This is an archive, please visit http://pressthink.org for current posts.
PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine
About
Recent Entries
Archive/Search
Links
Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at Washingtonpost.com

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of WiredJournalists.com and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at washingtonpost.com is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide.

Journalism.co.uk keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

Syndicate this site:

XML Summaries

XML Full Posts

March 24, 2006

Red America, RIP... and the Great Blogger Bake Off

"Now that Ben Domenech has resigned from washingtonpost.com I hope Jim Brady will do the right thing, the creative thing, the thing that would turn this sorry episode around and allow the post.com to come out with a win for its readers and in the blogosphere..."

Now that Ben Domenech has resigned from the washingtonpost.com I hope Jim Brady will do the right thing, the creative thing, the thing that would turn this sorry episode around and allow the post.com to come out with a win for its readers and in the blogosphere.

An open competition on the Web to be the next political blogger at post.com, but instead of hiring one “red state” person and leaving it at that (a strategic error in my opinion) Brady should say that three slots will be filled over the coming year. One from column right, one from column left, and a third voice that is definitely neither of those, which could mean libertarian— or not.

When I say open I mean open: anyone can apply. But experience as a political blogger counts. You have to be an original linker and be able to think for yourself. Finalists and semi-finalists get named. There’s a week’s try-out period for the final few and a big bake off at the end— all with comments enabled. The competition would generate high interest online, and give the winning bloggers a great introduction.

It’s their site, so the editors of washingtonpost.com would pick the winners and run the contest. This would be more in keeping with the reputation the post.com should have for being the most innovative newspaper site around— and the most open to emerging voices who are challenging the press. Without something like this to announce in the wake of the Ben Domenech meltdown, Brady and his crew will take a bigger hit. Bad karma will result.

But I believe Brady, executive editor of the post.com, could turn that around.

Thinking ahead, blogger Bill Hobbs has already applied. (In the comments to the Domenech resignation post.)

Mr. Brady,

For four-plus years I wrote a weblog of center-right opinion, news analysis, media crit and original journalism, at my own eponymous blog site, www.billhobbs.com

Center-right may not quite describe me accurately. Pragmatic libertarian conservative is more like it.

I am a redstate resident (Tennessee) and a journalist by training, and more than a decade of experience, and I would love to replace Ben Domenech on the WashingtonPost.com site. I’ve never committed plagiarism. And because I’m not located “inside the Beltway” and have never worked for a Republican political campaign, I’m not likely to just repeat GOP talking points.

Bill Hobbs
Nashville, TN
www.billhobbs.com

I’m not likely to just repeat GOP talking points. Exactly. The open competition (which would include the online vetting that Domenech went through) would weed out the hacks, operatives, predictables and cheerleaders and allow for a truer picture of what you are going to get from the blogger. Since there would be three competitions going on, no one could complain about imbalance, or excessive dualism. (Has to be three.) And the event would show that the intensity of exchange in the blogosphere can produce good outcomes.

“We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations,” Brady wrote in announcing the end of Red America. “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.” If you’re a phony, it will be found out. Now let the Internet find your next great blogger, Jim.

I wasn’t—in principle—against the Post.com hiring a Republican activist as an opinion writer. It didn’t bother me that Domenech lacks mainstream newsroom credentials, and doesn’t call himself a journalist. I found it more interesting than scandalous that he was home schooled. And to me it was an inspired thought to give a 24 year-old a blog at washingtonpost.com.

Today I might be defending Jim Brady and company for their decision— if…. If Ben Domenech were a writer with some grace, a conservative but an original, a voice, something new on the scene, a different breed of young Republican, with perspective enough on the culture war to realize that while he can’t avoid being in it, he can avoid being of it. I might even be sympathizing with Ben if he had been that kind of hire.

He wasn’t. That he wasn’t was suggested by his first post, Pachyderms in the Mist: Red America and the MSM, a strange and backward-facing thing the apparent purpose of which was once more to ridicule what Peggy Noonan called “the famous MSM.” And it is famous, as a construct that allows anyone to say anything about the news media without fear of contradiction. This was Ben:

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.

I suppose he meant that reporters, editors and producers in the nation’s newsrooms are so clueless they don’t know why Dan Rather is such a prized conservative scalp, or that the right really hates the French. Besides being untrue, this was also an extremely ungracious statement, since the washingtonpost.com was bringing Ben Domenech aboard to bring news and clues about social conservatives to more Americans. As Greg Sargent wrote at Tapped, “Domenech’s MSM-bashing, of course, is belied by his own apparent hiring.”

But in fact there is no MSM. No one answers for it. It has no address. And no real existence independent of the dreary statements in which it is bashed. Therefore it is not a term of accountability, which is one reason it’s grown so popular. No one’s accountable; therefore all rants can be right. If you’re a blogger, and you write things like, “The MSM swallowed it hook, line and sinker,” you should know that you have written gibberish. But you probably don’t, for to keep this knowledge from you is the leaden genius of MSM.

And having made it to the big time, that was the genius Ben Domenech thought to tap in his very first post. Tells me he wouldn’t have survived an online bake-off. That’s the whole point of having one. You raise the bar. His resignation today is a good outcome.



After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…

Julian Sanchez at Reason’s Hit and Run blog builds on my bake-off idea and adds some shrewd observations. See Distributing Due Diligence. (March 29)

Farhad Manjoo of Salon speaks to Brady, who says Domenech was thoroughly vetted.

“We looked at a lot of people,” Brady said of the selection process. “We didn’t have anybody on the site who is on a consistent basis discussing issues of conservatives, someone who’s loyal to the cause of conservatism and not the administration. We were looking for people whose opinions are not necessarily in line with the majority of people who read the site. We wanted to create a little bit of buzz and controversy as well.” And Domenech, Brady said, fit the bill. “He was provocative.”

In the end, of course, the decision created the wrong kind of controversy. “The lesson we’ve learned is that if we go back and do this again, we’ll probably look more in the traditional journalist community,” Brady said. “We still want someone who’s provocative.”

And the site still wants someone on the right. “A conservative columnist, a conservative blogger, whatever it ends up being. Certainly we’re looking, but I don’t know the timeframe,” Brady said.

Asked if the site is looking for a liberal, he said, “Potentially, potentially.”

See also Howard Kurz’s report(March 25).

John Reinan, a Star-Tribue staffer, writes at his blog:

It just happens that former Pioneer Press editor Deborah Howell, now the Postís ombudsman, was in our newsroom today for a Q&A session on journalism topics. I asked her about the Domenech affair.

Her reply: ďI canít defend it. Itís a f****iní disaster.Ē

Ed Morrisey, Will Blogs Eat Themselves?

If anyone wanted to make an argument that the blogosphere is too immature to be considered partners in information dissemination with traditional media outlets, we’ve provided it in spades this week. We finally had an opportunity to garner a high-profile setting for bloggers at the nation’s premiere newspaper, and what did we do? We tore each other to shreds because we didn’t like the ideological perspective of the first person chosen for the experiment. We engaged in crude character assassination that greatly overshadowed the actual value of the blogosphere to find and correct real transgressions and deficiencies, as demonstrated by the discovery of Domenech’s plagiarism.

Mick Stockinger has a reply to Morrisey that is worth reading in full.

I see absolutely no problem with how the Domenech affair unwound—character assassination and everything. Its completely in character with the blogosphere and I don’t think most of us are here to impress the fellas at the Washington Post or at Rockefeller center. The blogospheric “market” should reward or punish behavior and let us develop consistent with the expectations and preferences of our readers.

More…UNCoRRELATED: Domenech concedes.

Joel Achenbach, the Post’s top blogger, says good riddance. “His blog, Red America, didn’t contain anything that would make someone think he was the second coming of William F. Buckley. Indeed, this whole affair seems like a spoof, a prank, to make all the real, authentic, rock-ribbed, hard-headed if perhaps slightly lizard-hearted conservatives look bad.” He also points out that Ben was just a contractor, a freelancer. He didn’t have a “job at the Post.”

The Blogometer has a very thorough round-up of what led up to the resignation, including all the plagiarism charges. If you want the links, they’re in there.

Ben Domenech pens a resignation note (RedState.com)

I have a great many friends who are willing to stand and defend me on this. I appreciate their support. I have enormous respect for Jim Brady and the vision he has at WPNI. But while the folks at washingtonpost.com understand my position and are convinced by my arguments on many of these issues, they also feel that the firestorm here will only serve to damage us all, and that there is no way this blog can continue without being permanently tagged to this firestorm. Therefore, I have resigned this position with washingtonpost.com.

This is a shame. As you all know, I am a conservative, but not a partisan Ė I believe had this blog been allowed to continue, it would have been a significant addition to the Post’s site. The Post showed bravery by including a conservative voice, and I hope they continue to seek that balance.

But Ben’s not a blogger. Not a real blogger. If he were a real blogger, then in this part

But in the course of accusing me of racism, homophobia, bigotry, and even (on one extensive Atrios thread) of having a sexual relationship with my mother, the leftists shifted their accusations to ones of plagiarism.

… there would be links to these charges.

Dana Milbank in a Q and A with Post.com readers:

What I don’t understand (although I haven’t inquired) is why the website couldn’t recruit somebody with more stature to do the job. This city is crawling with good conservative journalists with lots of heft. Domenech may be a smart fellow, but he’s 24 years old and tells Kurtz “I’m not a journalist.” I think that makes him the only “blogger” on the site who’s not a journalist.

On March 21, Sean-Paul Kelley at The Agonist wrote that hiring Domench was dubious because “the whole Red State/Blue State meme is on the way out.” I agree. His first post was phoned in from ‘04.

Matt Stoller says the lesson for Brady and the Post is: “Stop appeasing the right-wing. It’s bad for you.”

Joe Gandelman has a broad assortment of reactions from across the spectrum.

Jane Hamsher asks: “How exactly did Ben wind up on the pages of the WPNI?” She thinks Hugh Hewitt suggested it, and Brady listened.

Via America blog, the email the Post ombsudman sent out to those who inquired:

From: Deborah C Howell HowellDC@washpost.com
Date: March 23, 2006 9:44:05 PM EST
To: xxxxx
Subject: Re: Domenech

The Washington Post has not hired him. The website has. The two are under totally different management. He will not be working for the newspaper. If you want to complain to the right person, try executive.editor@wpni.com.

Deborah

Which was her way of getting out of addressing the Domenech matter. Of course, it’s inconsistent with her column, The Two Washington Posts.

Posted by Jay Rosen at March 24, 2006 3:12 PM   Print

Comments

What I don't understand about this whole thing is why the Post gave him a blog in the first place. It was obvious from his first update that Domenech considered himself an enemy of the Washington Post. Why would they give a platform to someone who was--as I see it--opposed to their entire institutional mission?

Posted by: Dan Miller at March 24, 2006 3:41 PM | Permalink

An interesting question to ask is how would you feel if you were working in the Washington Post newsroom, and your website, which you probably already feel threatened by, a site you have little influence over, decides to hire someone that is openly hostile to you.

Another interesting question to ask is did WashingtonPost.com actually believe RedAmerica provided some form of 'balance'? Because then they've equated a pundit with a journalist (most likely Froomkin).

Another interesting question to ask is the moral issue of naming a column/blog after a selection of states in this country and declaring and generalizing their populace as belonging to one political point of view.

The name of the blog - to me - said it all.

Posted by: Karl at March 24, 2006 4:13 PM | Permalink

American Idol for bloggers!

Posted by: David Boyd at March 24, 2006 4:37 PM | Permalink

Frankly, I think the WaPo should just encourage its editors and reporters to READ blogs instead of trying to compete by putting up its own blogs, of whatever point of view.

Posted by: Meteor Blades at March 24, 2006 4:40 PM | Permalink

What a brilliant suggestion, Jay! You should get a finder's fee, eh?

Regarding Bill Hobbs, I know him and his work, and he would be a good one for the Post to consider, contest or otherwise.

Posted by: Terry Heaton at March 24, 2006 5:02 PM | Permalink

Well here's a group of eighty candidates for such a position-- and they don't even need to be shown around the Washington Post newsroom.

Posted by: A.J. Liebling at March 24, 2006 5:02 PM | Permalink

Hey, A.J. Think the Posties in the newsroom who have it in for Brady and think he should be dumped, while the post.com is folded into Downie's domain are high-fivin each other on this one?

Or would it be limited to: "We're cutting reporters and adding know-nothing bloggers who can't last a week, for what? why? will someone explain to me the logic of that?"

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 24, 2006 5:11 PM | Permalink

I think Ben Domenech's parting shot -- though, because he's likely to have much more to say, perhaps that term is inapt -- on his RedState post nicely captures why, among many other reasons, this was such a terrible pick. Domenech wrote that he took "solace" in the fact that the people who were criticizing him this week were doing that instead of bashing America. That is exactly the kind of discourse that belongs nowhere near the Washington Post.

Posted by: Ankush Khardori at March 24, 2006 5:30 PM | Permalink

I think your bake-off idea is brilliant, Jay. But I'd take it one step further: how about a reality TV show on Fox in which nine ambitious, conservative bloggers are locked into an underground bunker and not allowed to leave until they unanimously agree on which one of them will become the next WaPo blogger? James Wolcott could do the color commentary, and Atrios could hand out popcorn.

At the moment of victory, Dick Cheney would emerge from a previously undisclosed bunker-within-the-bunker to coronate the winner.

Posted by: Matt at March 24, 2006 5:57 PM | Permalink

1. I don't get this fondness that some people, apparently including Mr. Rosen, have for ideological affirmative action.

Are conservatives a class against which there has been historical discrimination of the kind that African Americans suffered? Have they been systematically denied educational opportunities? Is there data, as is regularly compiled by the Urban League about African Americans, to the effect that equally qualified conservatives are 20% less likely to receive the job that the American majority?

The Post *should* have been hiring talented people, some of whom might well be conservative or liberal. The hire of the son of Republican hack looks like political nepotism of the sleaziest sort.

2. Look closely at what Brady wrote in Ben Domenech's exit letter. These numerous documented instances of plagiarism are "allegations" "under investigation." This is awfully weak tea for such a strong leaf!

Brady does not mention Domenech's extremism, notably the Coretta Scott King bit. Nor does he think it troubling that Domenech's comrades have been so staunch in defending Domenech's plagiarism and dishonesty. I for one feel that the battle in this country is not so much between liberal and conservative but between citizen and crook. It's unfortunate that the Republican Party seems to have aligned itself with crooks, but any reasonable citizen would be just as much opposed to a liberal plagiarist as to a conservative one.

3. And so, one inevitably returns to Jim Brady. Ben Domenech is just one more screwy kid, but Jim Brady is the man who hired him. Surely that wasn't a good decision. Neither was the decision to wait as long as Brady did. Nor was the decision to let Domenech leave without standing up tall and denouncing Domenech for what he is in uncertain terms.

If this were the only episode, we'd call it an off week. But we also saw Jim Brady's bad judgment in Howell v. America, and how it cost The Post a lot of reader goodwill.

If someone very senior in the newspaper isn't reconsidering the decision to hire Jim Brady, the paper really is rudderless.

Posted by: Charles at March 24, 2006 5:58 PM | Permalink

The rage from the left struck me as hypocritical, but then I didn't know Domenech or his writing. When I found out that he'd called Mrs. King a communist and written other inflammatory stuff, I thought where were his credentials. When I checked the claims of plagiarism, I realized he was another Jayson Blair.

Bill Hobbs has been blogging for a long time. He a favorite Instapundit linkee, and he's smart and a good writer. I'm not a libertarian, but I usually agree with Hobbs' points.

The thing about blogging is that it's a reaction to news. Occasionally bloggers report facts that the MSM miss or scoop them on breaking stories, like the Tsunami, but most of the time, they're just logging the interesting websites they've visited. That's where the term web log originated. It's how Yahoo! began, just a list of interesting websites where people could find links to other, more specialized sites.

Ideally, a blogger wouldn't be a full-time journalist, although many of those are excellent bloggers. He should be mature, which Domenech isn't, smart and perspicuous. From his blog, I'd say Bill Hobbs is all of those. The point is whoever they get should be able to articulate views you don't get from the rest of the Washington Post's website or newspaper.

How about a milblogger in Iraq? Or Michael Yon?
They just need to read more blogs and do some research before they pick somebody. I'd check with Glenn Reynolds, James Lileks, N.Z. Bear, and others who are plugged into the blogosphere and aren't raging wingnuts for recommendations and then research their recommendations.

Posted by: AST at March 24, 2006 6:07 PM | Permalink

Your suggestion is, of course, an excellent one, and the question is, why didn't Brady do it this way? At the risk of offense, it's not the most original idea in the world. A lot of us would have proposed something similar.

Anyone who posts here could find numerous excellent blogger candidates for one of these positions within about an hour.

Yet Brady not only sought only one blogger, but somehow managed to find the worst possible candidate that combined offensiveness, dishonesty and the appearance of special privilege. It reminded me of the long ago days when Marc Wilson quarterbacked the Raiders and seemed to magically seek out the free safety of the opposing team and throw the ball to him.

But, why stop with three, when washingtonpost.com could easily get 5, 7 or 9?

I emphasize this, because there is tendency to structure these things to exclude voices to the left of liberals in the Democratic Party. So, I think that the Post should go even farther, because the 3 blogger approach is, I think, too restrictive, and prone to resulting in hires that conform to the Post's blinkered vision of the political and social world beyond it.

So, why did Brady do it this way? Possibly, because he wanted to get someone that would please the conservatives in ascendency at the paper. Possibly, to get settle old scores with Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher and the liberal "netroots" (to which I do not belong, by the way, even if I cruise through every now and then).

Let's hope that it's not because he shares Domenech's excreble attitudes towards African Americans, gays and lesbians. After all, Brady said that he looked into Domenech's background, and hired him because the website needed the views of a "social conservative". God help us if social conservatism is now equated with Domenech. This is a man who considers the KKK to have moral qualities superior to those of the US Supreme Court.

Brady is also displaying some peculiar judgment by equating Domenech with "red state" America. "Red states" are not foreign countries that require us to have passports to visit. I have friends and relatives there, as all of us do, and they don't necessarily see the world like Domenech, and would be offended at the suggestion.

Accordingly, I would add, to the extent that it is not implicit in your proposal, that Brady try to avoid simplistic stereotypes in selecting bloggers, such as "red" and "blue" state America, "Bush Republicans" and "Clinton Democrats", etc. Seems to me, you just always end up in trouble that way. Brady might also seek some opinion outside the Post to expand the pool of applicants, as some here are already making recommendations.

Finally, there must be a temptation for the Post to try to solve the problem by extending an olive branch to the Daily Kos and firedoglake, among others. It must be tempting, especially from an administrative politics approach, but, when you combine it with the 3 blogger proposal, it would result in a missed opportunity for the Post. Brady can be much more creative.

If Brady keeps his job (and we have wonder if he will, because this is a major mistake, revealing horrible, horrible judgment on his part), then this is a good way for him to turn lemons into lemonade.

Finally, let me throw a couple of hats into the ring:

David Neiwert: Orcinus

Tom Englehardt: TomDispatch

and, if Brady is willing to be really, really daring, here's two that will push the envelope, and probably generate a lot of traffic as well:

Chris Floyd: Empire Burlesque

A'sad Abukhalil: Angry Arab News Service

See us ranters aren't so bad. We will even provide free consulting services.

Posted by: Richard Estes at March 24, 2006 6:32 PM | Permalink

Salon.com bagged an interview with Brady. link

And the site still wants someone on the right. "A conservative columnist, a conservative blogger, whatever it ends up being. Certainly we're looking, but I don't know the timeframe," Brady said.

Asked if the site is looking for a liberal, he said, "Potentially, potentially."

There is more about the alleged vetting process and how the young plagiarist was chosen. It seems that Brady liked the idea of putting the name-calling rants on the website "Brady said the site picked Domenech for two reasons: he's conservative and provocative."

We obviously did plenty of background checks" on Domenech, Brady said. He explained that Post editors read "basically everything he'd written" during the past few years and had spoken to many people who had previously worked with Domenech -- "both people he referred us to and people we found on our own," Brady said. Plagiarism, though, is not an easy thing to spot, Brady suggested. "We did a lot of vetting but that's a difficult thing to catch someone on."


I guess they really did think that all of the - what I consider to be - vile and racist garbage was something that washingtonpost.com wanted on the website. I would have thought more of them if it was all a careless and terrible mistake.

Posted by: Phredd at March 24, 2006 6:39 PM | Permalink

Love Church Lady Brady's "Potentially. Potentially."

So like Edward Everett Horton exclaiming "Tonsils --positively tonsils!" in Trouble in Paradise.

Blogistan is not a dinner party -- though there are snacks. It's the new Max's Kansas City actually, and as such it's so nice to have Jane Hamsher doing Dorothy Dean duty -- manning the door and giving the bum's rush to the likes of Box Turtle Ben.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 24, 2006 6:41 PM | Permalink

What is with Brady thanking media outlets for bringing attention to the allegations of plagiarism? It was the liberal bloggers, first cracked by a Daily Kos blogger named Oregon guy (a liberal blogger still in the army) and another kossack named silence. Media matters picked up OG's post and then it exploded from there.

In many ways this is about sourcing where you get your information from. This is just another example for me of why the washingtonpost.com and Brady don't get it.
Speaking as a 24 year old professional blogger, you source your information period and you certantly don't just steal it wholesale. Transparency is the name of the game and something Ben seemed incapable of doing.

P.S. Jay I love your idea and it is what should have happened in the first place. Personally I think Stoller would be a great guy for the liberal blogger role.

Posted by: Julia Rosen at March 24, 2006 6:41 PM | Permalink

Julia, Jim Brady is in the awkward position of having to do a double flip while skating backwards on parallel bars and talking out of both sides of his mouth.

For those who have memories longer than a mayfly, when we last came across Jim Brady, he was denouncing "bloggers" as profane and abusive hooligans for noticing that Deborah Howell had grossly misstated the situation in the Abramoff bribery scandal. In the end this fizzled into the strange formulation that Jack Abramoff had "directed" suspect contributions to Democrats, resulting in them receiving a smaller share of the money than they had previously. Some of us would formulate that as Abramoff told the Indians to *cut* their contributions, but in Washington the meanings of words are often inversely related to the usage to which they are put.

Oh, and last I heard, he had stiffed Jay Rosen on an interview to explain all this.

Anyway, these profane and abusive blogger dimwits have managed to discover what The Post's hiring process did not: that their new blogger is bad for business. Now Brady *could* come out in favor of plagiarism, as RedState apparently has. But that contortion is so extreme that it could cause a hernia so extreme that Jim Brady would exist as a Moebius strip. So, he is trying the slightly less demanding Janus feat, in which he hides the side of his face that treats bloggers as the major threat to journalism in favor of the side of his face that appreciates bloggers for bringing to his attention "allegations" of plagiarism.

I predict that the result of this double flip skating backwards on parallel bars, talking out of both sides of his mouth, will end in craniorectal impaction.

For The Post, if not for Mr. Brady.

Posted by: Charles at March 24, 2006 7:08 PM | Permalink

On a lighter note, Paul McLeary's kicker on his Wednesday piece at CJR Daily on the hiring of Domenech by the Post looks positively prescient in retrospect:

"So, welcome to the MSM, kid. Where the linemen are bigger, the running backs faster, the quarterbacks throw bullets and your own tactics can -- and will -- be used against you."

Me, I'm sweet-talking and arm-twisting McLeary right now to give me tomorrow night's Lotto numbers.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at March 24, 2006 7:20 PM | Permalink

"Oh, and last I heard, he had stiffed Jay Rosen on an interview to explain all this."

Incorrect, Charles. It was John Harris, national politics editor.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 24, 2006 7:21 PM | Permalink

On a more serious note:
There are a bunch of conservative bloggers out there with at least a smidgeon of intellectual heft.
The unanswered question is why Brady overlooked them in favor of hiring a political hack with a demonstrated affinity for little more than character assasination, invective and logical shortcuts.
That's the question I'd be asking if I were Donnie Graham.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at March 24, 2006 7:28 PM | Permalink

I like the idea of a bake-off, but why aim for ideological opposites? How about just the three best political blogwriters among the applicants?

And for goodness sake, don't reserve one place for a "libertarian". Libertarians make up a tiny, tiny portion of the electorate. And anyway, they seem mostly conservatives who like to smoke dope. :)

Their philosophy, such as it is, simply is not accepted by the vast majority of Americans. Pieces of it, certainly (liberals might like the legalization of drugs idea, while conservatives might support the idea of minimizing public education). But as a whole? Sure, there's something in there to annoy just about everyone. Not even most libertarians seem to support libertarianism in its "purity" (no public schools or hospitals...).

Anyway, the notion that libertarians deserve a place at the table right up there with the big guys (liberals and conservatives) is a sign that they're a whole lot better at PR than they are at running for public office. You might just as well say, "Make the third blogger a socialist."

But it would be interesting to have the third blogger be a non-American. How about a Canadian or Brit analyzing us from a distance? That at least would be more novel than the spouting of settled political opinions.

Posted by: jerri at March 24, 2006 7:46 PM | Permalink

"Libertarians" are the "But I'm really Bisexual"(s) of Politics.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 24, 2006 7:51 PM | Permalink

The unanswered question is why Brady overlooked them in favor of hiring a political hack with a demonstrated affinity for little more than character assasination, invective and logical shortcuts.

Because he wanted a political hack, a right wing political hack, one who would infuriate the so-called left blogsphere. The hire was a big f-u to all those mean bloggers who sought accountability when the Ombudsman was trashing Froomkin and parroting GOP lies on Abramoff.

Either that, or he was leaned on real hard and basically told he had to hire the kid...in order to appease the WH/GOP and maintain access.

What other believable explanations are there? The claim that they hired him based on his writing is a joke.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 24, 2006 7:57 PM | Permalink

The trouble with brining in three new bloggers of various ideologies is that it does nothing to balance out the leftward tilt of Post.com's current bloggers.

By the way, I see terms like "Mainstream Media (MSM) or, perhaps better, "Dominant Media", the same way others use "The Press", "citizens", "a public" or "Gang of 500": A short-hand for referents generally (though not always perfectly) sharing characteristics similar enough for purposes of discussion - - such abstractions are often necessary for discussion of matters outside the scope of a writer or reader's personal, physical experience. Simply because a subset of the dominant media differs from its brethren (e.g. Fox News) doesn't mean the rough generalization (liberal news media) is faulty, at least on the whole.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 24, 2006 8:24 PM | Permalink

Hello, everyone:

I found my way here from Achenblog , Joel Achenbach's always entertaining blog on the WaPo web site. What a treat to find a place where all the participants can reason, write, and spell! I'll definitely be back.

