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Wesley Lowery, a Pulitzer-prize-winning correspondent for the 60 Minutes offshoot 60 in 6, has the latest and perhaps loudest in a recent series of think-pieces extolling the virtues of newsroom revolts such as the one that erupted at The New York Times earlier this month after its opinion pages published a controversial piece by Sen. Tom Cotton (R – Ark.).

Lowery and his industry allies contend that the national tumult stemming from the police killing of George Floyd is a prime opportunity to overhaul journalism’s very mission statement. “Neutral objectivity” as an aspiration, he argues in a Times essay, has failed, and should be replaced by “moral clarity.”

“Moral clarity would insist that politicians who traffic in racist stereotypes and tropes—however cleverly—be labeled such with clear language and unburied evidence,” Lowery writes. “Racism, as we know, is not about what lies in the depths of a human’s heart. It is about word and deed. And a more aggressive commitment to truth from the press would empower our industry to finally admit that.”

This proposed objectivity-for-morality swap is gaining momentum in the spaces where professional journalists congregate, pontificate, and/or swarm on Twitter to get senior managers fired.

Newsrooms “are really struggling to cover…in a way that appears to be nonpartisan a kind of political landscape where one political party in many ways has gone rogue and is not following the rules,” the Times’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning Nikole Hannah-Jones said on CNN’s Reliable Sources after the Cotton flap, in which she was a driving figure. “This adherence to even-handedness, both-sidesism, the View from Nowhere, doesn’t actually work in the political circumstances that we’re in.”

We’ve been here before, of course. Flashback to 2004:

An internal memo written by ABCNEWS Political Director Mark Halperin admonishes ABC staff: During coverage of Democrat Kerry and Republican Bush not to “reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable.”

The controversial internal memo obtained by DRUDGE, captures Halperin stating how “Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.”

But Halperin claims that Bush is hoping to “win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.”

“The current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done,” Halperin writes.

Halperin’s claim that ABCNEWS will not “reflexively and artificially hold both sides ‘equally’ accountable” set off sparks in St. Louis where media players gathered to cover the second presidential debate.

Halperin states the responsibilities of the ABCNEWS staff have “become quite grave.”

In August, Halperin declared online: “This is now John Kerry’s contest to lose.”

That was also the year that the New York Times’ then-ombudsman admitted the obvious: “Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is.”

But that was before “Safetyism” became the law of the land on academia. In a 2018 review of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind, Quillette contributor Matthew Lesh asked, “Is Safetyism Destroying a Generation?

Safety culture undermines the entire purpose of a higher education. Universities exist to challenge students, to expand their worldview and develop their critical thinking. This is done by hearing and responding to ideas that make us feel uncomfortable. Efforts to censor speakers because they make some people feel ‘unsafe’ prevents the necessary process of argument and counter-argument in the pursuit of finding the truth.

Debate on campus is already undermined by the lack of viewpoint diversity – most academics come from a similar political pedigree, meaning students have fewer opportunities to be challenged in the first place. A lack of exposure to different ideas means a much more limited and weaker education. As British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, ‘He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.’ In other words, to make an argument thoughtfully, it is necessary to understand the counterfactual of one’s own argument.

In 2015, Ashe Schow, then with the Washington Examiner wrote, “With all the attention being paid to college-aged social justice warriors and microagressions, one has to ask: What happens when all these delicate snowflakes enter the workforce?”

The media world is finding out, good and hard.

Related: News Pages, Editorial Pages — Who Can Tell the Difference Any More?

ETHICS GUIDELINES? THAT’S FOR LITTLE PEOPLE: The Washington Post, to its credit, established social media guidelines as long ago as 2011. (The New York Times only followed suit last year). Those guidelines seem to be founded on a self-image of honest and brave truth-seeking reporters able to separate their own biases from what they tweet, lest the sterling reputation of The Washington Post be sullied:

Social-media accounts maintained by Washington Post journalists — whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere — reflect upon the reputation and credibility of The Washington Post’s newsroom…we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence. Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything — including photographs or video — that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism.

This morning Twitchy reports that Washington Post “congressional reporter” Erica Werner certainly has some strong feelings on Mike “Benghazi bomb-thrower” Pompeo as Secretary of State and Gina “torture overseer” Haspel as CIA director, and tweeted out the following:

“A Benghazi bomb-thrower will be SecState and a torture overseer will be CIA director — IF CONFIRMED BY THE SENATE”

Now, if she were a columnist, I’d have no beef with this, after all, opinions are what they are paid to write. But when a “congressional reporter” resorts to this kind of slimery, well, she just gives the public more reasons to distrust her reporting — and that of The Post in general.

It’s a good thing there’s an Ombudsman or Public Editor there to keep an eye on these things. Oh, wait


Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds’ characterization of reporters as “Democratic operatives with bylines” is taking root in the American mind. Among independents, according to Gallup in September, the media had an approval rating of 30 percent; among Republicans 14. Almost everyone but Democrats think the media are biased, and support for that view goes way back.

