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Friday, January 20, 2006

FDL Late Nite: What Say You About Greater Blogistan's Newest Celebrity?

Jim Brady assumes the position with Hugh Hewitt:
HH: Jim Brady, you had a meltdown...A) congrats on going online today and answering your critics, and congrats for coming here. Explain to the audience what happened yesterday.

JB: This actually all started on Sunday when the ombudsman of the newsman, Deborah Howell wrote a column about the Abramoff scandal, and in that column, made a reference to both Republicans and Democrats being the beneficiary of Abramoff donations. And what she should have said, and what she put up on the blog on Thursday was that he directed...he did direct contributions to Democrats, which is undeniable. There's lot of documents that show that. But when she wrote it in the column, it was phrased in a way that made it seem like he was personally giving money to the Democrats, of which there isn't proof of that at this point. So on Thursday, she put a clarification up, and we had already been getting hundreds and hundreds of comments about her column, and they were very, very nasty, using words that I didn't even know existed. And after she put the clarification up yesterday, it just got worse and worse, to the point where we just felt like we were not able to keep...we were unable to get rid of the offensive comments faster than they were coming. And so we decided, you know, to take the comments in that blog down for a little while, just to let things cool off, and for us, to look at how do we make sure this doesn't happen in the future. Do we get technology that makes it easier to weed these out? Or do we just pour more human beings on the case? So...

HH: And this has become quite a controversy on the blogosphere for some...not for me. I think you did the right thing. But some are accusing you of censorship, for example, correct?

JB: Yeah, they are. I mean, and censorship is a pretty strong word to use. I mean, we have ways to send letters to the editor via snail mail, via e-mail. We still have 25 blogs on the site that allow comments. There's plenty of way for users to register their unhappiness with Deborah's, or anybody else's column, and those things all remain open. So I think we have 12 avenues to reach the newspaper, and we took one of them down, and I don't think that really goes toward censorship.

HH: The central fact which seemed to upset the critics of the column, is that the Post has reported that between 1999 and 2004, Jack Abramoff's Indian clients contributed to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats, tens of millions of dollars to both, correct?

JB: Correct.

HH: And so, why do people object to your publishing that fact?

JB: Well, they...they objected originally to the fact that she...that when she stated it, she made it seem as if he personally was donating to Democrats. But what she meant to say was that he was directing money to Democrats, which as I said, is beyond any kind of argument. So I'm not sure why her clarification yesterday didn't solve the problem, but it didn't. It just inflamed things even more. There's a real...this group that has been going after Deborah all week, I don't think, would have been happy no matter what she said. But she was clear about that, we put links up that have documents that show that, and it just wasn't enough. And like I said, the fact that they weren't happy about the column, if that's all they were saying, would have been fine. But it went way beyond that, and they were calling her...

HH: Jim Brady, who do you think these people are? Because I run into them in this business, but we have a six second delay, goodness knows why. Who do you think they are? Why are they so fundamentally unhappy?

JB: Well, I mean in this case, there was very much a concerted effort to...when Deborah wrote her column on Sunday, a lot of the bloggers on the left side of the spectrum really...they got together and they said let's go to the Post blog and tell them how unhappy we are with this column.

HH: Was there an epicenter of that effort?

JB: It looked like it was in a bunch of different blogs. I mean, it certainly was getting a lot of attention on Atrios and Daily Kos, and some other places. So I mean there did seem to know, it wasn't a campaign in the sense of a really organized campaign, but it was kind of a grass roots campaign to...

HH: Well, you've just named the two central islands in the fever swamps. So I'm not surprised. When you write your online edition today, I think it goes to basic human decency. Are you saying protecting Deborah Howell? Or are you saying...I hope you're saying both, you're protecting your readers from it as well?

JB: Yeah, and we've been clear about that, that we're not going to tolerate anybody being called these names, whether they're employees of the Washington Post or other commentors. And this was more directed at Deborah than it was at other commentors. But that was certainly part of the equation, and it's know, as I said in the discussion, if you can't make your point without calling people some of the names they were being called, then you don't have a point in my opinion.

HH: Now, I have never allowed comments simply because of the threat of libel, of the threat of trademark copyright. But I also want to protect my audience against abusers' vulgar...the sadistic and nutty people. How is the Post going to cope with the fact that on both ends of the political spectrum, there's one percent which are nutters?

JB: Yeah. I don't know how you protect from that, other than to build the best system you can to try to make it difficult for them to creat trouble. And I think one of the things we've learned in the last couple of days is we haven't made it difficult enough. We had profanity filters that weren't working, and some other issues.

HH: Jim Brady, how committed is the Post, and to blogging?

JB: Very committed.

(my emphasis)
For someone who's mapping out a future in the blogosphere, he's certainly bellying up to the right side of the bar. That was a major slime of Kos and Atrios that Brady played right along with. Cocktail weenies at the PJM party in his future.

Update: Wilson46201, from the comments: "Maybe it is time to send poor quasi-literate Jim Brady an unabridged dictionary? Or one of those "a word a day" desk calendars? Or a reprint from Readers Digest of "it pays to increase your word-power" columns? I do find it difficult to believe that anybody with a past career of sports journalism would have been sheltered from the widest spectrum of adult profanities...

Update: Atrios blisters:
Let's get this straight. The Right hates honest journalism. Has run a 35 year campaign against it. Hugh Hewitt does almost nothing but blast regularly what he considers to be "the liberal media" which, of course, includes the Washington Post. All we, on the left, wanted was a straightforward correction and admission of error and a genuine attempt to correct the record.

So, who does Jim Brady run to for sympathy? Hugh Hewitt. Factual errors throughout.

There is nothing within my power that I could possibly do to keep this thing alive and spreading like the WaPo has done. I cannot, cannot thank them enough.

(thanks to reader Sean C. for the tip)

Update III: Jukeboxgrad at DailyKos has a post up with the 42 deleted comments. Go over and judge their trollishness for yourself and give the diary a recommend while you're at it, it would be great for people to see this on the "fever swamp" of DailyKos.

(graphic courtesy Jesus' General, who has much more.)