That said, I'd be cautious about recommending Bill Hobbs as a replacement for Ben Domenech. I speak on the basis of the slimmest evidence, but, when he nominated himself earlier today, I visited his now-defunct blog and saw that, when he signed off a couple of months ago, he recommended to his readers that they tune into Little Green Footballs to keep up with public affairs. That can't be good.

Looking forward to spending more time here.

Posted by: J.Rae at March 24, 2006 8:26 PM | Permalink

I know a couple of WPNI employees (not writers) and the line about cutbacks vs hiring 24 year old know-nothings is pretty accurate. The two that I know (and I live about a block from WPNI's headquarters in Clarendon) were pissed about just how god-damned unprofessional, amaturish, and bloody-shirt waving hiring Domenech was going to look -- not to mention that the boy was just a bad hire all around. If even the designers were saying that, wonder what the writers were thinking?

I'm curious how Jay, how you defend the hiring of Ben if he had just been a different type of writer? What about the doublespeak from Brady about a) we don't hire opinion writers to fit into a political classification and b) we needed social-conservative voices? So if Ben had been a more original "social-conservative" voice there would have been nothing wrong with his hiring? Despite the fact it was all about the Froomkin incident? About working the refs? About the fact one senses Jim Brady really hates the liberal Post critics (Kos, firedoglake, Media Matters) in a way he doesn't hate the conservative Post critics (Bush and most of the Republican apparatus except McCain).

I hate the idea that Brady's only real mistake besides picking such a twit was that he didn't add a "Blue" state twit as well. What about the idea that the Post is simply redoing, badly, the same editorial page that's been out there for a 100 years in blog form? You have one Democrat and one Republican on the page and, blamo! Call it balance. What is Brady expected that either Domenech (or someone like him) is going to offer WPNI readers?

I just can't get over the fact that Domenech was hired basically to cater to people that hate the Post. It's like "here, you got your one guy on the City Council. Now stop picketing city hall."

Posted by: catrina at March 24, 2006 9:00 PM | Permalink

Plagiarism flashback.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 24, 2006 9:01 PM | Permalink

There are lots and lots of others. I was concentrating more on those who seem to have escaped any negative consequences for their plagiarism.

But it was surprising to me to see names like Erlanger, Applebaum, and Weinraub up there.

Ivins, not so much.

Oops, here's Maureen Dowd.

And this seems to be a far worse journalistic sin than plagiarism to me.

The double standards being applied here are breathtaking.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 24, 2006 9:10 PM | Permalink

Cat: I think what Brady was going for, the guy he thought he hired, was a conservative who was not pro-Bush. That was his way of squaring the circle, if you will. He wasn't "catering" because this isn't a GOP loyalist. That was his reasoning. (Not my reasoning, but I am speculating that it might have been his.)

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 24, 2006 9:11 PM | Permalink

Not at all, Jay. The Post hates its readership -- which is liberal. It's gone from being a vaguely centerist paper (in its glory days in the 70's) to being a wanna-be neo-fascist one.

There a lot more where Box Turtle Ben came from. Don't think for a nanosecond that Brady's next hire won't be ideologically different. He'll just "Google" him a bit more carefully to check out that "paper trail."

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 24, 2006 9:24 PM | Permalink

Jason if you want to put the hate on Maureen Dowd you get no argument from me. I've hated her work since the Clinton era. I don't care if what she writes is original or not. It's terribly shallow and not nearly half as amusing or insightful as Dowd thinks.

Jay, if that was Brady's thinking...then could he have really digged all that hard into Domenech's resume? It almost seems like Brady didn't know anything about the guy before he hired him except that he founded Redstate.org. I'm not sure if Brady is really surprised at Domenech's resume or his Augustine's posts, but if Brady really thought that Domenech was pro-GOP not necessarily pro-Bush I'm not sure how he would have arrived at that conclusion based on this guy's resume and writings.

Posted by: catrina at March 24, 2006 9:29 PM | Permalink

So what's your point, Jason ?
That plagiarism is okay ?
You might want to run that theory by Michelle Malkin, who, however bizarre her politics, has at least a dollop of intellectual integrity.
Meantime -- from your links, I can't help but notice that Molly Ivins profusely apologized to Florence King, after she had lifted some of her work.
We're all still waiting for Ben Domenech to apologize to the multitude of folks -- it's hard to keep track, what with new victims coming forth every hour -- whose work he tried to pass off as his own.
This clown deserves what he has gotten. And if Redstate.org had any cojones, it would throw him out of the Garden, as did Washingtonpost.com, posthaste.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at March 24, 2006 9:37 PM | Permalink

Kind and wise host, your line about the so-called MSM is precisely what I've been trying futilely to tell a few correspondents in the past few weeks. I guess I'll have to crib a paragraph or two.

Posted by: trotsky at March 24, 2006 9:59 PM | Permalink

The Post a neo-fascist newspaper? Sounds serious. That's several stops beyond Crooks & Liars calling it a mouthpiece for the GOP. The new fascists at washingtonpost.com... no, that doesn't sound good at all.

David: are you alarmed that the biggest and most influential newspaper in the capital has gone fascist on us? You don't sound alarmed. But maybe you're made your peace with it already.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 24, 2006 10:01 PM | Permalink

after reading the Salon piece, I have to agree with Steve Schwenk's assessment --- this hire was Brady's "revenge" for the Howell/Abramoff kerfluffle. Brady wanted "provocative", not "thought-provoking" -- and the only people who would be "provoked" by the hiring of someone like Ben Domenech are the same people who were outraged by Deborah Howell's Abramoff lie.

********

btw, Jay, if Brady is still in the "provocation" business, perhaps you could put in a word for me as the Post's next blogger. I've written under a pseudonym, have said highly controversial and outrageous things that have pissed people off in the past, I'm just as inept a writer as Ben D. is, but at least in my case, I'm not a plagarist! ;)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at March 24, 2006 10:34 PM | Permalink

Jay, being both black and gay I've lived my life in a constant state of what you would call "alarm" -- though I'm perfectly calm. No reason not to be. I'm 59 years-old. I remember what this country went through with Vietnam -- though I of course was bypassed by the draft being too "immoral" to be trained to kill perfect strangers in foreign climes. However, as a member of the anti-war movement I know what police terror is like. Nothing surprises me. Plenty disgusts me, however -- especially the Reagan generation. Scum -- the lot of them. Just scum.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 24, 2006 11:57 PM | Permalink

So is it all a matter of a balance sheet, Jason?
Domenech's plagiarism is OK because liberals did it too and got caught?

Seriously, I'm not clear on what you're saying.

In most of those cases (I didn't check all of Jason's complaints) the offending writer recognized the error, apologized and, in some cases, lost a job.

But I'm with Steve Lovelady, what's the point. Ivins apologized to the writer she lifted from.
Maureen Dowd responded to the complaints in her May 28 column that she'd distorted Bush's statement by running the complete statement for all to see.

So how is this comparable to Ben's word theft? Are just saying she lifted entire blocks of text verbatim for her column?

For that matter, how is any of this comparable to the excreable way in which Ben has foisted responsibilty for his plagiarism on everyone except himself?

As for Ben's replacement, I'm happy with the run-off idea, though I'd just as soon there be no ideological litmus test involved. Someone who can write well and with some thought would be nice for a change. But do we really need more bomb throwers?

Posted by: Dave McLemore at March 25, 2006 12:24 AM | Permalink

"We looked at a lot of people," Brady said of the selection process. "We didn't have anybody on the site who is on a consistent basis discussing issues of conservatives, someone who's loyal to the cause of conservatism and not the administration. We were looking for people whose opinions are not necessarily in line with the majority of people who read the site. We wanted to create a little bit of buzz and controversy as well." And Domenech, Brady said, fit the bill. "He was provocative."

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/03/24/brady/

He wanted to create "buzz" and "controversy." And this is how he wanted it done:

This is a blog for the majority of Americans.

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.

Democrats who have won major elections since 1992 have, with very few exceptions, been the ones who distanced themselves from the shrieking denizens of their increasingly extreme base, soft-pedaled their positions on divisive issues and adopted the rhetoric and positions of the right -- pro-free market, pro-business, pro-faith, tough on crime and strongly in favor of family values.

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.

So who was Brady trying to provoke with words like these? What sort of "controversy" was he aiming for? Brady could have gotten a conservative who was not a Bush devotee without choosing someone so "provocative," someone who was certain to inflame and outrage the DKos and Atrios, et al. readership, unless of course that was his goal. And that's why it blew up in his face. It had become personal for Brady after the Deborah Howell show-down. That episode apparently deeply humiliated and angered him. (Recall the censoring and then re-posting of comments, etc. It was painful to watch. Brady had lost control of the situation.) This was his revenge. And perhaps he rationalized that it would drive up traffic and make the wingnuts happy to boot. But his primary goal was to even the score, that's why Ben was the obvious choice. He isn't under any other criteria.

Hubris. It often produces results such as these. That's my hunch, at least.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 25, 2006 1:01 AM | Permalink

Is it just me, or doesn't the very idea of a blogger being contracted by a "mainstream" news source somewhat discredit him or her from being n authentic "blogger"?

Is what defines a blogger simply the technology? Or is it the approach -- the spirit of independent thinking, the freedom from newsroom pressures and/or constraints, the luxury of being able to comment without your individual opinions reflecting upon an entire publication, staff, etc.?

Food for thought: If one of the Washington Post's bloggers would have the bravado to write something that ticks off a major advertiser (or, in the times we find ourselves, a certain administration) -- how long can we expect that post to remain online? Seriously, how much free reign do we expect any blogger to get at the Post?

In essence, then, without free reign, isn't anyone the Washington Post props up actually going to be just another (edited and sanctioned) columnist -- not a true blogger?

Isn't it the backs of our minds that blogging has taken off because a preponderance of people feel the mainstream media are failing us? Taking that into account, I, for one, would be much more in favor of the Post spending their cash to hire more reputable and diverse additions to their editorial staff -- rather than trying to break into a new field that has emerged because of the (self-created) deficiencies there. Heal what's broken -- don't invest in so many band-aids.

To sum, isn't the Washington Post's foray into blogging essentially a Quixotic ruse?

Posted by: gaymafioso at March 25, 2006 1:14 AM | Permalink

"The unanswered question is why Brady overlooked them in favor of hiring a political hack with a demonstrated affinity for little more than character assasination, invective and logical shortcuts."

Not only a political hack with a demonstrated affinity, etc. But a college dropout to boot.

But it's not an unanswered question. The answer is: Daddy.

That's what fries me about this whole thing. I never heard of the guy before he got the gig at the Post, and I barely looked up until the plagiarism melee. What caught my attention was his age. He was 24 years old. While he certainly had held some impressive job titles, the very fact that he'd held those positions despite his youth, incomplete education and stodgy prose (the stuff that he didn't copy) should have screamed "nepotism" to any savvy employer. (I suppose it's just a coincidence that William & Mary was the only time the kid had ever been exposed to an environment where his father's name or his mother's forgiveness couldn't protect him.)

So why him? There's a thousand well-established hacks who have done their time--better yet, a hundred or more excellent conservative bloggers who would have made the most of this opportunity. Why give it to a kid with no untainted credentials, a kid who couldn't stay in college? Does his father buy a lot of advertising at the Post?


Irony alert: Brady says that "The lesson we've learned is that if we go back and do this again, we'll probably look more in the traditional journalist community."

Domenech's plagiarism was committed in "traditional journalism" venues, with "traditional" editors vetting and blessing his plagiarism. And, were it not for the blogosphere, the "traditional" Brady would still be paying a plagiarist.

Which brings up another point--what sort of quality control is going on in these mid-tier venues like NRO? Are they vetting their writers, or just publishing people who sing the song they want to hear? I read NRO often, and enjoy it. But I've often noticed egregious, unforgivable errors by their "contributing" writers.

Posted by: Cal Lanier at March 25, 2006 1:19 AM | Permalink

I think David Ehrenstein raises a very interesting point here--I have a strong sense that Deborah Howell and the reporters that hate Dan Froomkin pretty clearly DO hate their readership. They ARE pissed off. Jim Brady, sadly, needs to get along with the RNC moles on the print side of the operation. It comes off like an episode of Invasion of the RNC Bodysnatchers.

The Washington Post for some years now appears to suffer from Stockholm syndrome where it's been held hostage by the right for so long that it resents the suggestion of any perspective that forces it to face its own captivity--that it's "been fixed" as Grover Norquist has so empathetically put it. Or are the warriors on the print side of the Wa Po an autonomous band of rightist culture warriors themselves? Jim Brady's ignorance of the blogosphere argues for the former, everything surrounding the Froomkin kerfluffle, particularly Howell's officially annointed hackery (Howell clearly taking as her charge to serve as RNC ombudsman, that is to serve the needs of readers actually on the RNC payroll), supports the latter.

If the Washington Post online intentionally and voluntarily hires a conservative hack whose bread and butter is that he hates the Washington Post, doesn't that require us to conclude that the Washington Post online hates itself?

Sadly, such logic doesn't apply to the hypocrisy of Ben Domenech--biting the MSM hand that feeds you is tried and true best practice for "provocation" from the right. If logic had any consequences for this schtick, Comedy Channel could just program O'Reilly and Hewitt straight and we'd all be laughing.

Is there precedent for a major American newspaper so brazenly declaring that it holds the vast majority of ITS OWN READERSHIP in contempt? What constitutency is being served by the Republicanization of the Washington Post? Other than neutering journalism per se, is there really a market of Republican readers for the Washington Post? Hasn't the right wing echo chamber been hanging the Post in effigy for several years now even after the takeover? Is there really anything short of a total ban on deviating from the White House story of the day that would satisfy the Washington Post's critics?


This WAS a big F. U. to anyone who lacks the brain damage necessary not to notice that Bush lies predictably and systematically and that the Post via Howell, on behalf of its readers (!), has officially labeled anything outside the brain damage perspective--complete with the respectful gravitas only brain damage would permit--an enemy of journalism itself.

Is there a business model behind sending the big F.U. to the majority of your readers? We've heard about the access model legitimating the big F. U. Does the perceived need to access McLellan stonewall sessions trump even the profit motive?

I suppose if the editorial line-up for the Wa Po in print is already an RNC panderfest, why confine the psychosis to the old media platform?

On Thursday's Countdown, Keith Olbermann said, "Of course Cheney requires his TV to be tuned to Fox. He has to check up to be sure they are saying what he told them to say."

The emergence of Deborah Howell and the hiring of Ben Domenech at the Washington Post states quite emphatically that someone in the White House is reading the Washington Post for pretty much the same reasons.

It's not a joke.

Jay,
What would a Regnery editor, whose clients have included Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt, but who didn't adhere to GOP and Bush administration talking points look like?

This obviously has to be a hypothetical as no such person exists in real life. What does it say about Brady's haplessness that he can imagine he hired a unicorn with two horns?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 25, 2006 1:22 AM | Permalink

I'm amazed at how much some of you know of Brady's intentions. How do you learn such inside stuff?

Cal: "Were it not for the blogosphere, the 'traditional' Brady would still be paying a plagiarist." True. What I was trying to suggest in my post is... just as the blogosphere did a better job of vetting Ben than post.com could, the blogosphere could do a better job of finding, sorting and crowning applicants for the next bloggers positions.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 2:47 AM | Permalink

Maybe the constituency that's being served by the Republicanization of the Washington Post has nothing to do with its readers. Perhaps it all has to do with improving the bottom line of the parent company that runs the newspaper, the website, the radio and television stations, and the educational arm (Kaplan).

The Republican loosening of radio and tv regulations has benefited that part of the Post conglomerate. Plus the recent government decision that students who receive gov't grants and loans may do 100% of their studies as distance learners who never set foot on a college campus is a tremendous boon and will increase the profitability of the educational arm and Kaplan.

Was this latest government decision a quid pro quo? Maybe it seems that way to me because I cannot think of any other reason why the editorial board of the WP continues to support the Bush Administration.

Or perhaps the Washington Post in the 1970s was an aberration, influenced by the Grahams' close friendship with the Kennedys and distrust of the Nixons. Perhaps the top brass at the Post held Nixon in the same low esteem that Sally Quinn held the Clintons. Maybe that's why Clinton was impeached and Bush will never be.

Maybe it was never about truth, justice and the American way but was simply the upper social class putting those "pretenders" in their place.

Posted by: OhioBlue at March 25, 2006 3:21 AM | Permalink

I don't remember now how the subject came up or why it came up with Dana Milbank in particular, but sometime last year I suggested to him that the Post hire several bloggers to comment on the stories of the day, with the additional fillip that the bloggers be provided access to the stories before they're posted so they can start working on responses ahead of time. He said he'd pass the comments along to the online mavens, but I guess they skipped some parts of it. It isn't my fault.

Achenbach is right: it was a left-wing plot.

gaymafioso, there's no necessary conflict between blogging on one's own and doing it under the auspices of a newspaper or other institutional press outlet. One would only have to choose Spiderman as the cinematic backstop instead of Red Dawn, and remember Uncle Ben's admonishment that "with great power comes great responsibility." I for one would dearly love access to the Post's clout, archives and Lexis-Nexis account.

Posted by: weldon berger at March 25, 2006 3:27 AM | Permalink

Jay: "I'm amazed at how much some of you know of Brady's intentions."

Brady's behavior (and not just recently) is bizarre, to put it mildly. Some people are trying to figure this out, which includes the use of educated guesses. This seems ordinary to me, so I'm puzzled that you would react with ridicule.

Speaking of people who are not reluctant to make guesses, I'm "amazed at how much you know of Brady's intentions." You said "I think what Brady was going for, the guy he thought he hired, was a conservative who was not pro-Bush." Is this something "you know of Brady's intentions," or is it exactly the same kind of guess you're ridiculing?

Aside from that, I didn't realize Domenech is "not pro-Bush." If you were "a real blogger ... there would be links" to support this assertion of yours.

Anyway, as many have suggested, Brady's track record of bizarre behavior didn't start this week. Accordingly, it mystifies me that you're still inclined to prop him up, at the exact moment that we're handed another pile of clues that he shouldn't be trusted.

Almost two months ago, I asked you "why you're inclined to look away from the gaping holes in the story Brady has told." You said this was a "good question[s] ... I'll have to get back to you on it." Maybe this would be a good time for you to do that.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 25, 2006 3:35 AM | Permalink

[Is it just me, or doesn't the very idea of a blogger being contracted by a "mainstream" news source somewhat discredit him or her from being an authentic "blogger"?

Is what defines a blogger simply the technology? Or is it the approach -- the spirit of independent thinking, the freedom from newsroom pressures and/or constraints, the luxury of being able to comment without your individual opinions reflecting upon an entire publication, staff, etc.?]

No, it isn't just you. There has been something quixotic about this from the beginning as you say. There is a tension between the independence of bloggers and the economic constraints of corporate journalism. There is also a social limitation as well, you can say things on the net under your own name, or in a communal framework, say, RedState, that you can't say with a mainstream corporate entity.

Don't assume, however, that it can never be overcome, just look at the music industry, which perpetually struggles with this dilemma, but doesn't always fail. Jazz, rock, punk, rap . . all were partially co-opted and a lot of money has been made.

But let me politely say that t you are making a mistake here. Brady wasn't really looking for a blogger in the conventional sense of the term.

There is a genre of so-called right wing blogging (so-called because it isn't really right wing, and, indeed, it's not even really blogging, unless you just define a blog as anything posted by someone on the net, it's something far more insidious), and it has taken its cue from talk radio, and pushed the envelope to the edge, providing forums for people to openly express hostility, and even outright bigotry towards women, immigrants, gays, lesbians, and African Americans in particular, as they can play upon a deep reservior of historic racism even as African Americans decline as a percentage of the population.

After all, there's no FCC on the net (and that's still a good thing).

Domenech, at least when he could write something without stealing it, is a classic product of this environment, and the scariest thing about this episode is the fact that Jim Brady is on record as inferentially saying that the vile writings of Domenech constitute "social conservatism". Because that's the reason he said he hired Domenech after investigating Domenech's background and writings.

At the risk of being repetitive, it is essential for me to note that I personally know quite a number of people who consider themselves conservatives (at least 4 people immediately come to mind), and none of them would identify with Domenech. I'm guessing that a lot of people who post here can do likewise. So what this tell you about Brady when he comes to the opposite conclusion?

Along these lines, the blunt comment of Steve Gilliard is apt: But what bothers me is that it is perfectly acceptable to be a conservative Republican and say the most vile things about blacks and their leaders and find an audience, even be defended by some. And that the Washington Post hired one of these people and didn't fire him outright. and then they wonder why people don't subscribe and why people turn to the Internet.

Brady's euphemistically describes this behavior as "provocative", and seems to believe that this kind of provocation can be bottled and given a washingtonpost.com label without consequence. Looks like Brady wanted to exploit a big population of people that he thought would increase the visibility and traffic associated with the web site. A media company pandering to an angry, resentful, but affluent audience by treating what it perceives as marginalized, defenseless people as foils. We've never seen that before, have we?

And the fact he could poke a proverbial stick in the eye of someone like Jane Hamsher just made it all that much better. So much for Brady, the guru known for his creative, novel uses of the Internet.

Accordingly, the technology of communication was pretty irrelevant, except that the social dimensions associated with it are far more important than the technology itself, as it would have never been possible for the Post in print form to publish someone like Domenech on a permanent basis. This is the true significance, the true insight to be gleaned from Deborah Howell's haughty statement that Domenech will never write for the Post.

Just because she can't get the Abramoff scandal right doesn't mean that we should right off everything she says as unfounded.

The more freewheeling Internet was a different matter, and Brady has based his career on this concept. But, at least this week, not so freewheeling that Brady can associate washingtonpost.com with someone like Domenech. Hence, Brady's statement that he would be looking for someone with a more conventional, journalism background in the future.

I suspect, however, that we may be revisiting the problem soon. The temptations, the perceived economic rewards, of pandering to people who are politely called "cultural conservatives" is probably too great to resist. It will be interesting to see if Brady seizes upon Jay's suggestion and recognizes the potential to insulate a Domenech substitute within the hiring of several bloggers. My idea of expanding the number of bloggers from 3 to 5, 7 or 9 has even greater potential in this regard.

Posted by: Richard Estes at March 25, 2006 5:08 AM | Permalink

"Looks like Brady wanted to exploit a big population of people that he thought would increase the visibility and traffic associated with the web site. A media company pandering to an angry, resentful, but affluent audience by treating what it perceives as marginalized, defenseless people as foils. We've never seen that before, have we?"

I've made that point as well Richard. Well said.

washingtonpost.com gets the web. They really do. Their service has plenty of examples of this, from the vital realization that they have a different audience then the paper, to their use of Technorati, they seem to get how the web works.

I think they realize that a link, whether the link's author's intent is positive *or* negative - is something that boosts your influence on Google - and across the blogosphere. The link is the thing. The currency of attention.

They didn't hire a plagerist on purpose - but that is the only quality of Domenech had that disturbed the washingtonpost.com team it would appear.

I think RedAmerica was link bait. His "talents" were sought after and they were ready to defend them.

The goal did not seem to be opening debate or discourse. The name said it all right there - 'RedAmerica'. After all, it wasn't like they were starting a blog to share views of minority or less prevalent populations. They were starting a blog whose author thought it was his job to represent the views of who he thought the 'majority' of America is.

But then again, maybe I'm giving them too much credit for their insight into the web - and maybe they truly thought they were broadening discussion and point of view - and the web bit them on the ass.

Don't know. The next few months will be telling.

Posted by: Kar at March 25, 2006 6:18 AM | Permalink

Well, I was rather surprised to find myself mentioned on Jay Rosen's site. I'm a huge fan of Rosen's blog and his ideas and concepts regarding the new media and journalism.

Thanks to those commenters who said nice things. One commenter mentioned my link to Little Green Footballs. Yes, I endorse that site as a good source of information. Even if you don't like the rhetoric on that site, which is sometimes over the top, it is an excellent aggregator of news from the Islamic world. LGF also played a key role in proving those CBS Rathergate memos were forgeries.

I have to take issue with whichever commenter above said blogs are reactive to journalism, not journalism.

On my blog I did a lot of original journalism - digging up and linking to a variety of state budgetary documents that the news media ignored, for example.

Another story where I did original journalism involved the monthly unemployment reports from Uncle Sam. I (and others) noticed a growing gap between the unemployment number, based on the employer survey, and the employment number, based on the household survey.

Essentially, the number of people reported having jobs, as tracked by one government survey, was rising much faster than the number of people reported to be employed by large employers in the other government survey

I wondered if maybe the employer survey was missing a surge in self-employment and small business so I began querying the appropriate departments in all 50 state governments to gather stats on the formation of LLCs in their states. I ended up gathering information from over half of the states, and found that there indeed was a surge in LLC formation.

I wrote about it in a series of posts - the last one was here.

That was original journalism, done on a blog by a blogger with journalistic training and experience.

You can find the rest of those posts at this archive by searching the page for "LLC".

Posted by: Bill Hobbs at March 25, 2006 9:36 AM | Permalink

Can't wait to see what Little Green Mothballs has to say about the Niger forgeries.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 9:55 AM | Permalink

Sorry if you think speculation as to Brady's motive and intent in hiring a bomb-thrower (and racist, BTW) like Domenech is unwarranted, Jay, or demeaning to Brady. But really, if you assume he is a smart, competent guy who knows what he is doing, you have to look hard for any rational explanation for the choice that fits with what one would expect from an institution like the WaPo.

It seems clear that Brady wanted someone to stoke the fires of the cultural war more than he wanted a gifted and talented writer or thinker or journalist. Why? Was it to increase traffic to the site? Or to poke a stick in the eyes of those "leftist" bloggers he loathes so much? Or was it to appease the wingnuts claiming liberal bias at the Post? Or pergaps it was because of complaints from the GOP/WH about Froomkin? Maybe it was a combination of these reasons. I can think of no others that make sense.

The reason this is relevant and interesting is that Brady is not just some obscure blogger, he is the WaPo on the web. What the WaPo does matters, a lot. At least for now.

If Domenech was the top choice, one must wonder who else made the short list? How about Scott Robinson, the Penn student journalist who repeatedly kicked a prone, restrained woman who was protesting at the GOP convention? Or Ben Shapiro, who recently advocated, in response to a speech by Al Gore, that dissenters be jailed:

At some point, opposition must be considered disloyal. At some point, the American people must say "enough." At some point, Republicans in Congress must stop delicately tiptoeing with regard to sedition and must pass legislation to prosecute such sedition.

http://townhall.com/opinion/columns/benshapiro/2006/02/15/186543.html

These peas all come from the same pod. If you don't believe that, go read Domenech's lengthy tribute to Jefferson Davis, or his comments endorsing the concept that the way to lower the crime rate is to lower the birth rate of Black Americans. Or his calling Mrs. King a communist.