In November 2008, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell said readers who complained about shallow coverage and pro-Obama bias were “right on both counts,” publishing tallies that proved the paper had been far more critical of Obama’s opponent Sen. John McCain than of Obama. A few weeks later, “Game Change” co-author Mark Halperin said the media showed “extreme pro-Obama coverage” in a “disgusting failure.”

In 2012, The New York Times’ public editor Arthur Brisbane said the paper “basked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama’s election in 2008” and cited a study that showed the Times’ coverage had been far more approving of Obama than it had been of President Reagan and both Presidents Bush.

In January 2008, NBC’s Brian Williams was honest enough to point out that the network’s reporter covering Obama had said, “It’s hard to be objective covering this guy.” Williams immediately demanded the reporter be fired for admitting to being unable to do his job.

Just kidding: Williams praised the reporter, calling him “courageous.”

In 2016, the media didn’t even pretend it wasn’t working in Hillary Clinton’s interests.

Read the whole thing.


On election Tuesday, ESPN’s ombudsman wrote:

Many ESPN employees I talked to — including liberals and conservatives, most of whom preferred to speak on background — worry that the company’s politics have become a little too obvious, empowering those who feel as if they’re in line with the company’s position and driving underground those who don’t.

“If you’re a Republican or conservative, you feel the need to talk in whispers,” one conservative ESPN employee said. “There’s even a fear of putting Fox News on a TV [in the office].”

Which sounds virtually identical to what the Washington Post’s then-ombudswoman reported immediately after the 2008 election:

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

Funny how these things keep happening, and yet no one in the MSM ever does anything to change the corporate culture. And yet they simultaneously wonder why, in the case of the Washington Post, their institution’s business valuation went from two billion at the start of the 21st century down to $250 million when Jeff Bezos purchased it in 2013. Or in the case of ESPN, they keep losing viewers – including a stunning 621,000 subscribers last month alone, according to Nielson.

And sometimes, they even lose elections.


As I understand your use of this term, “the media” is essentially shorthand for anything you read, saw or heard today that you disagreed with or didn’t like. At any given moment, “the media” is biased against your candidate, your issue, your very way of life.

But, you know, the media isn’t really doing that. Some article, some news report, some guy spouting off on a CNN panel or at might be. But none of those things singularly are really the media.

Fact is, there really is no such thing as “the media.” It’s an invention, a tool, an all-purpose smear by people who can’t be bothered to make distinctions.

“Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing,” Paul Farhi, the Washington Post, Friday.

Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

—The late Deborah Howell, then the Post’s ombudswoman (a job the Post has since eliminated), November 16, 2008.

‘Yeah, I’m In The Media. Screw You.’

—Button worn by the late Ginny Carroll to the 1992 Republican convention. Carroll was a bureau chief for Newsweek, then owned by the Washington Post.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that Farhi has tried to play these semantic games: As Tim Graham of NewsBusters paraphrased a similar Farhi column in 2012, “WashPost Writes The Public Be Damned: They’re Biased If They Think We’re Biased.”

Perhaps Iowahawk has the best response to Farhi’s latest column, and its smug headline, “Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing.” “Okay, how about we just call you assholes,” he tweeted yesterday.

Or Democrat operatives with bylines. Often the two phrases are quite interchangeable. (Unexpectedly.)

All of which is why, as  Kurt Schlichter writes, “We’re Laughing at the Self-Destruction of the Media Gatekeepers.”


Hillary Clinton has Loretta Lynch overseeing the e-mail investigation; Mark Zuckerberg is doing a vigorous “internal investigation” of bias against conservatives; and now, to complete the virtuous circle, the New York Times has appointed an Upper West Side apparatchik as its new ombudswoman.

Elizabeth Spayd, editor of Columbia Journalism Review and a former longtime editor at the Washington Post, is the Times’ new “public editor” (they long ago eschewed the title “ombudsman”, likely due to the –man participle).

Columbia Journalism Review is, of course, the dowager enforcer of the old guard – now largely toothless but still peering down at the dying newspaper world through her spectacles, drooling into a spittoon. It’s not possible to be less connected to the realities of 2016 media than this retread to 1972.

Read the whole thing.

Flashback: Hugh Hewitt on Columbia Journalism School, “The Media’s Ancien Régime,” Matthew Continetti on the New York Times as an extended Saved By the Bell episode.



MEANWHILE, BACK IN DINOSAUR MEDIA: The fight for the future of NPR: Can public radio survive the podcast revolution?

The tumult was touched off in late March, when an NPR executive announced that the network’s own digital offerings—most importantly, its marquee iPhone app, NPR One—were not to be promoted during shows airing on terrestrial radio.

