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Posts Tagged ‘Katharine Graham’

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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Intern Aftermath

Earlier in the week, we got tipped off by a WaPo staffer that management had released an internal document to the entire newsroom introducing the current crop of interns and what drew them to the paper.

One intern, Rosie Powers, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate, proceeded to introduce her new WaPo colleagues to their own CEO Don Graham. She told them he’s the son of Katharine Graham, explained who she was and misspelled her first name. Rosie committed no crime here. Nor did we “attack” this young woman or say she committed a “sin.”

But as usual, when we do what the rest of Washington’s journalism community does — which is, we dig, report, we get leaked documents — some went into an apoplectic uproar. FishbowlDC is “loathsome” remarked James Grimaldi, a longtime investigative reporter who recently took WaPo‘s buyout and is headed to the WSJ. 1. We’re quite certain that the self-righteous Grimaldi has been leaked documents once or twice in his career. 2. We’re sure he appreciated it. 3. We’re convinced he didn’t give a rat’s ass about the person in question’s feelings. A day earlier, NBC’s Luke Russert said FBDC had reached a “new low” and PBS’s Gwen Ifill appeared to second him, calling him a “good man” — apparently for writing that. For starters, we have a history of defending Luke when his enormous army of detractors writes to say what scum he is for riding his father’s coattails. Funny, he never saw fit to praise us for that. But more fittingly, Luke likely never considered the feelings of others when he interviewed ex-New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner last summer and nailed him on that Weiner underwear shot because everyone was doing it. By Luke and other’s standards, he probably should have thought about Weiner’s poor wife, Huma Abedin, or the innocent, unborn Weiner who hadn’t yet breathed his first weinerous breath.

Journalism is not about protecting people’s feelings. And in Washington when it’s not journalists being covered, it isn’t about feelings. When President Obama recently goofed and called Mitt Romney “George” which is his dead father’s name, the news cycle went wild. Was it petty? Maybe. Did family members get their feelings hurt? Who knows? No one cared. And when Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said first lady Michelle Obama had a large derriere in a private phone conversation, countless pubs (including and especially us) covered it. Were Michelle’s feelings on the line regarding the size of her rump? Again, it wasn’t an issue. But there’s a double standard. All reporting is fine as long as you’re dissecting the lives of government officials, their staffs and the White House. But dare to cover media in the same way that journalists here cover politics and that is preposterously off limits.

The outrage didn’t end with Grimaldi or Russert. WaPo‘s Gene Weingarten, who devotes much of his waking existence to poop, dubbed FBDC “petty” and called us “kindergarten muckrakers” who specialize in “phony” controversy. He spent actual time searching for FBDC stories he feels were particularly egregious. Meanwhile, Weingarten routinely calls up company administrators to harass them about a myriad of stupid things and then he writes about it. Half the time they don’t respond, the responses in his stories are blank spots and somehow this is considered humor. Meanwhile, FBDC is the lowest form of, to put in Weingarten terms, feces, out there. And for what? Getting leaked an odd piece of news about his own paper’s intern? Yes, suddenly there’s a huge moral problem here.

But what is more morally outrageous is the fragility with which this young woman, Rosie, is being treated by these longtime journos like Weingarten, Katharine Zaleski and Lauren Ashburn, Editor-in-Chief and founder of DailyDownload.com. They coddled her. Worse, they pitied her. Weingarten referred to her as a “kid.” Zaleski, formerly Executive Digital Director at WaPo, said an internship at WaPo was “preschool for interns” adding, “that’s what an internship is for.” She later said that was a typo and meant “press-school.” That’s SOME typo. Ashburn said this was “sad” that an “innocent” girl was being attacked. Russert, meanwhile, rode in on his white horse, saying, only “professionals” like him should be on the receiving end of supposed attacks. I’d like to think Rosie is well worth being considered a “professional” and not demean her as a weakling who needs swaddling. Whatever happened to grizzled editors who told you when your work wasn’t worth a damn? They cut your copy with brutal honesty and toughened you into being reporters who didn’t emote all day long. There were editors who killed your copy when it didn’t make sense. Or the ones who threw you out of their offices when you wasted their time with nonsensical chatter. Or the journalism profs who gave you big fat F’s for a single spelling error. Are today’s journalists expecting to have hands held and pacifiers in mouth every step of the way? Is the new mentality that media coverage must be gentle and Washington’s journalists must be protected from hurt feelings?