The decision to hire Domenech was just as bad and irresponsible as the decision to let Judy Miller run amok, IMO. These choices have consequences. It would be irresponsible not to speculate about why they were made.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 25, 2006 9:59 AM | Permalink

The fact that the Washington Post approves of the notion that black infant mortality contributes to lowering the crime rate SHOULD NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 10:14 AM | Permalink

Hi Jay.
Good piece. I just linked to your piece from one I wrote about the topic for BlogCritics.

I'm doing a series on news media personalities so yesterday I wrote about this Post screw-up
and one about Judith Miller and how respectable publications should just stop hiring her so maybe she'll leave the biz. I linked to you with that one as well.

Today's target: Larry King

Posted by: Scott Butki at March 25, 2006 10:32 AM | Permalink

The post wants a Hard Core Colorful Euphemism Spewer, [aka 'Blame Game' or Opinionist Hypocrite], Right Winger to Push a 'Social' Conservative View? WTF??
Culture War? Is this like the 'War on Christmas' thing that only the pundits and politicians care about?
90% of America is Christian
45% of those Christians are as Wacky As the other 45%...Thats a Culture War?
sounds more like a High School Klik 'War'


Posted by: Hamster Brain at March 25, 2006 10:36 AM | Permalink

Putting two and two together makes things painfully obvious, Jay.

Go ahead -- keep sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "La-la-la-la-la I can't hear you!"

The jig's up.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 10:36 AM | Permalink

An analogy:

A local museum has been struggling financially. The board of directors has noticed that, instead of paying to see the museum's exhibits, people have been lured away and are spending their money at the new cinema down the street.

Some of the curators, noting the museum had been popular and respected before the cineplex was built, suggest a broad-based solution based on what the museum has done best in the past. They propose the board increase funding within the museum so they can offer exciting and continually-changing features that cover a variety of topics appealing to a greater group of potential visitors.

Instead, the board announces it is going to pare down exhibits overall, concentrating on one main topic the chairman is especially fond of. Additionally, they decide to convert part of the building into their own theater, but only plan to show stodgy, polemic films.

To be sure, it's an illogical, unwise way to run an enterprise ó doomed to fail and almost a textbook case on how to run something into the ground.

Yet, isn't it completely analogous to today's Post ó and especially its experiment with blogging?

Posted by: gaymafioso at March 25, 2006 10:37 AM | Permalink

Ben=Gannon
[copy and paste shill]

Saper Aude Ben. Saper Aude.

Posted by: Hamster Brain at March 25, 2006 10:38 AM | Permalink

So what's your point, Jason ? That plagiarism is okay ?

(blink blink)

Man, Steve...that's some seriously nonlinear logic.

No. Domenech had to resign. If he hadn't resigned, he should have been terminated, for the good of the paper and the readership alike.

What's unseemly is the "scalp-hunting" attitude, and the over-the-top screeching around here. The Washington Post is a "wannabe fascist paper?"

No.

They hired the founder of RedState.org, a conservative, to write some opinion pieces. He's demonstrated the ability to produce on a daily basis, got a few odd scoops on the blogosphere, and is a competent writer.

Yes, there are better writers. With more experience. But if that were the criteria by which newspapers hire columnists, 90% of them would be cast out tomorrow, with Maureen Dowd the first one through the window.

Newspapers hire unqualified people all the time. Jayson Blair, anyone? Hell, 85% of the defense reporters out there - and 70% of the financial reporters - have no clue what they're reporting on. Those are just the two beats I know something about.

Domenech is what, 24 or 26? 20-somethings do stupid things. Hopefully he'll grow from this (though he still seems to be in the 'blame everyone else but me') stage. He had to go through this first, though.

But accusing the Post of being a proto-fascist publication - well, that just makes a laughingstock of the lefty argument.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 25, 2006 10:58 AM | Permalink

Steve Gilliard details just exactly how demented Domenech and his cohort over at RedState really are, and in a larger sense, how pathological is the current "social conservative" dialogue.

Most interesting to me in Gilliard's post was the history of the "Coretta King is a communist" statement by Domenech, which was treated so dismissively by Howie Kurtz and Brady (scroll down).

This

was a billboard posted around the South. They even had postcards made.
What was this really about?
Well, Mike, it centers around the Highlander Folk School (now Highlander Education and Research Center). Why was it called communist? Red banners? Support for the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War?
Nope.
Integration.

It's hard to believe that this young plagiarist didn't pick this up from some of his friends at the White Citizen's Council, or perhaps his father, a Bush Administration official.

But I cannot accept that management-level people at the Washington Post (and no, I don't distinguish between the print and the dot-com, and I won't) would regard this kind of vicious, nasty, and deeply offensive race-baiting as some kind of desirable "provocative" statement. The statement "Coretta Scott King is a communist" is straight out of the annals of the Ku Klux Klan.

Howard Kurtz and Jim Brady think that inflammatory statements straight out of the 1950's Ku Klux Klan terrorist race-baiting campaign is a desirable enhancement on the pages of the Washington Post. After all, he claimed to have read "everything" the young plagiarist wrote before he was hired. And he pronounced it all great stuff.

Posted by: Phredd at March 25, 2006 11:07 AM | Permalink

Domenech is what, 24 or 26? 20-somethings do stupid things. Hopefully he'll grow from this (though he still seems to be in the 'blame everyone else but me') stage. He had to go through this first, though.

I trust you have the same forgiving attitude towards, say, an Al Sharpton ....

Posted by: village idiot at March 25, 2006 11:10 AM | Permalink

Satisfaction for the talented Ms. Hamsher ....

If I were Mr. Brady, I would be brutalized by this.:-)

I was almost convinced thar Mr. Brady gets it, but now, it is painfully clear that he is afflicted by the same Washington D.C. establishment desease. Sorry, Jay.

Posted by: village idiot at March 25, 2006 11:22 AM | Permalink

When he was 24 Bernardo Bertolucci wrote and directed his first masterpiece, Before the Revolution.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 11:25 AM | Permalink

Look, Post.com bringing in a conservative voice is bound to upset it's readers. Conservatives at the Post can be expected to be seen by the Left in the same reprehensible way that black applicants were seen in Old South country clubs - - unwelcome intruders into what had always been their singular preserve. One has to applaud Brady for having the stones to oppose ideological blackballing at Post.com.

So, given that Brady is intent on ideological diversity, I'm interested in the opinion of our liberal friends (the Post's natural constituency): Who might you deem a respectable conservative blogger suitable for Post.com (understanding Brady's search for a social conservative, but not a rooted partisan)? Remember, this isn't likely to be a blogger our liberal friends agree with often, but is perhaps a Right-ward blogger about whose writing you can say "I know where this is coming from, so itís fine."

Which solid conservative blogs do liberals find thought-provoking, well argued and gracefully written?

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 25, 2006 11:28 AM | Permalink

Jay Rosen, "Incorrect, Charles. It was John Harris, national politics editor [not Jim Brady who stiffed Jay Rosen for an interview regarding Howell v. America]."

Thanks for the correction.

If either or both were fired, it would in my opinion improve the paper. The Domenech affair is a sign of management failure.

Posted by: Charles at March 25, 2006 11:29 AM | Permalink

"Conservatives at the Post can be expected to be seen by the Left in the same reprehensible way that black applicants were seen in Old South country clubs - - unwelcome intruders into what had always been their singular preserve."

As you haven't the vaguest idea of what it's like to be an African-American in this culture, I suggest you pour yourself a nice hot steaming cup of SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 11:31 AM | Permalink

Now, this is a place where experienced pressfolk seem to be frequent; can anyone make sense of this from Ms. Howell, particularly in light of the fact that this whole saga originated with her post objecting to Mr. Froomkin's supposedly "highly opinionated and liberal" column:

From: Deborah C Howell HowellDC@washpost.com Date: March 23, 2006 9:44:05 PM EST To: xxxxx Subject: Re: Domenech

The Washington Post has not hired him. The website has. The two are under totally different management. He will not be working for the newspaper. If you want to complain to the right person, try executive.editor@wpni.com.

Deborah

Mr, Domenech will end up as roadkill in this episode (and perhaps deservedly so), but the way Ms. Howell aligned herself with Mr. Harris is still the 'elephant' in the room. I am surprised that Jay does not cover that aspect in his post.

Posted by: village idiot at March 25, 2006 11:36 AM | Permalink

Debbie's obviously taking the "We wuz wit you, boss, at Rigoletto's" Defense.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 11:45 AM | Permalink

Ehrenstein, though I may not have been the victim of racism or discrimination directed against blacks, I can sympathize in some measure based on reports about others (McWhorter, Elder) who likely have experienced it. As I say, informed comment about abstractions is sometimes necessary in lieu of personal experience, but it doesn't disqualify the inexperienced from commenting conceptually, any more than lack of military service disqualifies one from speaking of the military.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 25, 2006 11:58 AM | Permalink

This is Dana Milbank's entire remark on Domenech:

Dana Milbank: OK, so it looks like 99 percent of the queries this morning are about this "Red America" blog and one Ben Domenech. If you somehow arrived at this chat without stumbling over the brouhaha, here's Howie Kurtz's story from this morning:

Some Readers See Red Over Post.com's New Blogger

, (Post, March 24, 2006)

So let's establish a couple of things for this inevitable discussion:

1. washingtonpost.com (where you are now) is under different management from the Washington Post (where I work). They run our articles, but they have their own staff and they do their own thing. So I have about as much say over who they hire as I do over who Stanley Kaplan hires.

2. I must say I'm underwhelmed by the hysteria over having a conservative voice on the website. Unlike the paper, which has limited column inches, the website has unlimited room, and if people don't like what somebody is writing, they don't have to read it.

3. What I don't understand (although I haven't inquired) is why the website couldn't recruit somebody with more stature to do the job. This city is crawling with good conservative journalists with lots of heft. Domenech may be a smart fellow, but he's 24 years old and tells Kurtz "I'm not a journalist." I think that makes him the only "blogger" on the site who's not a journalist.

So there you have it. Please send me some questions about Stanley Kaplan's hiring practices.

Brady should hire our friends at yargb to replace Ben.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 25, 2006 12:11 PM | Permalink

You "can sympathize" with neo-fascist-approved House Niggers. Quel Surprise!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 12:23 PM | Permalink

Ehrenstein, based on your comments, you're too emotional and intemperate to be reasoned with at this time. Which is unfortunate, because your views and experiences might otherwise provide valuable perspective.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 25, 2006 12:28 PM | Permalink

Oh I'm just SO EMOTIONAL!!!!

(snerk)

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 12:33 PM | Permalink


Ehrenstein, based on your comments, you're too emotional and intemperate to be reasoned with at this time. Which is unfortunate, because your views and experiences might otherwise provide valuable perspective.

shorter trained auditor: "Well, we'd let them nigra's join the country club, but they get so gosh-darn emotional everytime someone calls them a 'coon' "

Posted by: plukasiak at March 25, 2006 12:57 PM | Permalink

In case anyone hasn't already seen it, I think a recent study mentioned here ("supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did ... 'we have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks' ") is very relevant to certain aspects of the current discussion.

In the spirit of balance, here (in part) is Michelle's rebuttal, which I find singularly unimpressive. She more-or-less leads with the idea (via Dafydd) that yes, white Republicans (please excuse the redundancy) probably have a bad attitude about blacks, but it's because blacks deserve it: "when blacks learn that a Caucasian is a Republican, they direct such a torrent of hate and racial bigotry towards him that they virtually guarantee that he won't be able to associate his tormenters with 'positive concepts' ... is it really a racist reaction for someone to have a hard time associating various 'positive concepts' with blacks, given the recent history?"

Sounds like a page out of Domenech's book. A book that WaPo (via Brady) embraces, apparently.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 25, 2006 1:11 PM | Permalink

Mencken wrote, "newspapers are a device for making the ignorant more ignorant, and the crazy crazier."

I think that when Jay says to his commenters, "I'm amazed at how much some of you know of Brady's intentions. How do you learn such inside stuff?" he may be trying to keep this blog from becoming more like a newspaper.

If so, I appreciate his efforts.

Posted by: laurence haughton at March 25, 2006 1:28 PM | Permalink

Lukasiak, perhaps you're projecting, but you've certainly engaged in a little incompetent paraphrasing when you mischaracterized my comment.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 25, 2006 1:40 PM | Permalink

"Mencken wrote, "newspapers are a device for making the ignorant more ignorant, and the crazy crazier."" Laurence, I appreciate the reference. Mencken was always worried the about pulp fiction industry's interaction with the newspaper industry. What if blogging is taking us back to the insane production schedules and pitiful salaries of the pulp fiction era?

Posted by: Jason Boog at March 25, 2006 1:55 PM | Permalink

Jeez, it didn't take long for this thread to disintegrate into what Rick Moran calls "stupid, emotional posts full of ad-hominem attacks and vituperative digressions from facts."

In less than 24 hours (11:31 am) we get this intelligent and insightful comment: "SHUT THE FUCK UP".

Way to go people.

Posted by: paladin at March 25, 2006 2:07 PM | Permalink

For more speculation on Brady's intentions, see the newspaper 'Whiskey Bar':

It's a good question: With all the conservative bloggers out there -- admittedly, almost all of them vapid and stupid, but still, out there -- why did the Washington Post not only hire a GOP apparachik (and a nepotism case at that) but a GOP apparachik who was, by all appearances, a serial plagiarist?

I certainly don't know the answer, but if Howie Kurtz's media column today was any indiction, the motivation (and/or motivator) must have been pretty damned powerful.

...

[lots more at the link]

http://billmon.org/archives/002364.html

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 25, 2006 2:08 PM | Permalink

Thanks Jason... I found some very interesting links by clicking on your name.

I would aslo suggest that you look into the revenue generating side of the news business as another factor causing "pitiful salaries," layoffs and maybe the "insane production schedules."

Media is still dealing with its clients like it was 1975. That includes TV as well as newspapers. (and radio although they don't really matter much)

And from a lot of the posts I see, blogs and the Internet in general are mostly planning to follow this same failed path.

Posted by: laurence haughton at March 25, 2006 2:16 PM | Permalink

Mr. Ehrenstein,

The intro on your website contains a tune which bears a number of resemblances to a Johnny Mercer tune called "Hooray for Hollywood."

But while your own website makes it very clear that you reserve all rights to your own writing and imagery, nowhere do you appear to properly credit Johnny Mercer or his publisher in any way.

Since Mercer died only 30 years ago, and since copyright law generally protects intellectual property existing before 1978 for as long as 95 years, I don't believe his work would be in the public domain yet. Indeed, johnnymercer.com seems very interested in retaining rights to his music, except for research and educational uses.

So... is plagiarism ok?

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 25, 2006 2:30 PM | Permalink

You tell me, Jason. You know everything.

(So happy to keep you entertained "paladin.")

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 2:34 PM | Permalink

Well, I know plagiarism when I see it.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 25, 2006 2:42 PM | Permalink

Really now. "Fair use" has no meaning for you?

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 2:47 PM | Permalink

Laurence, thanks for the note. It's really interesting to see your take on macro picture, as the guy advising media folks at the top of ladder. From down here, as a fledgling writer, it looks grim sometimes...

Posted by: Jason Boog at March 25, 2006 3:03 PM | Permalink

Tim Rutten, the L.A. Times' media critic, is on the mark:

....

It would be nice if the impulse that led the Washington Post Co. to hire Domenech in the first place had reflected as clear a sense of responsibility. Earlier Friday, Brady told the Post's Kurtz that he hired the young commentator because "we were completely unrepresented by a social conservative voice." Fair enough, but the fact is that WashingtonPost.com also doesn't have a designated blue state voice, which lent a certain plausibility to the liberal bloggers' initial charge that Domenech was recruited to appease conservative critics who have been raging about the alleged liberal bias of Post staff writer Dan Froomkin's popular White House Briefing blog.

....

Posted by: village idiot at March 25, 2006 3:30 PM | Permalink

You know what your problem is?

" You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?

(Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear
About the elininatin' of the negative
And the accent on the positive)
And gather 'round me children if you're willin'
And sit tight while I start reviewin'
The attitude of doin' right

(You've gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between)

You've got to spread joy (up to the maximum)
Bring gloom (down) down to the minimum
Otherwise (otherwise) pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate (well illustrate) my last remark (you got the floor)
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they say (what did they say)
Say when everything looked so dark

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No! Don't mess with Mister In-Between"

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 3:37 PM | Permalink

Yep.

And capitalizing on the entire "A" part of the Mercer tune without attribution, without an educational or critical purpose, without the purpose of parody or satire, and without a transformative measure of any kind does not qualify as "fair use" by a long shot.

As used on your Web site - essentially as an unaltered theme song, your use strikes me as a very classic case of intellectual property theft. Since you're using it to advance your name and commercial interests, The Mercer Estate has every right to expect you to pay royalties with every click.

So, again... is plagiarism ok?

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 25, 2006 3:44 PM | Permalink

Take it off-line, Jason and David. Exchange e-mail addresses and continue your friendly banter. Hereafter, posts about Mercer and fair use will be killed.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 4:13 PM | Permalink

I preferred yesterday's conversation about how to reinvent journalism. Today we talk about a having an American Idol contest to help the Washington Post find a provocative blogger/columnist. That's just what America needs right now, more provocation. Get a grip on yourself guys, or god forbid we are going to get the kind of journalism the American Idol nation deserves.

Posted by: Leonard Witt at March 25, 2006 4:46 PM | Permalink

For starters, can't we call Jim Brady's search for a "social conservative" what it was--a quota hire based on ideological preference rather than qualifications? Should we be surprised that a quota hire based on ideology rather than competence, ability, or qualification produced a failed hire?

I used to hope these descents into online wrestling expressed a failure to communicate.

I'm starting to think they have more to do with the success of communication in a different sense. Successful marketing strategies are rarely succesful policy. When they pass for politics itself, bad things happen.

In other words, the success of PR and advertising strategy looks more and more like the end of politics. With the loss of politics as deliberation, we have the loss of journalism as the institution that purportedly enables deliberation.

Why discriminate between brands of political advertising (aside from self-interest, given that all major media institutions in the US DO in fact routinely discriminate against non-GOP political advertising)?--could easily be Jim Brady's motto.

If your victim of two centuries of discrimination is the death of my elitist buzz, what do we have to talk about?

Who could be more oppressed than the person who has suffered the loss of their elitist buzz?

No one, say Ann and Rush and Sean and Ben and Trained Auditor. No one.

We feel your pain, Trained Auditor. We feel your pain.

Can the demand for busing conservative students to integrate school districts be far behind for the new bleeding heart conservatism? David Horowitz wants quota hires in academia, so the race is on behind the desk...


Are quotas (and dictatorial powers) the ultimate meaning of Bush conservatism? Are quotas OK for conservatives, but unconstitutional for everyone else? Didn't the GOP just put Scalito on the court to prevent this sort of social engineering? Aren't Republicans supposed to be against preferential quotas based on the color of your ideology rather than the quality of your spirit? Does anyone--excepting Jim Brady--want to stand up and say Ben Domenech was the most qualified person for this job?

If Domenech did not fill a preferential quota, exactly what did he have going for himself? Apart from unapologetic bigotry, privilege, and self-indulgence...

Conservatives, you have nothing to lose but your principles.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 25, 2006 5:04 PM | Permalink

Len: You are being glib. Who said anything about finding the Post a "provocative" blogger via an open competition on the Web? The standard I said I wanted was "a writer with some grace... an original, a voice, something new on the scene." Not "provoactive," which was a term Jim Brady used with Salon. I agree with several people in this thread who thought that a dubious and troublesome standard.

I think you are missing the point of my suggestion, Len, by assimilating it to an old media phony populist spectacle, American Idol, instead of the distributed intelligence model that worked, in this case, to efficiently fact-check the Post.com's claim that Domenech was qualified and had been vetted. As Charles said many posts up, "These profane and abusive blogger dimwits have managed to discover what The Post's hiring process did not."

jukeboxgrad: I have no problem with people making educated guesses about the Post.com's actions and their motive. I would prefer that it be done the way Billmon did it in his intriguing post on this event:

...why did the Washington Post not only hire a GOP apparachik (and a nepotism case at that) but a GOP apparachik who was, by all appearances, a serial plagiarist? I certainly don't know the answer, but if Howie Kurtz's media column today was any indiction, the motivation (and/or motivator) must have been pretty damned powerful.

To me, "I certainly don't know the answer, but..." makes all the difference.

Just to be clear, I think the Brady and crew made a serious misjudgment in hiring Ben Domenech, and it would have been a mistake without the discovery of plagiarism that put an end to it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 5:29 PM | Permalink

Heh. Comments about plagiarism and fair use on a thread that only exists because of plagiarism and violations of fair use will be banned.

Jay, you've been taking irony supplements again.

If plagiarism is wrong at WaPo, why is it to be glossed over, or swept under the carpet, in other instances? Especially in a professional media forum?

I pointed out a double standard, at the beginning of this thread. Members of the "club," the "house" if you will, get their plagiarism excused: Ivins, Erlanger, Weinraub, Ehrenstein, etc.

But Domenech is a blogger with a decidedly minority view among the coastal press, and you guys can't wait to scalp him.

As someone who's primarily a consumer of media, I think the whole plagiarism story is grossly overwrought. From my point of view, I'm more intersted in competent, appropriately sourced, well-researched, and balanced coverage. Whether a reporter filched a few phrases from someone else in the process is, frankly, the least of my concerns, and I would gladly trade some derivative prose once in a while if I could get that competent, well-researched, and balanced coverage.

To see professional writers all asquabble about a few pilfered phrases - or even many of them, in this case - strikes me as mostly self-referential navel-gazing.

Plagiarism is wrong. But as a media consumer frustrated by plainly inept and slanted coverage on a daily basis, it is really the least of my concerns. I wish more reporters would be sacked for lousy sourcing and shoddy research and fact-checking, and incompetent statistical analysis.

The plagiarism doesn't bother me nearly as much, unless the original writer can show actual damages.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 25, 2006 5:40 PM | Permalink

Jay: "To me, 'I certainly don't know the answer, but...' makes all the difference."

I see your point. Fair enough. Thanks for addressing that.

"Brady and crew made a serious misjudgment"

Needless to say, I agree. I appreciate you pointing this out, and I think you made this clear enough in your main article above.

What's still not at all clear, however, is an answer to the question I posed in January.

A much smaller question also remains unanswered: your basis for deciding that Domenech is "not pro-Bush."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 25, 2006 5:47 PM | Permalink

I didn't say Domench is not pro-Bush, juke. I said (in speculation mode) that what Brady may have thought he was doing was getting a social conservative who was not pro-Bush. As he said to Salon, he wanted "someone whoís loyal to the cause of conservatism and not the administration." That's a clue to his thinking.

How Jim and his crew came to the conclusion that Domenech fit that bill-- that I do not know. But I think it's probable that, for example, they didn't search redstate.org for "Augustine" because they didn't know that Augustine was Ben.

Does this explain it? No. Just something to be kept in mind when you ask your "how in the world could they..." questions. Could they have found out that Ben was Augustine? According to Blogometer, the answer is yes.

I noticed that in Salon on Friday Brady was stresssing how thorough the checking was:

Jim Brady, executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, told Salon Friday that Post editors had thoroughly vetted young right-wing blogger Ben Domenech before they hired him to write for the site. He said editors saw no "red flags" that Domenech was a plagiarist..."We obviously did plenty of background checks" on Domenech, Brady said. He explained that Post editors read "basically everything he'd written" during the past few years and had spoken to many people who had previously worked with Domenech...

While in Howard Kurtz's Saturday column, it's:

Brady said his staff did "a fair amount of checking" into Domenech's background before the hiring but that "we could have and should have done a better job."

So we went from "thoroughly" (Manjoo's word) to "fair amount."

Jason: You and David E. showed all signs of an increasingly nasty back-and-forth over a point that had been adequately made. Six posts about it is more than enough, and cutting it off at that point hardly makes for "sweeping things under the rug." But of course you know that.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 6:15 PM | Permalink

jukeboxgrad,

That, apparently, was a prime criterion, and a reason for the ultimate debacle.

Genuine conservatives' attitudes toward Bush range from supporters ("Kultists") to grudging, lesser-of-evils exasperation ("apologists"). If you find someone who can express what a left-liberal will recognize as "conservative" views -- that is, the stereotype you, plukasiak, and Ehrenstein hold -- who does not fall into one of those categories, that person will invariably be the sort of intemperate lunatic who more properly belongs in the backwoods of Idaho, wearing camouflage coveralls and tinfoil hat and carrying a pseudomilitary weapon. It would seem that Mr. Brady holds the stereotype as a basis for his decisions. Effectively, he was selecting for failure.

On the bright side (for me and van Steenwyck), if left-liberals cannot tell the difference between Domenech and, say, Carl Rove, our success is assured. They will continually be putting up elaborate defenses against attacks we won't be making, leaving our real objectives unguarded. Do enjoy your schadenfreude, guys.

Regards,
Ric

Posted by: Ric Locke at March 25, 2006 6:38 PM | Permalink

Mark Anderson's point about "quota hires" is well taken. If the Washington Post were a serious publication it would be looking for a writer (and blogging IS writing) with something to say. Box Turtle Ben fails on that level -- unless one counts hois racism as "saying something." And apparently Brady did.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 6:41 PM | Permalink

Howard Kurtz:

I don't get it. One conservative blogger? It's not like The Post doesn't have a left-leaning blogger, or liberal columnists. Is the New York Times a GOP mouthpiece because it employs David Brooks and John Tierney? If people don't like what Domenech has to say, don't click on him. It's not like you can say 'cancel my subscription!' since the Web site is free.

I do not get it; How does Mr. Kurtz find it acceptable to equate Messrs. Brooks and Tierney with Domenech. If media critics like him do not see the difference, what hope is there that the average Joe will?

Clearly, Mr. Kurtz was being disingenuous, but why? Was it an effort to circle the wagons around a beleaguered Post? If so how come nobody gave a copy of the play book to Ms. Howell?

Posted by: village idiot at March 25, 2006 6:43 PM | Permalink

"if left-liberals cannot tell the difference between Domenech and, say, Carl Rove, our success is assured."

Karl Rove still has a job.

Where's my prize? (That's a Sondheim reference.)

A genuinely interesting Conservative with something of actual value to contribute would be Francis Fukyama

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 6:44 PM | Permalink

More nearly on point: I would endorse either Quick or Hobbs (or both) to take up the challenge. But if you really want someone to get the blood pumping, head over to Steven den Beste's place and start offering him money. Warning: you may not have enough money.