The ban was widely viewed as proof that NPR is less interested in reaching young listeners than in placating the managers of local member stations, who pay handsome fees to broadcast NPR shows and tend to react with suspicion when NPR promotes its efforts to distribute those shows digitally.

Why, it’s as if taxpayer-funded public broadcasting was an outmoded idea in an era of satellite radio, hundreds of channels of digital television, and endless Websites and podcasts or something. I’m old enough to remember multiple generations of Republicans vilified for even broaching the topic.


Shot: WashPost Newbie: GOP Media Bias Claims Usually ‘Unfounded or Greatly Exaggerated.’

—Tim Graham, NewsBusters, today.

Chaser: THE PUBLIC EDITOR; Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is.

—Daniel Okrent, then-ombudsman of the New York Times, July 25, 2004.


Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.

It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

—Deborah Howell, then-ombudswoman of the Washington Post, November 16, 2008.



Newsweek cover for February 16 2009 issue, when the magazine was still owned by — wait for it — the Washington Post.

#HANDSUPDONTSHOOT #WARONMEN: Special Assistant to Obama Arrested for Shooting at Her Boyfriend.

Needless to say, MSNBC and the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank would be orgasming over this story if the parties were reversed.


TOMORROW’S POST-ELECTION MSM APOLOGIAS TODAY: Back in late 2004, Rush Limbaugh had lots of fun playing an interview that Tina Brown (now editor of Newsweek) had on her little-seen CNBC show with David Westin, then the president of ABC News, who said that the media needed to send the equivalent of foreign correspondents to the Red States, to witness firsthand how these strange people in the hinterlands live out their exotic day-to-day existences, and why they rejected the suave and debonair John Kerry for that hayseed George W. Bush:

WESTIN: I think we don’t do that enough, and I’m not just talking religious communities. I’m talking all sorts of communities across the country. I think that… You understand this, Tina, living in New York or in Los Angeles, we have busy jobs. We go into the office every day. We tend to socialize with the same people, or the same types of people, and I think it’s terribly important for journalists to get out whether it’s overseas or domestically and try to understand.

As Rush quipped, paraphrasing Westin, “We need more foreign correspondents in Alabama! We need more foreign correspondents north of Palm Beach County in Florida! We need embeds to go to church, find out what’s going on with these holy rollers! Ah, folks, you can’t know how much I love this.”

Also in November of 2004 after the election was concluded, when Brian Williams replaced Tom Brokaw, then-NBC president Jeff Zucker attempted to sell Williams to the public, by proclaiming to USA Today that “No one understands this NASCAR nation more than Brian.”

You can just smell the condescension in that statement can’t you? And it didn’t take long for it to begin to appear repeatedly in Williams’ broadcasts. (In some cases what didn’t appear in Williams’ broadcasts was equally worthy of comment.)

(Not coincidentally, Jeff Zucker’s Wikipedia page has this ignominious subhead regarding Zucker’s tenure at the network: “President & CEO of NBC Universal: NBC Goes from First to Last in Ratings.”

At Red State this week, Erick Erickson has a lengthy essay on the vast disconnect between the MSM and its consumers — or as Erickson notes — increasingly, their former consumers:

Continue reading ‘TOMORROW’S POST-ELECTION MSM APOLOGIAS TODAY: Back in late 2004, Rush Limbaugh had lots of fun playi…’ »

THE NAMES CHANGE, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME: This just in to Patrick B. Pexton, the Washington Post’s ombudsman: His paper’s “news columnists almost to a person write from left of center:”

One aspect of The Post that particularly irks conservatives is the columnists who appear in print and online in news positions (as opposed to those on the editorial and op-ed pages and the online Opinions section). With the exception of Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza, who cover politics in a nonpartisan way, the news columnists almost to a person write from left of center.

Ezra Klein* of Wonkblog comes out of the Democratic left, fills in for Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz on MSNBC and sometimes appears in the printed Post on the front page.

Steven Pearlstein, who covers business and also appears occasionally on the front page; Walter Pincus on national security; Lisa Miller of the On Faith blog; Melinda Henneberger of She the People; Valerie Strauss, the education blogger; plus the three main local columnists — Robert McCartney, Petula Dvorak and Courtland Milloy — all generally write from a progressive perspective, readers say. (So does Dana Milbank, who works for the Opinions section but writes a column that appears on Page A2 twice a week.)

Is it any wonder that if you’re a conservative looking for unbiased news — and they do; they don’t want only Sean Hannity’s interpretation of the news — that you might feel unwelcome, or dissed or slighted, by the printed Post or the online version? And might you distrust the news when it’s wrapped in so much liberal commentary?

Why yes, you might, particularly since the paper has been aware of this issue for some time, and has chosen to do nothing about it. While not naming names, the late Deborah Howell, Pexton’s forerunner as the Post’s ombud, made the same observation four years ago, immediately after the 2008 election was over, and it was obvious how deeply her paper’s writers had been in the Obama tank:

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.

