Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Ken Silverstein talks about Robert Woodward's and David Broder's outside speaking engagements. Most interesting is Broder, who, as a commenter on the Post's website puts it:
- Broder... said he broke the [Post's own] rules on those speeches.
- He also said he had cleared his speeches with Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor, or Tom Wilkinson, an assistant managing editor.
- Neither remembered him mentioning them.
- When Broder was first confronted he lied about the speeches.
- When he was faced with clear evidence he then admitted that he broke the rules but then tried to blame it on others by saying that he had told them.
- They, of course, didn’t remember him saying a word (remind you of Judy Miller at the NYT?).
- Mr. Broder is obviously a serial liar who thought he could BS his way out of a mess of his own making.
- So the only question left to ask is--what is the Post going to do about his repeated unethical conduct?
The answer, of course, is "nothing."
Here's what Silverstein has to say about Broder:
Broder... has been flagrantly dishonest with his own employer.... Broder gave roughly a score [of speeches for pay].... Broder first [said]... “I have never spoken to partisan gatherings in any role other than [that of] a journalist nor to an advocacy group that lobbies Congress or the federal government.” That turned out to be false... so Broder came back to say, “I am embarrassed by these mistakes and the embarrassment it has caused the paper.”
Broder... [said] he attended an event at the American Council for Capital Formation, “but did not give a speech.” So apparently someone at the ACCF made up this account of Broder’s speech to the group?... Broder gave a speech at a meeting of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (which paid him, he now admits, $7,000), which was a PAC fundraiser.... “Mary Beth Coya, the Realtors’ senior vice president for public and governmental affairs, said the event was not a fundraiser but was attended by elected officials ‘to promote our government affairs programs’.” The event in fact was clearly promoted as a PAC fundraiser....
Broder specifically denied to [ombudsman] Howell that I [Silverstein] had sought comment from him... even though I contacted him several times, by phone and email, beginning forty-eight hours before posting the first story...
Silverstein also takes on Washington Post--well, I won't call her an "ombudman" because there are many very good ombudsmen at many newspapers around the world, it is not fair to tag them with the misdeeds of Washington Post spin and coverup artist Deborah Howell. High up in Howell's column, she writes:
When Speech Isn't Free: The Post Stylebook's ethics and standards section says only: "We freelance for no one and accept no speaking engagements without permission from department heads." [David] Broder and [Robert] Woodward did not check with editors on the appearances Silverstein mentioned...
Then the spinning begins. Let's turn the mike over to Ken Silverstein"
Howell goes very easy on Broder... and Woodward.... Howell deals with only a few speeches by Woodward and Broder... [does not inform her readers] that the two men, and especially Woodward, are regulars on the talk circuit and that the problem is not restricted to the few speeches she discusses in her column.... Howell doesn’t mention [that]... Post reporters, it seems, will call people to ask about their actions but won’t take calls about their own [actions from people like me, Silverstein.... [Howell doesn't mention that] Broder specifically [and falsely] denied to Howell that I [Silverstein] had sought comment from him....
Howell reports that the Post’s executive editor, Len Downie, “unearthed a 1995 memo outlining the rules on speeches, but it is not widely known about in the newsroom.” So the Post, it seems, has thirteen-year-old guidelines on paid speeches by employees, but few at the newspaper know about it.... Howell might want to review old editorials the paper ran vehemently denouncing members of Congress who accept outside speaking fees. In a 1991 editorial, and there were numerous similar ones, the Post complained that the Senate had not subjected itself to a ban on outside speaking and that senators and staffers could still accept up to $2,000--one thirtieth of [Robert] Woodward’s current top fee--for speaking before
interest groups whose legislative fortunes they control.... That’s wrong, and as the Senate discusses the higher standard of conduct it has righteously voted to impose on others, the disparity will be all the more apparent...