Regards,
Ric

Posted by: Ric Locke at March 25, 2006 6:44 PM | Permalink

If he wanted to go that route, Brady should have looked for a bred-in-the-bone conservative who is anti-Bush, disgusted with the intellectual dishonesty of the Adminstration, and fearful of what a radical our President is. That would have been interesting. Most conservatives sold their soul to the guy; Bush's mendacity became their own. (Though they comforted themselves with their conviction that the left was worse.) Find one with soul who didn't, and if she, he could actually write, then... you've got something.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 6:59 PM | Permalink

Jay, I agree on the "distributed intelligence model" concept.

I like this too mostly, but not completely:

Itís their site, so the editors of washingtonpost.com would pick the winners and run the contest. This would be more in keeping with the reputation the post.com should have for being the most innovative newspaper site aroundó and the most open to emerging voices who are challenging the press.

However, here is the post.com's idea of being the most "innovative newspaper," at least as manifest by Brady, its editor, who said in Salon:

"We wanted to create a little bit of buzz and controversy as well." And Domenech, Brady said, fit the bill. "He was provocative."

Adding:

"The lesson we've learned is that if we go back and do this again, we'll probably look more in the traditional journalist community," Brady said. "We still want someone who's provocative."

To me that's Crossfire, American Idol type thinking, and I don't want to enable it. If that was the end result, it would be a mockery of what you want to do with the distributed intelligence model.

Forget the three sides; let the distributed intelligence model help us try to find just one great mind who can lead us to common ground.

This whole Domenech affair, is all about how this system, this right, left, red, blue era has poisoned the mind of a 24-year-old--and probably the rest of us, in one way or another. I feel more public hate and anger than I have ever felt in my life. I don't think I am alone. We have to get over it...it takes away from the good work we could all do together.

Your model if tweaked could help make that happen either at the Washington Post--or maybe some place less concerned about buzz and provocation and more concerned about the public good.

Posted by: Leonard Witt at March 25, 2006 7:02 PM | Permalink

Jay: "I didn't say Domench is not pro-Bush"

OK, I understand your clarification. You're pointing out that it was Brady, not necessarily you, who suggests Domenech is "not pro-Bush." Trouble is, I think some skepticism should be applied to this claim of Brady's (especially in the absence of proof that Domenech is "not pro-Bush"). In my opinion, this statement from Brady, like many of his statements, is just self-serving spin. Pure wind, in other words (to use Orwell's expression).

But your comments on this aspect seem to have a striking absence of skepticism, and seem to accept Brady's claim at face value. I find this puzzling.

Speaking of your puzzling tendency to accept Brady's statements at face value, I'm increasingly perplexed that even though you've kindly responded to me a couple of times now, in this thread, your responses pointedly omit any indication of whether or not you intend to answer the question I asked in January (when you said "I'll have to get back to you on it"). I am now asking the question for the fourth time (once in January, and twice earlier in this thread).

You recall I asked you "why you're inclined to look away from the gaping holes in the story Brady has told." At the time, you agreed it was a good question. I think recent events underline the relevance of the question.

In my opinion, events in January proved that Brady suffers from a distinct integrity impairment. Therefore it's no surprise that he would hire someone with a similar problem.

You apparently still reject the premise that Brady's dishonesty was exposed in January. But it was exposed, and I documented this in excruciating detail.

I'm still waiting for you to "get back" to me with some kind of an explanation for why you gave Brady a free pass for what he did then, despite a mountain of evidence which proved that he was bullshitting us. Recent events give us even more reason to conclude that Brady is a serial bullshitter, yet you still seem inclined to assume he is something other than that. Why?

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 25, 2006 7:04 PM | Permalink

It should be clear by now that I am not going to participate in the demonization of Jim Brady, juke. I'm just not. Because I don't think he's anything like what people on the left portray him as. It's your right and duty to criticize me for that reluctance.

But you don't need my vote, the demonization is full scale now and far beyond anyone's power to stop it.

I've said before that the Froomkin episode was far more the doing of Deborah Howell and John Harris, and that attacking Brady was short-sighted.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 7:11 PM | Permalink

"It's your right and duty to criticize me for that reluctance."

But clearly pointless as well.

Nice to know where you "stand," Jay.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 25, 2006 7:33 PM | Permalink

From several foregoing posts, I gather the following:

- the decision to hire Domenech was Brady's (and it seems to have been fairly well argued that the choice does not make sense), and

- he admits that he should have done a better job checking into the background of Domenech (this is equally well-established by the facts of the case)

These are elementary managerial decisions and he obviously gets failing grades in both. If we are to operate under the assumption that Brady gets 'it', we also have to be ready to believe that these decisions were compromised. Since Brady is a fairly senior guy, it leaves only a handful of individuals at the Post Co. who could have influenced (arm-twisted) Brady. Who might that be?

It is either this, or the conclusion that Brady may get the net, but is a singularly incompetent manager.

Posted by: village idiot at March 25, 2006 7:40 PM | Permalink

The plagiarism doesn't bother me nearly as much, unless the original writer can show actual damages.

I happen to be with Jason on this one for the most part. There are other situations (like in an academic environment) where plagarism is highly problematic, but stealing paragraphs for film reviews, or even news stories, doesn't really bother me.

And, despite everyone claiming that Brady should have caught Ben's plagiarism before hiring him, the fact is that the left blogosphere was examining Ben's writings for three days before the first instance of plagarism was discovered. So, I'm not that upset with the Post for hiring Ben without checking for plagiarism.

What bothers me more than plagiarism is "making stuff up." This runs the gamut from calling Coretta Scott King a "Communist" (a "made up" fact if there ever was one), to the far more serious (and controversial) issue of Ben literally making up a quote to defend George W. Bush.

Two years ago, there was quite a controversy about this, with the Spinsanity site demonstrating that Ben made up a quote ("And spend what it takes? Even if it means deficits?" asked the moderator, NBC's Tim Russert.), then attributed it to an AP article that appeared in the Boston Globe. Except that the Globe didn't use the AP version of the story, they had their own reporters. Ben claimed he found the reference in a "Westlaw" search, but the article Ben cites does not appear when anyone else tried such a search -- nor did it show up in a "Lexis/Nexus" search.

To my mind, these are the kinds of journalistic "sins" that are important, and should have been discovered in the vetting process. The fact that they weren't --- or that they were simply ignored (hey, Brady wanted provocative, and knew from personal experience how "provocative" making up facts and publishing them could be)---- is where the real damage to Brady's, and the Post's, reputation originates.

Posted by: plukasiak at March 25, 2006 7:51 PM | Permalink

I've said before that the Froomkin episode was far more the doing of Deborah Howell and John Harris, and that attacking Brady was short-sighted.

more to the point, in the "Froomkin episode" Brady was actually a "good guy", making it clear that he stood by Dan, and wasn't going to rename the column because people at the dead tree version of the Post were upset with it being called "White House Briefing."

Brady's stock didn't start falling until the "Howell/Abramoff" episode....

Posted by: plukasiak at March 25, 2006 7:54 PM | Permalink

I think the whole plagiarism story is grossly overwrought. From my point of view, I'm more intersted in competent, appropriately sourced, well-researched, and balanced coverage.

Canít have it both ways, Jason. Integral to the sourcing and research of a report is the understanding that itís not plagiarized.

So, while understanding that Benís offense involved a wee bit more than lifting Ďa few phrasesí letís start with the basics. Plagiarism is theft. When you steal someoneís words - be it a Ďfew phrasesí or whole blocks of copy, youíre stealing the creative expression of an idea and passing it off as your own. Itís a lie, a more grander and involved sin than the perceptions of whether the report runs counter to the ideological views of the reader.

Ask Howell Raines if Jayson Blairís actions were no big deal.

Nor is it simply an academic conceit, like comma use or subject-verb agreement.

Ask Joe Biden. His plagiarism rightly cost him the Democratic nomination. And Tony Blair may see things a little differently about the nuisance value of plagiarism.

According to a Feb. 8, 2003 story in the New York Times, (headline: THREATS AND RESPONSES: INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENT; Britain Admits That Much of Its Report on Iraq Came From Magazines Itís in the archives.) the 2001 British government report that was depicted as an up-to-date assessment by British intelligence of Iraqís efforts to hide its weaponís programs helped lead Britain into war. Colin Powell praised the report in his speech to the UN.

Yet, two years later, British authorities had to acknowledge that large segments of the report had been lifted verbatim from magazines and academic journals without additional research. Is that the intel you want as a basis to go to war?

A writer and a reader have a compact of trust. The writer vows that the work is a result of his own research and words. And the reader takes that as the starting point on reading the information and making up his own mind about its ideas. Without that essential point of trust, we go no where.

I'm not talking about ideological interpretations or whether the writer is sufficiently liberal or conservative enough.

Plagiarism isn't just a case of writers with the vapors. This is stuff we should have learned in grade school. You do your own work and donít make shit up. Yet now weíve evolved to a point that, well, itís no big deal. Or 'overwrought.' Thatís more than sad.

Posted by: Dave McLemore at March 25, 2006 9:07 PM | Permalink

Jay, in January I asked you a question[s]. This is how you responded: "Good questions. Can't answer them now. I am working on a new post. But I'll think about it: why am I defending Jim Brady? Just because I think he's a good guy? No, it's a lot more than that. So I'll have to get back to you on it."

You never did "get back" to me on it. But now, about 8 weeks later, when I repeat precisely the same question, here's your 'answer:' "I am not going to participate in the demonization of Jim Brady."

With all due respect, that's not an answer. It's stonewalling. It's also an insult to my question, which you once described as "good." It's puzzling that my question then was "good," but now the same exact question is a form of "demonization." "Demonization" is what you're doing to my good question, in other words. In other words, you're participating in the demonization of those who are asking "good" (your word) questions about Brady.

"I don't think he's anything like what people on the left portray him as."

I think you more-or-less expressed this opinion a couple of months ago. With all due respect, I haven't been asking you to repeat your opinion. I'm already familiar with your opinion. I've been asking you to explain why you hang onto this opinion in the face of a mountain of contrary evidence.

"It's your right and duty to criticize me for that reluctance."

Maybe so. And it's your right to stonewall. And it's our right to wonder why you're now stonewalling a "good" question you once suggested you were willing to answer.

"you don't need my vote"

It's not a question of "need" or "vote." It's a question of respecting your opinion, generally, and being curious why in this instance you've adopted an opinion that is contrary to fact, and are being anything but transparent with regard to explaining the basis for your opinion.

"the demonization is full scale now and far beyond anyone's power to stop it"

I beg to differ. Brady's predicament is entirely of his own creation, and the power to transform his predicament is also entirely in his own hands. At any moment he is free to produce the 420 missing messages, or apologize for inventing them. Why aren't you encouraging him to do one of those two things?

"the Froomkin episode was far more the doing of Deborah Howell and John Harris ... attacking Brady was short-sighted."

The question I asked has nothing to do with Froomkin, Howell or Harris. My question is about Brady. If I adopt your apparent belief, that Brady is a noble person on his way to doing noble things, if only folks like me would shut up and let him, then it's natural for me to be concerned about Brady's credibility. Without credibility his effectiveness will be less than zero. In other words, I think you're the one who's being "short-sighted."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 25, 2006 10:08 PM | Permalink

Are there any "social conservatives" that aren't screaming racists? I'm willing to be persuaded. It seems to me the racism of the mainstream Republican party, with David Brooks, for example, is couched in civil, if patronizing, code language like "accountability" (for thee but not for me), "law'n'order" (for all but white collar crime) "state's rights" (except for when Republicans are in power) and so on.

I have been under the impression that the "social conservatives" have rejected altogether the need to couch the language of conservatism in civil terms and have publicly stated the intention of the movement to return to the "good ole days" of the segregationist South among other aims.

It may be that I've not had the opportunity to read social conservative thought except for the more vocal "social conservatives" like the young plagiarist Domenech, Fred Phelps, and James Dobson. It's my impression that the social conservative movement IS the attempt to return to the days of the segregated South, if not the outright internment and/or genocide of American communities of color, again as stated by the young plagiarist Domenech, William Bennet, and others from the "social conservative" right.

Is there more to the "movement" than that?

If not, then perhaps Mr. Brady would do well to abandon his search now. Because calling for segregation, internment, and genocide doesn't play well except on Fox News and right-wing radio, and I don't think the advertisers would like it.

Posted by: Phredd at March 25, 2006 10:43 PM | Permalink

Hard to believe you suggest the blogosphere is a serious player in the intermediate and long term future of legitimate media. Domenech is another case in point. Legitimate blogs created by media professionals will have a place, but there will be a massive shake-out of the agree/disagree genre within a year or so, just as the original Web content bubble burst five years ago. Michael Grant

Posted by: Michael Grant at March 25, 2006 10:56 PM | Permalink

Explain an "opinion that is contrary to fact?" That's an attractive invitation, juke.

The reason I didn't get back to you is that a good answer, a full answer, a careful answer would have taken me 8-10 hours to do, and I just didn't have the time. And a good, full, careful answer is the only kind you can give in a situation where people are extremely dug in, persuaded of the righteousness of their views, and have--unwisely and unfairly--demonized a man.

I'm sorry if you don't agree with my characterization of Brady as "demonized." It's too bad because he was.

The reason it would have taken 8-10 hours to do (well) involves that "mountain of contrary evidence" that you refer to. That mountain--which dealt with the great comment shut down--contains facts that are indisputable and damning, facts that are indisputable and not damning but presented as damning, facts that are very disputable, non-facts that are presented as totally irrefutable, sound reasoning based on real evidence, sound reasoning based on fake evidence, terrible reasoning based on no evidence, and medium-poor reasoning based on some evidence. It has a truth in it, and untruth. A good answer would have to sort through all that, and frankly I no longer have the time or inclination.

Would I care to provide some examples and links for that assessment I just gave of the mountain? I would, actually, and it would take me 8 to 10 hours.

I just chose to move on.

But if you want a short answer, sans mountain sifting, for why I often defend Brady, it is this-- something I said many times during the controversy. The reactionary in the episode, and the person to blame for it, was Deborah Howell, who is a terrible ombudsman. And Brady--who in my opinion is no fan of hers--was put in a terrible position by Howell. But he was not able to criticize her because she's the ombudsman, and politically (within the Washington Post) it was impossible for him to say what he probably felt.

To take one example, Howell will not start a blog and there is still no place where readers can post comments to her. That's not Brady's doing. He wants her to have a blog. (And is there anyone on the Post who is a more logical candidate than the reader representative?) The reason she won't, in my opinion, is that she is over-matched in the job and in the online space. She is also out-of-touch, and believes she works for Post subscribers only. If she had a blog the comments after her Abramoff column would have gone there, and she would have to decide what to do if they got overly nasty.

As it was, the comment flood went into an unrelated thread at post.blog (which I was partly responsible for) because there was no other forum; and so it became Brady's decision. Howell got to sit on the sidelines and express her astonishment at the reactions to her, and then claim afterwards that, if it were up to her, she would have let the comments be-- in effect, criticizing Brady for "protecting" her!

Censorship--which by Brady's decision ended up happening at post.blog--is a meat cleaver. It is never pretty; it is never precise. It is always abitrary. (I am extremely aware of this when I have to kill posts at PressThink.) The fact that you and others proved it in this case--arbitary!--is not surprising to me. The fact that Brady wouldn't admit it isn't surprising either.

Within the Post, the reactionaries who went after Froomkin think it's absurd that the post.com is a separate company. They think it's wrong for Brady to exist as an executive editor when there is already an executive editor, Len Downie. They hated it when he began linking to criticism of their work through the Technorati feature he started. They would fold the post.com into the Post newsroom, and that would be the end of the experiments and openness to the online world that the post.com has pioneered.

All these things are on my mind when I decline to participate in the demonization of Jim Brady.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 25, 2006 11:12 PM | Permalink

Brady should hire our friends at yargb to replace Ben.

Holy shit.

Thank you!

Posted by: Charles Martin at March 25, 2006 11:32 PM | Permalink

Jay, just as an aside from the running flamewar, what's an "original linker"?

Posted by: Charles Martin at March 25, 2006 11:34 PM | Permalink

If he wanted to go that route, Brady should have looked for a bred-in-the-bone conservative who is anti-Bush, disgusted with the intellectual dishonesty of the Adminstration, and fearful of what a radical our President is. That would have been interesting. Most conservatives sold their soul to the guy; Bush's mendacity became their own. (Though they comforted themselves with their conviction that the left was worse.) Find one with soul who didn't, and if she, he could actually write, then... you've got something.

Also in passing, I think there are a fair number of us --- not particularly conservative, I have a running series of "why I'm not a conservative" at YARGB --- who regularly make comparisons of what Bush actually said and did, and what gets printed about him ("plastic turkeys", Wilson's mischaracterization of his own reports, repeated misquotations, and the fact that anyone considers Steve Lovelady a journalist) and see the mendacity as coming from another direction.

If you really want to encourage a civil tone, maybe watching your own would be helpful.

Posted by: Charles Martin at March 25, 2006 11:41 PM | Permalink

I noticed that in Salon on Friday Brady was stresssing how thorough the checking was:

Jim Brady, executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, told Salon Friday that Post editors had thoroughly vetted young right-wing blogger Ben Domenech before they hired him to write for the site. He said editors saw no "red flags" that Domenech was a plagiarist..."We obviously did plenty of background checks" on Domenech, Brady said. He explained that Post editors read "basically everything he'd written" during the past few years and had spoken to many people who had previously worked with Domenech...

While in Howard Kurtz's Saturday column, it's:

Brady said his staff did "a fair amount of checking" into Domenech's background before the hiring but that "we could have and should have done a better job."

So we went from "thoroughly" (Manjoo's word) to "fair amount."

Well, duh, Jay. He also went from having people read what Domenech wrote, to finding out that he's committed some pretty massive plagarisms. He's now saying he should have checked better.

The Sun will rotate into view in the east tomorrow, too.

Posted by: Charles Martin at March 25, 2006 11:48 PM | Permalink

You never did "get back" to me on it. But now, about 8 weeks later, when I repeat precisely the same question, here's your 'answer:' "I am not going to participate in the demonization of Jim Brady."

Sounds like an answer to me, Juke. You may not like it, but I don't think you're required to like it.

Posted by: Charles Martin at March 25, 2006 11:52 PM | Permalink

plukasiak quoted me: "I've said before that the Froomkin episode was far more the doing of Deborah Howell and John Harris, and that attacking Brady was short-sighted." And comments:

more to the point, in the "Froomkin episode" Brady was actually a "good guy", making it clear that he stood by Dan, and wasn't going to rename the column because people at the dead tree version of the Post were upset with it being called "White House Briefing."

Brady's stock didn't start falling until the "Howell/Abramoff" episode.....

You're correct. When I said "Froomkin episode" I misspoke. It was the Abramoff Gave Equally episode. The reason I misspoke is that John Harris and Deborah Howell were a team in that one, too, both very eager to assert that the Abramoff narrative isn't at all--it couldn't be--what you find at Talking Points Memo, Kos, Atrios, Huff Post, FDL, MyDD and so on.

Harris fed her the facts that confirmed her hunch ("their team is dirty, but the fans don't want to face it because they're fans-- emotional...") But when it came time to show online "the Post's analysis" I found their case weak. And they seemed to think that they didn't have to "answer" Bloomberg' reporting, when it was exactly the opposite-- they did have to answer.

But check it out. Brady--and Kurtz--are the ones bringing Talking Points Memo, Kos, Atrios, Huff Post, FDL, MyDD and so on, into the heart of the Post product, right into the newsroom beats. Within the prism of the Post itself, they're making Harris and company deal with you.

Some of you don't understand that, or if you do understand, then perhaps you don't fully appreciate its significance. As a student of the American press, I merely ask you to think about it.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 12:04 AM | Permalink

"When I say open I mean open: anyone can apply. But experience as a political blogger counts. You have to be an original linker and be able to think for yourself."

Charles asks me what I meant by "original linker."

If an original thinker is someone whose ideas make sense, but not in a way that resembles other ideas, then an original linker is one whose links make sense but don't resemble...or aren't the same ones you find in lots of other posts.

A simple method would be: when everyone else is going A-List, you go long tail and find the gems. Original linking. When everyone else is content with knock offs, you find and link to originals. Ask Joe Gandleman about it sometime-- I'm sure he would have interesting replies.

Here's a post of mine that's a favorite example of original linking: Bill O'Reilly and the Paranoid Style in News. The whole post is about this one link I found by accident.

Oh, and thanks for asking.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 12:46 AM | Permalink

It was nice to see Jay noticed one of my little pecularities (for a blog). I read a topic and then want to read various news stories. Sometimes I'll do a google search and look at a LOT of news stories and link parts of them. Then you get to decide: do you want to also link to other weblogs?

I find when I read blogs that they all link to the same ones: a)the bigger blogs (the ones that can link back to them and give them hits OR b)blogs that already agree with them. I'm always interested in the good quote or additional idea so I do it a bit differently (which doesn't mean I do it better than those who don't do it my way, but I do it according to my own interest).

If I'm pressed for time I might offer reads just a list of links to weblogs. If I have more time or am fascinated with a topic, I may spend 2 or 3 hours reading through countless weblogs to get a cross section of opinion. And each time I GO OUT OF MY WAY to read some blogs that I never read before, blogs whose size are a total mystery to me -- but who express an idea or position well.

I think there's a problem in the way blogs are evolving with a kind of "blogspeak" and inflination to only quote blogs that they agree with. This may limit my readership (I have been told this often) but it's the way I like to do it and I think if weblogs are supposed to be infotools and carries of ides, it's the way to go. I'm always looking for that link to a post or blog that I haven't seen before or that isn't the usual list of blogs or stories that everyone links to.

Posted by: Joe Gandelman at March 26, 2006 1:03 AM | Permalink

You know that scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen says, "I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here....?"

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 1:24 AM | Permalink

Are there any "social conservatives" that aren't screaming racists?

I have been wondering the same thing as I have searched for a blog that fits Mr. Brady's criteria. He is insisting on a social or red state conservative, not a traditional conservative. The term 'Social Conservative' is more euphemistic than descriptive, though. It's code for a whole host of extreme positions or 'values' that do not find broad support standing on their own. These include racism, bigotry, religious intolerance. These folks do not seem to have much in common with principled and traditional conservatives, really, beyond the campaign slogan boiler plate token conservative principles.

Red State conservatives are neither social conservatives nor principled, traditional conservatives. They are more partisan and opportunistic than conservative. Some of these folks would accept a dictator and a police state in the name of party loyalty. Party and power come before principles for them. Hence, things formerly deemed intolerable from a conservative perspective become quite tolerable, such as torture, spying, huge deficits, nation building, big government, an executive who thumbs his nose at the rule of law, etc. Some conservatives!

Bush and the GOP congress would not hold up well under the scrutiny of a principled conservative blogger. But the social conservative and the Red State conservatives don't care so much about traditional conservative principles. It's power they care about. So they will stay on board until the ship sinks, and long after all traditional conservative principles are thrown overboard. Perhaps this why it is so important that the WaPo blogger be a social conservative or red state conservative, because he or she will serve more as a GOP/GWB cheerleader rather than a critic heading into the mid-term elections.

Indeed, if Jay is right about Brady being a stand up guy doing good, then it becomes a bit harder to avoid the conclusion that Domenech was 'chosen' because of 'pressure' from the WH or its henchmen.

And really, the claim that Domenech was not 'Pro-Bush' is not credible. He brags that he was the youngest Bush appointee, his dad works for Bush, and let's not forget the Russert quote Domenech fabricated in an effort to defend Bush's deficit spending ( see http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2002_06_16_archive.html ). That's pretty extreme conduct for a non-supporter.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 26, 2006 1:33 AM | Permalink

"But check it out. Brady--and Kurtz--are the ones bringing Talking Points Memo, Kos, Atrios, Huff Post, FDL, MyDD and so on, into the heart of the Post product, right into the newsroom beats. Within the prism of the Post itself, they're making Harris and company deal with you."

True. Very true.

Jay, I hope washingtonpost.com take you up on your idea.

Posted by: Karl at March 26, 2006 3:29 AM | Permalink

Canít have it both ways, Jason. Integral to the sourcing and research of a report is the understanding that itís not plagiarized.

Nah. I regard them as separate issues. Case in point: Domenech's film review, with the passages lifted from another work. No one is arguing that Domenech didn't do his own research (i.e., see the movie.)

Further case in point: Much of the Shakespeare ouvre was lifted from earlier sources, without attribution. But Shakespeare's work still stands, even knowing that Shakespeare was, by current standards, a plagiarist. Except he stole plot lines, not prose.

My objection to Jayson Blair was never that he stole passages from other journalists, but that he made stuff up - made up interviews he didn't do, and go on datelines he never went on.

If it's all criminal, prose thievery is on the petty-theft end of the spectrum. A misdemeanor, worthy of a slap on the wrist and a stain on your honor.

Royalty thievery rises to the felony level.

And flat out "making stuff up," a la Jayson Blair, or the Million Little Pieces guy, or Rigoberta Menshu, or that former NY Times reporter who filed a story on a race that was later canceled - ought to be a capital offense. I.e., a career-ender, in the journalism field.

Domenech is a petty thief. I don't put him in the same category with a royalty thief (one who uses work that would ordinarily generate income to feed the family of, say, a musician or songwriter) or someone who makes stuff up.

Unfortunately, the news media seems to be more tolerant of capital crimes than petty theft.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 26, 2006 3:30 AM | Permalink

Oops... forgot probably the best example of a capital offender in this context: Stephen Glass. As far as I'm aware, his prose was wholly original.

It would have been better for him and his readers had he copied a few sentences about stuff he didn't make up, and about which he did his own research.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 26, 2006 3:35 AM | Permalink

But check it out. Brady--and Kurtz--are the ones bringing Talking Points Memo, Kos, Atrios, Huff Post, FDL, MyDD and so on, into the heart of the Post product, right into the newsroom beats. Within the prism of the Post itself, they're making Harris and company deal with you.

Some of you don't understand that, or if you do understand, then perhaps you don't fully appreciate its significance. As a student of the American press, I merely ask you to think about it.

Jay,
Surely it is possible to appreciate that it is a new and desirable development for journalists to be confronted with online feedback on their work (Brady's technorati tags) and at the same time be exasperated to the point of giving up hope that Jim Brady is taking the Washington Post online in a remotely positive direction.

On the one hand, we're supposed to be impressed that Brady runs a different operation than the print version, and therefore isn't tainted by its incompetence (Howell) and hackery (Harris).