And as Brent Baker of Newsbusters spotted at the time, “As for Howell’s presumption [that] ‘most Post journalists voted for Obama,’ that’s a safe bet given how 96 percent of the staff at Post-owned Slate reported they planned to back Obama.”

Doesn’t look like much has changed at the Post in the last four years, except for its continually eroding subscriber base and level of trust.

Much more on the topic from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

* “At Washington Post, mum’s the word on JournoList,” Byron York noted in 2010 at the Washington Examiner.

UPDATE: Moe Lane diagrams the inevitably short unhappy lifespan of a conservative working for a liberal newspaper, and concludes, “I… would heartily recommend that conservatives avoid news careers.”

JENNIFER RUBIN: Not-So-Subtle Obama-Rooting In The Media.

Related: WashPost Ombudsman Upholds Romney Hair ‘Scoop’ As Paper Shamelessly Admits Pro-Obama Story Timing.

It’s pathetic, and embarrassing. And yet they still pretend they belong to some sort of learned profession with special privileges and responsibilities, when really they’re just PR flacks without the honesty.

UPDATE: My response to Stacy McCain is the lack of counterexamples. I had a girlfriend from college who quit journalism for PR because, as she said, “it’s more ethical.” Indeed. Well, we’ve always got the computers.

CJR: THE WASHINGTON POST CO.’S SELF-DESTRUCTIVE COURSE: This isn’t actually all that new; two years ago, I wrote a long hyperlink and bullet point-laden post titled “Studying the Washington Post, Kremlinologist-Style,” running down just some of the insanity I was seeing coming out of the WaPo. But when the Columbia Journalism Review notices, the house organ of the media’s ancien régime, as Hugh Hewitt once described it, then you know things are getting serious there:

The Washington Post Company‘s dismal quarterly earnings release last week was received with something of a shrug—more of the same. But the report is worse than the reaction suggests and raises fundamental questions about the Post’s strategy, not just for the newspaper, but for the whole company.

If you hadn’t heard, the Washington Post Company is basically a for-profit college/SAT-prep firm that sidelines as a cable-TV provider and newspaper publisher. The august Washington Post (I’ll italicize Post here when referring to the newspaper and won’t when referring to its parent) contributed just 15 percent to its namesake company’s revenue in the first quarter but was a $23 million drag on the bottom line.

Kaplan, the Post’s education division, is the company’s cash cow, and a few years ago looked like the newspaper’s savior. But its revenue has fallen sharply over the last year and a half since for-profit schools, very much including Kaplan’s, came under pressure for predatory practices. Its sales tumbled 14 percent from 2010 to 2011 and dropped another 11 percent in the first quarter.

Its deteriorating prospects spells more trouble for the Post’s newspaper division, whose very bad first quarter included not only that $23 million loss but also a 7 percent decline in revenue. Crucially, its digital ad revenue—the paper’s main hope for the future—went into reverse and hit negative 8 percent. It’s just the latest in a long line of bad results.

The Post’s newspaper division (which includes Slate) has posted losses in thirteen of the last fifteen quarters, a trail of red ink that has led to cumulative losses of $412 million over the period. Its revenue has declined in twenty of the last twenty-two quarters and last year it brought in fully one-third less—$314 million—than it did at its peak in 2006. Layoffs have reduced the Post’s newsroom to a little more than half its peak size.

The CJR might not want to admit it, but the core product that the WaPo delivers to its consumers isn’t doing it any favors these days, either.

UPDATE: Stacy McCain adds:

Remember that last month the Washington Post fired a young blogger, Elizabeth Flock, for errors in her account of a controversy involving the Romney campaign. WaPo ombudsman Patrick Pexton headlined his account of that incident, “The Post fails a young blogger.”

OK, so who failed on the “BullyGate” story? And if Elizabeth Flock got fired for an inaccurate blog post, how can Jason Horowitz survive multiple inaccuracies in a 5,000-word front-page story? How does the WaPo plan to verify a secondhand quote from a dead man?

Stacy has contact info for the Post’s ombudsman, though as Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler, after attempting to contact him and receiving radio silence in return, “The Washington Post Could Not Be Reached for Comment, On Its Own Blockbuster Story.”

THE POST COMES FULL CIRCLE: Back in 2001, when Katharine Graham passed away (in an essay hilariously titled “Kay, Why?”) Mark Steyn wrote:

Obituary-wise, Kay was the hostess with the mostes’, but nevertheless an inevitable hierarchy quickly set in, with points for how recently you’d last seen her (“At lunch last month …”) and a bonus for whether she’d come to you (Barbara Walters scored big here, entertaining Kay at her pad in the Hamptons). Many anecdotes were told and re-told and re-re-told: 30 years ago, dining at the home of columnist Joe Alsop, Mrs. Graham discreetly rebelled by refusing to join the ladies while the men discussed world affairs over brandy and cigars. As she modestly explained to Larry King on CNN, this brave stand singlehandedly brought about an end to the custom throughout the town. Perhaps Washington was singularly backward in this respect. By this stage, in London, New York, Winnipeg, all the great cities of the world, the ladies were no longer obliged to retire after dinner, a social revolution accomplished amazingly enough without the intervention of Mrs. Graham.

