Aug
16
2009

Shallow Press Longs for Shallow President

WashingtonMonthly.com blogger Steve Benen (Political Animal, 8/12/09) has words for corporate pundits lambasting Barack Obama's "Attention to Detail" as "going "into the weeds": A few weeks ago, MSNBC's First Read had an item questioning whether President Obama "knows too much" about healthcare policy. The piece complained that the president is willing to offer Americans details about reform…. The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman raised a similar concern today, arguing that Obama cares too much about policy details…. This, apparently, is criticism, not praise. The president who inherited a devastating economic crisis is interested in U6 numbers–a measure that includes the […]

Jun
28
2009

Immune-From-Criticismism at the Washington Post

In his evaluation of the Dan Froomkin firing, Washington Post ombud Andy Alexander (6/26/09) confidently asserts that "first, it's not about ideology," then later asserts that Froomkin "was urged not to do media criticism." Clearly, though, the notion that the Post should not be subjected to criticism is a central tenet of the paper's ideology. Alexander quoted with a straight face Post columnist Gene Weingarten questioning whether Froomkin "was as informed and qualified to opine as people who had been actively covering the White House for years." Alexander did not point out that Weingarten writes a humor column, which might […]

Jun
27
2009

The WaPo's Last Flash of 'Accountability Journalism'?

In Dan Froomkin's last column for the Washington Post (6/26/09), he promises to "continue doing accountability journalism"–as good as any self-description to distinguish his work from his typical Post colleague's obsequiousness–and tries "hard to summarize the past five-and-a-half years" in which "George W. Bush was truly the proverbial emperor with no clothes": In the days and weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, the nation, including the media, vested him with abilities he didn't have and credibility he didn't deserve…. How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily […]

Jun
26
2009

Why I Couldn't Say What Dan Froomkin Said Reporters Should Do

I wrote a short item on Dan Froomkin's firing for FAIR's radio show CounterSpin today: One of the bright spots at the Washington Post media enterprise was Dan Froomkin's column, "White House Watch," for WashingtonPost.com. It often struck us that Froomkin had a whole different attitude–skeptical of those in power, and critical of their journalistic enablers–than most of his colleagues at the Post Co. So it was perhaps not too surprising to hear that Froomkin, one of the Post's most popular online writers, had been fired–not long after his column was placed under the authority of editorial page editor Fred […]

Jun
20
2009

Froomkin's Column Never Liked: 'It Contains Opinion'

Blogger Jane Hamsher (FireDogLake.com, 6/19/09) thinks that Salon's "Glenn Greenwald says most of what needs to be said about the Washington Post's firing of Dan Froomkin," on June 18, but has her own "insight into "the early rounds of this battle" over the left-leaning columnist, having "watched it ferment over the years." Hamsher explains that Post ombud Debbie Howell's characterization of Froomkin as "highly opinionated and liberal" really "was the consensus of the newsroom, where it was believed–correctly–that Froomkin's writing about the war and U.S. foreign policy were an inherent criticism of the WaPo's own coverage and editorial position": And […]

May
05
2009

On 'Normalized Torture' and Prosecution as a 'Cop-Out'

Even though "James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis first told the world about waterboarding in May 2004," Dan Froomkin (WashingtonPost.com, 5/4/09) is having to argue that "that doesn't mean that the rest of us are as guilty as the people who committed the crimes–or that those who ordered those crimes should avoid accountability." While Newsweek's Jacob Weisberg and the Post's own Michael Kinsley are among those "arguing that the nation's collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out," Froomkin has some "big problems with this argument": While it's true that the public's outrage over […]