Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2009

FROOMKIN OUT?.... When it comes to the paper's online presence, the Washington Post has made some very smart moves in recent months, most notably the additions of Greg Sargent's "The Plum Line" and the Who Runs Gov project, and Ezra Klein.

But this move, if accurate, is a step in the wrong direction.

In a move sure to ignite the left-wing blogosphere, washingtonpost.com columnist Dan Froomkin (author of the "White House Watch" blog) has been let go by the news organization, POLITICO hears. In so many words, Froomkin was told that his blog had essentially run its course.

Froomkin's work for the Post has, at times, been amongst the most popular, but he has also ruffled some feathers, including former Post ombudsman Deb Howell, who used a column to field complaints over the labeling of Froomkin's "highly opinionated and liberal" "White House Briefing" column, which was subsequently changed to "White House Watch."

I haven't seen official confirmation of this, but if Froomkin is leaving the Post, it's a real loss. Froomkin has been a great writer with keen instincts, often picking up on a burgeoning story before it's gained traction elsewhere.

The Politico says the move is "sure to ignite the left-wing blogosphere," but Froomkin's departure, if true, should disappoint anyone concerned with insightful political analysis. Indeed, far-right complaints notwithstanding, Froomkin has spent months scrutinizing the Obama White House, cutting the Democratic president no slack at all. Just over the past couple of days, Froomkin offered critical takes on the president's proposed regulations of the financial industry, follow-through on gay rights, and foot-dragging on Bush-era torture revelations.

Froomkin was one of the media's most important critics of the Bush White House, and conservative bashing notwithstanding, was poised to be just as valuable holding the Obama White House accountable for its decisions.

If the report is correct, I'm sorry to see him go.

Update: I've spoken to Dan, who confirmed that he is, in fact, leaving the Post.

"I'm terribly disappointed," he said. "I was told that it had been determined that my White House Watch blog wasn't "working" anymore. Personally, I thought it was still working very well, and based on reader feedback, a lot of readers thought so, too... I also thought White House Watch was a great fit with The Washington Post brand, and what its readers reasonably expect from the Post online.

"As I've written elsewhere, I think that the future success of our business depends on journalists enthusiastically pursuing accountability and calling it like they see it. That's what I tried to do every day. Now I guess I'll have to try to do it someplace else."

Steve Benen 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

This is appalling if true. I won't be reading the Post without Froomkin.

Posted by: American in Exile on June 18, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

One word: Damn ...

Posted by: K in VA on June 18, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Fred and Debbie have long memories.

Posted by: SRW1 on June 18, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

my one word for the odious WaPo:

c*o*n*s*i*s*t*e*n*t


Posted by: neill on June 18, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I am a big Froomkin fan but to be honest didn't read him daily.

Interesting that the Post just hired Ezra Klein.

I have 100% confidence that if true, Froomkin will land on his feet. He's a good man and an incredible writer.

Posted by: jharp on June 18, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Froomkin was my transition from reading the newspaper's websites to reading blogs. I used to just read the NYT, WaPo, LAT, etc., to get my news. Then I started reading Froomkin regularly, and that's how I discovered the blogosphere. Granted, I don't bother to read Froomkin anymore, but I will always have a special place for me as a stepping stone to a better news source.

Posted by: UberMitch on June 18, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Well, so much for me needing to go to their website. Froomkin was the only real unique voice there, and his insights into the happenings of Washington were excellent. Hopefully we'll all find out where he lands so we can continue to follow him.

gee, I wonder if Josh Marshall is hiring over at TPM?

Posted by: Mike M on June 18, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Post has been remarkably consistent in making stupid editorial decisions which will also hurt their bottom line. But Charles Krazyhater is probably popping wheelies for joy.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on June 18, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Confirmed.

Washington Post Media Communications Director Kris Coratti tells POLITICO:

I think the easiest way to put it is that our editors and research teams are constantly reviewing our columns, blogs and other content to make sure we're giving readers the most value when they are on our site while balancing the need to make the most of our resources. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes features must be eliminated, and this time it was the blog that Dan Froomkin freelanced for washingtonpost.com

Posted by: raff on June 18, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

they keep richard cohen and fire dan froomkin. speaks for itself.

Posted by: Travis on June 18, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

While Froomkin may not be all that "liberal", by comparison to the neo-cons running the shop at WaPo he's positively flaming and totally out of sync with the blatantly conservative bias exhibited daily by the publication and all its related products.

Posted by: mikey on June 18, 2009 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I hope this is not true. But if it is, I hope that Froomkin continues his column elsewhere. In which case, I'll just change the RSS feed and never give the Wash Post much thought after that.

Posted by: laym on June 18, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone outside of WDC still read the WaPo? I used to, but gave up when it became a sad shadow of its former self.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on June 18, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think it best to reserve judgement. Froomkin has done fine work, they are letting him go. They may or may not have good reasons. Absent any claim that they are firing him for an unethical reason, why should any of us make a fuss?