Which may help to explain this item yesterday at the Tatler:

Having achieved parity in news columns and as columnists, The Washington Post’s relatively new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, granddaughter of the late Katharine Graham, has brought the institution full circle with a new blog with the air-sickness-inducing name of She The People, — “The World As Women See It.” And the birth of  She The People –get this — has inspired the newspaper’s ombudsman, one Patrick B. Pexton to inquire, of all the questions in all the world, Is The Post Innovating Too Fast?

Earth to Mr. Pexton: What The Post is doing is not innovating too fast; it is, rather, bicycling backwards too slowly, uphill.  This ludicrous new blog is the opposite of progress.

Now the gals are back in the corral where they were lassoed from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Thanks a lot.

At least here at PJM we’re all considered bloggers, contributors and columnists, irrespective of our gender. Isn’t that what the so-called women’s movement was all about?

In theory it was, but separate-but-equal has been an obsession for much of the increasingly paradoxically-named “progressivism” for much of the past decade.

RELATED: At Big Journalism, John Doyle writes, “WaPo Publisher’s New Year’s Email Reveals Haughty Old Media Isn’t Learning Its Lesson.”

But the brandy and cigar parties are fabulous. Pay no attention to the icebergs ahead.


From JournoList to activist, it appears that WaPo‘s liberal blogger Ezra Klein is once again blurring the lines between being a journalist and trying to sway politics. In what appears to be at a minimum a breach of journalism ethics, Klein spoke to a group of Senate Democratic Chiefs of Staff last Friday about the Supercommittee, just days before the Committee announced its failing. “It was kind of weird,” said a longtime Senate Democratic aide, explaining that while people “enjoyed it” and gave it “positive reviews” this sort of thing is far from typical.

A longtime Washington editor who deals with Capitol Hill regularly also said this is not the norm: “I have never heard of a reporter briefing staffers. It’s supposed to be the other way around. This arrangement seems highly unusual.”

Or highly typical, in Ezra’s case. But hey, at least he hasn’t engaged in unauthorized re-tweeting. That might get the WaPo’s ombudsman on his case.

UPDATE: Maybe this is a case of “progressive flooding.”

JENNIFER RUBIN: Doing the WaPo Ombudsman’s Job.

I then called Toomey, and he too was flabbergasted. “That is a ridiculous charge,” he said of the accusation that Kyl had done more to scuttle the deal than anyone. Toomey, whose plan proposed $250 billion in new tax revenues, was audibly annoyed. . . . Perhaps Democratic Sens. Patty Murray or John Kerry will explain why they never presented an entitlement reform plan or why they didn’t make any move in response to the Toomey offer. Better yet, the White House might share why, for three years, Obama hasn’t put up his own entitlement reform plan. But it doesn’t appear that Kyl was the bad guy here.

Another mark in favor of newsroom diversity.

UPDATE: Reader David Gerstman writes:

The WaPo’s ombudsman spent his column Sunday navel gazing about George Will. No, Will’s wife’s work didn’t affect his columns, but he should have let us know sooner about potential conflicts.

But Jennifer Rubin is writing (as you noted) that Dana Milbank reported a falsehood. Pexton, as yet, hasn’t addressed that.

And while it wasn’t a falsehood, Pexton took Rubin to task for retweeting a post by Rachel Abrams.

So there’s a standard of behavior demanded of the Post’s conservative columnists but none of its liberal ones? What exactly is the ombudsman’s job at the Washington Post?


PHILIP KLEIN: What’s wrong with WaPo? “To most people, wishing for the death of terrorists is pretty non-controversial stuff. But then again, those people don’t live in the bizarro world of the Washington Post’s ombudsman.”

WAPO OMBUDSMAN: No “Anti-Palestinian” Tweets. After defending the Post’s “hatchet job” on Rubio. #Ombudscrap

HOW BAD WAS THAT BLOOMBERG HIT PIECE ON THE KOCH BROTHERS? It’s even being savaged by the Washington Post’s Ombudsman. “I think the story lacked context, was tendentious and was unfair in not reporting some of the exculpatory and contextual information Koch provided to Bloomberg. . . . The Kochs are wealthy people with outsize influence; they are fair game for journalists. But journalists should also play the game fairly.”