On the other hand, we are supposed to appreciate Brady's independence from the print side even as he actively seeks to raise the RNC hackery quotient of the online operation and thus generally obliterates one of the few distinctions we might have been tempted to draw between the print and online sides of the operation, the difference in content? How can we blame hiring Ben Domenech on Deborah Howell or John Harris? How does Brady's continued pursuit of a redstate quota hire continue to distinguish him from the baddies over on the print side?

Boiled down, your primary claim seems to be that we should just be happy that Jim Brady believes in links on newspaper-affiliated websites rather than completely dismissing them in the way complete flat-earthers like Howell and Harris presumably would. Is this really the most we can hope for from the editor of the online version of the paper you take to be the leading US paper: "Jim Brady--Not an Anti-Link Flat-Earther like his Print Colleagues"

It is very hard to map your take on Brady in a way that holds together. It seems to fall somewhere between flagrant self-contradiction and standards set so low it's hard not to trip over them. The agent of the Foxification of the Washington Post online is a good guy who unfairly gets a bad rap from lefties because he believes in links and his opponents don't? Because he doesn't share the print side's kow-tow mode of journalism that he's just declared his intention to promote? What positive message we are suppposed to take away from his performance?

If being independent of the Howell/Harris agenda at Wa Po online was previously grounds for praise, why doesn't the new development of Brady himself taking up that very same Howell/Harris agenda by hiring Domenech require qualification or revision since it vividly and amateurishly destroys any attempt to portray him as a force for a different vision in terms of content?

We're left with: Jim Brady, promoter of Fox values at Washington Post online whom we respect because he believes in links?

Lastly, please tell me you don't really mean to suggest that truly perceptive media consumers should be respectful of, let alone grateful for, Howard Kurtz's routine misreading and dismissal of blog-based commentary on the Post? With this logic we would have to be grateful for the O'Reilly Factor because it regularly takes up topics of grave national concern, sometimes even involving the internet, within the confines of Fox network coverage. The fact that he routinely distorts and caricatures the news beyond recognizability isn't supposed to be important because his commentary brings these internet topics up within the frame of Fox News coverage? Is that really the structure of your argument?

I'm thinking his must have been a quickie weekend comment you threw up on your way somewhere else, because it really doesn't rise to your typical standard of discussion.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 6:50 AM | Permalink

Shorter Jay (an incompetent paraphrase?): If the Print Washington Post is the Bush Adminstration, Brady is its Colin Powell. It is the best the anti-war community has, so don't lose it by demonizing Powell.

Perhaps so, but we will hold judgement till we see the strategic leaks to the media, a la Powell .... (or, are we already seeing them through your posts, Jay?) :-)

Also, this argument may fit (if we stretch it the way Jay does) Brady, but how does Mr. Kurtz qualify?

Posted by: village idiot at March 26, 2006 9:09 AM | Permalink

Jay: "Explain an 'opinion that is contrary to fact' "

I mean, generally speaking, the opinion that Brady is a trustworthy person. As far as I can tell, you hold that opinion. As far as I can tell, that opinion is contrary to fact.

"It has a truth in it, and untruth."

SInce I think you're claiming that this contains "untruth," I think it's fair to expect you (or anyone, for that matter) to provide a handful of non-trivial examples. Surely that should not take you "8-10 hours." (By the way, I spent a lot more than 8-10 hours doing my best to make sure that it did not contain any material "untruths.")

"The fact that you and others proved it in this case--arbitary!--is not surprising to me."

I proved that Brady's censorship went beyond "arbitrary." That word suggests a whimsical, random, non-systematic approach. I proved that Brady deliberately censored messages based on purely political content. And the fact that he refused to restore these messages, even after promising to do so, is deeply damning. In other words, you're unfairly minimizing what Brady did. Anyway, it puzzles me that you would be an apologist for such behavior.

"Within the prism of the Post itself, they're [Brady/Kurtz] making Harris and company deal with you"

While I'm sure Brady has done many praiseworthy things, I think you're giving him credit he doesn't deserve. It's not Brady who is pressing WaPo to pay attention to hundreds or thousands of readers who are speaking up. It is those hundreds or thousands of readers who are pressing WaPo to pay attention.

"The reactionary in the episode ..."

I'm sure you and I are in so-called violent agreement regarding Howell's numerous shortcomings. Likewise with regard to "the reactionaries who went after Froomkin." Also, as someone with many years of high-voltage corporate experience, I think I'm in a position to grasp the intense politics that form the environment in which Brady is swimming. However, none of this is an excuse for Brady to do what he did: bullshit us.

I think you offer at least some grudging acknowledgement that Brady did this, when you suggest that I offered "facts that are indisputable and damning." I don't understand why you seem to hold the belief that Brady has no obligation to respond to "facts that are indisputable and damning."

I think you seem to be saying that Brady's bad behavior should be overlooked because there are other people on the stage who are worse than him. Sorry, but a liar is a liar, even when he's standing next to an even bigger liar. As Mark suggested, your standards are too low.

I think you have an impulse to help Brady, and I think you've done a good job of explaining the rationale behind that impulse. I would suggest, however, that the best way to help him (or anyone, for that matter) is to encourage him to see the truth of what he did, and to encourage him to speak truthfully about what he did. In other words, I think you could do a better job of truly helping him, and I think he could do a better job of truly helping himself.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 26, 2006 9:12 AM | Permalink

And flat out "making stuff up," a la Jayson Blair, or the Million Little Pieces guy, or Rigoberta Menshu, or that former NY Times reporter who filed a story on a race that was later canceled - ought to be a capital offense. I.e., a career-ender, in the journalism field.

And where does spreading the canard that Mr. Hussein was buying yellow cake from Niger fall in this grayscale of yours?, or the one about aluminum tubes bound for Iraqi centrifuges?

After wallowing in self-pity and engaging in blame-everyone-but-thyself (some parallels to Mr. Brady's behavior here) for a couple of days, even Mr. Domenech now sees (apparently) the dishonesty of his actions. And he is apologizing for letting his idealogical soulmates defend his indefensible actions for far too long.

Perhaps you did not get the email, Jason? Or do you have a book coming out through Regnery that is being edited by Mr. Domenech? If I were you, I would quit shoring up Mr. Domenech's shattered reputation. We are all pure until we get caught, but once we are, there is payback.

Posted by: village idiot at March 26, 2006 10:13 AM | Permalink

"The term 'Social Conservative' is more euphemistic than descriptive, though. It's code for a whole host of extreme positions or 'values' that do not find broad support standing on their own. These include racism, bigotry, religious intolerance." - Schwenk, above.

This is by no means what I think most people mean when they think "social conservative" - - it seems as if Schwenk has mislabeled his "bigot" decoder as "conservative"; they are not the same(true social conservatives are as upset by bigotry as any), though I acknowledge the extreme left would find political advantage in such a caricature of social conservatism.

Beware of ideologues who claim to have decoded the language of their ideological adversaries; ideologues are often politically disinclined, or constitutionally incapable, of doing so in good faith.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 26, 2006 11:28 AM | Permalink

Mr. Auditor, I asked the original question about whether outspoken racial hatred and bigotry was the main difference between "social" conservatives and those conservatives such as David Brooks. I have no idea whether the voices of the "true" social conservatives have been drowned out by the likes of bigots such as Phelps, Bennett, and Domenech. You claim that social conservatives are upset by bigotry. My question was, what exactly distinguishes a "social conservative"?

I would hope that a professed "social conservative" would answer with facts rather than yet another screed against the "extreme left" who would dare ask a sincere question.

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 11:39 AM | Permalink

"The agent of the Foxification of the Washington Post online is a good guy who unfairly gets a bad rap from lefties because he believes in links and his opponents don't?"

Right, Mark. That's what I'm saying. You get a fat F in paraphrase 101, and an A- in intermediate leftist claptrap.

I have explained myself as well as I could, juke. You're not satisified; I'm not surprised.

On this matter of why I decline to demonize Brady (whom I have also criticized, but there's not enough nuance in this discussion to recognize that ...) I would leave you with this thought:

Len Apcar: 75 posts on Technorati
Jim Brady: 1,676 posts.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 12:01 PM | Permalink

I would distinguish social conservatism in the very practical manner that most people use as shorthand in politics, based on generally debatable political issues. To take the three most often argued, historically: I would define someone who is pro-life, against gun control, and against racial quotas as a social conservative. Someone on the opposing side, I believe, can be fairly described as socially liberal. In my view, these are very mainstream, respectable positions about which reasonable people can disagree.

Bigots, of course, can come from either camp but are representative of neither.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 26, 2006 12:15 PM | Permalink

Links are good.

Jim Brady has gotten the Post more links than the Times by making a disastrous personnel decision that is tracked by Technorati tags.

Therefore Jim Brady has raised the Post above the Times in this week's online Neilson ratings.

Interpreting the link numbers rather than simply counting them, the implication of your reasoning is that Brady should hire and fire someone like Ben Domenech every week and then the Post is bound to stay way out ahead of the Times.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 12:25 PM | Permalink

By "pro-life" I presume you mean against the legalization of abortion. (I'm not going to touch the "racial quota" line. They haven't existed in decades, if ever.)

If these are the tenets of the "social" conservative, then why aren't mainstream conservatives acceptable? Virtually every Republican in America professes those three positions.

Is Brady looking for a blogger who is against abortion and gun control? In that case, he shouldn't have to look for someone is a cesspool like Red State. Hell, you'll find quite a few Democrats who take those positions as well. Harry Reid maybe. I understand, however, if they are looking for someone who is more strident than that.

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 12:34 PM | Permalink

One reason Len Apcar has fewer links, I think, is that the Times has a competent and responsive ombusdman. I don't think the ideal is for the managing editors to be making the news. Or is it?

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 12:37 PM | Permalink

Hopefully not all criticism of Brady is seen as demonization. The buck has to stop somewhere.

Trained Auditor, perhaps the problem is with our respective definitions of bigotry, racism and religious intolerance, not social conservatism. For example, you apparently find nothing racist in Domenech's writings previously cited, whereas I do. Also, what was this whole Southern Strategy thing Nixon started? Throw in gay bating and forced child-birth, and ask Kevin Phillips about the large number of GOP voters (social conservatives) who think it's OK to run deficits because end times are here and it won't matter what happens to the economy. (Listen to his interview on NPR with Terri Gross, where he discusses this).

Is Kevin Phillips a far lefty and hard core ideologue, too? Or are you the one dissembling here.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 26, 2006 12:39 PM | Permalink

My mind keeps coming back to this thought:

WaPo is an experienced journalistic institution; fact gathering, verification and the ability to synthesize disparate pieces of information into the whole are supposedly its forte. Then how can these folks screw up so badly in spotting such flagrant plagiarism. If this is how good their abilities are, it is not unreasonable to wonder how well-researched their stories are. This episode has serious spill-over effects on the credibility of WaPo's journalistic output.

So who are these "editors" that were tasked by Brady with checking out Domenech and his work?

Posted by: village idiot at March 26, 2006 12:42 PM | Permalink

And the fact that he refused to restore these messages, even after promising to do so, is deeply damning.

And what would be the point? Why do those comments have to appear at the Post blog? Why would Brady and his staff spend time, energy and resources sorting through hundreds of comments? They have a paper/website to put out daily.

Or Jay to spend 8-10 hours on research. Jay isn't Brady's proxy anyway.

The comments have been and were posted elsewhere, on other blogs. There are no unalienable rights for people to comment at the Post's website.

Isn't the whole point of the Howell/Abramoff episode is for the paper/website to correct Howell's column. Done. Old News. This is beyond belaboring the issue. Move on to your next research project.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 12:57 PM | Permalink

Jay

I like what you're trying to improve the comments here. Quality commenters make the blog for me. (I also don't trust the veracity of any opinion or news blog that refuses all comments.) Grading the paraphrasing and suggesting people take their boring personal spats offline are both good starts.

I wonder if there's any blog technology that will allow hosts to create two tracks of comments. One track could be a free for all and the other could include only the competent commenters (as defined by the host). It could help make the comments area more worth reading if you are interested (like I am) in becoming less ignorant. Sorting through 600 comments is a lot of work for a reader.

Posted by: laurence haughton at March 26, 2006 1:02 PM | Permalink

No, Mr. Jaw. As of a few minutes ago, a correction is not appended to Ms. Howell's column in LexisNexis; the original statement

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.

remains. That erroneous statement will be available to researchers long after we have moved on.

Washington Post, March 26, 2016. Jack Abramoff was released from federal prison earlier today. Abramoff, a lobbyist who made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties according to evidence compiled by the Washington Post, was jailed for fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials

What good is a newspaper that won't correct its own erroneous statements, presumably to protect someone's fragile ego?

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 1:21 PM | Permalink

The term 'Social Conservative' is more euphemistic than descriptive, though. It's code for a whole host of extreme positions or 'values' that do not find broad support standing on their own. These include racism, bigotry, religious intolerance. These folks do not seem to have much in common with principled and traditional conservatives, really, beyond the campaign slogan boiler plate token conservative principles.

Red State conservatives are neither social conservatives nor principled, traditional conservatives. They are more partisan and opportunistic than conservative. Some of these folks would accept a dictator and a police state in the name of party loyalty. Party and power come before principles for them.

Yeah. And they serve communion with the blood of little liberal babies, too. And they slow-cook puppies.

Are you really so lost in your bitterness and bigotry that you buy into this pap?

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 26, 2006 1:21 PM | Permalink

village, Paul made the point earlier that it took the blogosphere 3 days to uncover the plagiarism. No news organization can do that kind of vetting before hiring a contractor, which was Domenech was.

So to use the Domenech hiring to question the Post's editorial ability is an incorrect inference.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 1:23 PM | Permalink

Phredd, as former journo, i don't know if corrections are normally appended on Lexis/Nexis. maybe someone else can answer that.

i do know that the correction was made at Post.com. I think Paul Lukasiak has complained that a formal correction box was not made above the original Howell column when you click on it. that should be made if it still has not.

i still say that it's disingenuous to argue that the Howell column has to be corrected in all news databases as if readers today and in the future can only find the news (from the Washington Post or anywhere else) about the ongoing Abramoff scandal from that Howell column.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 1:34 PM | Permalink

My practical definitions:

Bigotry - Hatred of other groups.
Racism - Hatred of other races.
Religious intolerance - Suppression of others based solely on their religious belief (or lack thereof).

I believe it's morally wrong to engage in the above practices. (It's also politically counter-productive, if morality isn't motive enough for some.)

Again, bigots and racists can be found throughout the political spectrum, but they are representative or neither conservatives nor liberals.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 26, 2006 1:34 PM | Permalink

B. J.: That is not what Brady is saying.

There is more to the story here. I am just trying to have some of the insiders that frequent this site chime in with the possibilities, because the actions underlying this episode seem too stupid to be true. Right now there seems to be an 'omerta' in effect.

Posted by: village idiot at March 26, 2006 1:45 PM | Permalink

Are you really so lost in your bitterness and bigotry that you buy into this pap?

No. I just read what the red staters write. I have to believe my eyes, althjough at times I do find it unbelievable that people actually believe this stuff. I cited Ben Shapiro's recent Town Hall piece above advocating that congress adopt anti-sedition laws in order to jail people like Al Gore for giving speeches. That's one example of police-state dictatorship mentality I refer to. And so is Bush's refusal to follow the law, and in fact his declaration that he is not bound by the law, as articulated by his legal counsel. Red Staters like that. True conservatives despise it.

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner warned of the path toward dictatorship just a few weeks ago, and that some elements in the GOP are taking us there. Is she so lost in her bitterness that what she believes is pap?

I won't rehash the sad history of racism int he mordern day GOP. And Bush calling for a constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage is bigotry in full bloom. A shameful exploitation of a wedge issue and fanning of the flames of hate and bigotry.

If you do not see the radical extremism in the current GOP coalition and administration, perhaps especially in the social conservatives, you're blind. Also, I do not understand your need to insult me personally, but it is an imature and rude way to respond to someone who writes something you disagree with.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 26, 2006 1:52 PM | Permalink

Mr. Auditor, while you are reaching all the way to Canada and back to the Black Panther days to set up your straw man, my question remains: Virtually every Republican professes the views that you stated as those of a "social conservative." Why aren't mainstream conservatives acceptable? Why reach into the cesspools of Red State to hire the likes of Domenech. How about John Cole at Balloon Juice? He presents a cogent argument with facts and insight, and to my knowledge avoids the race-baiting calls for genocide and so on. Pro-gun as well. What would you think if Cole were hired?

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 2:02 PM | Permalink

Mr. Jaw,

Corrections are normally appended to the LexisNexis entry with a notation in the citation as well.

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 2:03 PM | Permalink

P.S.

But this is getting a bit far off of the topic of Jay's post, so I'm not going down this path any further. Mr. Brady is the one insisting on someone who is a social conservative or red state conservative.

I drew the distinctions above to make the observation that a redstater or social conservative blogger would likely wind up being a cheerleader for the admin and the GOP no matter what they do, while a principled traditional conservative would likely wind up being a critic.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 26, 2006 2:06 PM | Permalink

Village, i suspect Brady was not reading Ben's movie reviews at William & Mary. Brady prolly was looking at his political columns.

in the hiring process, the applicant provide the clips (writing samples) to the editors. the thinking is that you provide your best work. editors aren't going to fish around for the applicant's clips. i'm sure that practice will change now.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 2:19 PM | Permalink

Phredd, then the Lexis/Nexis is prolly related to not having a former correction over the Jan. 15 column.

do you believe that the original/uncorrected column in Lexis/Nexis is the last word on Abramoff?

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 2:27 PM | Permalink

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 and to Mr Bush's H. Jaw, formerly of Apathetic, Wyoming and now a prominent fellow of the American Training Institute for the Apologizing of the Press in Washington, DC.

Is that the last word? Of course not, but still searchable and findable without refutation in the annals of the major papers search for posterity.

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 3:04 PM | Permalink

go wo washingtonpost.com put in the word abramoff and you don't even find that column. you have to dig for it or the sentence with "Schmidt and 10 to 20" times. do the same in google.

we're going in circles, so i'll stop here.

-Apathethic, Wyo. Press Apologizers Anonymous.

why is my institute in Wyoming?

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 3:18 PM | Permalink

Shakespeare's was plagiarist? Come now, Jason. There's no copyright on ideas and no one seriously suggests Ol' Will lifted whole passages from older texts and ran them verbatim. Trust me, no one would be quoting 'Hamlet' if that was the case.

I'll agree that the sins of Stephen Glass and Janet Cook are severe because they passed lies off as truths. But so does plagiarism. Why assume Ben when to the movies any more than Jayson Blair went to Texas for interviews? Why bother? Someone else already did the work. They lied to us about how they shaped their ideas. If they lie about that, what won't they lie about.

But if you're OK with theft of someone's creative production, well, that's your problem.

What's troubling with the whole converation is that so many keep trying to fit this into a left/right; conservative/liberal template.

Posted by: Dave McLemore at March 26, 2006 3:21 PM | Permalink

"The implication of your reasoning is that Brady should hire and fire someone like Ben Domenech every week and then the Post is bound to stay way out ahead of the Times."

Yes, you got it, Mark. That's what I meant to imply.

More on the Brady Effect:

New York Times:
12,702,000 unique visitors a month
13,397 links in Technorati

Washington Post:
8,244,000 unique visitors a month
11,777 links in Technorati

Traffic ratio, NYT to WaPo: 1.50 to 1.0
Link ratio, NYT to WaPo: 1.13 to 1.0

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 3:29 PM | Permalink

No offense meant, Mr. Jaw. Wyoming is a lovely state.

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 3:40 PM | Permalink

Wyoming's nice in the spring, BJ. Crisp days, cold nights, a little snow. You probably set up the institute there for the tax advantages. Not to mention views of the Tetons.

sic transit gloria apologias

Posted by: Dave McLemore at March 26, 2006 3:40 PM | Permalink

one of my favorite spots out West is the Four Corners area.

as far as tax advantages for the American Training Institute for the Apologizing of the Press in Washington, DC, i don't think we'll get any funding to have tax advantages with so much luv out there for the media -- from the Left and Right. then we have the WH blaming the press for the bad news in Iraq.

Even the press doesn't like the press. McClatchy punting those 12 KR papers. it's not 15% returns that investors are worrying about, it's the future returns because the change from newsprint to electronic is unknown. Wall Street doesn't like unknowns.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 4:04 PM | Permalink

dave, i'm weak at Latin.
did you mean, sic transit apologias mundi?

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 26, 2006 4:15 PM | Permalink

Jay,
We get it that Brady is effectively raising the Post's profile on the web and that involves more than just links. It would be hard to say that the jokers at NYT are competition to be proud of besting, or even that they are playing the same game, but he is certainly doing better than they are in that regard by any measure.

Nothing more to be said about Jim Brady.

Condescending, faux misunderstood, disappointingly narrow, and ultimately tedious, but that's your prerogative. You are surely right to recognize there is nothing further worth saying between us on this issue.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 4:16 PM | Permalink

TA, just to be clear, I am not suggesting that those are the defining values of "social conservatives." But the coalition of people who are conveniently included under that umbrella term by the media does include those elements, and some wield a lot of power within the party.

Pat Robertson is among them, as is Dobson.

Moreover, the GOP dominance comes in large part from its great talent at exploiting wedge issues like race, sex, sexual orientation and religion in order to cobble together a coalition of voters who take sides in those battles with the GOP, but who would otherwise vote democratic on bread and butter issues. (What working poerson in their right mind would ever vote for the bush tax plan or social security plan? But make the election about fags or brown immigrants or god, and they will. Those wedge issue voters become part of the social conservative coalition that makes up the GOP, like it or not.)

The point is that even if the people executing the wedge issue politics within the GOP are not themselves racist or bigots (although some clearly are), they sure do pander to racists and bigots, and welcome them into the party, conveniently hidden away under the euphemistic term, "social conservatives." It wins them elections. Stay tuned for a strong dose of it this summer. (Gays and immigrants and godless democrats.) Domenech would have been a useful part of that roll out, it would seem.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 26, 2006 4:21 PM | Permalink

I hadn't noticed this before: Domenech had to resign from Regnery too:

Before the eruption of the plagiarism scandal, Domenech had met with Regnery Publishing senior management who determined that Domenechís blogging duties interfered with his duties as an editor with Regnery (a sister company to HUMAN EVENTS). Harry Crocker, vice president and executive editor of Regnery, told HUMAN EVENTS that Domenech resigned on Tuesday, March 21.

In my opinion plagiarism damages the plagiarizing writer the most. When he gets away with it he feels like a fraud, and those feelings will go undgerground, surfacing in over-compensating behavior. The more succesful he is, the more extreme this dynamic will be. When he gets caught he's frequently destroyed by the revelation.

Laurence: I like your suggestion:

I wonder if there's any blog technology that will allow hosts to create two tracks of comments. One track could be a free for all and the other could include only the competent commenters (as defined by the host.)

I'll tell you what would work. Software that allows me to split via a simple check off all comments that are "on track" from those that are "off track." They would go in separate threads. The post would display it like this:

Posted by Jay Rosen at 03:12 PM | Comments: On Track (131) Off Track (24) | Link

I'd imagine that would have a real effect, since most users would skip the off-track track.

Mark: You are surely right to recognize there is nothing further worth saying between us on this issue.

Ah, sweet agreement. You're gonna work on your paraphrasing skills over the summer, right?

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 4:22 PM | Permalink

Jay,
I'd hazard to say 3/4 of your traffic comes from people who respect your expertise on media issues, but who want to talk about issues your work consistently raises or suggests that you just as consistently refuse to discuss from one perspective or another. It's your site, so naturally you determine what you are and aren't interested in going into. But I must say, you seriously misrecognize your audience if you imagine "most readers" would necessarily skip comments you consider "off-track."

One of the fascinating aspects of life online is the novelty and unpredictability of communities that organize themselves around websites and how distinct these communities often are from the individual vision of the person who runs the website that initially generates them. On- and off-track comment categories would certainly lend a different dynamic to the situation, but don't be so sure the "off-track" designation would necessarily be considered a negative.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 5:01 PM | Permalink

Jay,
I'll be sending the Tunnel Vision and Misplaced Condescension Workbook by electronic attachment immediately so we can compare progress by Labor Day.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 5:15 PM | Permalink

John Cole is a good catch. I'm sure there are others. Pretty sure, anyway.

Brady's comment about wanting someone provocative seems congruent with MSNBC's hiring Michael Savage on the same basis. And I don't see how his determination to hire what passes as a conservative these days, and his apparent reluctance to hire a centrist or liberal, can be interpreted as anything other than a hedge against the endless charges of liberal bias against the paper.

Milbank's comment about plenty of journalists with heft running around Washington ... why does it have to be a journalist, and why from Washington? It's not as though whoever it is has to hand-deliver their copy.

I'd like to see Brady hire bloggers whose brief includes but isn't limited to critiquing the paper's stories. What he's missing is that in the current climate, almost anyone he hires will be provocative: it doesn't have to be someone who calls Coretta King a commie or Bush a fascist. It probably does have to be someone who isn't an established journalist.

What I'd really, really like to see is what I suggested above: a pair or more of bloggers who get access to stories before they're posted and can respond to them as they're posted, with the advantage of having access to the Post's resources and name to aid in researching and gathering expert commentary. The print reporters would hate it, but they already regard the online Post as a turd in their punch bowl.

Regarding Dan Miller's inaugural comment on Jay's post: It really shouldn't matter if a Post blogger is antagonistic toward the Post so long as he or she behaves with some integrity. In theory, the paper is big enough to accomodate an internal critic. To an extent, that's what the ombudsman is for, although you wouldn't know it from Howell's performance.

And yes, I want the job.

Posted by: weldon berger at March 26, 2006 5:17 PM | Permalink

Off-topic:

Two news correspondents; diametrically opposite conclusions.

Subject: Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born leader of India's ruling congress party resigns from parliament.

The Financial Times' Johnson gets it, but Time's Perry misses it by a mile. A good example of the contrast between the US and European media when covering politics.

Any takers for the notion that Perry is advancing an administration-friendly interpretation in providing props for the Italian-born Indian leader, given that the nuclear accord that was the center-piece of Mr. Bush's recent trip to the sub-continent is in front of congress for ratification?

Posted by: village idiot at March 26, 2006 5:26 PM | Permalink

Mark's right when he says, "don't be so sure the "off-track" label would necessarily be considered a negative."

"Other" would probably be a better label for the off-track. Then you could include (if you want) the tedious, the cowardly, the witless, and the (unnecessarily) vulgar. Being lumped together with the dregs would definitely be considered a negative.

