the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

December 13, 2005

The Matter of WaPo v. Froomkin


Last Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell attacked (2005 DCDL guest speaker) Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing: (emphasis mine)

Political reporters at The Post don’t like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin’s “White House Briefing,” which is highly opinionated and liberal. They’re afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.

John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, “The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset — our credibility” as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column “that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display.”

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.

Froomkin responds:

There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny. I was prepared to take the same approach with John Kerry, had he become president.

Political Editor John Harris, apparently believing his name was being used in vain, shoots back:

Several of the comments here refer to me, and many others confuse the issues raised by Deborah Howell’s column. As the Post’s political editor, I’d like to respond, in the interest of being as clear as possible about how we view our own work, and the concerns about “White House Briefing” in the Post newsroom.

The first issue is whether many readers believe Dan’s column is written by one of the Washington Post’s three White House reporters. It seems to me–based on many, many examples–beyond any doubt that a large share of readers do believe that. No doubt there are some who enjoy the column for precisely this reason. If I worked outside the paper, I might presume myself that a feature titled “White House Briefing” was written by one of the newspaper’s White House reporters.

One of the commenters suggests that the Post change its name to the White House Post, though I personally prefer The Daily Bootlick.

I don’t really believe Harris when he says the issue is that so many people find the name confusing. No, the issue is that Harris, Howell, et al like their cozy desks, inflated paychecks, and frequent martini tastings. Why should they afflict the comfortable when they are the comfortable?

Personally, I find it a bit insulting when Howell uses the word “liberal” as if she meant “mendacious moonbat”. I find it insulting when Harris thinks that I can’t tell the difference between Van de Hei and Froomkin. (Froomkin is the one not married to a former Republican insider). Finally, I’m outraged that my blog isn’t as widely read as White House Briefing. Someone should do something about that.


  1. Changing the name wouldn’t be that big a deal, I guess, but the fact that they’re talking about “supplementing [Froomkin] with a conservative blogger” indicates that the name isn’t the real issue. Why does a possibly liberal commentator have to be paired with a conservative one for false balance, when there’s never any call for adding in liberal commentators to balance the raft of conservative commentators the Post runs?

    Keith12:51 pm

  2. Damn, that link to Froomkin’s response is getting to be unusable because of the groundswell of suppport for Froomkin among the commenters. It was up to 639 comments last I looked, and it takes minutes for the page to load for me. WaPo blogs need an option for linking to the blog entry without comments.

    Keith12:54 pm

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