PROF. JOSEPH CAMPBELL: No ‘rock-em,’ no ‘sock-em’: What ails WaPo. “The ombudsman of the Washington Post, Patrick Pexton, weighs in today with platitudes and hang-wringing about the newspaper. He mostly misses the mark. . . . In his five or so months as ombudsman, Pexton hasn’t dared touch the electrified third rail about the Post, which one of his predecessors, Deborah Howell, gamely if belatedly addressed. That’s a decided lack of intellectual diversity in the Post’s newsroom.”

MAN BITES DOG: WaPo scolds Democrats on Medicare policy.

RELATED: “WaPo editor tweets liberal bumper sticker thoughts.”

Don’t worry, the Post’s ombudsman will apologize once again for his paper’s port-side tilt in late November of next year.

PROF. JOSEPH CAMPBELL: News media indispensable to democracy? Some evidence would be nice. “The Washington Post ombudsman invokes in his column today the defining conceit of American journalism: That without truth-telling reporters and editors, democracy would be imperiled. . . . But how does the ombudsman, Patrick B. Pexton, know that? What evidence does he offer to buttress the notion that the news media are indispensable bulwarks of democracy and capitalism? None. He presents the self-congratulatory claim about journalism’s value as self-evident.”


WaPo Ombudsman: Why the silence from The Post on Black Panther Party story? I think we know why, but thanks for noticing.

Joe The Plumber Fixes BP Oil Leak. Okay, a different Joe The Plumber. But still.

More non-newsworthy violence. Must fit the narrative to be newsworthy.

A dangerous disaffection.

Critiquing the design of the new DOJ website. Black is the new black.

Dodd-Frank and the Nondelegation Doctrine.

GOP Dumps On Tea Party, Right-Blogs. It’s called the “stupid party” for a reason. On the other hand, beware divide-and-conquer journalism . . .

“Te Amo.”

John Galt was unavailable for comment.

Generation Y’s Empty Piggy Bank.

Angelo Codevilla: America’s Ruling Class — And The Perils Of Revolution. Related thoughts here.

U.S. Government Orders 73,000 Private Websites Offline.

The Labor Movement in, er, action.

Is The United States Ready For The Next Big Quake? No.

SCOTT JOHNSON ON THE NEW BLACK PANTHER CASE: “I think this should be a big story, and I know it would be viewed as a scandal of epic proportions to which we would be treated on a daily basis if a similar story arose in a Republican administration. It is the sickening double standard of the mainstream media that adds the frisson of disgust to what is otherwise an interesting story in itself.”

Plus, Jan Crawford looks at things, and the Washington Post’s ombudsman wonders why his paper has ignored the story.

UPDATE: Reader Luke Pingel writes:

Glenn, I’ve written to you before, and you’ve even quoted me on the blog a few times. But, it’s always been snark. Not this time

Frisson, my ass! What is Scott Johnson smoking? Frisson?!!?? No fancy French-sounding, high-falutin’ BULLSHIT words can describe my ABSOLUTE SEETHING RAGE at this ENORMITY! This is an absolutely impeachable and an affront to the dignity and liberty of every American! This is a state-sanctioned denial of the civil rights of every voter! Tar and Feathers is just the start!

It takes me from being an intensely interested voter and turns me into a volunteer for my local anti-Democrat-machine politician. I’ve never been involved in any form of political activism. Ever. I’ve always had better things to do with my time. But this? This sealed the deal. I’ve pledged to volunteer a minimum of 100 hours between now and November with whatever local Tea Party organization.


A lot of people seem upset by this. I think the DoJ is oblivious to the response among a large number of Americans. But then, they seem to be oblivious to a lot.

WAPO OMBUDSMAN: We Should Be Covering The Black Panther Story. Ya think?

WAPO OMBUDSMAN: Blogger loses job; Post loses standing among conservatives. “Instead of just a replacement, The Post might consider two: one conservative with a Klein-like ideological bent, and another who can cover the conservative movement in the role of a truly neutral reporter.”

FISKING THE WASHINGTON POST’S pseudo-apology for bogus claims of Tea Party racism.

WASHINGTON POST OMBUDSMAN: Yes, we were in the tank for Obama. Sorry about that! Plus, this: “One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama’s running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission.”

A REVEALING COMMENT from the Washington Post’s ombudsman. So I guess it’s okay to call William Arkin “anti-military” now that he’s bragging about being “probably one of the best-known and respected anti-military military bloggers,” right? Hey, maybe the Post should hire a pro-military military blogger! Naw, that’s crazy talk . . . .

UPDATE: Heh: “Howell has actually made a case against having an editor.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Contrasting William Arkin with The New York Times’ John F. Burns. Burns: “And the United States military that we encounter are wonderful. They’re magnificent.”

MORE: The post-objective media. Plus this: “Burns is even more impressive when you consider the environment he functions in.”