Seems the word “intern” caused some to go haywire this week as if the young woman’s age was reason enough to scrap the story. When a newspaper employs human beings, it is our beat to cover them, whether they are interns, reporters, editors or the blanched Marcus Brauchli himself. Chandra Levy was covered, but then again she was murdered and had been sleeping with a lawmaker. Monica Lewinksy, a low level White House aide, was covered. She gave the President a blowjob. What’s next, are reporters going to be forbidden from covering low-level staffers on Capitol Hill because they are fresh out of school? Next up: Jim Romenesko wrote a quick and dirty post wondering if FishbowlDC had reached a “new low.” His comments were minimal as is the Romenesko way. But he described what we wrote about Ms. Powers as “her sins” — his description not ours. Now there’s no doubt in our minds that Romenesko has never been leaked anything. To put the icing on the cake, The Guardian‘s Ana Marie Cox, who once made it her life’s mission to screw over many who helped her by giving them a good ass kicking on Wonkette, wrote in all caps, “Romenesko: HAS FISHBOWL REACHED A NEW LOW?” That’s rich, Ana. Call us when you get to that amends step.

Finally, where is the outrage for WaPo? Not only did they release internal documents about these youngsters to an entire newsroom of journalists, but they clearly didn’t carefully read what they had put out there. Or did they read it at all? WaPo Asst. Manager of Personnel Peter Perl wrote to say, “A new low today, picking on an intern. Really?” He didn’t bother with an email. He kept it all succinctly in the subject line. We certainly hope he’s coping in his paper’s post buyout haze with journalists leaving in droves this week and last. Maybe he was on a sugar high from all that goodbye caking? Clearly Perl wasn’t aware, but in a shocking twist of irony, WaPo went on Facebook this week to call for a public mocking of summer interns that they could meme-ify. They wrote, “Tell us about the questionable interns you’ve encountered and we’ll meme-ify your experience.” Urgent memo to Mr. Perl: Picking on an intern. Really? We’re not sure what’s worse — the word meme-ify or the fact that WaPo can’t apparently see its ass from its elbow or its own bullying mentality starting with Weingarten who devoted his entire Tuesday night to casting aspersions on FishbowlDC. Next Tuesday, Gene, we hope you will spend your evening doing something far more valuable such as changing the toilet paper roll or harassing a company spokeswoman. Let’s just hope she’s older than 22 and not an intern.

Morning Reading List, 11.19.08

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Good morning Washington. What D.C. building is featured in the above picture? Think you know? Drop us an email and we’ll give you the correct answer (and list the correct guessers) in tomorrow’s Morning Reading List.

Got a blind item, interesting link, funny note, comment, birthday, anniversary or anything of the sort for Morning Reading List? Drop us a line or let us know in the tips box below.

We’ve got your morning mix of media Muesli after the jump…

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Morning Reading List, 09.29.08

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Good morning Washington.

Got a blind item, interesting link, funny note, comment, birthday, anniversary or anything of the sort for Morning Reading List? Drop us a line or let us know in the tips box below.

We’ve got your morning mix of media Muesli after the jump…

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Party Photos: A DC Wedding Reception for Dan & Meg

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U Street’s version of the Katharine Graham mansion — the Some-of-The-Rusty-Nails-In-Our-Backyard-Could-Give-You-TB home of CongressDaily’s Erin McPike and The Hill’s Jackie Kucinich — feted the couple Politico’s Mike Allen calls Generation Y’s version of Ben and Sally: Politico’s Dan Reilly and Glover Park Group’s Meg Little, who were recently married in Vermont. (See the two above, flanked by Politico’s Ryan Grim and Lisa Lerer)

Pics and attendees after the jump…

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A Few Un-Observant Observer Details

An eagle-eyed reader brings to our attention some missteps in the Observer’s recent profile of Katharine Weymouth.

