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Monday, December 12, 2005

White House Pool Boys Get Crabby

I can't take it any more. Jay Rosen sent me an article by the Washington Post public editor that said the folks in the newsroom don't like Dan Froomkin because he's too liberal, and they're miffed that the Technorati tags on their articles lead to bloggers who criticize them.

Where do we start.

Number one, Dan Froomkin's column is often the only thing worth reading in the Washington Post, the one thing they're managed to do right as they crawl their way out of the 18th century amidst a series of spectacularly bad decisions that have blown their credibility and set them in lockstep with the wooly mammoth. So the reporters don't like the guff they're taking from bloggers? I fucking bet they don't. But that's what you get when you set the bar so low the only people who stick around are the ones who can limbo under it.

Take today's offering by Jim VandHei and Carol Leonnig. I got about half way through and I thought "you know, they're getting better, this isn't at all bad." Then they hit a speed bump:
Novak wrote that Luskin told her the tip set in motion a cycle of events that led Rove and his lawyers to search phone logs and other material.
No, she didn't. What she said was it "led him to do an intensive search for evidence that Rove and Matt had talked." But now that you mention it, what about the phone log? Did that disappear into the either too along with the Hadley email until Rove recovered from his nasty bout of the memory-sucking flu? The naturally incurious mind of the reporters triumphs with a galling lack of pursuit.

But then they really go into turbo-charged absurdity:
A lawyer close to the case said Luskin has contended the conversation happened before Rove's first appearance before the grand jury in February 2004, when he testified he did not recall discussing Plame with Cooper. Luskin refused to comment. A spokesman for Rove's defense said in a statement that Rove is cooperating and that private discussions with the prosecutor will not be discussed publicly.

One possible explanation of why the date is so important is that Luskin could contend it would have been foolish for Rove to try to cover up his role when he knew -- because of Novak's disclosure to Luskin -- that a number of people knew he had talked to Cooper and that it probably would soon become public.

Now for all I know this is exactly what happened in a defense that seems to have been cobbled together by contestants at some regional Dust-off huffing championship. But to throw it up without question is not journalism, it's not even stenography, it's cretinism. You have to have an extra chromosome floating around somewhere to sit there muttering "uh huh, uh huh, oh...good point" when someone is spinning you that kind of fish tale.

As Atrios commented about one of the WaPo's previous remedial offerings:
The WaPo article linked above is just gibberish. Basically Luskin or someone else runs to the press screaming "this is great for my client" no matter what the news is and the journalists feel obliged to try to make that spin fit the facts even when it makes no sense.
Isn't it about time to point out that Robert Luskin has spent the past few years lying to the Washington Post? Rather than pointing this out, they write a glowing, four page testimonial to his unwavering genius. And then they wonder why we mock them furiously.

There are only a few outlets that receive leaks from official government sources, and the public must look to them for what meager information we are dribbled. That we become enraged at the obtuseness and opacity of the reporting is completely predictable, and I'm sorry we're not here to quietly applaud bimbo journalism that cares more about its own perpetuation than it does any responsibility it has as a fourth estate. If you long ago stopped caring about serving the public interest, fine, don't be surprised when the public grows contentious and turns on you.

What the WaPo writers are viewing through their Technorati tags is only a tiny crumb of a rage that threatens to sweep them into irrelevance. If they care about the preservation of superstar journalists and the politics of access above all else they blind themselves to the sea change that is taking place in how information is exchanged.

Dan Froomkin is the future. They say they want to balance him out by adding a conservative voice? That's great, just what the Mighty Wurlitzer needs, another outlet. As I've said before, this isn't about right vs. left, it's about people on both sides who are sick of the machine. One step forward, six steps back. Outside the fucking box, that lot.

It won't be long before the WaPo honchos wish they'd sent Bob Woodward and his embarrassing apologies packing before he dragged them down into 8-track tape anachronism. I dare them to take a look at the bulk of the last year's offerings on the CIA leak and do anything other than groan. The reporting is execrable and the dot connection worse. They've handed the keys to the kingdom to the village idiots and they shouldn't be stunned when bloggers merely point that out.

Update: Froomkin responds: "The journalists who cover Washington and the White House should be holding the president accountable. When they do, I bear witness to their work. And the answer is for more of them to do so -- not for me to be dismissed as highly opinionated and liberal because I do."

Crooks & Liars also weighs in.

Digby: "The DC press corps has no idea how they look to the rest of the country after more than a decade of running with GOP trumped up scandals, pimping for impeachment, trivializing the effects of an unorthodox presidential election in 2000, and then saluting smartly and following Dick Cheney over the cliff on Iraq." Oh yeah.

(graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)