THE RAW STORY has a long piece on blogger Bill Roggio’s rather unfair treatment at the hands of the Washington Post:

Multiple calls and emails to Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck went unreturned. Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell told RAW STORY by email that she was “looking into it,” though it’s unknown whether she’ll be tackling the controversy in print.

I hope she will, as I don’t think the Post has come off very well in this matter so far.


Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward dismissed claims that he should have revealed his role in the CIA leak case when he discussed the investigation on news interview shows.

The Post’s ombudsman, Deborah Howell wrote in Sunday’s editions that Woodward erred by publicly commenting on the case on CNN’s “Larry King Live” and on National Public Radio without mentioning that a top Bush administration official had told him the name of a covert CIA officer.

However, Woodward told Larry King on the program Monday night: “Every time somebody appears on your show talking about the news or giving some sort of analysis, there are going to be things that they can’t talk about.”

As I’ve said before, I thought we had a press to tell us things, not to keep secrets.


Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber writes that “bloggers like Glenn Reynolds …. think that blogs should replace the mainstream media.” I don’t think you’ve written anything that can be fairly interpreted this way, but perhaps I’ve misread you?

I note that in this post you write that “the political blogosphere is to a large degree about media criticism,” and you approvingly quote a reader’s comment that “Blogs are the letter to the editor that the editor does not want to print.” (Here’s another post where you cast bloggers largely as media critics.) Doesn’t sound like you regard bloggers as a replacement (or even potential replacement) for the MSM. On the other hand, you’ve also “pushed the concept of bloggers as news collectors”. I don’t get the impression that you think news collecting blogs will someday replace the Washington Post and New York Times, but like I said, maybe I’ve misunderstood you.

Care to address Farrell’s post directly?

Well, okay. First, Farrell says that I “seem” to believe that blogs will replace big media, and maybe to him I do seem that way, at least to him, though I can’t think of what I might have written to that effect, and apparently neither can he as he provides no link or quote. So maybe he’s just characterizing my views that way so as to create an apparent contradiction that he can exploit. . . .

But I don’t think I’ve ever said that that blogs will replace Big Media. (As I have said, it’s possible to imagine some sort of distributed news-collective that would do the same kind of work that newspapers or TV networks do, but there’s nothing like that in existence, and if there were it wouldn’t be a blog). I’ve generally characterized the relationship between the blogosphere and the legacysphere as symbiotic, with the prediction that blogging would remain an amateur activity by and large. And it is, at least overall. Jay Rosen is right when he says the shift is as much tonal as structural, with blogs forcing a conversation. And as I’ve said repeatedly, the real threat to Big Media is not so much to their pocketbooks as to their self-importance.

My hope (not borne out as much as I’d have liked) has been that blogs would pressure Big Media to do a better job, both by criticism and by force of example. I also think that blogs do a lot to produce reporting of things that Big Media can’t or won’t report — with the tsunami reportage and the AP bogus-boos story being examples from each category. I do think that blogs (and the Internet in general, via things like CraigsList) are pulling eyeballs from Big Media, for which there is considerable evidence. But that hardly boils down to a claim that blogs will replace Big Media, and I don’t know where Farrell gets that idea. Neither, apparently, does he, as he provides no sourcing.

Farrell also conflates InstaPundit with the blogosphere as a whole, by suggesting that my statement that InstaPundit is not a news service somehow means that the blogosphere isn’t up to news-gathering. InstaPundit is mostly about punditry (hence the name) but many other blogs are otherwise. Via this conflation, though, we get a claim of hypocrisy on my part: The argument is: Reynolds thinks blogs should replace Big Media; Reynolds admits he can’t cover everything; Therefore Reynolds is a hypocrite.

So we have an unsupported mischaracterization of my opinion, followed by a duck-and-switch in which InstaPundit is equated with the blogosphere, leading to a charge of hypocrisy. Farrell’s treatment of this issue — in which he accuses me of engaging in a dodge when I say I’m not a news service — is rather dodgy itself, and does him no credit.

What’s more — and Farrell really knows too much to make this sort of mistake, I would think — individual blogs aren’t the unit of analysis, the blogosphere is. Unlike Big Media, who until recently could black out a story with the agreement of a very small number of players, bloggers can’t do that. If I had ignored the tsunami, or RatherGate, other people would have covered them, and my omissions would have made little difference. That’s a fundamental difference in media, and hence in responsibilities in terms of inclusiveness. (And it cuts both ways, as I suggest in a response to Chuck Divine in the comments to this post by Rand Simberg.)

Farrell wants to carve out a niche as a scholar of the blogosphere, and he’s done some interesting work together with Daniel Drezner. Posts like this one, however, make me wonder how reliable his insights are likely to be.

UPDATE: Reader Randy Beck points out this from last summer, which I had forgotten. Fortunately, not everyone had. That’s another thing about Big Media and the blogosphere. In both cases, our readers are smarter than we are. But bloggers both know it and, more importantly, admit it!