Froomkin did a good job but he was an on-staff blogger. There is no reason he cannot do the same thing elsewhere.

Posted by: jimmy on June 18, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

our editors and research teams are constantly reviewing our columns, blogs and other content to make sure we're giving readers the most value when they are on our site while balancing the need to make the most of our resources.

So they fired Froomkin while continuing to pay Gerson, Krauthammer, Kristol, Kagan, and Will to spout right-wing talking points.

Department of Redundancy Department.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on June 18, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to admit it, but I stopped reading him regularly when his format changed.

I'm not sure why, but it just seemed to be more work or something.

For one thing, I'm a quick reader and like to scan, and having to click and load each segment, it just took too long.

Perhaps there are a lot of folks like me who stopped reading when the format changed, and that led the WaPo to think his blog had "run its course."

Hope someone picks him up.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 18, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

a singularly fecking stupid decision by a paper excelerating its own demise.

Posted by: dcrolg on June 18, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

They had no choice but to get rid of Froomkin. With all those other left-wing voices in its columnist rotation -- George Will, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, etc. -- he just sounded too much like everyone else.

What a stupid fucking decision. I'm starting to root for the death of newspapers.

Posted by: TR on June 18, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I began reading Froomkin because he is constantly cited by all knowledgeable politcal commentators, this excellent publication included.

I'm sure Dan will be scooped up quickly by an astute publication, but if not, he should start his own independent blog (to which I would gladly pay a subscription).

Posted by: bdop4 on June 18, 2009 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I will follow Froomkin wherever he lands. Bye bye, WaPo. Katie Graham must be turning over in her grave. Between this and what the NYT has done to the Boston Globe, as much as I love print, I am very happy to have my iPhone and the Web

Posted by: npt on June 18, 2009 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Can't think of any reason I would want to click on the wapo link any more. They appear to have gone full bore right wing and news I can get anywhere......

Posted by: dweb on June 18, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Froomkin is/was an apprentice Frank Rich. The only things these two lack is a functioning brain.

Posted by: mhr on June 18, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

This is the first place I go when I sit down at the computer--the rest of you guys in the blogosphere come later!
I will be devastated if this is true and can only hope he will end up somewhere where he is both appreciated and accessable to us hoi polloi.

Posted by: Betsy on June 18, 2009 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Absent any claim that they are firing him for an unethical reason, why should any of us make a fuss?

Because they pay George Will and David Broder who speak for approximately no one? Because just about everyone else affiliated with that paper supported every stupid fucking neocon project that was puked out during the Bush years without so much as a "excuse me?"

It matters because the Post is an important voice because they are the main news and opinion source in the most powerful city in the world. Sadly, what they write affects all of us on some level because people who represent us in Congress and in the Executive branch listen to them.

AND THEY FUCKING SUCK. On one hand, this simply speeds their demise. On the other, the shittiest fucking op-ed section in the world is still unremittingly shitty.

Posted by: Jay B. on June 18, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK


thank you dan..

for a great job during a time when the country needed your insight and voice...

but the truth is that when obama took over...

it was time to turn the page..

best of luck dan in your next chapter..

Posted by: mr. irony on June 18, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

I liked the old Froomkin format better, too. I guess the only reason for reading WaPo now is EJ Dionne, and I can always find him elsewhere. WaPo--out you go!

Best of luck, Dan.

Posted by: ringrid on June 18, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Dan Froomkin's White House coverage was consistently superb, he was among the most popular writers on the Post's site, and he was the only person at the Post who ever answered my emails. I have no doubt that Froomkin will land elsewhere within a very short time, and wherever he goes, I'll bookmark a link and read his writing regularly.

The Post has seriously diminished itself.

Posted by: Helen Highwater on June 18, 2009 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Froomkin has been an essential part of my day (it was upsetting and disorienting for me when he would take off the odd long weekend).
I had no trouble adapting to his new format (thank heavens for high speed) but I noticed that there tended to be few comments on most posts. I think this is understandable since often what he was doing was sampling a variety of opinions on important subjects. this often didn't lend itself to heated/witty comments.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 18, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

If the NYT were smart, they'd snatch him up in an instant and use him as a springboard for their website. If...

Posted by: Baldrick on June 18, 2009 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Until Jan 21, readers might have thought Froomkin to be a flaming liberal, but he was just watching the White House. Something he has continued to do with aplomb since January 21st. I wish him well and hope someone good will pick him us. Daily Beast or Politico listening?