Among them:

  • Misspelling Katharine Graham (“Unlike her grandmother, Katherine Graham, … “)

  • “Katharine Weymouth, the most powerful person at The Washington Post”…You mean more powerful than Don Graham?

  • Len Downie did not take the buyout… (“Those who took them included superstars like its longtime editor Len Downie…”)

  • And why no mention of Don Graham here? “It was her family—chiefly, Phil Graham, her grandfather, and later his wife, Katharine, who made The Washington Post a quality newspaper. For the past half century, they have molded and shaped it. It was they who brought the paper public; they who established its national and international profile.”

  • Re: this…”Unlike her grandmother, Katherine Graham, she did not set aside her wifely duties to take on the intimidating business of running a newspaper…” Um, Katharine Graham was a widow…

  • Live-Blogging: Downie Interview

    DownieLen_L.jpgWe’re at Nathans Georgetown right now and live-blogging the “Q&A Cafe” interview of Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie, Jr. by host Carol Joynt. (In chronological order)

  • Sitting with Jim Kimsey, Victoria Michaels and Pam Sorensen (with whom, one’s thirst can be quenched) before the interview, Downie confesses to them that both he and Don Graham read the Sports section first thing in the morning (not together natch…). He also brags about the number of comics in the Washington Post and how it compares with other papers.
  • Says Downie to the table: “I figure that the people who interview ought to subject themselves to interviews once in a while.”
  • Ben Bradlee put a whoopee cushion under Downie’s seat. Just kidding.
  • Downie’s working on his beach figure, declining the food and saying “I don’t need to eat that much anyway.”
  • Joynt, referring to the Post’s Pulitzer sweep, says “It’s certainly been a good week for Len Downie and the Washington Post.” (applause) “I planned this allthe way along,” she jokes. “The DC Madam last spring, Len Downie this spring.” (laughter)
  • He’s explaining to the table how the paper comes to me…editorial meeting…what gets put on the website…what holds for the paper, etc. “Starting about 4 in the afternoon, I leave my office and go to the news desk in the news room….People start lobbying us. … We talk and discuss various things and start to make decisions.” I like to walk around I walk around and visit people. … I usually work until about 8 o’clock.”
  • Beach figure be damned: Downie digs into his lunch.
  • On the website: “It’s doing really well. We have about 15 million unique visitors doing well. 10 million page views a day. It’s doing very well. It’s really increased our readership and what I really like is all the multimedia stuff.”
  • Is the Internet a threat? “We used to think so. … I no longer think of us as a newsroom. I think of us as a multimedia newsroom. … The print audience is shrinking as the web audience grows.”
  • “I’m really amazed at how many people listen to our podcasts,” said Downie. “A lot of our podcasts are tops on iTunes and that really surprises me, it really does.”
  • “We’re still working on how to best deliver our content to handheld devices.”
  • Interview begins…
  • Joynt: “Did you ever think you would win in a group that included Bob Dylan.” (Laughter) Downie: “Ha, no I didn’t.”
  • Referring to how the Virginia Tech reporters donated their prize to charity, Downie joked, “We have other ways of rewarding them.”
  • The Pulitzer Public Service award is his favorite, “because that’s why we’re in this business: To service the public.”
  • “I call Steve Pearlstein ‘The Scold’ because, like me, he’s always scolding everyone.”
  • On Jo Becker, who left for the New York Times: “We’ll still get her back somehow.” Referring to Becker’s husband, Serge Kovaleski, who was a key decision to move to New York, “We call him the ‘Traitor’ in the newsroom.”
  • Referring to Becker/Bart Gellman’s “Cheney” series: “At first we didn’t like that story … we thought it’d be too hard to do.”

    More after the jump…

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