TBT: The Brutal Truth

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

WaPo Ombudsman Done Dealing With Critics

Aravosis fields this one from Media Matters:

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell has reportedly posted a comment on the Post's internal message board announcing that she has learned the following "lesson" from exchanges with Media Matters for America: "From now on, I don't reply." Howell's language did not make clear whether she meant that she would no longer reply to any criticism, or only to that registered by Media Matters.

An ombudsman is defined as a person "who investigates complaints and mediates fair settlements, especially between aggrieved parties such as consumers or students and an institution or organization". In the context of a newspaper, the ombudsman would investigate complaints between the public, the editorial board, and the paper's owner/publisher regarding the fairness and accuracy of the paper's reportage and then offer fair and unbiased advice on how the paper can better serve the public trust. In other words, the ombudsman is supposed to act as a neutral third pair of eyeballs in a dispute between parties that can't or won't see eye to eye.

Therefore, to have an ombudsman vow to not listen to criticism is to have an ombudsman who refuses to do the job they were tapped to do in the first place. What is the nature of Howell's vow to not respond to critics? Does she mean she will no longer listen to the criticism of Media Matters or the the public in general?

If the former, she's pulling an O'Rielly.

If the latter, she's pulling a George W. Bush.

Either way, she needs to step down or face termination.

UPDATE: It's official -- WaPo's ombudsman meant criticism in general. AmericaBlog does the digging and this is what the WaPo doesn't want people to see -- a cache of their blog before they went ahead and pulled a Talon News scrubbing all the comments. Censorship of this magnatude combined with the Bob Woodward scandal shows that our media -- especially the WaPo and the NY Times -- are nothing more that State-Sponsored propaganda channels. Someone needs to ask Bill Clinton if he's still happy over signing the 1996 Deregulation Act.


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Best regards from NY!
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