your own mind.
Here's a typical response:
This doesn't seem that complex. There is one statement in the ombudsman's original column, another in her clarification, and the flap with MediaMatters.
The ombudsman wrote Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."
You wrote it, so how it's worded is not only the meaning, it's solely your responsibility. It isn't true. He gave more than $127,000 to Republicans, and none to Democrats. Was this something you knew, but didn't consider important? Or was this something you didn't know?
You tried to clarify your original error by saying "A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff 'directed' contributions to both parties."
But there is no "better way" to say something false.
What you said in the first place was WRONG -- not something that would have been true if you'd said it some other way. You said Abramoff made contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. He did not.
It is not clear what you meant by "directed". There is a question of fact involved. Make it central -- did Abramoff's clients contribute to Democrats BEFORE they hired him? If they did, it is false to say that contributions to Democrats were at Abramoff's "direction".
He could not have been 'directing' what they did BEFORE they hired him. So the only 'direction' he could have given regarding contributions to Democrats would have been to maintain prior levels, increase or decrease them. Which was it?
Write your stuff by stating plain facts, please.
Finally: I read Media Matters and your reply. They called you on a one-sided approach that was also factually wrong.
You replied that the Post's reporting wasn't exactly wrong, because it was necessary to include both sides. If that commonplace had been a sound defense of the Post's reporting, it would have been sufficient.
But they pointed out that the original passage did NOT include both sides, which you had not even addressed when you announced you wouldn't respond further to Media Matters.
The facts are simple: Abramoff contributed only to Republicans. His clients had been contributing to Democrats before they hired him, and their contributions to Democrats went down (and up, to Republicans) after they hired him. You flat out mis-stated the first, and your writing continues to be misleading on the second.
The original reporting on this did NOT include the simple factual observation that the whole purpose of the K Street project was to skew all lobbying, campaign contributions and policymaking toward Republicans and Republican clients.
If someone thinks there is another side to that factual reporting, it can be tested by the facts which you did not print, on which your writing is misleading. It is consistent with both the facts and the K Street project that Abramoff would have (as he did) contribute only to Republicans and directed his clients TO CONTRIBUTE LESS to Democrats than they had before: isn't that the only way to make your misleading statement about what Abramoff "directed" into an accurate one?
So, why didn't you write to be accurate?
If the Post's ombudsman had scrupulously written ONLY the facts, none of this flap would have been necessary.
So -- what are you going to do about it now?
Ah, the internet!
Just imagine where this Howell crapfestpalooza would be if we were still snail mailing letters to the editor.
Down the newsroom's cylindrical gun metal grey rabbit hole, of course.
Shame on you, Deborah Howell!
And shame on you, Washington Post! File this under: Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. Joseph Pulitzer