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Late Nite FDL: The Morning After

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Dear Jim,

Was it good for you?  Because it was good for me.

But I have to wonder, as we sit here smoking our metaphorical cigarettes — now that you’ve "allowed" Ben Domenech to resign, how exactly did he get hired in the first place?  Since you affectionately call me "Columbo" when you’re trying to be cute (aren’t you the clever one), I figure it’s dirty trench coat time.

So let’s begin.  I’m guessing this all started when the White House didn’t like the magnifying glass being applied to it by Dan Froomkin at the WPNI, and since they have no ability to differentiate between valid criticism and partisan hackery their two-pronged approach was to a) silence Froomkin and b) try to get their own partisan hack in there.

So in December of last year, Lil’ Debbie Howell who is supposed to be the reader’s representative writes a column about a complaint coming from the Administration that the readers neither know nor care about where she labels Froomkin "highly opinionated and liberal," suggests that he should therefore be banished to the opinion page and that you are "considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger."

(I like to think this is where we met, Jim.) 

How do we know that pressure was coming from the White House?  Because Len Downie says his goal is to make BushCo. more comfortable with the Froomkin situation, and John WATB Harris cites the criticism by GOP operative Patrick Ruffini of Froomkin as his own. 

Jump to January, when Lil’ Debbie steps in it by saying that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats too.  Rather than just admit she was wrong and post a correction, you decided to hang tough and stonewall. (And it’s quite possible we first caught each others’ eyes here as readers swarmed the in response). To your chivalrous credit, you shut down the blog in the misguided defense of Debbie (and how very sad she paid you back by planting one right in your back this week, Jim).  Even when Debbie admitted the obvious error a week later, you still went on a campaign to discredit her critics — your readers — whom you characterized as "obscene" and full of "hate speech."

And for some weird reason nobody quite understands, you went running into the arms of Hugh Hewitt.  It’s obvious that even though you were the "online guy" you didn’t know much about bloggers.  Did you just slug the word "blog" in at Amazon and come up with Hewitt’s embarrassing tome? Is he your bloggy mentor?  Is that why your info about blogs is so…remedial?  Whatever the connection was, it seems to have been quite a congenial meeting of the minds.  He called us the "fever swamp" and you two obviously bonded over the privileged white male thing.  

And now I’m going to offer up a bit of a guesswork garnered from a conversation with Digby this morning for which Digby is owed the bulk of the credit.  Your likely connection to Domenech seems to be Hewitt, who probably described his "editor" at Regnerey as a former member of the Bush administration who was the scion of another member of the Bush Administration, having written speeches for John Cornyn and co-founded the right wing answer to Daily Kos.  If Hewitt tweaked you by saying Ben hated left-wing bloggers more than you did, well that was tantamount to a pool and an ocean view at that point for sealing the deal, eh Jim?

And I’m guessing that’s just about all the vetting you ever did.  Maybe he submitted a few sample pieces, but nothing to indicate what a deeply fucked up little piece of shit he was (in copious evidence to anyone who bothers to search the Red State archives).  He was an entitled, upper-middle class GOP twit like you and Hugh, the Brownie-esque product of class and cronyism utterly unsullied by any exposure to the free market competition of hard work or ideas.  A home schooled, talentless hothouse flower capable only of spewing pissy, priveleged, angry white rhetoric and devoid of any ability to put forth a cogent argument. 

Did you even notice?

During the Deborah Howell flap you said that "[T]he Post site’s standards…don’t allow profanity or personal attacks."  Yet you allowed someone who called Coretta Scott King a "communist" and Dan Froomkin a "a lying weasel-faced Democrat shill" to start writing as a Washington Post online columnist.  My raincoat is itching.  Are you seeing any inconsistencies here Jim?

Today you told Salon that your editors had read "basically everything he’d written." But Ben wrote those things at Red State — a site that even casual netizens know wears its racism on its sleeve — under the pseudonym "Augustine."  So either a) you didn’t know he was Augustine (though it seems like an obvious question — if you know he co-founded Red State, wouldn’t you want to know what he’d written as a blogger before hiring him as a blogger?) or b) those kinds of insults are okay if they’re being leveled by GOP political operatives on the pages of the and not by, you know, your readers. 

I have to tell you, I was really tickled today by your arrivederci Ben announcement:

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.

That’s so cute, Brady.  These were the very same people — and I mean the EXACT same people, go and check the names (Paul Lukasiak , Brad DeLong and hundreds more) whom you characterized as "obscene," "vituperative" and consumed with "hate speech" when they showed up at the during the Deborah Howell fiasco.  Oh how far we have come.

But I think you need to acknowledge that we have done you a big favor in all of this, Jim.  As Steve Gilliard says:

Jim Brady will owe his employment to the skills of bloggers who ended Domenech’s employment at the Post before it got all over DC black radio. That would have turned this into a major problem for the paper. Calling Mrs. King a communist, something I keep harping on, because it is so vile and such a slander on her character and patriotism, and something so deeply racist, I wonder where a 24 year old learned this. But once it was clear that he did so, that ALONE should have been cause for terminating him.

I hope we’ve all learned a lesson here, Jim.  One — don’t take advice from Hugh Hewitt.  And Two — never ever bow to the right wing.  Which I realize is pretty hard if you are naturally inclined to swing that way, but take Matt Stoller’s advice:

Do not appease the right-wing.  When you do, and when you treat the conservative movement as if they are a legitimate source of information, you end up with WMDs in Iraq, 9/11 linked to Saddam, or on a small scale, an unethical racist trashing the brand of the Washington Post and the career of Jim Brady.

Stop appeasing the right-wing.  It’s bad for you.

So Jim. The Columbo in me wants to know — how did I do?  I’m sure there are fabulous gaps in the narratives you could fill in where Patrick Ruffini calls you on the phone and simply raves about Ben, or second-tier Bushistas toss you cocktail weenies as you sit on your haunches in the corner after his first creepy post.

So come on, you owe it to us.  After all we’ve done for you.  How exactly did Ben wind up on the pages of the WPNI? 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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