7.07.2009

UPDATED: Washington Post's Loss is Huffington Post's Gain: Dan Froomkin, Welcome Aboard!



After it was announced that the WaPo had fired Dan Froomkin, I blogged about Dan's last piece for the WaPo, and the reactions to his being fired, in Dan Froomkin's Farewell WaPo Piece: An Ode To Bloggers & A Lesson In Journalism:

I can't do Dan Froomkin's last WaPo piece, White House Watched, the justice it deserves. So, I'll let it speak for itself. It's a shame Fred Hiatt doesn't understand how med media works and why the WaPo has just taken giant leaps backwards.

When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.

And while this wasn't as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it's now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan.

How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily basis, as I did, one could certainly see the major themes emerging. But by and large, mainstream-media journalism missed the real Bush story for way too long. The handful of people who did exceptional investigative reporting during this era really deserve our gratitude: People such as Ron Suskind, Seymour Hersh, Jane Mayer, Murray Waas, Michael Massing, Mark Danner, Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau (better late than never), Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Charlie Savage and Philippe Sands; there was also some fine investigative blogging over at Talking Points Memo and by Marcy Wheeler. Notably not on this list: The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert. Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars.

It's also worth keeping in mind that there is so very much about the Bush era that we still don't know.

read more...
See the reactions as well....

Last week, I email Nico Pitney with a simple message. Arianna should hire... Dan Foomkin.

Man, I'm brilliant. And, I told Nico as much this morning after seeing this bit of news from Glenn Greenwald (via Media Matters):

In yet another sign of how online media outlets are strengthening as their older establishment predecessors are struggling to survive, The Huffington Post has hired Dan Froomkin to be its Washington Bureau Chief and regular columnist/blogger. Froomkin will oversee a staff of four reporters and an Assistant Editor, guide The Huffington Post's Washington reporting, and write at least two posts per week to be featured on its main page and Politics page. I learned last night of the hiring and spoke to both Arianna Huffington and Froomkin this morning.

Under still-unclear circumstances, which executives refuse to discuss even with their own Ombudsman, Froomkin was fired by The Washington Post a little more than two weeks ago after writing an online column for almost six years that was one of that newspaper's most popular. Almost immediately upon the reporting of Froomkin's firing, screenwriter Nora Ephron, an Editor-at-Large for The Huffington Post, emailed Huffington with a one-line note: "I hope we're hiring him." Within hours, Huffington called Froomkin, met with him in Washington last week, and a deal was finalized this week. That was just one of numerous overtures Froomkin received from various media outlets interested in hiring him (Salon was one such outlet expressing preliminary interest, but both Froomkin and Salon believed that much of what I do here already overlaps with much of the work he does).

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Here how Nico responded to my email this morning touting my brilliance and foresight:
You are!! I honestly wanted to give it to you first... But you are most certainly a visionary! :)
UPDATE:

I almost forgot to mention this. The same WaPo that fired Dan Foomkin, amid it's already collapsing business model, is the same Washington Post who was just recently caught selling health care lobbyists and CEOs access to its journalists & Obama officials:

From Think Progress:
The Politico reports that the Washington Post, for a price of $25,000 to $250,000, is “offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, non-confrontational access to ‘those powerful few’ — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.” While the Politico notes that on-the-record events and conferences are becoming a trend in the newspaper industry, this type of closed, pay-for-access event raises serious ethical concerns. The flier for the event, titled “Health-Care Reform: Better or Worse for Americans? The reform and funding debate,” reads:

Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth [...] Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama Administration and Congressional leaders […] Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. [...] Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 […] Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post [...] An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done. [...] July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m.

read more from Think Progress...
No wonder Charles Kaiser felt it was necessary to write an obituary for the WaPo:

The Washington Post died today. It was five months short of its 132nd birthday.

News of the demise of the once-great news gathering organization came in a story by Mike Allen at Politico.com, which reported that Post publisher Katharine Weymouth has decided to solicit payoffs of between $25,000 and $250,000 from Washington lobbyists, in return for one or more private dinners in her home, where lucky diners will receive a chance for “your organization’s CEO” to interact with “Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post” and “key Obama administration and congressional leaders …”

The decision by the Post’s publisher to sell access to government officials was the latest--and, by far, the most horrific--in a series of disastrous decisions in the last two weeks which, taken together, have destroyed what was once one of the proudest brands in American journalism.

[snip]

Graham’s granddaughter, Katharine Weymouth, was widely admired within The Washington Post Company as she climbed up the corporate ladder before finally succeeding her uncle Donald Graham as the paper’s publisher. But the extraordinary economic pressures faced by every American newspaper as their traditional business model has collapsed has now led to a comparable collapse in corporate judgment. When historians look back at this event, they will note it as the beginning of the end of newspapers as we have known them.

read the rest of this spot on piece...

Dan Froomkin will fit in well at The Huffington Post. Old guard papers should take a lesson from HuffPo, because in order to survive in this new media age, they're gonna need all the lessons they can get.

Good luck, Dan!

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