Admit it? Heck, I rely on it. Meanwhile, Power Line notes Farrell’s use of the term “slavering right-wing hacks,” but also observes:

I think Farrell is missing the distinction between particular blogs and the blogsphere as a whole. No one blog can cover everything and many blogs, such as ours, deal primarily in opinion. But one can envisage a blogosphere that readers rely on to obtain essentially everything they now get from a newspaper or a newscast. The basic facts of a story would come from links to news services. The analysis would come from specialized blogs or non-specialized blogs that happen to have expertise in the subject area. The op-ed type opinions would come from the opinion blogs. I actually think we’re pretty close to having such a blogosphere, although that’s clearly a matter for debate.

I still think, as I indicated here, Big Media organizations have an enormous advantage in gathering hard news. But that advantage obtains, of course, only to the extent that they choose to employ it, and are trusted when they do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In an update to his post, Farrell accuses me of being “characteristically evasive.” This assumes that he has a point worth evading, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Farrell says that it is hypocritical of bloggers, like me, to criticize Big media for failing at comprehensiveness and objectivity when we bloggers are neither comprehensive nor objective.

If I were running a newspaper, he might have a point. But for a blogger to criticize a newspaper surely doesn’t require that the blogger run his or her blog as if it were a newspaper. InstaPundit’s tagline is “Making even the dumbest sh*t interesting,” not “All the news that’s fit to print.” Farrell seems to be straining awfully hard to find a basis for criticism here.

However, treating Farrell’s point as worthy of engagement — it is the holiday season after all — I’d say that it fails on its own terms. We’ve seen how little the Big Media standards that Farrell invokes amount to — just look at the response of the Star Tribune’s ombudsman in the Nick Coleman affair, for the most recent example in a long and sad series. Newspapers, etc., claim to be comprehensive and objective, and are not. Bloggers do not claim to be comprehensive or objective, and are not. Who’s being hypocritical here, again?

MORE: Hugh Hewitt suggests, correctly, that Farrell is being rather ungracious. (“Rather than graciously admit how perhaps he might have ‘overwritten’ a bit (‘slavering right wing hacks’), Henry has doubled down, and it isn’t pretty.”) No, it’s not — and it really is going to make it hard for me to take Henry seriously as a scholar of the blogosphere, now that he’s written off half of it so unpleasantly.

But it’s not just Henry. I’ve noticed that others among the lefty bloggers have been rather down on the blogosphere lately, uttering complaints about partisanship and the like, and I strongly suspect that it has a lot to do with the election results.

What’s funny is that the reason why they hate us — Kerry’s defeat in spite of overwhelming and underhanded support from Big Media — is misplaced. The power of the non-lefty blogosphere is, as I’ve written before, largely an artifact of Big Media’s bias in favor of the left.

Meanwhile, King Banaian thinks I’m wrong:

I disagree with Reynolds that “Big Media organizations have an enormous advantage in gathering hard news” unless he means the first AP reports from places like Aceh about tsunamis. On that he’d be right. But blogs get a huge payoff for gathering a piece of information that helps shape stories other bloggers and the MSM are gathering. It does so in an efficient fashion: Spontaneous order occurs because those blogs able to gather good information draw eyes, Technorati rankings and NZ Bear love. In contrast, the marginal value to an MSM organization of getting a particular piece of data is small; ad rates and subscriptions will not be affected by coverage of one particular story nearly as much. As the mainstream media comes to understand that order in the blogosphere, it will rely on blogs more and more to help with the information gathering — rather than compete, there will be some desire for cooperation between the blogosphere and the MSM. See, for a current example, the reliance on Sharkblog’s coverage of the Washington governor’s race by the Seattle Times. I think this absorption will only grow.

Hmm. I think that’s more like the symbiosis I was describing.

Eric S. Raymond has a somewhat different take.

LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: Jay Rosen weighs in with much more in an update to this post — you’ll have to scroll to the bottom: “Farrell did something I have seen many journalists (Nick Coleman is one) do: refute an argument that isn’t out there about blogging and Big Media. I’m sure someone somewhere has said something like it, but it is extremely rare to encounter any regular observer of the scene, blogger or not, right or left, who thinks the major news media’s army of reporters is about to be “replaced” by bloggers. I just don’t find anyone claiming that, probably because it’s an absurd and overblown idea that falls apart after about a minute of thought.”

OMBUDSGOD, who I should read more often, has a sharp critique of the Washington Post’s self-justification for publishing military secrets. My question: would the Post or the Times be satisfied if (other) big corporations were policed only by an internal “ombudsman” whose policing consisted mostly of publishing self-justifying columns once a week?

THE POST’S OMBUDSMAN is fact-checking FAIR over the Ohio State University story. It’s true that SpinSanity had this story nearly a week ago (Advantage: Blogosphere!) but it’s nice to see that the Post reads SpinSanity.