But don't be swayed by highfalutin' nonsense about how "fascinating" unpredictable communities are. Public access cable, open mike night at the school board, and talk shows that don't screen the callers are not that interesting. I know from experience.

Posted by: laurence haughton at March 26, 2006 5:40 PM | Permalink

No. I just read what the red staters write.

Heh. "Red staters."

You paint with an awfully broad brush.

Let's just see how that reads, if we swap out some terms:

Well, back in Tennessee, we just call that "bigotry."

I won't rehash the sad history of racism int he mordern day GOP.

Fine. And I won't rehash the sad history of racism throughout the history of the Democratic Party right up to the present day. Just be aware that the GOP didn't reelect any Senators who go around slinging the term "white niggers."

Then there's Edward "Massive Sums of Jewish Money" Herman

Then there's Farrakhan and there's Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson.

For every extremist knucklehead you can name from the right, I can name another one from the left. I think another poster here is correct: You cannot look at the extremists and claim they are representative of the mainstream of either party. If you're not careful, you'll wind up jousting at windmills, identifying with the extremists on your side of the aisle, and losing five of the last seven presidential elections, both houses of congress, the judiciary, the majority of state legislatures, and the majority of governorships, and staying in the minority for more than 12 years.

Oh, wait, that already happened.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 26, 2006 7:01 PM | Permalink

Off-topic response

village idiot,
Your example fits in with a consistent picture of adminstration-friendly know-nothingism on foreign affairs in major US media that spans decades. I'm not sure how you'd break down the national, cultural, institutional, editorial and personal responsiblity for a particular example, however.

Was it a result of poor education, the general exclusion of history from US primary school curricula, ideological blindness, advertiser pressure, corporate conservatism, concern for legislation before congress, a less than insightful journalist who ended up with the predictably administraton-friendly spin out of sheer dim-wittedness? We have many possible factors that consistently lead to similarly ludricous coverage of foreign affairs spanning many years. At the very least we can say it must have an institutional component somewhere and is uniquely American as the tendency crosses generations, administrations, and media platforms over very long periods of time and contemporary foreign press coverage rarely fails to track the predictable policy-driven ignorance of major US media outlets.

Carl Bernstein documented the direct CIA ties of many of the biggest names in the Vietnam era press corps. You can rest assured that significant swathes of the contemporary press corps are also "playing ball" given the Cheney administration's obsession with expanding monarchical powers the qualification of which it thinks so desperately weakens truly democratic societies.

Carl Bernstein, The CIA and the Media
http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/ARCHIVE/ciamedia.html

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 7:30 PM | Permalink

Sorry, I should have typed "rarely tracks" rather than "rarely fails to track"...

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 7:32 PM | Permalink

Off Topic Link
The Washington Post and Operation Mockingbird

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 26, 2006 7:51 PM | Permalink

bush's jaw: "what would be the point? [of Brady restoring messages he promised to restore]"

If I have to explain to you the point of keeping promises, I think you need to head back to kindergarten to review some things most of us learned there.

"Why do those comments have to appear at the Post blog?"

Because Brady promised, more than once, to restore all messages that were non-offensive. He failed to keep that promise.

"Why would Brady and his staff spend time, energy and resources sorting through hundreds of comments?"

Brady obviously did spend time "sorting through hundreds of comments," in order to remove certain messages he found politically irritating.

"Or Jay to spend 8-10 hours on research"

If it would really take Jay that long to find a single material flaw in this analysis, that's a pretty good clue that it's a solid analysis.

"There are no unalienable rights for people to comment at the Post's website."

Of course not. Just like there isn't a law that says Brady must be an honest man. But it's fair for his readers to take note when it becomes obvious that he's not.

"Isn't the whole point of the Howell/Abramoff episode is for the paper/website to correct Howell's column"

To some extent, that's true. Which is why many people are still quite astonished that the page presenting that column still includes no correction (as Phredd has pointed out).

"do you believe that the original/uncorrected column in Lexis/Nexis is the last word on Abramoff?"

That's not the point. The point is that errors should be corrected. Something else most of us learned in kindergarten.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 26, 2006 8:46 PM | Permalink

Jay: "I decline to demonize Brady"

It's not that you decline to "demonize" Brady. It's that you refuse to hold him responsible even in the face of "facts that are indisputable and damning" (your words). At the same time, you feel free to suggest I wrote "untruth," even though you back up that accusation with no facts whatsover.

It's one thing for you to choose to turn a blind eye to Brady's bad behavior. It's something else for you to falsely accuse me of bad behavior. You should either substantiate that accusation, or withdraw it. In the meantime, you get a fat F in Fairness 101. "You're gonna work on your" fairness "skills over the summer, right?"

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 26, 2006 8:48 PM | Permalink

"do you believe that the original/uncorrected column in Lexis/Nexis is the last word on Abramoff?"

That's not the point. The point is that errors should be corrected. Something else most of us learned in kindergarten.

A further point is the integrity of the Washington Post archives. Just as the young plagiarist Domenech apparently made up a quote between Russert and Bush, Howell made up a factoid and passed it off as truth. Then refused to correct it. If the Washington Post's archives are this sloppy, then what are they worth?

Here's how LexisNexis deals with corrections:

In the citation:

AFTEREFFECTS: THE MISSING; Family Waits, Now Alone, for a Missing Soldier, The New York Times, April 26, 2003 Saturday Correction Appended, Late Edition - Final, Section A; Column 4; National Desk; Pg. 1, 1343 words, By JAYSON BLAIR , LOS FRESNOS, Tex., April 25

In the body of the archive:


CORRECTION-DATE: May 2, 2003
CORRECTION:
Jayson Blair, a reporter for The New York Times, resigned yesterday after the newspaper began an internal review of an article he wrote about the family of an American soldier then missing in action in Iraq and since confirmed dead. The article, published on Saturday and datelined Los Fresnos, Tex., incorporated passages from one published earlier by The San Antonio Express-News. The Times has been unable to determine what original reporting Mr. Blair did to produce it.
The Times regrets this breach of journalistic standards and plans an apology to the soldier's family as well as a review of other work by Mr. Blair.
An article about the situation appears today, on Page A30.

Granted, I wouldn't expect such an extensive explanation in the archives for Howell's untruth.

Posted by: Phredd at March 26, 2006 9:22 PM | Permalink

Geez, juke, you are one sore winner. Almost all of the online left thinks Brady is a creep and a liar and ideological opponent. They all agree with you that he "suffers from a distinct integrity impairment," and they think I am wrong-o. There isn't any doubt in their minds that he's full of shit and deserved everything he got. That's what you want, isn't it? Brady's reputation is blasted to bits in those quarters. It's like 96 to 4 isn't a good enough score for you; you need 97 to 3? Weird.

Take the W, man. Or woman. Or whomever you are.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 26, 2006 10:38 PM | Permalink

Van Steenwyk wins. It is now clearer to me than ever that defining one's ideological opponents by extreme examples of their kind can be politically advantageous on occasion - - but perhaps not so honest or conducive to understanding.

P.S. Re. On-track vs. Other Posts:I've long thought that showing a PressThink poster's name and dateline on the top of individual posts at PressThink, instead of at the bottom, would make it easier for frequent visitors to recognize a writer before wading through his words, allowing any necessary discount factor (or tune-out or skipping entirely) to be applied by a reader beforehand.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 26, 2006 10:54 PM | Permalink

"That's what you want, isn't it?"

Uh, no. At least it's not what brought me here. What brought me here is thinking I could get a straight answer from you, to a question you said was "good," and that you indicated you were willing to answer. My mistake, for thinking you actually meant what you said.

"96 to 4 isn't a good enough score for you"

Just like I don't think it's a matter of measuring pageviews or links, I don't think it's a matter of counting up how many people think a certain thing. I think it's a matter of trying to found out who's telling the truth and who's not. My mistake, for thinking that perspective would mean something to you.

Speaking of adjusting my expectations about you, I also now realize you think it's fine to essentially call someone (me) a liar and offer no proof whatsoever, even when challenged. I didn't call Brady a liar until I was in a position to prove it. I guess that's another difference between me and you.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 26, 2006 11:15 PM | Permalink

ta: "defining one's ideological opponents by extreme examples of their kind can be politically advantageous on occasion - - but perhaps not so honest or conducive to understanding"

I recall the way the White House suggested there was no difference between John Murtha and Michael Moore. I wonder if that's the sort of thing you're talking about.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 26, 2006 11:21 PM | Permalink

" ... and the fact that anyone considers Steve Lovelady a journalist."
-- Charles Martin

It's amazing, isn't it Charley ?
Knock on wood, I've been foolin' 'em for 42 years now.
As compared to, what -- four days for young Domenech?
I've seen a lot of rookies in their first game in the Bigs. And they're always a little sweaty in the palms. But this may be the first time I ever saw someone fall on his ass and break his tailbone just trying to walk from the dugout to the on-deck circle in the first half of the first inning.

Can't wait to see who's the next kewpie doll in that shooting gallery the much-maligned Mr. Brady is running. But think twice about that trial balloon; you might get what you wish for.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at March 26, 2006 11:42 PM | Permalink

Murtha? Isn't that the same surrender monkey who now hangs out with Code Pink? You know, the one whose proposal for immediate withdrawal got shot down in the senate something like 96-3?

Yeah, there's a mainstream guy.

Didn't used to be this way, but comparing Murtha to Michael Moore is, unfortunately, very apt today.

Sad, but there you have it.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 26, 2006 11:55 PM | Permalink

And where does spreading the canard that Mr. Hussein was buying yellow cake from Niger fall in this grayscale of yours?,

Village idiot: You're falling into a pretty common trap, here. You're not the first. A lot of people who are - well, ignorant about the basic facts of the issue make the same mistake you do - including a lot of the press, obviously. But the press blowing a GWOT issue is nothing new.

You might want to do a little more research before engaging on this topic, because, frankly, you're shooting blanks.

With both barrels.

Factcheck.org:

The document also said "most" US intelligence agencies believed that some high-strength aluminum tubes that Iraq had purchased were intended for use in centrifuge rotors used to enrich uranium, and were "compelling evidence" that Saddam had put his nuclear weapons program back together.

On the matter of the tubes, however, the report noted that there was some dissent within the intelligence community. Members of Congress could have read on page 6 of the report that the Department of Energy "assesses that the tubes are probably not" part of a nuclear program.

Some news reports have said this caveat was "buried" deeply in the 92-page report, but this is not so. The "Key Judgments" section begins on page 5, and disagreements by the Department of Energy and also the State Department are noted on pages 5,6,8 and 9, in addition to a reference on page 84.

Though much has been made recently of doubts about the tubes, it should be noted that even the Department of Energy's experts believed Iraq did have an active nuclear program, despite their conclusion that the tubes were not part of it. Even the DOE doubters thought Saddam was working on a nuclear bomb.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 27, 2006 12:14 AM | Permalink

Almost all of the online left thinks Brady is a creep and a liar and ideological opponent.

I don't think that's accurate. Jim made some mistakes in his handling of the Howell/Abramoff incident that served to poison the well, if you will,
this column in particular.

In it, he basically dismisses the entire blogsphere as a bunch of crazed mindless maniacs even though their underlying complaints were right and the post was wrong. Granted, it's a tough job, but he took the criticism posted to the WaPo blog too personally and made the mistake of lashing back, insulting and demonizing his readers. And he also exaggerated the sins committed in the comments, thereby tarnishing his own credibility.

Elevating a redstate.org writer to WaPo blogger shortly thereafter was like throwing gasoline on the embers of the Howell/Abramoff fire.

On Kurtz's show on CNN yesterday, Markos did not portray Brady as a creep or liar or opponent. He said it seemed the problem was that Brady did not know or understand the blogsphere sufficiently to be effective as the leader of WaPo.com, just as he did not understand how easy it was to use google to check someone's writing. ( Crooks & Liars has the clip. ) I tend to agree with that assessment. Jim Brady's wounds are mostly self-inflicted and are not the result of a vast on-line left wing conspiracy to demonize him.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 27, 2006 12:40 AM | Permalink

juke: This will be my last post in the exchange.

The question I called "good" way back when is not the one you have in your head. The question I thought good was a human question, and a writer's question, not juridical or forensic as I believe you see it, a matter of "proving" that Brady has no credibility.

I've learned to steer clear of proof swagger online; and I believe I'm not the only one who practices such caution.

But I did ask myself... why do I decline to join the majority view among, say, the Kos community (where juke has written an open letter to Brady) and join in the low opinion of Jim that one finds there, given the course of events and the record of what was said and did? As I wrote in January, "Just because I think he's a good guy? No, it's a lot more than that."

So why, then? I ask myself that kind of question all the time. Opinion writers have to do that, and they have to be good at it, (why do you think that sanctions won't work, Jasper...?) and writers, shmighters, it's a good thing to do even if you didn't have to.

Thus my words "good questions." And that's what I said questions, with an "s," not as you have repeatedly quoted it here, good question (singular) so that you can assign my promise to a specific proof you want me to tackle. (Most recent phrasing: a question you said was "good."

So I tried to explain in this thread why I don't join in the majority Kos community view about Jim. It was a mistake to shift focus from Howell and try to prove Brady a liar, I said. And I believe it was. You don't like my answers. That's blogging.

Of course, part of this is way simpler. And here I'm not addressing juke but thread readers and PressThink readers at large. Jim Brady has been a guest in my home, intellectually speaking. He's always been willing to answer questions I had for PressThink. And he's invited me to his "home" for Q and A's at the Post site, which I occassionally do.

I recognize that even with such, I have a duty to criticize him since he's an actor and author in the press world I write about. Like in this post. I said plagiarism or no, Domenech was a poor choice; I also said it was a strategic error to start a "red state" blog solo. And I provided an alternative.

In fact, I sometimes get what I would call results-- modest results. I told him in a Q & A at the post site that he was crazy to make "civility" the standard, the god to be served in online discussions, which I understood to be a major sore point among those who were outraged by a comment shut down done in the name of civility. He said:

Iíve used the word ďcivility,Ē but itís true that itís a tough word to define. Among the things weíve learned here is that we need to have clear rules and examples to help people understand the limits of what weíll accept. So Iíll retire ďcivilityĒ at this point.

In this post, I have said what everyone else said: Ben had to go. I also said he would have flamed out anyway, and wasn't up to the job. I liked the way Jane, at Captain's Quarters, put it:

While you are correct that there was a great deal of unwarranted piling on and triumphalism by the Hamshers and Kos Kids of the blogosphere, there is one fact that conservative bloggers must be more than a tad ticked about: the guy just isn't very talented. The analysis contained in his posts could be read at any number of blogs and added nothing new....he was easy prey. And that situation is true of the left side of the blogosphere as well....many bloggers are part of the great middling masses and not particularly original in thought or focus.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 27, 2006 1:00 AM | Permalink

AP shamelessly plagiarises a blog and then, when confronted, states that "we do not credit blogs!". See the whole story here.

Posted by: coturnix at March 27, 2006 2:33 AM | Permalink

AP shamelessly plagiarises a blog and then, when confronted, states that "we do not credit blogs!". See the whole story here.

I'd like to suggest that this story might make a good "jumping off" point for Jay's next thread.

Posted by: plukasiak at March 27, 2006 7:12 AM | Permalink

Unfortunately the author does not have anyone at AP on the record saying, "we do not credit blogs," which is the interesting part of the story. She says they tape recorded the conversation with the "AP apparatchiks," but then... no names.

Kos was on Reliable Sources this week. Here's the exchange about Domenech:

KURTZ: Washingtonpost.com this week hired a conservative blogger, as you know, Ben Domenech. He quit three days later after your site and other liberal sites not only criticized his hiring, but found numerous instances of plagiarism going back to when he was on a college paper. But you criticized his hiring even before some of that came out.

Why?

MOULITSAS: Well, there was two things that we saw. And we're putting this all on Jim Brady, who is the -- who runs...

KURTZ: The executive editor of the washingtonpost.com.

MOULITSAS: Right.

One, they claim that the hire was to balance out a liberal blogger already writing on washingtonpost.com. This liberal blogger does not exist. There is a journalist who has been very critical of the administration who is somehow being accused of being a liberal blogger. He's just very critical of this administration.

KURTZ: Actually, wait. Brady just said he wanted a diversity of opinion on this subject.

MOULITSAS: And...

KURTZ: What's wrong with that?

MOULITSAS: ... that's fine. Then have a liberal blogger, have a conservative blogger, activist partisan liberal and activist partisan conservative blogger. That would have been fine.

But what we saw was that not only did Jim Brady not understand the nature of partisanship online, but he doesn't know how to use Google. He runs washingtonpost.com, couldn't simply Google Domenech's previous writings and realize that the guy was a serial plagiarist.

The guy has no clue how the Internet works and he runs "The Washington Post" online operations. It's startling.

KURTZ: Well, I think no clue is a little harsh. And also, to go back to somebody's college newspaper writings to find out they did plagiarize is not usually part of a typical background check when somebody is hired. Let me move...

MOULITSAS: Well, it wasn't just -- well...

KURTZ: Go ahead.

MOULITSAS: ... it wasn't just a college paper. It was actually "The National Review." He plagiarized work that he did in "The National Review."

KURTZ: Right. He has denied plagiarizing, but there are certainly a lot of instances that you and others have dug up.

And PressThink made Kurtz's column this week.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 27, 2006 9:55 AM | Permalink

Jay: "the question I called 'good' way back when is not the one you have in your head"

I missed the part of your resume where you enumerate your credentials as a psychic. But since you're raising the subject of my motivations, let me make explicit what I thought was sufficiently obvious.

I originally raised a question(s) here, and then reminded you of the unanswered question(s), because I was sincerely considering the possibility that my analysis of Brady's behavior was wrong somehow, and that you might be able to tell me why. In particular, I thought you might be in a unique position to help me learn something new and important about Brady, something which might shed new light on the meaning of his behavior.

Of course, the absence of an answer is also a kind of answer, so my questioning wasn't futile. I learned that you were willing to demonize my analysis (and suggest it contained "untruth"), even though you decline to provide a single example of such untruth (and you repeatedly stonewall the question). In other words, you have provided my analysis with a kind of reverse endorsement, and I consider that helpful.

In the end, in other words, I didn't learn anything new and important about Brady, but I learned some important things about you. (For example, I learned that you use Brady's tactic, which is to make a false allegation about someone you view as an adversary, and then stonewall when challenged to prove the allegation.) It's just as well, since I always appreciate a chance to learn something new.

"The question I thought good was a human question, and a writer's question, not juridical or forensic as I believe you see it"

It's hard for me to think of a more human question than the question of what it means to be trustworthy. And it's hard for me to think of something more important for a human, or a citizen, or a reader, to do, than try to evualate who around them is trustworthy, and who is not. In my opinion, these are not particularly "juridicial" or "forensic" questions. These are human questions.

"I've learned to steer clear of proof swagger online"

I've learned that you steer clear of proof entirely. This is demonstrated by your willingness to suggest that I'm a liar, and your determination to stonewall the question when I challenge you to show an iota of proof. And speaking of missing proof, you have none to offer when asked to explain why you unskeptically embraced Brady's assertion that Domenech is "not pro-Bush."

Along these lines, it's worth paying attention to this aspect of the culture you are modeling for your blog: it's perfectly OK to suggest someone is a liar, and there's no expectation that such an allegation should be backed up by proof.

"Most recent phrasing: a question you said was 'good.' "

The fact that you're trying to make a fuss about this picayune matter of singular vs plural is astounding and unfounded. Yes, that was my most recent phrasing. And here's your most recent phrasing: "The question I called 'good' way back when." Please notice the singular in that formulation. Hmm, let's see. "Way back when" you didn't refer to a "good question." You referred to "good questions." In other words, you are willing to [mis]quote yourself in exactly the same simplified way that I quoted you.

Speaking of my "most recent phrasing," I'm sure you also noticed my first phrasing, and subsequent phrasing, when I repeatedly used this formulation: "question[s]." I think this was sufficient to alert the reader that I was deliberately simplifying, strictly for the sake of readability, with regard to singular vs. plural.

Speaking of not hearing your own statements, I guess you're forgetting that "way back when" you yourself paraphrased my "questions" in the form of a single question: "why am I defending Jim Brady?" I think this is a fair paraphase.

Anyway, it's revealing that you are reduced to the level of grasping at such a straw, although it's an exaggeration to even call it a straw, since a straw actually has some substance.

"It was a mistake to ... try to prove Brady a liar"

It's only a mistake if Brady's not a liar. You're raising all sorts of vague defenses for Brady, but here's the only defense that matters, which is strikingly absent from all your words about Brady: "it's a mistake to attack Brady, and try to prove that he's a liar, because he's not a liar."

As far as I can tell, you're defending Brady even though you know he's a liar. This is quite shabby.

Speaking of mind-reading, I can't be sure of the underlying reason for this shabby behavior, but you've dropped some big clues ("he's invited me to his 'home' for Q and A's at the Post site"): you're practicing access journalism.

"I sometimes get what I would call results-- modest results."

I'm well-aware of that, and I give you credit for that. And that's exactly why I was surprised that you were not calling on Brady to be honest. Now I know why: you have low standards, which apparently goes hand-in-hand with the concept of access journalism.

"I have a duty to criticize him since he's an actor and author in the press world I write about"

Indeed. And I think you are trying to suggest that your willingness to criticize Brady on Domenech is some kind of proof of how independent and professional you are. But that's nonsense. You said yourself that your criticism of Domenech is only "what everyone else said." With the possible exception of Ben's mommy and daddy. So your position on the Domenech matter is by no means proof that you are willing to uphold your "duty to criticize him since he's an actor and author in the press world I write about."

A lot of innocent electrons could have been spared if, in January, when I originally posed this question(s), you had simply said this, which I eventually learned, but only after much tooth-pulling: "as far as I can tell, your analysis of Brady's behavior is correct; that is, I'm not in a position to point out any substantive flaws in your analysis; however, I choose to defend Brady anyway, because I practice access journalism."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 27, 2006 10:36 AM | Permalink

At America blog:

Here's the email the Post ombsudman is now sending out to everyone who inquires about the blogger scandal:
From: Deborah C Howell HowellDC@washpost.com
Date: March 23, 2006 9:44:05 PM EST
To: xxxxx
Subject: Re: Domenech

The Washington Post has not hired him. The website has. The two are under totally different management. He will not be working for the newspaper. If you want to complain to the right person, try executive.editor@wpni.com.

Deborah

Wow, they're two totally different companies, yet Deborah Howell had no problem writing a column attacking supposed "liberal" Dan Froomkin who works for the "other company" that Howell claims she now has no jurisdiction over. Amazing how tunes change when the topic turns to conservative bias at the Post.

It is, indeed, a pretty amazing inconsistency.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 27, 2006 11:31 AM | Permalink

"And I think you are trying to suggest that your willingness to criticize Brady on Domenech is some kind of proof of how independent and professional you are. "

Bingo!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 27, 2006 11:38 AM | Permalink

But only to criticize Brady up to a certain point. Anything further would put Mr. Rosen with "the Kos crowd.'

Interesting that you would quote Kos' appearance on Kurtz's show. I don't see how anyone could call the objections he raised anything other than perfectly vaild. Kos is a first-rate journalist.

Of course the day that Brady hires his like will be right around the time Brian Boitano does a Triple-Lutz in the Ninth Circle.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 27, 2006 11:42 AM | Permalink

I feel bad for Brady. Even though I suspect that somewhere back in his deepest heart of hearts, a tiny part of him thought he might be sticking Red America into the eye of the "fever swamps," it went so terribly terribly wrong. He took a lot of heat up front for Deborah Howell and the "political desk" and they have completely hung him out to dry here. He's twisting in the wind all by himself.

I hope that whomever suggested that the young plagiarist Ben Domenech was right for the job is feeling as much heat.

Posted by: Phredd at March 27, 2006 11:46 AM | Permalink

I hope that whomever suggested that the young plagiarist Ben Domenech was right for the job is feeling as much heat.

here we get back to the question of Brady's motivation. I keep going back to the quotes where Brady talks about wanting to be "provocative", and Ben is now telling right wing outlets that Brady was warned that "the left" would bring out the knives if he was given the job. Sure you can "blame" the person who recommended BTB, but lets face it --- Brady decided to take a stroll in a minefield, knowing it was a minefield..... and that is just dumb.

Posted by: plukasiak at March 27, 2006 12:05 PM | Permalink

Well, a similar thing happened when MSNBC hired michael savage, although now both CNN and MSNBC have hired all manner of drooling knuckledragging racists with no repercussions whatsoever. They want to be "provocative" too; I guess it seems there is money to be made by "provoking" the fever swamps. A minefield, indeed.

Posted by: Phredd at March 27, 2006 12:15 PM | Permalink

Jason: "you might want to do a little more research before engaging on this topic"

You might want to do a little more research before engaging on this topic (Niger and aluminum), because you're wrong. And this is the wrong place to elaborate, but that's OK, because proof that you're wrong can be found here (start with that comment and scroll down) and here (not in the main article but in the comments section).

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 27, 2006 12:21 PM | Permalink

notes to JBK ---

1) This is PressThink. Please don't try to debate the aluminum tubes question here because a)it is completely off-topic and b) the right-wingers on this site are as impervious to facts as those at the two sites you linked to (JOM and CQ)

2) we got your point about the whole Jay/Brady thing ages ago. Please drop it. Its his site -- and (speaking from experience) beating a dead horse in an argument with Jay isn't going to get you anywhere but banned.

thanx.

paul

Posted by: plukasiak at March 27, 2006 12:46 PM | Permalink

I'm beginning to think that Brady's diversity candidate doesn't exist. Who would fit the bill of being a social conservative (a minority in the conservative world), provocative, a political blogger and disagrees with GWB? At first I thought of Dr. Laura, but I think she generally agrees with GWB. Following Brady's criteria for a Domenench replacement would be like asking for a left-handed, Jewish Eskimo transsexual socialist blogger.

But if the larger question is balancing Froomkin with a social conservative, there could be some truth there. I don't know Froomkin or even read his stuff, but my guess he is a social liberal---that is, he believes in abortion on demand, gun control, racial quotas in the workplace and college admissions, gay marriage, etc.---all the Sacred Pillars of liberalism. So I don't think you can say that Froomkin isn't a "liberal" in that sense. So why not bring on someone who is anti-all the above? George Bush is a social conservative (sorta) and it's not out of bounds to think that Froomkin (and many other social liberals in the press) would despise GWB and his social conservatism. Please, everyone raise their hand who believes that journalists check their feelings, emotions, opinions and brains at the door of their respective work places to give us "objective truth". Yeah, I thought so.