Posted by: Mr. Mxyzptlk on June 18, 2009 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Dan, I'm a huge admirer of your work and I can safely say that yours was the only piece of the WaPo I read voluntarily. It was a great blog and a fantastic running commentary on important subjects. I hope you land on your feet in terms of a job. Journalism will be the poorer without your daily contributions. But really, by this time, the Wapo's record of valuing good journalism is almost as bad as the wsj so its not surprising they'd axe you.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on June 18, 2009 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Dan Froomkin's blog was one of a handful of daily reads for me. And, I always liked his "On-line Chat" conversations, too. His dismissal by/from WaPo is disgusting for its symbolism, but his association w/ that site had nothing to do with his credibility with me. I am certain he will land somewhere else and perhaps be the better for not having to drive traffic to WaPo articles at the top of his posts...

Posted by: TuiMel on June 18, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Damn.

WaPo is still worth reading for Weingarten, Hax, Martin ... in other words, the lifestyle/features section.

Some other place will be worth reading for Froomkin.

Posted by: Suzii on June 18, 2009 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Very upsetting news. It had gotten to where Froomkin was the only reason I went to the Washington Post site. Now I guess I can take it off my bookmarks. Please let us know when you learn where we can find him again.

Posted by: Danny Gail McElrath (Ms) on June 18, 2009 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Froomkin will not only land another gig but I suspect it'll be a place that actually values his work. Ever since that idiotic Howell incident, the WaPo seemed to make his column increasingly difficult to find. Now they claim it wasn't working? Asshats.

Posted by: beep52 on June 18, 2009 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Dan Froomkin will be more determined than ever to fight the Fascists that are destroying our country with lies. The ramparts await us!.

Posted by: ghostcommander on June 18, 2009 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Another example of the braindead Post. I cancelled my print subscription some time ago--now i won't even visit their website, or read their stupid Newsweak, either. I predict doom and gloom for the Post.

Posted by: c4Logic on June 18, 2009 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Today I sensed a move to the right on the editorial page of the local newspaper--and hoped I was wrong. It's the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, a beacon of liberal thought.
But kind of dictatorial today. Nothing too liberal offered, and it said " a bad president" above
a negative and sickening letter to the editor.

We should write to the Post to keep Froomkin.

Posted by: Joanne on June 18, 2009 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

So now there are two papers covering the nation's capital: The Washington News and the Washington Newsier.

Posted by: MikeN on June 18, 2009 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

It only took the Catholic Church 500 years to apologize for excommunicating Galileo. Unfortunately for WaPo, it cannot sustain for 1/50th of that time to make a similar concession to Froomkin.

As a journalist who 'got' the Net early and utilized it well, Dan's likely to land with a more sustainable media outlet. Syndicated columnists like Dionne will survive when the WaPo dies. I only hope its last liberal blogger - Greg Sargent - finds a horse to ride before the dying dinosaur he's on reaches its certain demise.

Posted by: KevinHayden on June 19, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Just canceled my 11-year subscription. When I saw this morning that Fred Hiatt had a hand in it, that was the last straw. I loathe the editorial page of the Post anymore. If anything it's gotten worse since Obama took office.

Posted by: lou on June 19, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

The Post needs to have its HVAC system checked for aerosolized traces of Teh Stoopid.

Posted by: Lex on June 19, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

An awkwardly phrased sentence has you accusing Froomkin of foot-dragging on torture--which I'm sure was not your intent.

Posted by: rea on June 19, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

I still think Op-Eds need to be removed from all papers. I can't think of what they really bring to the table - whether I agree or not.

Posted by: ET on June 19, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

They should have let Woodward go -- they pay him and he doesn't even write for the paper.

Posted by: bellesouth on June 19, 2009 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of adding a new, inspiring voice to WaPo's usually uninteresting roster of columnists, Ezra Klein's blogging has suffered from the move. I couldn't find anything interesting at his WaPo stuff yet. And obviously, I'm alone: Just look at he ridiculously low number of readers who care to comment on his postings! It's like ten percent of what it used to be. A tragedy.

Posted by: Gray on June 20, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Just watch the Post implode. Calling the editorial page a propaganda organ is too polite. As has been pointed out by Glenn Greenwald and Paul Krugman, if you were a neoconservative (i.e. wrong about WMD, Iraq in general, torture, etc) then the Washington Post wants you. They seem to hope if they spout the same discredited nonsense long enough, it will take hold with the public. It is clearly too late for that. They choose to go out of business rather then admit their errors. Those with power don't give it up easily. Even after they've actually lost it, they cling to the memory of it like a 1929 era millionaire clutching worthless stock certificates. If it is to stick, the lesson must be harsh. While the post is clearly the worst, NYT and LAT will likely also disappear in the recycled bin of history. A warning to any business which so blatantly fails to do what is it's mission, to inform. And, in fact, does the exact opposite.

Posted by: middlemoose on June 22, 2009 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I just encountered your blog and really loved it. I’m going to add a bookmark, keep up the good work!

Posted by: Credit Debt on November 1, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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