Friday, February 24, 2006

Forty+ Days and Counting

UPDATE: From redking... Post Restores A Comment
UPDATE II: More of Howell's "local focus" found here and here.

"HELLO... Hello... hello..." says cujo359, wanting to know if anyone is reading, watching and learning from the comments still being posted over at the Post. But it seems no one is home.

As Taniwha put it, "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?"

But in response, there is only silence from Howell and Jim Brady. Is this any way to run a blog?

It's been over forty days since Howell concocted her Abramoff "directed" money to Democrats fantasy. We're still waiting for a correction, or at the very least, something besides deleting comments in lieu of a response. - Taylor Marsh

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Deborah Does Cable

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Thanks to all the people commenting here. I just learned that the Post even nuked my own comments, which only invited people over to this Open Letter, where free speech reigns. See for yourself in the comment section below. It's outrageous.

"Please post some evidence for the assertion that Jack Abramoff directed donations to Democrats." - K. Ron Silkwood
Well isn't this interesting. At least for this Sunday, Ms. Howell has moved on to cable TV, taking issue with Dana Milbank wearing an orange hunting jacket on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown." But is this Ms. Howell's province as the Washington Post ombudsman?

The re-opened comment section is bristling with spectacular efforts from stellar readers trying to elicit some sort, any sort, of response to the plea at the top of this post. Oh, and by the way, "S.t.e.n.o. S.u.e." has a filter on it. So the crafty minds holding the Post to account have developed ways around the free speech police: "S>T>E>N>O S>U>E s/t/e/n/o s/u/e S*T*E*N*O S*U*E," TeddySanFran, wrote.

Meanwhile, all of us are still waiting a response from Howell and Brady, who remain mute, on just what the evidence is that Jack Abramoff "directed" money to Democrats. Did they think they could just reopen the comment section after weeks and life would just move on?

In the meantime, Howell will evidently be doing cable reviews. I can't wait until she weighs in on Jim VanderHei's next appearance.

UPDATE I: Dana's Woodshed Assignment
UPDATE II: Dana Explains

Friday, February 17, 2006

Post Comments Back On

UPDATE: Washington Post Comments Back On!

There was an interview in the San Antonio Express News this past Sunday between Ms. Howell and a Melissa Fletcher Steoltje. Howell is a native of San Antonio. The following came in to me via my blog from a reader.

... titled "'Thick skin' buffers column back lash". "When we reached Howell, she was "detoxing" at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ." "Q. Are you taking time out in Tucson because of the Abramoff dust-up?" "A. I was going to come out here anyway. This is a planned trip, but it was certainly nice timing." (snip) "I made a simple mistake, and instead of taking it as a simple mistake people excoriated me. It wasn't a huge error........." (snip) "Q. Why did you decide to take on this job and why is it important? "A.....I think one of the roles of ombudsmen fulfill is to give the angry reader somw place to vent. Sometimes newspapers screw up, and when they do the ombudsmam can help get it right....." Hmmmm? - kate

The emphasis in Kate's reader email are mine, put in for good reasons. That the Post still doesn't understand that Ms. Howell's column included huge errors, because it misreported the facts, makes at least one thing clear. Our job is not done.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I am a twit without a functioning brain.

I also do not have any [censored].

Despite 10 years spent in online media, I really don't understand the Internet.

I am a dangerous ideologue , an enemy of democracy.

At least, that's what I've been told -- in much stronger language -- by dozens of people who have never met me. ...
- BLOG RAGE, by Jim Brady
Needing to meet Mr. Brady is hardly the issue.

It's incomprehensible it took over two weeks to respond to the moderated chat, to then cast online readers and bloggers as some Hurculean villain who cannot be engaged. Nothing is further from the truth.

Jane Hamsher went out of her way to take part in the Post event and even though Deborah Howell was the impetus for it, she chose not to participate. That was questioned by one of the participants.

Jim Brady: Deborah has chosen for the time being not to any live discussions, but we've talked about it, and you'll see her on here at some point.

Jeff Jarvis: I'll push the transparency button: Why not? I worked with Deborah (at my last job). She is, indeed, tough. So I don't believe she fears this; I wouldn't make that simplistic assumption. So I have to believe she has a reason she believes is good for avoiding live interaction. What is it?
The question remains unanswered.

In "Blog Rage," Mr. Brady shares his "favorite story," which revolves around Ms. Hamsher. The kicker is he doesn't even name her, but instead and for the second time dubs her Columbo, like we were having some intramural high school club spat. His attempt to replicate an anonymous attack by zeroing in on Ms. Hamsher was noticed, logged, but ineffectual.

