Friday, March 24, 2006

Red America Resigns


Ben Domenech Resigns

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to washingtonpost.com contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. Washingtonpost.com will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.

We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area.

Jim Brady
Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com
In the time it took to put the Red America blog up, progressives across the spectrum had the facts online for all to see. The question remains, why didn't Jim Brady know who he was hiring? Why didn't Jim Brady know what Jane Hamsher and other progressive bloggers knew from the start? Why did it take the progressives to uncover the past misdeeds of Ben? Where was Jim Brady in all this? Why didn't the "executive editor" of the washingtonpost.com do his job? It makes you wonder if he even knows what his job actually is.

- Taylor Marsh

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Post Adds Red America Blog


UPDATE: The Ben Domenech Scandal: "...own up... step down."

The Post just added another blog and Mr. Brady gets another letter.

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."

(snip)

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?

When can we expect the Post to hire a partisan Democratic activist as a blogger to balance Domenech?

David Brock for Media Matters
The question is a good one. Atrios and Josh Marshall have weighed in on the matter too. Chris Bowers takes the issue one step further.

Mr. Brady has added a Red America blog, so will he answer it with Blue America? I'd like to see what would happen if Brady threatened to rename Froomkin's blog "Blue."

We're still waiting for a correction on Deborah Howell's column, so I wouldn't bet on hearing anything from him soon. Oh, and by the way, the Posts's new Red America blog doesn't allow comments. I wonder why.

- Taylor Marsh

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Howell Touts Connection to Readership


... ... 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.
Newspapers in an Economic Storm
I came close to spitting my freshly squeezed o.j. on to my screen. Someone needs to explain to Ms. Howell and Mr. Brady that a connection to readership is also what keeps a webblog alive. It's close to inconceivable how Deborah Howell can write the last line in today's column without seeing the irony dripping from her latest dose of Me, Clueless.

Reader philip offers more in comments...

- Taylor Marsh

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ombudsman back on "Countdown"

OLBERMANN: It turns out that the administration is not just getting criticism from the Democrats and from certain Republicans, but it’s now been slammed by, of all people, Faith Hill and her husband, Timothy McGraw. Both of them, the country singers, bashing the president for not doing enough to help the victims of the hurricane in the South. Now, is that it? Is that the final nail? Do you know you’re in trouble when country music stars go after you? Are they going to write a song about him now?

MILBANK: They’re already singing a new tune up on Capitol Hill.

It’s, How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?

But it’s a grim sign for our president, as if he needs any more.

OLBERMANN: A chastened Dana Milbank, national political reporter of “The Washington Post,” not singing that song for us, as he might have previously before the ombudsman came after him. Thanks for joining us, Dana.

MILBANK: Thank you, Keith.
I got quite a chuckle when I saw this on "Countdown."

We haven't forgotten about you either, Ms. Howell. But it's always good when the likes of Keith Olbermann keeps you in the public eye.

- Taylor Marsh

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Washington Post makes "Countdown"

Well, if Ms. Howell is going to critique cable as part of her job as ombudsman, she's got to expect to eventually become the story. Unfortunately, she and the Post became the punchline last night. Crooks and Liars has the video. Here's the text:

Dana: I still can't keep my eyes off of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Keith: Washington Post national political reporter Dana Milbank-dodging the Ombudsman as we speak...
As for me, I think it's just plain sad when a paper I love gets reduced to a punchline, but that's what Ms. Howell and Mr. Brady have wrought. You've got to wonder why they just won't admit they were wrong, post a correction on Ms. Howell's offending column, then move on. Or are they really so shallow they can't admit a mistake? It would seem like a better road than going down punchline lane.