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Teapot Tempests

You Just Got Posted!

WaPo‘s Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza are back in business today. And not a moment too soon. If imitation really is the purest form of flattery … the “compliments” were plentiful. Consider this an early (double) happy hour:

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Hilsenrath Moves

Gorkana tells us that “Jon Hilsenrath is now Chief Economics Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. He works within the Global Economics Bureau in D.C. and is responsible for covering the Federal Reserve and all major developments in the US and global economies. He also contributes to the WSJ.com’s Real Time Economics site. His reporting appears in both the print and online editions of The Wall Street Journal.”

Walton-James leaves Tribune for NPR

Romenesko has the memo: Vickie Walton-James is leaving her position as Senior Washington Editor at Tribune Publishing to join National Public as Supervising Editor for the Midwest and South.

This Week’s “Reliable Sources”

From CNN:

    BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
    HOWARD KURTZ, HOST (voice over): YouTube, take two. Did video questions provide more heat than light at the Republican debate? And should CNN have known that the retired general who pressed the candidates on gay rights was linked to Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

    Rudy’s rant. He accuses “The Politico” of a hit job for reporting questions about security expenses regarding his one-time marital mistress, Judy Nathan. Then why didn’t his campaign answer the questions?

    Rumors. False rumors, that is, about Barack Obama being a Muslim become a front-page story. Why?

    Plus, Washington tragedy. The murder of a Redskins star with a checkered past sparks a debate about how the media portray the lives and sometimes the deaths of black athletes.

Read the rest here.

BREAKING: Harwood Joins NYT

John Harwood is leaving his position at the Wall Street Journal to join the New York Times (effective Christmas Eve). “Mr. Harwood will contribute political stories and analysis to various sections of the newspaper and NYTimes.com,” reads the announcement. “The part-time role is similar to work he has done for The Wall Street Journal for the past two years while leading CNBC’s Washington coverage.” Harwood will remain as chief Washington correspondent for CNBC.

Wait, Tucker!

What are you doing filming in front of the Billy Goat Tavern?!? We’ll come drink with you!

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

ThinkProgress is all over a story that Chris Matthews appears to have taken large speaking fees from a variety of associations in violation of NBC’s policies.

A blogger at Seeing the Forest pulled together a lengthy report (PDF) of Matthews’ recent speeches and ThinkProgress confirmed at least three of them yesterday resulted in large payments.

Howard Kurtz reported in 2002 that NBC had banned its journalists from taking speaking fees, but bloggers yesterday could not confirm that policy.

The explanation could be as simple as Matthews donated the money to charity (he and his wife, Kathleen, are big fixtures on the charity circuit in Washington), but for now the evidence seems pretty convincing.

MSNBC’s Rick Kaplan denied the charges, but as ThinkProgress pointed out, he offered no proof, defense, or explanation.

‘Appearance Is As Important As Reality’

It falls to Gene Robinson this year to write the obligatory self-flagellating column about the impropriety of the administration and the press getting together for all these “fun” press dinners.

Today, he has some questions about this weekend’s Gridiron dinner:

“The point isn’t the program or the performances. The point is that the nation’s leading journalists get together with the people they are supposed to hold accountable and have an evening of penguin-suited, designer-gowned fellowship….

“With apologies to my hosts, I ended up feeling conflicted about the whole thing.

“Reporters wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t get to know the officials they cover. Politicians, even those who I believe have wrong ideas about everything, tend to be garrulous and fun to be around. The Gridiron dinner and other similar events on the calendar each year seek to demonstrate that adversaries don’t have to be enemies.

“But we reporters are always pointing out to officials that as far as conflict of interest is concerned, appearance is as important as reality. That’s why I left the Gridiron dinner with that vague unease: I wondered what it looked like to people who weren’t in that ballroom.

“The day after the dinner, reporters went back to trying to pry information out of this ultra-secretive administration. But I wondered what people in Seattle or New Orleans or Cleveland would think if they saw the journalistic elite at such jocular ease with the officials whose feet they hold to the fire.

“Houston, do we have an appearance problem?”

The answer, of course, is yes. The answer has always been yes, but that’s unlikely to change anything. After all, Saturday night was the 121st Gridiron dinner, meaning that the appearance problem was existed roughly since the Gilded Age of Grover Cleveland. Good luck with your crusade, Gene.

More Post Attribution Issues?

Last Friday, editors at Knight-Ridder launched a minor kerfuffle by accusing the Washington Post of not properly crediting a story they broke. So you’d think that on that particular day, the Post might have been extra careful about giving credit where credit was due.

Not so much.

A story in Saturday’s paper on mass firings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art failed to credit the influential blog where the news first broke.

The blog, Modern Art Notes, reported the firings early Friday morning–there was no press release or announcement from the Gallery–and throughout the day blogger Tyler Green noticed heavy traffic to his site from the newspaper’s servers. “They were obviously learning about the story from MAN,” Green wrote to us.

Thus, when David Montgomery‘s story came out Saturday, Green was more than a little surprised that he didn’t even receive a passing mention for turning the Post onto the story.

Green fired off an email to ombudsman Deborah Howell asking for published acknowledgement of his role in the story. She promised to look into it, but now three days worth of papers have come and gone with nothing. Montgomery is not one of the paper’s regular arts writers. “I’d expect this kind of behavior from dishonorable websites — not from the Washington Post,” Green wrote.

MAN, for the record, is not a random wacko’s blog: Green is a regular writer for major publications, the New York Times has quoted the site in its reporting, and the Wall Street Journal labeled MAN the nation’s most influential visual-arts blog.

Are these isolated incidents or does the Post have a larger problem about sharing credit where credit is due?

His full email to Howell is after the jump.

Read more

Howell Posts More Excuses

Deborah Howell and the Post launched a rare defensive ombudsman column this weekend, posting it two days early in the hopes of quickly settling a feud that broke out on Romenesko’s site. The feud began when Knight-Ridder folks leaked an internal memo laying out recent problems they’ve had with the Washington Post’s reporting–in one part accusing the Post of not giving credit for one scoop and in another part questioning some of the paper’s reporting from Iraq.

“Washington journalism has about it a peculiar insularity. Who gets credit for groundbreaking reporting is not important to most readers, but Washington editors often try to knock down each other’s stories and want to be credited when they think they’ve broken a story first. I know; I’ve done it,” Howell started.

In the very unconvincing and overly defensive column that follows, Howell lays out why she thinks the paper is in the right (Byron Calame, surprise, surprise, agrees with her over at the Times). First, on the question of the Post’s Iraq death toll numbers, she gets some basic questions from author Ellen Knickmeyer‘s boss, but fails to speak with Knickmeyer personally–and then throws up her hands: “Frankly, there is no way at this point that I can say anything authoritative about Knickmeyer’s story or Hoyt and Walcott’s complaint.”

Wouldn’t it seem that this is a problem that could easily by solved by asking Knickmeyer to put another reporter in contact with the mysterious Interior Ministry official no one else can find?

Then, on Knight-Ridder’s second point, she says the paper’s editors said they were wrong but it didn’t warrant any correction. Then Howell gives room for the Post to air its own complaints: “National Editor Mike Abramowitz noted that a Post story on lax enforcement of mine safety regulations appeared a day before a similar Knight-Ridder story in January and that The Post was not credited.”

Howell’s still settling into her Post post, but she certainly seems to be doing her darndest to not get too deep into anything. Her columns, even when launched defensively, at best seem superficial, and at worse are outright negligent in their thoroughness.

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