Thursday, January 19, 2006

Presstitute of the Day: Deborah Howell

Pissy, pissy, pissy little Deborah Howell.

Howell, you will remember, is the new ombudsperson at the Washington Post. (I'm a feminist. I refuse to call a woman an ombudsman, as the Post does. So sue me.) Howell's been wrong a few times now -- saying the answer to Bob Woodward not telling his editor about his involvement in the Plame case is for Woodward to get an editor, for example.

But her lowest moment (until today) was Sunday, when she published this statement of "fact":

a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money.

As though it were fact. However, it is not. As it is not a true fact, it is, in fact, a lie. A very big lie, as this is the Republican Talking Point of the moment, intended to confuse the public.

For the Abramoff scandal is a Republican scandal. Abramoff gave all his campaign money -- $172,933 -- exclusively to Republicans. His clients, the Indian tribes, continued to give political contributions to Democrats, as they always had, but in lower amounts than before they hired Abramoff. Those same tribes, however, suddenly more than tripled their contributions to Republicans, at Abramoff's urging.

So it is a lie to say that Democrats have gotten Abramoff campaign money. They didn't get one thin dime. And it is a pernicious lie, as it is intended to mislead the public into thinking the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan. It is not. It is about Republicans cheating, stealing, and pigging out at the trough of political corruption. No Democrats participated in the K Street Project.

Well, blogtopia (yes! skippy coined the term!) was not happy to see a lie masquerading as the truth in the Washington Post. Bloggers, egged on by Jane Hamsher at firedoglake, began bombarding the Post's new blog, post.blog, with comments. (The comments were placed on the most recent post, entitled "New Blog: Maryland Moment", so the uprising of the readers on this issue will ever be known as The Maryland Moment.) Most of the comments were quite civil, pointed out the error, and asked for a retraction and a correction.

The Post's reaction was instructive. No correction has ever been made. Comments were deleted, first just a few, then en masse. (While the Post later blamed the disappearing of the comments on their blogvendor, Typepad, I have my doubts.) After an outcry, comments were reinstated. A Post reporter, Derek Willis, posted a comment in essence defending Howell's lie as truth. That reporter's comment was bombarded with angry denunciations. Then, Presstitute Howie Kurtz got in on the action, declaring Howell's statement had been "inartfully worded", and pushing the lie that
Abramoff was an equal opportunity giver if you looked at the contributions of the tribes. More derisive comments followed.

Still, as of this morning, no correction, no retraction.

Finally at 11:30 a.m. this morning, more than five days after the offending lie appeared in her column, Deborah Howell posted this on the post blog:

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 01/19/2006
Deborah Howell Responds

I've heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties.

Lobbyists, seeking influence in Congress, often advise clients on campaign contributions. While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.

Records from the Federal Elections Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that AbramoffÂ’s Indian clients contributed between 1999 and 2004 to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats. The Post has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with specific directions on what members of Congress were to receive specific amounts.

One of those lists can be viewed in this online graphic, while a graphical summary of giving by Abramoff, his tribal clients and associated lobbyists can be viewed here. The latest developments in the Abramoff investigation are available in this Special Report.

-- Deborah Howell, Washington Post Ombudsman

So, she has (1) refused to admit that her original statement of "fact" was, indeed, a lie; and (2) offered yet another version of "everybody does it". But she's wrong. One of firedoglake's commenters deconstructs her statement and the skewed evidence she uses. In essence, she used an Abramoff document that doesn't match up with actual amounts contributed by the tribes. Nothing like a little misleading on a lovely Thursday morning.

This afternoon the Washington Post shut down its Comments. Indefinitely, they say. Forever, I predict.

So, for lying in print, refusing to correct that lie, replacing the lie with another lie, then shutting down the public's access to their spokeswoman, I award today's Presstitute of the Day award to Deborah Howell.

I have a feeling she'll win more than one of these.

2 comments:

kerblam! said...

Thank you, you and your foaming-at-the-mouth leftists, for being the hateful and rueful and spiteful dwicks that you are. You are the best thing that has ever happened to the Republican party.

I notice you don't refute what she says, at all, that he directed his contributions to R's and D's alike. You do have your panties in a wad over ONE WORD of her original article, much like the National Review is still waging a holy war over NYT columns claiming that Gore flat-out won Florida (no corrections from them, either).

You also ignore the fact that the post turned off the comments because they were being taxed deleting the hate posts. Posts you don't see because they were deleting them.

No doubt you sense a conspiracy there. Good. You are truly gone fruity, if you feel the friggin' Washington Friggin Post is too right-of-center for you. The R's will roll mightily in November, thanks to you and your ilk.

kerblam! said...
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