But forget Froomkin, the comments on this thread make me think Jay should change the name of the post to "The Grassy Knoll". The conspiracy theories (Brady marching to Hewitt's orders, etc.) and paranoia are beyond the beyond. I guess in GrassyKnollLand, no one ever makes an honest mistake---it's all part of a deep, dark conspiracy. Sheesh! No wonder you can't win elections.

Posted by: paladin at March 27, 2006 1:20 PM | Permalink

I'm on a brief vacation, but fortunatley Florida talk radio (which is apparently all right-wing all the time) has explained it, even to those of us at poolside:

The Washington Post, in the person of the evil Jim Brady. hired a wet-behind-the-ears, plagiarizing right-wing blogger knowing aforehand that he could and would be exposed as a fraud by other bloggers and then have to resign in disgrace.

Now THAT's a conspiracy theory.

The locals tell me they're worried because Hurricane Wilma blew most of the birds and bugs away last year, and many have yet to return. The two-legged insects appear to be alive and well, however, and dominating the airwaves.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at March 27, 2006 2:27 PM | Permalink

JR: "Unfortunately the author does not have anyone at AP on the record saying, "we do not credit blogs," which is the interesting part of the story. She says they tape recorded the conversation with the "AP apparatchiks," but then... no names."

I am assuming that she knows the names and has the tapes, but is keeping that confidential for now. I am assuming that some lawyer will offer pro bono services to her. It will be intersting to see what what, if anything, comes out of this. The practice is not new (you mentioned how even Greensboro News & Record did that in the beginning) and it is important to watch the developments and to be alert...and if neccessary do something to change the practice.

Posted by: coturnix at March 27, 2006 3:28 PM | Permalink

I'm beginning to think that Brady's diversity candidate doesn't exist. Who would fit the bill of being a social conservative (a minority in the conservative world), provocative, a political blogger and disagrees with GWB? At first I thought of Dr. Laura, but I think she generally agrees with GWB. Following Brady's criteria for a Domenench replacement would be like asking for a left-handed, Jewish Eskimo transsexual socialist blogger.

I tend to agree. Anyone that Brady feels "passes muster" will be dismissed by the very community WPNI is trying to court. "Well he isn't really a social conservative" they'll say. It's like what happens when Fox puts a "liberal" on staff then everyone complains they're not really their kind of liberal.

I'm disappointed Brady has already confirmed their going to replace Domenech. It feels almost knee-jerk like there will be no second-guessing this entire idea (only who vetted him in the first place...and I have to say firedoglake makes a convincing argument about how Domenech
came to Brady's attention).

It's not that I don't like Jay's open search idea or other people's multiple blogger try-outs. It's that I get no sense at all from Brady or WPNI that they're going to try anything different this time (except not find a plagarist).

Jay, your description of Brady makes him almost sound like a Shakespearan character...one who has the best intentions yet ends up doing the most harm to the thing he loves.

Posted by: catrina at March 27, 2006 4:08 PM | Permalink

Hilarious! So, according to Lovelady, the word on the street in Florida is that Brady knowingly hired a flawed right wing blogger, knowing that The Angry Firedoglake People and KosKids would easily find him out, and Domenench would be sacrificed on the altar of left-wing moonbattery. The fun never ends at Grassyknoll Acres. Priceless! Thanks for the 411 Lovelady.

Posted by: paladin at March 27, 2006 4:21 PM | Permalink

not making light of plagiarism, but whoever Brady hires next better be ready to turn over urine, DNA samples as well as junior high history papers. this should be the most vetted blogger ever.

not sure why anyone wants to volunteer for that duty. but i'm sure the lines are long with willing bloggers.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 27, 2006 4:36 PM | Permalink

Shakespearean? I hadn't gotten that far. If you will forgive the vulgarism, Brady is the one putting his ass on the line for a newspaper site that engages with the blogosphere and the two-wayness of the Web. Consequently he gets it kicked sometimes. As Nixon would have said, he's in the arena. He tangles with a Jane Hamsher whereas others who do what he does... would never.

Part of my reaction to him comes from my own studies, over the years, of just how closed news organizations have become, over the years, making his Web moves all the more significant.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 27, 2006 4:46 PM | Permalink

I was trying to think of a better literary analogy or what specific Shakespearan situation he's reminding me. I wouldn't say Faustian, but I still feel that while Brady is the good guy his moves are the wrong ones. I think he's eventually going to be fired for his efforts at trying to introduce something new. No one appreciates it. I'm not sure I appreciate it. It seems like every digital inclusive step is accompanied by an equally painful poisoned move. Like hiring a blogger but then hiring only one and doing it in the worst way possible and then picking a bad choice and then likely doing it all over again. Right idea, completely wrong execution.

It does seem kind of tragic. Whereas I suspect Debra Howell will survive better for being more obstinate and rigid in her thinking. Sometimes in evolution the creatures that *don't* change actually do quite well compared to those that just keep adapting until they're too hyper-specialized. Just look at crocodiles and sharks.

Posted by: catrina at March 27, 2006 4:56 PM | Permalink


In a way, I admire Brady, but he is playing a losing game here.
Anytime an editor tries to appease, or pander to, either the left wing or the right wing, it only ends up with both wings spitting mad at you.
(Right now, it's hard to tell who wants more to hang Brady from the highest tree -- Firedoglake or the Redstate boys.)
Any editorial page editor or Op Ed page editor could have warned him of that.
And the rage that you generate increases geometrically when you bring that well-intentioned but misbegotten impulse to the Internet.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at March 27, 2006 9:41 PM | Permalink

Jason:

Village idiot: You're falling into a pretty common trap, here.

I am really sorry I let myself fall into such a common trap, Jason .... How stupid of me to question Mr. Bush's claim that Iraq was buying yellow-cake from Niger, and to believe that the 'facts were fixed around policy'.

It is getting very lonely in this trap, so I am going to wing my way out of here by borrowing a few talking points from Mr. Ledeen.

Posted by: village idiot at March 27, 2006 9:53 PM | Permalink

Steve: That's why I thought a triangular strategy might make sense-- getting three sides.

But the issue isn't whether people get mad at you. People may get mad at you when you are doing it right. It's whether what you are doing has strength to withstand that, integrity of its own. Of course, "pandering to" doesn't meet that test.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 27, 2006 9:57 PM | Permalink

I thought some of the pressfolk might want to comment on the hypocrisy of Ms. Howell (Jay reposted it several posts down), but sadly not.

I always thought using one's actual identity to post has a chilling effect. We have it on good authority now.:-)

Posted by: village idiot at March 27, 2006 10:09 PM | Permalink

Wow, try this for size:

It just happens that former Pioneer Press editor Deborah Howell, now the Postís ombudsman, was in our newsroom today for a Q&A session on journalism topics. I asked her about the Domenech affair.

Her reply: ďI canít defend it. Itís a f****iní disaster.Ē

Posted by: village idiot at March 27, 2006 10:54 PM | Permalink

From what I can tell, none of the pressfolk here are interested in defending the hard-to-defend Howell, village. There's no chilling effect with her; she has no power. She's become a handicap for the Post.

Jane Hamsher returns to the subject: "If this incident proves nothing else, itís that we members of the 'fever swamp' are vindicated in all our dealings with the Washington Post. And the right-wing blogosphere is a wasteland."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 27, 2006 11:06 PM | Permalink

Jay,
I was thinking this Jane Hamsher post might also improve your mood as Brady gets credit for being a stand-up guy and eating crow on the "leftie blogosphere crazies" meme. He admits Hamsher and company delivered accurate information and says thank you (though you can feel him wincing as you read the Domenech resigns announcement).

Comment:
For myself, congratulations on being less psychotic than run of the mill right wing liars is pretty faint praise--still, this comment (actually from a Glenn Greenwald e-mail that Hamsher quotes (and Glenwald has recently emerged as an extremely effective and articulate online presence)) does raise two important issues, the second of which takes us back to territory Jay has been patrolling for several weeks now.

The first issue is the one Glennwald directly raises, that just making shit up is proven best practice for a lot of those that live and breathe in Bushworld. He says that many of their charges consist of projection (which I had certainly concluded long ago in a previous context) and that the immediate source of the "left-wing crazy blogosphere" meme (that Jay himself sadly seems to enjoy indulging in occasionally) is anger about someone like Jane Hamsher calling them on their bullshit. The standard hacktastic response is to flip into O'Reilly-Hume-Limbaughesque alternative reality, going into meta-denial on an even higher plane. In the case in question, John Cole is exposed as fabricating completely fictitious charges about Hamsher and does the meta-denial flip. Glennwald is impressed that Brady does not take this route and argues he should be acknowledged for having the professional integrity not to.

The second point, which gets back to a point that Jay has been gesturing toward, if very cryptically and haltingly--is implicitly that while Brady may have screwed up in a massive way and Jane Hamsher may have born the brunt of his tantrum, Jane Hamsher herself should now perhaps consider finding Brady's previously inexcusable behavior excusable. Declare victory and move on. Brady ate crow, he didn't flip into an alternate level of meta-denial ala Limbaugh et al, and should be given props for that. I think implicit in this is the thread of an argument that suggests, for all Jim Brady's faults, even while many of us think that in a press corps that truly involved competition and standards we could be proud of Brady would be out of a job, compared to the medieval state of the competition, mending fences with Jim Brady is not a bad idea. He was certainly wrong, and he was certainly an asshole about it, he certainly took his turn projecting Wa Po problems onto "leftie barbarians," but for the moment at least he has stepped back from the "raving crazy lefty hater" meme and rejoined the reality-based community. Welcome back, Jim. We hardly knew ye.

Maybe this is just a truce until Jim Brady's next "journalistically experienced" raving Redstate affirmative action quota hire, but it is also another sign that Greenwald and Hamsher ARE navigating the media territory and have a pragmatic side to them. Even while Hamsher was the direct object of Brady's misguided wrath, she appears to be looking for a modus vivendi. Jim Brady runs Wa Po online, the alternatives all look far worse.

This concession does not change in the slightest the fairness of Markos Moulitzas charge that privately liberal reporters are not balanced out by professionally partisan RNC operatives (and it doesn't get much more professionally partisan RNC operative than Regnery Press, hence the absurdity of Brady's aria about finding a social conservative with Domenech's background who wouldn't predictably tow the party and administration line). I won't be much impressed with Brady myself until he can figure that one out.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, in many ways this is such a pathetically low standard we should be careful not to trip over it, but Hamsher and Greenwald's current stance is also a very pragmatic and probably shrewd reading of the unspeakable catastrophe the contemporary US media landscape has become. They seem to differ with Jay virulently in terms of how to go about holding Jim Brady accountable, but the place where they end up today is much closer to Jay's position than I certainly would have dreamed possible yesterday.

Jay,
Feeling better?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 28, 2006 1:18 AM | Permalink

I seem to have made up a new name for Glenn Greenwald--in my account he morphs into Glenwald. Sorry Glenn.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 28, 2006 1:23 AM | Permalink

Is the Rollback strategy getting a makeover?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 28, 2006 1:30 AM | Permalink

Brady is the one putting his ass on the line for a newspaper site that engages with the blogosphere and the two-wayness of the Web.

I think that Brady would have avoided much of the uproar, at least with respect to the two prior brouhahas, if he really had engaged with the blogosphere. There was nothing two-way about 1500 unanswered comments, in all three cases, for answers, for evidence, for some discussion of legitimate points made.

Instead, in each case, there was the appearance of throwing out the red meat and pulling up the drawbridge. Sure, they may have felt embattled, but the commenters had, in each case, legitimate grievances that went unaddressed, and became more strident as the silence continued.

Then with Red America, it was like tossing a grenade into the crowd and running back to the safety of the castle, knowing full well what they were doing. I doubt they would have forced the young plagiarist Domenech to resign if the right hadn't denounced the plagiarism.

Maybe Brady doesn't yet know just how to "engage" with the blogosphere, maybe two-wayness isn't his thing. But I don't give him points for merely providing links.

Posted by: Phredd at March 28, 2006 8:42 AM | Permalink

Merely providing links? What on earth are you talking about, you clumsy hack? (Now we see why F's in paraphrasing 101 make a difference.) Besides links to the blogopshere, Brady has provided you, Hack Phredd, and other readers of the Post site, with...

* Dan Froomkin (who do you think hired him?), and defended him against attacks from reactionaries in the newsroom
* Blogs with comments and archives at the Post site way before any other national news organization had blogs with archives and comments
* The Posts's Online Q and A's where editors, reporters and columnists answer readers questions
* The only known invitation to Jane Hamsher to argue with a news executive at a major new site, after the great comment shut down (I was the filler, as many of you recall.)
* Delicious tags to all Post articles
* Hotlinked by-lines to writers that let you e-mail them with one click.
* 60 days worth of free archives for Post articles, up from 14 days. (In reality, heavily-linked articles remain free indefinitely.)
* And he hired the hippest, smartest, two-way-Web-savviest developer and production wiz around, Adrian Holovaty (see this creation.) It's the only known instance of someone jumping from Lawrence, Kansas to the Washington Post.

And that's a partial list. If you don't give him points for these things, it's because you simply don't know what you are talking about, and that is the result of demonization.

Jeez.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 28, 2006 10:49 AM | Permalink

Jeez Jay. Your intemperance is shocking.

I'm a news consumer, and thus not up on, nor that interested in, the hiring process and people coming all the way from Kansas to work for the Post. I was interested in the Red America hire because it was not the best choice and provoked a lot of interest and outrage. A lot of newspaper sites provide email contact to their reporters.

The online Q and A is interesting and okay, okay, I like the links.

I don't regard criticism for not responding to a thousand comments as demonization. Maybe you do. But I stated above that I felt bad for Brady, and I still do.

Posted by: Phredd, Clumsy Hack at March 28, 2006 12:52 PM | Permalink

Fair enough. Points for merely providing links is shockingly glib too. That you're a customer, reader, user and not a new media insider, is precisely the point. Most of what Brady has done makes a difference in the user's experience.

Dock him the thousands of demerits he is due for censoring, lying, dumping on, becoming tool of... whatever, but also understand that the entire event (which happened online) sprang from the post.com's spirit of adventure online.

But this subject is getting way past tedious, and maybe that is why I sound so intemperate.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 28, 2006 1:08 PM | Permalink

Jay's point is a good one. He lists some real substantive steps forward that Brady instituted at wp.com and Brady definitely deserves recognition for them, and I'd agree he has not gotten much. And yes, there is a tendency to pile on when someone takes a hit in a big dust up like this, and to drag the person down. That is not unique to the web or the blogs, though. It's human nature. But it is also counter productive and wrong.

Still, while the winds of the hurricane unleashed by Brady's choice of Redstate.com writer to be blogger were howling at Cat. 5 velocity, i'm not so sure his good deeds merited discussion any more than the newly painted schools in iraq do at the moment it appears the country is plunging into civil war.

And in the aftermath, I do see some sympathy being expressed for Brady by some of his harshest critics, such as by Steve Gilliard and Jane and others on their blogs. Everyone also seems to recognize that Howell threw him under the bus even after he had defended her and put himself in a very difficult position doing so. As things settle down, hopefully Brady will get some deserved recognition for the significant and good things he has done, and not just for his mistakes. (We all have screw ups.) But it'd sure help if his future mistakes weren't so darn dramatic and spectacular. :-)

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 28, 2006 1:49 PM | Permalink

Pretty slick. To our friends on the left - -

Brady's good deeds:Brady's mistakes::Iraq progress:Iraq violence

Illuminating...

Posted by: Trained Auditor at March 28, 2006 3:50 PM | Permalink

Jay wrote: "Unfortunately the author does not have anyone at AP on the record saying, "we do not credit blogs," which is the interesting part of the story. She says they tape recorded the conversation with the "AP apparatchiks," but then... no names."

Now...there's names.

And tying that into Brady vs. Hamsher. It reminds me of Brady's Blog Rage.

Brady wrote:

One site refers to a "fantastic" Post piece by a "first rate" journalist on eavesdropping, then talks about the paper becoming "a complete swamp of simpering kow-towing pantywaists."

But he didn't link to the post or name it. Which happens a lot in the media. They attack bloggers but cowardly and/or vindictively (and/or something less strong if you prefer) refuse to properly credit them.

Plus he misquoted Jane Hamsher who actually wrote:

Always nice to be reassured that the WaPo still has people with the courage to speak the truth to power and hasn't become a complete swamp of simpering kow-towing pantywaists.

"Hasn't become"...not "becoming."

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at March 28, 2006 3:58 PM | Permalink

Jay: "If you don't give him points for these things"

I do give him points for these things, and I've done so publicly. To imply otherwise is to distort the record.

In my most widely cited diary on this subject, I spoke of "WaPo's admirable steps into the world of blogging." I also said this, addressing Brady: "that you have taken certain steps to help WaPo become interactive is a terrific thing, and you deserve a lot of credit for that."

And here I said this, addressing you (Jay): "I think you and I can imagine all sorts of reasons why it would be a good thing for Brady to be successful." In that statement I am obviously giving Brady the benefit of the doubt, and assuming his overall goals are noble.

But I went on to say this: "I don't see how he can do that if he lacks credibility. And I don't see how he can have credibility if the serious problems with his narrative are not addressed, one way or another."

I think that's the part that Brady doesn't get, and that you don't get. Lost credibility (which is the natural result of telling fibs, and then not coming clean when caught red-handed) is a crippling flaw, not just in a journalist but in any human. In my opinion, anyone truly interested in helping Brady would be educating him on this point, rather than encouraging him to think he can brazenly stonewall his way beyond all this (much the same way that you're brazenly stonewalling your way past the fact that you essentially accused me of lying, but refuse to offer a shred of proof).

Even Domenech, in the end, showed that he understood the importance of providing something approximating a real apology. It's striking that Brady's toddler protege has displayed more moral maturity, in this regard, than Brady himself.

Then again, my hunch is that Domenech's daddy twisted his arm. My further hunch is that Brady would be better-off if he was getting more advice from Ben's daddy, and less advice from you.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 28, 2006 5:23 PM | Permalink

Here's Jack Shafer's defense of Jim Brady: http://www.slate.com/id/2138838/

Posted by: paladin at March 28, 2006 8:25 PM | Permalink

And here's Digby's indicitment of Howell (and by implication or extension, Brady):

A couple of months ago when Deborah Howell was "deluged" with "uncivilized" comments about her failure to correct a blatant misrepresentation, the Washington Post ombudsman and others had a shrieking fit of the vapors and spent days on the fainting couch mumbling incoherently about the rude insults they had to endure. I thought Howell would have to take a leave of absense and get herself to a nunnery for a few weeks just to regain her belief in the goodness of mankind after such an assault.

As was amply demonstrated, the vast majority of the comments were not, in fact, crude or filthy. They condemned the Post for uncritically recycling RNC talking points and failing to provide proof of their assertions. And they used aggressive language to do it.

But as Busy, Busy Busy's Elton Beard noticed, Howell only seems to be truly stunned, angry and upset by certain kinds of criticism. Others, not so much. Here's Howell this past Sunday....

Read it all for a good laugh and for some dead on criticism.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 28, 2006 9:01 PM | Permalink

From the comments on the Digby piece, some info about the person who wrote the note that "haunts" Howell:

As melandell points out above, this guy is not some ignorant Joe Sixpack that managed to touch old Deb's soft heart. Rather, he's a big-time Washington lawyer, Republican contributor, and all around hack. Once again, Howell is either too stupid and lazy to check the guy out and find out she's being set up and used or she knew exactly who he is and let herself be used anyway. Either way, it makes me want to throw up.
peachkfc | 03.28.06 - 6:01 pm | #


There are several good comments to that post.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 28, 2006 10:09 PM | Permalink

general fyi:

ďA new service called BlogBurst aims to get newspapers republishing syndicated blog content. Will it work? Who will benefit?ĒBy Stephen Bryant
Posted: 2006-03-27

Posted by: Kristen at March 29, 2006 9:59 AM | Permalink

I have to admit I'm getting pretty tired of this topic. I understand why Jay is mostly positive of Jim Brady's stewartship of the online presence of the Post. And sometimes the PR person in my just cringes at tone of bloggers who want to effect change, like Jane or frankly Media Matters.

I wanted to cite this from Glenn Reynolds via Slate:

One good sign: The Washington Post is including links, via Technorati, to blogs that discuss its stories, allowing readers to quickly get multiple perspectives. The next step would be for the Post to assign some staffers to read those blog posts and look for errors in the story, correcting them and offering credit to bloggers when they're discovered. That would transform an army of kvetchers into a powerful squad of unpaid fact-checkers. (And the word "unpaid" must surely ring sweet in the ears of today's newspaper management.)

I think the biggest issue the Post has is the "listening" part when blog smarms happen. Bloggers feel the Post doesn't really want to listen to their criticism (which sometimes are valid and sometimes aren't, and sometimes are valid but couched in the most juvenile language, and sometimes just a difference of opinion). And frankly sometimes bloggers don't know how to quit being a critic (firedoglake) and start being a participant. I read the web chat Jay cited with Jane and Jim and I was kind of embarrassed how Jane basically refused to accept Jim Brady's answers.

That's why it doesn't matter how many message boards the WPNI has up, because if the posters don't feel like their opinions are held valid, the exercise of having the boards at all are mute. That Brady is probably the most open-minded of the Post's executive staff is blurred because (I imagine) his actions are getting lumped together with Deborah Howell's as well as anything Howie Kurtz says or Dana Milbank that is dismissive of bloggers.

Since I seem to like the Shakespearan tragic figure comparisons would that make Brady the "Romeo" of the Washington Post Montague clan? The one who is willing to see his "enemy" as individuals neither wholly good nor bad but get tarred with the broad brush by the Capulets (Post critics)?

Posted by: catrina at March 29, 2006 12:01 PM | Permalink

Stephen Spruiell at National Review's Media blog got in touch with Deborah Howell asking her to explain why she thinks Brady hired Domenech. Was it meant to balance writers like Dan Froomkin? She replied:

Jim Brady said today that he will look for someone who has more journalistic qualifications next time. Froomkin and Morley are both liberals and he is looking for a conservative voice as well. I don't think it has anything to do with Froomkin, but more wanting a lot of voices. I only said that I thought Froomkin's column should have a different title.

I like the "I only said" part. Here's what Howell actually said:

Harris is right; some readers do think Froomkin is a White House reporter. But Froomkin works only for the Web site and is very popular -- and Brady is not going to fool with that, though he is considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger.

Thus in her mind she never said Brady wants to balance off Froomkin with a conservative blogger. And that's life with Deborah Howell.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 29, 2006 12:14 PM | Permalink

Oh well, maybe WaPo will marginalize and neuter Howell like the Times did Calame.

I hadn't read Calame's column in months and when I decided to check out what he had written, there was no link to his columns on the Public Editor page. Finally, I discovered these latest timely subjects covered by the Times PE:

1. The Conservative Beat---is it working? Yes, East Coast Liberal Elites take up speculum to probe the Dark Heart of Red America and a movement that has existed since the '60s.

2. A nice tutorial about how news is allocated.

3. News coverage of NO---before Katrina (how timely), and

4.Photo manipulation in the press---and this was BEFORE Warner and his pink shirt!

So Deborah Howell, BEWARE! This will be your fate if you don't toe the line.

Posted by: paladin at March 29, 2006 2:22 PM | Permalink

Here's some more on Howell... she gives a lunch-time talk at the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis. There's an exchange about Domenech that ends with her saying, "I can't defend it. It's a fucking disaster."

This makes it into John Reinan's Digital Drifter blog at the Star-Tribune site. That quote in turns makes it onto Romenesko. I asked John if there was a tape, or if she had any other choice words about bloggers. He says no, but...

Howell actually e-mailed me over the weekend and asked me to remove my blog entry about her. I politely declined. She replied with an e-mail to the effect of, ďWell, I guess Iíve learned I can never speak candidly to journalists again.Ē

The talk was on-the-record, John says.

I conclude there's something strange about Howell.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 29, 2006 5:44 PM | Permalink

When I attended a class a few years ago in the UK on how to deal with the media, one of the first things that they told me was:

there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation

They warned us that we should never assume that it is possible to be off-the-record unless you have a very sound working relationship with a journalist or media representative.

In that context, I find the experience of the interactions between Howell and the person who reported her "f***ing disaster" comment to be fairly compelling evidence that Howell has no proper understanding of how to handle these types of conversations. Her statement "I guess I've learned that I can never speak candidly to journalists again" shows that maybe she should have attended the class that I attended.
Given her current role in the operation of the Washington Post, I regard her worldview as somewhere beyond scary.
I understand Jay's thought process with respect to dealing with Jim Brady, and how he feels that Brady is not necessarily the Devil Incarnate.
However, the underlying issue right now, which is leading to the continued invective by Firedoglake and others, is that neither Howell or Brady are showing the least sign of humility or contrition, despite having collectively been shown up twice in two months. They appear to subscribe to the "never apologize, never explain" school in their dealings with the public and the blogging community. If they actually came out and uttered some mea culpas, they might actually find folks cutting them some slack. Instead, they are showing that they still do not really understand The First Law Of Holes.

Posted by: Graham Shevlin at March 29, 2006 8:04 PM | Permalink

Do my eyes deceive me?

Did someone just try to buttress their own assertion on WMDs - and rebut factcheck.org by linking to the authority of (drumroll) themselves?

In the comments section on another blog?

Priceless!

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 29, 2006 8:43 PM | Permalink

"I guess I've learned that I can never speak candidly to journalists again" says Li'l Debbie. You mean there was a time when she did? When was that?

That's why I can't regard her world view as "scary," Mr.chevlin. She's just so completely inept.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at March 29, 2006 8:44 PM | Permalink

Graham Shevlin said,

"there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation"

Bet Eason Jordan thinks there is....

Also,

"However, the underlying issue right now, which is leading to the continued invective by Firedoglake and others, is that neither Howell or Brady are showing the least sign of humility or contrition, despite having collectively been shown up twice in two months." (my bold)

Oy vey, The Nerve ....

Posted by: Kristen at March 29, 2006 9:49 PM | Permalink

Sorry, but "they must be humbled..." seems not quite right to me.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 30, 2006 12:37 AM | Permalink

Jason: "Did someone just try to buttress their own assertion on WMDs - and rebut factcheck.org by linking to the authority of (drumroll) themselves? In the comments section on another blog?"

No. Those comments "on another blog" (two other blogs, actually), which I mentioned here, refer extensively to primary sources, in particular the Silberman-Robb report. (I also could have mentioned this comment.)

Those comments refer to official government documents (here, here, here, here and here). Those comments also refer to WaPo reports (here, here, here and here).

