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Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post/Deborah Howell Edition)


Brad DeLong: Marky makes a good point:

Until I read it in Howell's column, I had no idea that it was conservatives who objected to Milbank's appearance in a hunting jacket. I thought it was very inappropriate. Frankly, my first reaction was to think that Milbank was trying to help the VP minimize the accident through the use of humor---which is a strategy the White House was clearly employing last week.

I think this is right--IIRC, that was the day that Jeb Bush put an orange sticker on his chest and Scott McClellan wore an orange tie, both saying they were doing so because they had been warned the vice president might show. Cheney originally deployed two lines of spin: (i) it was Whittington's fault for sneaking up behind Cheney, and (ii) it's a not-very-serious accident with a humorous side.

The hunting cap and vest that Dana Milbank wore and that Deborah Howell denounces was Milbank's (a) being funny and (b) reinforcing the White House's desired spin.

The interesting question is why does Howell think that what Milbank did--which was also what Jeb Bush and Scott McClellan did--was "inappropriate" mocking of Cheney and Whittington? Deborah Howell's column implies that it was because Malkin and PowerLine directed their readers to her.

Without knowing--or noticing--or thinking about--the blaze orange tie on Scott McClellan and what this told her about White House media strategy, Deborah Howell, in Jane Hamsher's words, "hops to like a Texas toad."

I'm sure you can think of words to describe Deborah Howell. Here are some that occur to me: powerful keen-eyed ombudsman with a brain that puts Einstein to shame; a rock of journalistic independence; one of the truly incredible wonders of our age.