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How Howell’s Week Has Been

Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell has posted some of her thoughts on the post.blog brouhaha on the Post’s internal “Omblog.”

In a post called “And how has your week been?” Howell concedes in the beginning that she’s choosing her words carefully: “I would love to be more free-wheeling in this and show that I do indeed have a sense of humor, but I’m keenly aware that someone could send this to a bloggers. So I’ll keep it straight.”

Howell likely learned her lesson when an earlier post of hers–when she said that the lesson she took away from her spat with MediaMatters.org was not to respond–was leaked here and landed her in further hot water.

Regarding Comment-gate, “If I had it to do over again, I would not have made the error, of course. Second, I would have corrected it on the website Monday. Post policy is to have editorial page columnists correct in their column and not on Page 2. But I could have put a cx on the website Monday.”

She also republishes some of the letters she received, but this one clearly takes the cake:

    +A reader who probably should remain anonymous: “Dear Deb, If you think you got hate mail you should have been married to my ex-wife.”

Her full Comment-gate comments after the jump…


I would love to be more free-wheeling in this and show that I do indeed have a sense of humor, but I’m keenly aware that someone could send this to a bloggers. So I’ll keep it straight.

Obviously I drew the vast majority of the heat this week. I’ll share a couple of short letters and a summary of Post reporting as done by the Abramoff team that I will send more thoughtful e-mailers…

***

I got about 1,500 e-mails after my first Abramoff column and about 1,000 more just on Sunday and more than 500 yesterday. I have opened all the e-mails and read most of them and replied to most that were local and not abusive. I would say (no official count here) that the reaction to my last column was about 50 percent positive and 50 percent piling on more.

If I had it to do over again, I would not have made the error, of course. Second, I would have corrected it on the website Monday. Post policy is to have editorial page columnists correct in their column and not on Page 2. But I could have put a cx on the website Monday.

A couple of pithy letters, after I cranked up the obscenity filter to the max:

+ “The current Washington Post Ombusdman (sic) is the most vile, abhorrent, disgusting, evil human being on the face of the earth. And Paul Farhi’s defense of the bitch (on Saturday, Jan. 21) is repugnant.”

+A “Democrat of 40 years” wrote: “Hang in there Ms Howell. Your critics are describing themselves more accurately than they are describing you and your efforts.”

+A reader who probably should remain anonymous: “Dear Deb, If you think you got hate mail you should have been married to my ex-wife.”

This is an e-mail I will send to the more thoughtful e-mailers on the subject.

“The Post stands by its reporting that Jack Abramoff directed campaign money to some Democrats. Abramoff was one of Washington’s most prominent Republican lobbyists and his political pedigree and alliances were overwhelmingly conservative and Republican.

” No Democrats are among the half-dozen lawmakers who The Post’s sources say are under scrutiny by the Justice Department. Abramoff convinced a number of casino-rich Indian tribes that had been historically Democratic donors to expand their political giving and to make most of their contributions to the GOP.

“However, as reported in several Post stories since 2004, Abramoff also built links with the other party, as most lobbyists do. He hired a few Democrats onto his lobbying staff. He turned over his sports stadium boxes to some Democrats to use for fundraising events.

“Representatives of tribes including the Saginaw Chippewas, the Tiguas of El Paso and the Agua Caliente Band testified in Congress that Abramoff told them how much to give to specific lawmakers and party committees. The lists he sent to the Indian tribes included some Democrats and Democratic party groups, according to copies of the lists obtained by The Post and according to tribal members familiar with Abramoff’s operation. More than a dozen Democrats, including Sens. Byron Dorgan ( N.D.) and Max Baucus (Mont.) have returned donations from Abramoff clients and associates, citing the scandal.

“Here are some of the stories that touch on those points:

— Papers Show Tribe Paid to Try to Sway Bill, Nov. 18, 2004 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58703-2004Nov17.html

_ Tribal Money Linked to GOP Fundraising; Skybox Events Were Not Always Reported to FEC, Dec. 26, 2004 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26015-2004Dec25.html

— Casino Bid Prompted High-Stakes Lobbying, March 13, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30274-2005Mar12.html

— Democrats Also Got Tribal Donations; Abramoff Issue’s Fallout May Extend Beyond the GOP, June 3, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/02/AR2005060202158.html

— Abramoff Witness Frustrates Panel, Nov. 18, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111701682.html

— Dorgan Tangled in Abramoff Web, Dec. 5, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/04/AR2005120401158.html

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