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Jane Hamsher from Firedoglake was part of this morning's online Washington Post forum on "blogger ethics" (I kid you not!) as it pertained to the recent brouhaha over the Post's deleting (and restoring and deleting and restoring) comments regarding ombudsman Deborah Howell's inability to admit her mistake re: Abramhoff giving money to "both" Dems and Repugs. Hamsher's behind-the-scenes peek at editor Jim Brady's manipulation of the discussion is quite an eye opener!...

Hamsher writes: ...Brady had the keys to the system and he used them. There were dozens of questions on a screen that was quite complex which any of the participants could respond to at any time. They chose what questions got through and when each thread was closed down and published. Brady gave himself the last word many times, goaded me for a response and then closing it before I could answer, despite the fact that I was asking in the accompanying "chat" box for a chance to do so. Neither would he give substandial, meaningful answers to questions I posed to him.

If nobody responded to a question, it didn't appear online. In addition to tut-tutting about unruly commenters, Glenn Reynolds' job was to give one of those content-loaded "hey-indeedy" answers to questions that were hostile to me just to make sure they made it online. And you know what? That's fine. I'm a big girl, I get worse than that every day in the comments here and I knew what I was setting myself up for when I agreed to engage in this particular dialogue. The chance that we all got to give voice to our criticisms was well worth it.

But the fact remains that the real debate is between me and Brady; Rosen and Jarvis were filler and Reynolds was just there as a junkyard dog. And because of all the filler, Brady was able to avoid getting pressed on a story that he has had a great deal of success fobbing off to the media which has innumerable holes if anybody with any technical sophistication were to really press him. As one reader commented, "Listen to Brady try to defend himself, basically sounding like a 15 year old telling his parents the smell on his breath isn't marijuana, and the case is there that Howell deserved all she got and ten times worse."

Take a look at the transcript here. Notice Brady's hit-and-run tactics? The curious non-responses from Hamsher? At later points, she does manage to get her licks in, but never in direct opposition to Brady, who never gives her a direct answer.

Truly Wanker of the Day material!

Originally posted to dave1021 on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:59 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Exceprts of this Discussion (none)
    can be found In my diary a few down from here

    What Brady to Hamsher in particular was pretty egregious

    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

    by Magorn on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 01:59:30 PM PST

  •  They're wrong, (none)
    they're corrupt, and that's the only way they can win.  
  •  excruciating (none)
    when you get so mad, it hurts.

    However, Brady is finding out-- like from this and the way it spreads-- that he can't get away with that kind of stuff for long!! Real short expiration date on his poisoned milk.  So I guess it can be seen as part of his education.

    Fact is, and it's simple, Hamsher's loyalties are not to "the newspaper" or "the profession" or "private ambition" of the kiss-up kick-down make-nice-with-the-editor variety. It's to the net, to interchange with readers, to (dare I say) the simple truth.

    If Brady's WaPo is really going to create a presence for themselves on the net, tap into the savvy, the skill, the passion and the experience of the netroots, they're going to have to learn that we don't play by their rules.  T'anks be.

  •  Talk about Civility was a Diversion (4.00)
     I thought truth was the most important thing to the press.  More important than pandering to the paper's owners, the current administration or even the subscribers.  I didn't hear Brady express any concern about making sure that what a WaPo ombudsman (or even a journalist) said was the truth.

    The  Judith Miller/ Matt Cooper/ Bob Novak et al  case  exposed a common practice among reporters- they were required to call up the WH before they ran a story. This gave Rove/Libby the chance to invent and to control the message.    

    Journalists are inundated with "talking points" and they are also pressured to change or abort stories the WH doesn't like.  It seems now that many journalist are carrying the message of the administration and are not writing stories based on facts.

    I think Brady's problem is that the bloggers pointed out that what Howell was saying was not backed up by fact. That is important for a journalist and it is doubly important for an ombudsman.  It is an outrage that once Howell started getting complaints, she did not respond with some fact based evidence.  I think the difficult part for Brady is that if the bloggers are screaming for truth in one ear and the president's men are demanding bullshit in his other ear- he is going to have to make a decision about what WaPo stands for.  

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