Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wink, Wink...Read Between the Lines...

Every once in a while a lefty blog excoriates this columnist or that one; and usually I agree but sometimes I don't.

In the case of Deborah Howell, the ombudsman for the Washington Post, progressive bloggers have consistently denounced her less than even-handed approach to the task as arbiter of truth, such as less than a month ago when she caused a clamor for complaining that Dan Froomkin's columns were misleading.

Howell wrote that Froomkin's columns were deceptive because they read, "White House Briefing Room," and they were "highly opinionated and liberal," rather than straight reporting from a White House scribe.

Well, okay, Froomkin's columns mostly take the White House to task for their political foibles as reported by mainstream media through links to their stories; and even though it's a stretch to say Froomkin is biased and contentious for pointing them out, perhaps Howell believes that by revealing White House mistakes a writer shows evident bias against King George.

But with her latest drivel, the absolute last straw from the camel's back was broken, or in the case of our one-sided advocate, the humped long neck of her professed impartiality.

Today, Howell wrote about the Abramoff caper. She starts out by praising the investigative reporting of Post staff members and notes many Post writers had previously used Jack Abramoff as a source before the scandal broke.

The outrage comes in the next paragraph when she gratuitously compares the valid Democratic complaint that DeLay and Abramoff were pals with the scurrilous charge that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota "have gotten Abramoff campaign money."

Earlier in the article, Howell made the false accusation that Abramoff "made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," when in fact the only beneficiaries of Abramoff's direct largesse were Republicans

As Media Matter notes, Reid and Dorgan never received any Abramoff money; what they did get was money from Abramoff's clients. As senator from the state of Nevada where gaming is the biggest industry, money from gaming comes as no huge surprise in the case of Reid.

Media Matter offers a link to the "Center for Responsive Politics database of campaign contributions" that definitively show no "contributions from Abramoff to Reid or Dorgan or to any Democratic leadership political action committees."

Howell grudgingly admits reporters "on the investigations [haven't] put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated." Yet the hint of impending scandal looms ahead nonetheless. If not the first tier, possibly the second, third or fourth tier, if one only reads between the lines.

And if not, don't worry. Howell straight forwardly counsels, "Stay tuned. This story is nowhere near over."

Get it...? Harry Reid. Byron Dorgan. Second Tier. Story not over.

Misstatements and innuendo. So much for living up to her title of impartial finder of facts.

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