In other words, what you will find in the threads to which I pointed is heavily researched and documented. So no, no one did "try to buttress their own assertion ... by linking to the authority of ... themselves." I buttressed my assertion by linking extensively to the "authority" of the relevant government documents, which are the basis of the comments I cited. You, on the other hand, cherry-picked one passage from a secondary source (factcheck.org).

As usual, of course, you are being disingenuous and misleading.

David: "She's just so completely inept."

True. And another striking example of this is that she apparently has no idea that an email and a blog post are not the same thing. I discussed this elsewhere.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at March 30, 2006 7:57 AM | Permalink

point of information:

Post Political Editor, John "WATB" Harris, will be doing an on-line chat today at 11 AM

My question (already submitted) is

According to Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism Professor and host of the "Pressthink" blog, he spend a great deal of time and effort interviewing you via email for publication on his blog, and you backed out at the last minute, and told him he could not publish the comments you had made "on the record".

Given Professor Rosen's excellent reputation for fairness and accuracy, why won't you allow the interview to be published? What are you hiding?

Posted by: plukasiak at March 30, 2006 8:33 AM | Permalink

Didn't Ms. Howell use a similar kind of phrasing when talking about her dealings with Media Matters about their post about her? It was something like "lesson learned" don't reply to Media Matters?

Howell asking for the blog item to be deleted (and frankly, how often are embarrassing blog items deleted) is rather strange in that I wonder what she hoped to gain from it? The quote was already pretty widely diseminated. Other than it being a swear word I'm not sure why she was so stunned by it. Frankly "I can't defend it" is perfectly appropriate coming from an ombudsman. (They shouldn't be in the practice of "defending" the paper from outside critics, it's not their job.)

Wasn't the paper she spoke with her old stomping grounds? I'm sure she thought she was just having a friendly "chat" with her old employer, a nice safe environment that would protect her. Surely nothing she would say would be "newsworthy."

Posted by: catrina at March 30, 2006 8:35 AM | Permalink

Thanks, Paul. I'm quite sure Harris will duck that one.

Yes, Howell once worked as a reporter and editor at the Star-Tribune and the Pioneer Press across town.

I noticed what juke did about Howell not knowing the difference between a blog post and an e-mail. She once said she "read the blogs I received on this subject" or something like that, when she clearly meant e-mails sent to the ombudsman's address. In fact, I think that's one of the clues to this whole thing.

She's like the very late adopter who says: "I can just about handle this e-mail thing, don't overload me with any more technologies!" Maybe (I'm speculating) she's intimidated by the Net, too proud to ask for the big tutorial she needs, and instead of going to school again, because her job requires it, she decided to re-define her job from readers representative to subscribers.

Therefore everything that erupts from the Net side isn't her job. But everything that erupts from the print side is. This would explain why she carries John Harris's complaints to the Net operation, and gives "the two Posts" answer to Ben Domenech.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 30, 2006 9:23 AM | Permalink

It is now beyond all reasonable doubt that Deborah Howell is no more suitable for appointment as Washington Post ombudsman than a woman with amnesia would be for appointment as official Congressional historian. Apart from ideology and the institutional concerns of the Washington Post, it's reached the point where she is actively giving the entire profession of journalism a bad name.

What is it going to take for the Washington Post to FEMA the "f***ing disaster" that was Howell's appointment to a position she clearly doesn't even understand and do the entire profession a favor by puting her somewhere she won't be delegitimating herself and her colleagues on a routine basis? If Howell can't even present herself professionally, how on earth is she going to represent a newspaper professionally--let alone its readers. F in Paraphrase 101 is the definition of Deborah Howell. F in Paraphrase 101 is not the road to improved newspaper-reader relations.

Are years of journalistic service supposed to legitimate her exquisite incapacity to recall, be confused by, or acknoweldge the authority of basic journalistic protocol and documented fact?

The GOP told us dangerously deadbeat seniority-based appointments were supposed to go out with the destruction of the labor movement. What's Howell and the Washington Post's excuse?

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 30, 2006 9:32 AM | Permalink

Jay,
Interesting single-bullet theory for Deborah Howell's "separate except when they're not" doctrine. It has a certain elegance to it.

Posted by: Mark Anderson at March 30, 2006 9:38 AM | Permalink

semi-on-topic...

lots of good stuff in AJR's "Too Transparent?"

Posted by: plukasiak at March 30, 2006 9:53 AM | Permalink

Mark: It's almost impossible to fire a Post ombudsman. When the Post created the job, it created a unique structure where the person is hired on a contract basis by the publisher's office. The editorial side has nothing to do with it.

She could have a legal claim if she were let go, but more than that... by firing someone the Post made it hard to fire for a reason, the Post would immediately plunge itself into a different controversy. There's an irony there, which is that I'm sure they never thought they would be locking themselves into a disaster when they created those protections.

Did anyone see this little dig from Froomkin yesterday?

Jim VandeHei is pretty much out there alone this morning with his analysis in The Washington Post, in which he concludes that Card's departure is evidence that Bush is finally paying attention capital's political and media culture.

I'm sure they loved that on the political staff.

Contrast it with Ann Compton, ABC News: "Washington's political pundits got the big White House shake-up they'd been calling for, but on the president's terms, not theirs. . ."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 30, 2006 10:19 AM | Permalink

Seems to me some of you guys - and the reflexive liberal journo community - are jousting at windmills again.

I'm with Jay on this one - Brady's done some terrific things at the Washington Post. And for all its warts, I think the WaPo is by far the best nationally read paper in the country (though the Journal has its moments, I'm not counting papers with paid web subscriptions).

And the pitchfork-wielding mobsters howling for Howell's head in vengeance for the Abramoff spat strike me as acting out of malice more than anything else. And "right-wing?" Please. Mussolini was right-wing. Somoza was right-wing. For people to attack Howell as "right-wing" on the basis of the Abramoff story - is simply ludicrous, and robs the term of its meaning.

I will agree that if she hasn't figured out that the assumption when speaking to any journalist ANYWHERE that your words will find their way into print then that's an eyebrow-raiser for sure.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 30, 2006 7:21 PM | Permalink

Speaking of making stuff up, here's Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 30, 2006 9:22 PM | Permalink

Jay, forgive me if I come over as, well, naive, but when I was growing up, I was taught that if you screw up, you take it on the chin, admit you screwed up, and move on. You don't dance all over the place like a limbo dancer on speed uttering disconnected thoughts, revising your original statements, creating strawmen about "incivility" etc. etc.
My wording does not say "must be humbled". It says "show some humility" which I would suggest is not quite the same thing. I'm not looking for Jim Brady to prostrate himself sobbing at the feet of the Blogosphere. I simply want he and Deborah Howell to stop treating us like we're a bunch of gullible idiots.

Posted by: Graham Shevlin at March 30, 2006 9:37 PM | Permalink

If you're looking for "gullible idiots", you should be reading the NYTimes. Last week it was the fake Abu Ghraib guy, this week it was the fake Katrina victim, and now it's Lichtblau faking statements from judges about NSA. I smell Pulitzer here! Remember, if it's too good to check out, it's in the New York Times!

Now back to how Deborah Howell hurt the feelings of The Angry Firedoglake People really, really bad!

Posted by: paladin at March 30, 2006 10:28 PM | Permalink

I suspect humiliation is the dominant emotive response, not humility, or anything closely resembling it. Humiliation that they were made to look like fools in front of their colleagues by a bunch of ranting idiot 'leftist' civilian bloggers.

Harris said today in his on-line chat at WaPo.com that he thinks Brady is "the best in the business." Domenech was just an "experiment" that turned out badly. I guess this means Jim isn't getting canned, at least in the short term. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen. His choice of replacement blogger for Domenech will tell all.

My uninformed hunch is that he will not change his strategy or goals, but will go all out on execution to achieve what he set out to in the first place. This is the alternate route to redemption; the one that by-passes humility. Get it right the second time, do not bow to the cirtics, shove it back in their faces instead. I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: steve schwenk at March 30, 2006 10:55 PM | Permalink

Meanwhile, at Romenesko, the characters are filering on stage:

Domenech hiring was "unfortunate," says WP political editor

Post national political editor John F. Harris on the Ben Domenech flap: "I think getting some conservative voices [on the Post's website] is a good thing, but I did not see why they hired someone so young and without obvious credentials, journalistic or otherwise." He adds: "I think the most useful opinion blogs analyze and comment on the news from some well-grounded perspective. That is what Dan Froomkin does, and Dan is a long-time journalist. There's enough people on the web already just popping off from a strictly ideological perspective. I don't think washingtonpost.com adds much value by providing a platform for another."

I guess he didn't take Paul's question.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 30, 2006 11:37 PM | Permalink

Well, I think there's a danger of some circular reasoning here - and a danger of overstating the value of "journalism credentials," which are, in reality, no credentials at all.

There is no agreed-upon educational standard, no standardized test or certification body to grant certificates to "approved journalists," because it is, let's face it, not a very specialized skill. Running a newspaper is, but not being a cub reporter or columnist or in today's era, a blogger.

Indeed, the credentials of the typical journalist - even veterans - are often dwarfed by the credentials of those they must cover on so many beats.

News organizations hire 20-somethings without "obvious credentials" all the time. How old were Jayson Blair? Stephen Glass? But how many truly terrific reporters started great careers because someone was willing to take a chance on them?

Now, they SHOULD be paired with a sharp editor or senior writer for a while, but this doesn't always happen. The point is that gloating over Brady's hiring here because this kid didn't have much in the way of "journalism credentials" is misplaced. He had a large body of published material that stood or failed on its own terms,* whether he had a W-2 from a newspaper organization or not.

The bottom line: Brady took a chance on a promising youngster from a nontraditional background. This one didn't work out.

This does not mean that neither Brady nor anyone else should ever take a chance on a promising youngster from a nontraditional background ever again. Indeed, doing so will only lead to the further intellectual inbreeding of the journalism profession.

Next thing you know, journalists will be as dysfunctional as educators. And nobody wants that.

*Well, apparently, it often failed in this case.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at March 31, 2006 1:39 AM | Permalink

Thus: "it was an inspired thought to give a 24 year-old a blog at washingtonpost.com."

With the Post debuting its new radio station, is there any doubt it's pulling ahead of the New York Times, with its blogs-behind-paywalls?

Well maybe... The Times is debuting a new site--a new nytimes.com--on April 4.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 31, 2006 8:59 AM | Permalink

Lovelady should know about giving 24-year-olds a shot. The Philly Inquirer used to (still has ???) the correspondent system that trained a ton of reporters in Philly, which lead to jobs at various KR and other newspapers across the country.

we all agree that Ben was not the apropos 20-something. now if the plagiarism didn't surface, would Domenech have survived?

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 31, 2006 11:36 AM | Permalink

Good question, BJ. If Domenech's plagiarism not been ferreted out (funny, though, it's a good thing when conservative bloggers do it, but it's ganging up when done by the liberals) he'd still be blasting out misinformation and snark today.

There is a troubling (to me, anyway) trend in mainstream media that raises 'news with an attitude' to higher levels. Some papers - and websites galore - favor in-your-face interpretations and sarcasm.

It's what raises your profile on memeorandum.com and gets you quoted. Facts are fine, but sassy is better. It may not always be accurate but it's much more fun. Besides, it's only news. Anyone can do it.

That said, though, we shouldn't confuse what Ben does/did with reporting, it's seems increasingly likely it will be what shows up on our news plates. WPOnline wanted a conservative voice and snappy patter and that's exactly what they got in Gentle Ben.


Posted by: Dave McLemore at March 31, 2006 3:33 PM | Permalink

Dave, i don't think people are arguing that what Ben did was journalism. some are saying that his age should not be a factor. Brady wanted a conservative voice to blog at post.com. i won't get into whether Ben was provocative (read: flaming troll) versus provocative (read: intelligent and stimulating).

i'm with Michael Grant on the coming shakeout.

there are too many sources of information, and the MSM is not going away. i think partisans overstate and understate the importance and power of this faceless, nameless MSM.

if the Internet boom was a guide, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Amazon.com put a fear into WalMart and Barnes & Noble, but brick and mortar retailers didn't go away like some people thought a few short years ago. change is unpredictable. in 1999, no one saw Google in the future. blogs aren't going to replace the mainstream media.

i'm a year behind in reading my New Yorkers, and just read George Packer's story, "The Home Front," a soldier's father wrestles with the ambiguities of Iraq.

this line in the story says it all:

It was the first blogged war, and the characteristic features of the form -- instant response, ad-hominem attack, remoteness from life, the echo chamber of friends and enemies -- helped define the debate about Iraq.

that said, there are smart and analytical blogs.

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 31, 2006 4:42 PM | Permalink

Lovelady should know about giving 24-year-olds a shot. The Philly Inquirer used to (still has ???) the correspondent system that trained a ton of reporters in Philly, which lead to jobs at various KR and other newspapers across the country.

the issue is not the employment of 24 year olds. There are lots of talented 24 year olds out there whose skills and talents can be nurtured in places like the Post, the Times, and the Inquirer. But you don't put those 24 year olds working on big stories by themselves -- you send them out to the boonies to cover local issues and/or allow them to learn the ropes by assistant more seasoned reporters on bigger stories.

But Box Turtle Ben wasn't talented --- his resume looked impressive, but it wasn't because of he was talented, but because he was "connected". Brady ignored that key difference.

And, instead of assigning Ben Domenech to cover and blog about zoning issues in Fairfax County VA, they gave him a prominent voice on important issues of national policy. That was just dumb, and Brady should have known better.

Posted by: plukasiak at March 31, 2006 6:28 PM | Permalink

and what is wrong with being connected?
it's a fact of life. in your own work place, are people hired and promoted solely on merit? there is no politics, favoritism going on there?

why do people who have such disdain for the Post and the MSM hold both at unrealistic standards?

quick name drop story. i worked at The News & Observer on the business desk. one of my colleagues was a crusty veteran who had worked at the defunct Raleigh Times in the 70s. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the NYTimes publisher, was a reporter in Raleigh; newspaper families send their kids to work for other newspaper families. (the Daniels family sold the Raleigh paper to McClatchy in 1995. some people regarded the last Daniels publisher as not so bright. he did put the paper online very early, and the company was even an ISP called nando.com.)

my buddy told me he and young Arthur partied Big Time. i ran into Mr. Sulzberger at a journalism conference in the late 90s. i said work in Raleigh and my buddy [Crusty Veteran] has some great stories about you. Sulzberger didn't blink. he replied, "oh, i've got some good stories about [Crusty Veteran].

Posted by: bush's jaw at March 31, 2006 8:40 PM | Permalink

But Box Turtle Ben wasn't talented --- his resume looked impressive, but it wasn't because of he was talented, but because he was "connected".

Like most appointments of Our Leader .... Just look at Kevin Warsh's appointment to the Fed. This one was not much different than the Fed, but sailed through because people just got tired of fighting the White House.

Posted by: village idiot at March 31, 2006 8:54 PM | Permalink

Oops, .... Sorry.

Read "This one was not much different than the Fed, but ...." as

"This one was not much different than the Supreme Court, but ...."

Posted by: village idiot at March 31, 2006 9:26 PM | Permalink

"Blogs aren't going to replace the mainstream media." Grrrrrr. Not counting Hugh Hewitt, who in blazes said they were? I've got 100 "aren't going to replace" statements in my files for every one where someone kinda sorta says something about blogs replacing Big Media. 100 to 1! It has to be one of the most refuted statements of all time per assertion.

It's both hilarious and infuriating.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at March 31, 2006 10:59 PM | Permalink

"his resume looked impressive"

Ye gods...I believe that's the first time I've seen anyone admit that the last week...

there's no doubt that Domenech had tons of credentials to fit this gig...washington times, national review online...despite what you may think of such outfits...how many bloggers have bylines at anything that was even published in ink?

of course credits don't make you a journalist...and who knows how much ben wrote was his

but if they're looking to replace him with someone with more of a journalism background that might mean that the person they hire most probably won't even be a blogger

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at April 1, 2006 12:19 AM | Permalink

Heh... Seeing media people criticize those who hired Domenech as hiring someone because he's "connected" is like watching a rat calling a fox a "long-nosed varmint."

The media world is one of the biggest "who you know" industries in the world.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at April 1, 2006 1:05 AM | Permalink

one where someone kinda sorta says something about blogs replacing Big Media

i've seen that statement often at firedoglake in the comment section, especially after Libby was indicted. so many people said reporters such as Woodward and Viveka Novak were all complicit and guilty (mostly of access journalism). i haven't read the fdl regularly in months, so the tone could have changed. i've also seen those comments at digby, eventhough digby is not a triumphalist.

some comments here at PressThink also pronounced the death the MSM, relating to declining readership at papers. it's mostly from readers of blogs, not bloggers saying that.

Posted by: bush's jaw at April 1, 2006 1:34 AM | Permalink

i'm a late adopter, didn't know blogs existed until summer of 05, didn't have a cell phone until 1999. i've tried to the archives to see what's been covered, but my must-read list is huge.

Posted by: bush's jaw at April 1, 2006 1:53 AM | Permalink

The media world is one of the biggest "who you know" industries in the world.

I like hyperbole as much as the next guy, Jason, but this is just silly. Bigger than law firms? Bigger than investment firms? Bigger than the movie industry?

With the layoffs and media consolidations now running through the industry like salts through a goose, it's a matter of 'who you know' who's out of job.


Posted by: Dave McLemore at April 1, 2006 2:10 AM | Permalink

I've got 100 "aren't going to replace" statements in my files for every one where someone kinda sorta says something about blogs replacing Big Media.

that pretty much depends upon the definition of "replace", Jay.

Personally, although I do check to see what the Times thinks are the big stories each day, blogs have definitely replaced "traditional media" in terms of determining what "I need to know".

So, while traditional media as a source of information isn't going anywhere, it is being replaced in terms of its ability to "set the agenda" -- at least at this computer terminal.

The "you can't tell us what to know/what to think" thing is important -- 15 years ago, if the rest of the traditional media failed to pick piece in the NYTimes about David Manning's Jan 31, 2002 memo, that infomation basically didn't exist anywhere but in New York City. But today, just because every other major media outlet has chosen to ignore the story does not mean that people all over the world aren't talking about it. (Same goes with Murray Waas's latest piece.)

So, for me, in a very important sense, blogs have replaced "traditional media" --- and this is especially true with the broadcast media. Nowadays, the only reason I bother to watch a newscast (besides Steward/Colbert) is to see how a story is being covered --- not to get information, because by the time I turn on the tube, I already know more than what the talking heads are spouting.

Posted by: plukasiak at April 1, 2006 2:15 AM | Permalink

by the time I turn on the tube, I already know more than what the talking heads are spouting.

this is where the disparity comes in. if you are a regular reader and commenter of blogs, you'd think many are like Paul. but most people, according to various studies, only get their news from TV.

are blogs inside baseball or mass media?

Posted by: bush's jaw at April 1, 2006 2:46 AM | Permalink

I talked to a Post employee or two about this - the only one who commented agrees with Debbie Howell's characterization of this as a "fucking disaster."

Posted by: Theodore Sawchuck at April 1, 2006 9:24 AM | Permalink

"...that pretty much depends upon the definition of "replace", Jay." - Lukasiak, above.

"Replace" meaning as gatherers of original news: Likely not much, anytime soon.

"Replace" meaning as gatekeepers of news: Very much so, for many.

Posted by: Trained Auditor at April 1, 2006 11:37 AM | Permalink

"Bigger than law firms?"

I'd say comparable, at the national level. At the local level, you also have to be willing to work for less than you could make doing almost anything else.


"Bigger than investment firms?"

Doubtless. There's no comparison. At least in investment firms, there's a sales channel. You make the sales, you can move up. If you can prove you can produce, you have an in, and someone will take a chance on you.

"Bigger than the movie industry?"

That's media.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at April 1, 2006 12:07 PM | Permalink

Outside the fact I was making a (alleged) wry comment on job uncertainties in the news biz, I have to disagree including movies as part of 'media business' .'

I thought we were talking about news media. The movie industry may be relevant to creative and cultural communications, but they don't report the news. Frankly, the idea of ranking businesses by how much it helps to know someone is pointless. In the best of meritocracies, there will always be an advantage, however slight, to knowing someone.

And while I'm sure financial institutions only hire and promote the best and most productive people, regardless of race, creed, national origin or who the may know, I can assure you Jason that in newspapers, if you don't produce, you don't last long. The axiom, 'you're only as good as your next byline' still carries a lot of weight.

Of course, in the current market, you don't last long anyway. Layoffs and buyouts now send an increasing number of journalists to a change in careers. Regardless of who they know.

Posted by: Dave McLemore at April 1, 2006 1:55 PM | Permalink

"Replace" meaning as gatherers of original news: Likely not much, anytime soon.

"Replace" meaning as gatekeepers of news: Very much so, for many.

Agreed, but then in either case "now, now, blogs won't replace..." remains an absurd statement masequerading as wisdom.

Of course Jaw's links (here) don't go to anyone claiming blogs will replace the news media--they never do--but to a post from Jane Hamsher describing what's different about blogs. The other link is to the front page of digby's blog, which is supposed to show... well, Jaw doesn't know; he admits digby's not a triumphalist.

Obviously people think they're saying something meaningful when they say blogs won't replace the news media; I would love to know what it is. It can't be an attempt to debunk a mistaken belief because, just as Jaw with his phantom links has no idea who believes it, but is sure lots do and he doesn't, neither do the countless mainstream journalists who debunk the same claim have any idea who makes the claim. Nor do they care.

So my analysis is: it's a wish. The debunkers wish there were people--lots of them, naive, starry-eyed, full of righteous Internet zeal, and deluded by it--against which their "hold on a minute..." attitude seems calm and cool. And wise and mature, as in Jaw's "the more things change, the more they stay the same..." (Journalists and ex-journalists are especially vulnerable to that trite saying) and his "blogs aren't going to replace the mainstream media"... kiddies.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 1, 2006 2:20 PM | Permalink

yep, the digby link is unoriginal, just to the site, not meant to show anything.

the post by Jane said that FDL said the same number of visitors/page hits in a week as Harper's circulation, therefore FDL is equal or greater than Harper's. there was a lot of discussions in the comment section of that post about how the MSM is dead, and blogs like FDL were the future. but the comments are not archived.

i just saw a lot of blogs claiming that the MSM is dead, not to be trusted, while linking to MSM stories. (of course, it's an absurd statement masquerading as wisdom with no proof.)

back to my trite hole, debunking kiddies.

Posted by: bush's jaw at April 1, 2006 3:04 PM | Permalink

Right, right...Jane Hamsher saying we have more readers than Harpers shows the widespread belief that blogs will replace the news media, which Harpers isn't even an example of.

"I just saw a lot of blogs claiming that the MSM is dead, not to be trusted, while linking to MSM stories."

That's so immature of them, isn't it?

When you're "refuting" nameless voices in a comment thread at a blog, and taking those voices as representative of something or other, you are dealing with the lowest evidentiary level the Internet has to offer, Jaw. One step above spam.

Meanwhile, this is priceless. Maybe Jim Brady could learn something from Greg Josefowicz.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 1, 2006 4:58 PM | Permalink

You've been reading the wrong blogs, Jay.
The next time there's a press contretemps of the moment -- whether it be an Eason Jordan or a Ben Domenech or even a Knight Ridder being swallowed up by McClatchy -- check in at the farthest right reaches of the spectrum. (Redstate, Powerline, Hewitt, Little Green Footballs, Yargb, Vodka Pundit, FreeRepublic, et al.)
I promise, you'll see plenty of gloating references to confused wooly mammoths peering dimly at the fog as the sabre-toothed tigers circle 'round.
Of course, it's always more flattering to think of oneself as a sabre-toothed tiger instead of as a wooly mammoth, so one would expect it in the delusional world of the RMB -- the realm of the mutual backpatters.

Posted by: Steve Lovelady at April 1, 2006 5:27 PM | Permalink

Harper's is not an example of the news media?

i admit i have only anecdotal evidence by reading various blogs. anyway, those collective nameless voices in comment threads have influence on bloggers. those nameless voices are demanding that Brady repost their comments on the Howell Abramoff column.

i guess i'm just howling back at the wind, which seems to bother you. i have no skin in this thing. i'm not demanding anything of Brady or trying advice him on his next hire.

Posted by: bush's jaw at April 1, 2006 5:37 PM | Permalink

Jay,

Did you get April fooled on that last link?

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at April 1, 2006 6:21 PM | Permalink

This link is much more priceless.

Posted by: Ron Brynaert at April 1, 2006 6:23 PM | Permalink

Did I, Ron? Quite possible. Aren't you supposed to put April 1 on an April Fool's thing? It's a funny letter anyway.

You weren't accused of insufficient membership in the Brady cult, Jaw, but of refuting a view that barely exists.

"Howling back at the wind." Or the reverse.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 1, 2006 6:43 PM | Permalink

Good lord, those gullible idiots at AP and NY Times think the Borders letter is real

Posted by: paladin at April 1, 2006 9:06 PM | Permalink

Dave,

Point taken. And I think the newsmedia world is more open now than it was before, because anybody can start a blog. And if he's got a terrific blog, he can create a name and get published somewhere. Domenech notwithstanding, though, I think this is a hugely undertapped pool of talent that newspaper editors ought to be exploiting.

Imagine Allahpundit as a guest cartoonist (his photoshops are precious!) or Stephen Den Beste as a guest columnist. If I had a newspaper, I'd hire Bill Roggio to write a twice-a-week column on the military situation in Iraq. His grasp of the operational situation - as opposed to the political situation - is head and shoulders above that of any other journalist I've encountered.

Ditto for Wretchard. Only thing you'd have to do is tone his writing down to the 8th grade level - he tends to wax Churchillian.

Time made a good move snapping up the guy from Back to Iraq. There are a number of excellent bloggers who, by all rights, SHOULD be displacing the tired old columnists of the old newspaper world.

As for Movies and media, my perspective may be somewhat skewed by being a journalistic alumni of the Time Warner magazine world. I lost a lot of faith when I saw that AOL Time Warner used the cover of Time as a full page free ad for the Lord of the Rings movie, among some other scuzziness.

The AOL homepage has become tremendously corrupted as a news portal as well. No one thinks of it as a news portal, but it contains enough news headlines and links that it will behave as one. I know I've been steered to certain stories that way.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at April 1, 2006 9:46 PM | Permalink

uh, check the url:

http://nytimesfaux.com/Borders_Blasts_Back_030331.htm

Posted by: Jay Rosen at April 1, 2006 10:01 PM | Permalink

Ouch, paladin! That's gonna leave a mark! :-)

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at April 2, 2006 12:40 AM | Permalink

From the Intro
Highlights