World War II
links for 2009-06-20

Dan Froomkin Is... Banquo's Ghost at the Banquet: Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen Talk About Why Fred Hiatt Had to Fire Him from the Washington Post

Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen:

The Washington Post, Dan Froomkin and the establishment media:

GG: I'm going to ask you in just a second a very open-ended question, which is to invite you to tell me and anyone listening what you think about the firing of Dan Froomkin...

JR: Dan prospered, for quite a while, as a columnist. But then with the firing or letting go of Jim Brady, he lost his protector, the operation began to be merged into the Post newsroom. Most people see that as a triumph of the old guard.... [Froomkin] was seen as of value because he presented a kind of opposition stance to Bush, but now that's gone because Obama, he's not going to be oppositional to... and so he's gone....

GG: [Froomkin ] was acting adversarially to the party in power, which is what a reporter is supposed to do, and that happened to be a Republican administration spouting lots of lies, and he said, if it had been a Kerry administration that won in 2004, another Democratic administration, he would be doing exactly the same thing. And John Harris, in your interview with him, said, well, I - he sort of doubted it, so I guess we can't know for sure until it happens, but he seems to have a liberal viewpoint to me. Now, as it turns out, there haven't been very many more vigorous and persistent critics of Barack Obama since the inauguration than Dan Froomkin.... So it turns out that Dan Froomkin was right, clearly, when he was saying that he would be doing the same thing if there were a Democratic or liberal administration. What does that mean in terms of how these reporters think...?

JR: [H]ere is the explanation... the entire contraption of professional, elite-level political journalism, and especially White House reporting... did not know how to cope with what happened when an outlier occupied the White House.... The [Bush] radical agenda that Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson talks about as a former aide to Colin Powell. That whole thing presented an outlier to the Washington press, and it needed, in order to respond to something that big and that dramatic of a departure from White House press relations, imaginative moves of its own.... [T]he White House press, the Washington press, and The Washington Post staff, never came up with that response. And Froomkin came along, in the wreckage of that, and from a position way on the wing, as a columnist for, this new entity which to the guys downtown at The Washington Post didn't even matter at first, came along and he basically picked up the signals from that event, and started to write it up, and started to bring that story, that whole narrative of the radicalism of the Bush years, into The Washington Post.... All the things [the press corps] would have had to do to respond [to Bush], they failed to do. And Froomkin was reminding them of that. And that is ultimately why he was let go....

GG: You alluded earlier to the fact that Froomkin became a very popular columnist in the blogosphere, a traffic generator. Some of the most recent evidence that I saw was from Mediabistro which posted the top 10 most trafficked Post columns from 2007, and Froomkin had 3 out of 10.

JR: Right.

GG: Now, the ombudsman of The Washington Post had this very substance-free piece about the Froomkin firing in which suggested that quote-unquote "traffic might have declined for Froomkin," without saying whether it actually did, and Fred Hiatt was quoted as saying quote-unquote "interest had decreased since Obama was inaugurated" - I don't know what that means. I don't believe - don't know if traffic has decreased or not in absolute terms, but I can almost guarantee based on my own knowledge of the blogosphere and how traffic is generated, that Froomkin compares very favorably to other Washington Post bloggers in terms of just pure numbers, in terms of traffic, just based on the links he gets and the people who cite him. Would it surprise you if Froomkin were still one of the most heavily trafficked of the Post bloggers, and they fired him anyway? How important is on-line traffic to what The Washington Post is attempting to accomplish?

JR: Oh, I'm sure he does quite well, still, in terms of raw traffic. But it goes way beyond that, Glenn. Froomkin was one of the first editors of He is in the 99th percentile in web literacy among mainstream professional journalists. He's an ambassador between The Washington Post, and I must say, an important part of the political blogosphere which is right in the center of Post's core readership.... [Y]ou're expelling somebody who's helping you transition to a new platform...