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WaPo‘s Rubin Under Fire

The Nation‘s Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?, has taken a blowtorch to WaPo‘s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. In an article published Wednesday meant to criticize WaPo as a paper lacking integrity, Alterman hones in on Rubin, who he calls an “attack dog” and accuses her of…a lot of things. None of them positive.

Here’s a dog-bites-man story if there ever was one. Alterman, who once blogged for Media Matters for America, takes issue with a conservative writer with a prominent platform.

First Alterman criticizes some of Rubin’s pre-WaPo work that caused a stir, including a piece she wrote for Commentary Magazine titled “Why Jews Hate Palin.” In the story Rubin wrote that “American Jews” firmly believe that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is “uncouth, unschooled, a hick, anti-science and anti-intellectual.”

“[Rubin] developed a specialty in venomous attacks on liberal American Jews” at Commentary, Alterman says (side note: Rubin herself is Jewish).

Other razor-sharp bits Alterman throws at Rubin:

  • “Barely a day goes by without a Rubin post filled with nasty name-calling attacks on a group or individual…”
  • “[Rubin is] a writer who cares nothing for the truth, but rather dedicates herself to spewing childish insults at the president of the United States as well as the millions of people who reject her ideological obsessions…”
  • “[W]hile the talk of Nazis and Obama’s alleged love for Islam have been tamed a bit, Rubin’s penchant for hate-filled fantasy has not.”

And so it goes, graph after hate-filled graph.

Predictably, Alterman speaks highly of WaPo‘s liberal blogger Greg Sargent, whom he hails as “a hard-working professional journalist who advances news stories regardless of whether they critique or flatter his own side.” (This part is somewhat inconsistent with Alterman’s criticism of Rubin, given that later in the story, he cites Rubin as tearing into former GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. He called Rubin’s writing on them “abusive invective.”)

Also predictably, Alterman has favorable things to say about other liberal writers such as Slate‘s Dave Weigel, whom Rubin replaced at WaPo after Weigel resigned in 2010 amid the “journolist” controversy.

Weigel told us he’s “a huge Rubin fan” and his sole criticism of her blog is that interviews she conducts aren’t transcribed in Q&A format. He said he didn’t believe her work at WaPo has hurt the paper’s reputation.

Back to Rubin. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a law degree. She worked as a labor lawyer for 20 years. She’s done countless TV hits, written for Politico, and has been featured by Washingtonian magazine. She has no fears about publicly going after her liberal colleagues like Sargent and Ezra Klein. Alterman identifies her as “a former Hollywood lawyer” who worked “briefly as an editor for the right-wing Pajamas Media and as a blogger for Commentary.”

Once you get past this and the 14 rabidly anti-Rubin graphs, Alterman redirects his venom back to WaPo at large. “It is true that the Washington Post has bigger problems than the serial inaccuracy and incivility of its right-wing blogger,” he writes. “But the question for the house that Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham built is not merely whether it will survive, but how.”

Though criticism of Rubin makes up the bulk of Alterman’s piece, he told us she’s not his “main concern with the paper. She’s just the one about which [he] chose to focus in this particular article.” As for his own nasty tone toward her, he said he had no personal reasons to attack her and even admitted that he has never met her. “This is my job and I try to do it as well as I can,” he said.

FBDC reached out to Rubin for comment.

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