Saturday, June 28, 2008

Satire Stranger Than The Onion

WaPo Ombudsman Little Debbie Howell reports in her column this morning on a few of her typically small-bore, sideshowey concerns about fairness at the formerly great newspaper. Today she's bugged over this swipe a sailing columnist took at Bush: "As anyone who has lived in the United States the last eight years knows, a rudderless ship is not so good"; and by a link that appeared on the WaPo's home page to a video at the WaPo-owned The Onion.

Jim Brady, executive editor, provides Howell a defense of the link to The Onion:

If everything we link to has to have the exact same standards as The Post, that would rule out an awful lot of good, interesting content. The word 'standards' applies to the way in which we do things and shouldn't be translated to mean that anyone who doesn't hold the same standards is wrong.
Which provides an opening for some "good, interesting" commentary on WaPo "standards" from several readers, among them cassidyt:
...[T]he ombudsman should be focusing on serious errors in the Post (of which there are many every day) and not on the inanities with which Howell concerns herself....

Let's just take an example. The Post has, for many months, evinced a willingness to completely dismiss the National Intelligence Estimate that concluded last fall that Iran has terminated its nuclear weapons program. There were two more instances of that this week. Richard Perle simply insisted, without the benefit of any supporting evidence, that the Iranian nuclear weapons program continues apace. Fred Hiatt, last Monday, grossly mischaracterized the NIE in his column on Iran.

Perhaps Ms. Howell could explain to her readers the Post's policies regarding the publication in its op-ed pages of purportedly factual assertions that are not only completely baseless, but contrary to the best available evidence. Does she feel the Post has an obligation to ask Mr. Perle to elaborate in his op-ed on the basis for his assertion that Iran maintains and active nuclear weapons program? Does she feel that the Post has an obligation to inquire as to whether Mr. Hiatt even bothered to read the NIE before grossly mischaracterizing it in his op-ed?

Ms. Howell has established that she can scrupulously comb the Post for any metaphor employed by its sports reporters that could be somehow interpreted as vaguely "anti-bush". But can she perform the ombudsman's principal task of elucidating for readers the journalistic tenets behind the Post's coverage of the most important issues of our day?

6/28/2008 6:28:33 AM
I'd say that's some "Blog Rage" you can believe in, Mr. Brady.