Frankly, Mr. Brady's venting is not befitting the Post, its readers, Ms. Hamsher, or any of us who feel deeply about the factual errors that brought on this discussion. How Mr. Brady thought "Blog Rage" would move this debate forward is a puzzlement. Now, can we all get back to the subject at hand?
"But there is no doubt about the campaign contributions that were directed to lawmakers of both parties."
The Firestorm Over My Column, by Deborah Howell
There is no proof I've uncovered, read about or been handed to prove Jack Abramoff "directed" money to both political parties. Silencing online readers and taking an anonymous swipe at truth seeking bloggers won't change the facts.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Post Gets it Wrong on Harry Reid

UPDATE: Wait 'til you read this!

A reader has a beef with the Washington Post... "OK I give, how do we get WaPo to listen. ... Notice they bring up the Marianas without a mention that Reid was a co-sponsor of the bill to raise the minimum wage. Many thanks to Josh (more here) for picking up on the BS. But IMO this deserves to be slammed but good. ..." - kewala

We're all over it. The Cato Institute reprints an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Harry Reid is Right." There's a big difference between taking lobbying money from your constituents, which is legal, and taking lobbying money in a pay to play pay off scheme, in which Jack Abramoff and the Republicans were engaged. Remember, the Republicans control Congress, and Harry Reid didn't take a dime from Abramoff because Jack didn't give a dime to Democrats.

As for how to contact the Post, kewala, they've devised a feedback form that is attached to the reporters name in the byline. I can't wait to hear what you have to say about that one.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What is Ms. Howell's Job?

UPDATE:: Brad DeLong's Issue with the Post

From the comment section: "I actually thought the real news here was that, once again, Howell is suddenly introducing a new subject that, as near as I can tell, did not come from reader response, which is her job. ... An ombudsman's job is to hold the organization or industry s/he works in to account, not the customers. - Avedon
It was two weeks ago today that the "moderated" discussion over Deborah Howell's coverage of the Jack Abramoff scandal occurred. Ms. Howell still isn't taking public comments on her columns, though she will accept our emails. This question remains unanswered after two full weeks: Why isn't Deborah Howell responding to readers, instead of inserting a new "local focus" issue? Instead of doing the job of an ombudsman, which is to hold the Post accountable, she's backing away from the very readers who can help her do her job effectively. Changing the subject won't distract us from the central issue of our complaint. Your thoughts...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Deborah Howell to Focus Locally

UPDATE: Hmmm... Could my opinion below be wrong? Well, quite a few people I respect think so. It's clear I made a mistake being so emphatic, so I retract it. Because as people have said today, where's the beef, the proof of what I offered? So, let me just say this, I think Ms. Howell's new "local focus" is an attempt at "changing the subject," as one person put it, away from hot topics like Abramoff. Respectfully retracted, including the title. - TM

Alert the media! The New York Times will now be a category on “Jeopardy.” John Roberts quit CBS to join CNN. David Marash was fired from “Nightline” when ABC went MTV on news, to be an anchor of the new English-speaking Al-Jazeera Intl., which will have a large Washington bureau. And another Sunday goes by with the blogger panel missing, all because we busted an ombudsman. It's as if bloggers have disappeared from the conversation, wiped from the media memory, at least as far as the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz is concerned. Oh, and did I mention that Ms. Howell lost her national beat?

So, another Sunday, more silence, as Kurtz's “Reliable Sources,” the microscope on all things media, retreats from new media and the web, replacing the blog panel with sports, not to mention that Kurtz is no longer reporting on anything Post, not even when a major move occurs.

The glaring omission of the story responsible for this sudden shift in Kurtz's show is one thing, but when that glaring omission also gives way to the person it revolved around getting her beat slashed, well, let's just say "Reliable Sources" needs a new name. So since Howie is into reporting on the Times, maybe he could just add a slogan: "all the news I feel like reporting."

Seriously, The New York Times starting a cross promotion campaign with "Jeopardy" gets a mention, while the issue of the Post's ombudsman being taken off national news doesn't?

Deborah Howell, in a stealth move without a mention, has been quietly demoted to the local beat, because bloggers nailed her on inaccuracies through a comment section that was eventually nuked, but Kurtz doesn't think it's worth a mention.

Hey Howie, who's your mommy?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Reader Comments Cut Deep

Dear Deborah - I can call you Deborah, can't I? You see, it's just that I feel we've all come to know you so well since you decided to editorialize, then ignore your readers when they insulted your sensibilities. I've showed you some of my hate mail, but you seem unwilling to continue to show us yours.

Today, I thought I'd show you what a real comment section looks like. You see, others get comments even worse than yours. But the man who is being called "treasonous" and every other name in the book, mostly by Republicans, is a hero who served our country for 37 years in the Marines. His name if Rep. John Murtha, who wrote a letter to President Bush that some people didn't like. What did he get for his efforts? Insults, attacks and profanity, but HuffingtonPost offers Murtha's letter, in full, continuing to welcome comments, to the tune of over 1,200+, some of which are beyond the pale. Now that's democracy and free speech in action. Take a lesson, it's one you need to learn.