Dan Froomkin is too smart to say anything controversial about the WaPo.com decision to hire a 25-year-old, home-schooled, college-drop-out, plagiarising racist.
Richmond, Va,: Your thoughts on the role of the progressive blogosphere and its impact on the mainstream media? In recent months, they have actually mobilized their readers to campaign against the mainstream media with some notable successes, mainly with the Washington Post (Domenech and Howell’s misstatements on Abramoff).
Dan Froomkin: I think that a lot of reporters and editors within the traditional media have internalized a nearly-physical aversion to doing anything that they think might somehow make them vulnerable to the accusation that they are liberal. That may have something to do with a concerted campaign by conservatives dating back several decades.
It’s possible that, over time, an assertive progressive blogosphere will prompt an analogous aversion in the other direction, but I’m not sure.
The best case scenario, and I actually see this as more likely, is that reporters and editors will increasingly realize that no matter what they say, someone will attack them, so they might as well just flat-out call it like they see it and take the lumps.
I think Dan owes Jim Brady big time for making Froomkin the most popular journalist/blogger in America.
Boston, Mass.: I know you may be loathe to get yourself involved in the Domenech discussion, but the big elephant in the room that is the pretty obvious inference that he was hired because Brady and others think that you’re a partisan attack dog. To assert that there’s some other reason for his hiring insults the intelligence of the post.com readers.
So my question is: what would be your suggestion for the type of people to hire to represent “a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies”, as Mr. Brady has said is his goal?
Dan Froomkin: Thank you. A lot of questions about this today, not surprisingly. But I am in fact, as you suggest, loathe to weigh in.
As with the last kerfuffle, I’ve been blown away by all the supportive words from readers and bloggers. I thank you. And I think you’ve been more eloquent than I could possibly be.
I can direct you to my response back in December to the ombudsman’s suggestion that my column is “highly opinionated and liberal.” In short, I wrote: “There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny.”
I admire what the Web site has done and continues to try to do with blogs and opinion columns. I think voice thrives on the Internet, and I am all for many voices.
But beyond that, I will not give the Web site any advice. At least not publicly.