links for 2009-06-27
Stan Collender Is impressed by Obama's Legislative Affairs Unit

Washington Post Andy Alexander Says that It Is Dan Froomkin's Fault that Fred Hiatt and Company Fired Him

Yes, he does. I couldn't believe it, but the Washington Post is worse than I could imagine.

Andy Alexander says that Fred Hiatt and company at the Washington Post won't talk to him about their decision to fire Dan:

Ombudsman Blog: Institutionally, The Post is now responding by circling the wagons.... [A] wall of silence was erected. Raju Narisetti, the managing editor who oversees the Web site, declined to go beyond last week’s PR statement. Online Opinions Editor Marisa Katz, after talking Thursday with the Washington CityPaper, said she had been instructed not to respond to additional queries. And Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, who had previously responded to questions from me and other journalists (including the CityPaper on Thursday), today said he was unable to comment...

One of the rules of journalism is that if one side is eager to explain it's point of view and the other side is not, any journalist has good cause to conclude that the side that is very quiet has something to hide.

Yet Alexander doesn't act like a journalist here. He writes:

Ombudsman: Froomkin Departs, Leaving Angry Loyalists And Questions: It's too bad both sides could not have found a way to save White House Watch...

And concludes:

The Post will lose a valued voice, even with its diminished audience. And Froomkin will lose the benefit of The Post's prestige and reach. But... he'll survive. So will The Post.

I should note that Andy Alexander is the only person inside the Washington Post building who is sure that it will survive. The Post's moat senior executives put it this way: Donald Graham's willingness to subsidize the newspaper is large but not unlimited, so we need to put in front of him a plan that will return the newspaper to profitability in a decade, and at the moment we do not have such a plan.

You would think that he would be clued in enough to what is going on in his building to know this. And to know that to hire Paul Wolfowitz and fire Dan Froomkin on the same day is a blunder that diminishes the Post's chances of survival. Indeed, it is what James Fallows calls it: insane:

James Fallows: The Washington Post's insane decision.... This is an example of a self-inflicted wound. Are papers like the Post under suspicion for being too insidery and old-media-y? How does it make sense get rid of an independent minded, new media, presumably not-that-expensive, non-Washington-cliquey voice on politics and the media and leave... well, the full opinion and media lineup the Post is sticking with?...

And I should note that while Andy Alexander does not know why Froomkin was fired, his predecessor as ombudsman Deborah Howell does:

Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing," which is highly opinionated and liberal. They're afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter. John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset -- our credibility" as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column "that we would never allow a White House reporter to write..."

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?