John Harris, Twisting Slowly, Slowly, in the Wind


Dan Froomkin writes an online political blog for called White House Briefing. Deborah Howell, whose job title is Ombudman, but who appears to be more of a right-minder for the Republican Party wrote this column dissing Dan as a biased liberal. This provoked a storm of protest from readers, overwhelmingly Froomkin fans. This in turn led Washington Post Political Editor John Harris to write this rejoinder, provoking yet more reader outrage.

Jay Rosen of Press Think got this interview with John Harris, and it wasn't pretty. Who exactly, was confused or outraged about Froomkin's blog?
Q: What sort of complaints or reactions have the political writers received (and from whom) that would lead them to think that White House Briefing is harming their credibility?

John Harris: I don’t keep a running log, but I regularly run across people who think Dan is one of our White House reporters. One of them was a very news-saavy source of mine who actually runs campaigns. That tells me there is a large chunk of readers—I’m not saying most but a lot—who are not clear who he is and that he is writing as a commentator and not a White House reporter.

The ombudsman says she regularly gets comments on the theme of how can you pretend to objectivity when your White House reporter writes “insert Froomkin quote here.”
So what exactly has Froomkin written that is biased?
Without agreeing with the views of this conservative blogger who took on Froomkin, I would say his argument does not seem far-fetched to me.
So who is the "conservative blogger," some top 10, top 100, or top 400 blogger with an independent point of view? Not exactly. Let's check out his blog bio:
Until recently, Ruffini was webmaster for the Bush-Cheney '04 presidential campaign...
Moving right along now, Brad DeLong also manages to get Harris to return his phone call. This gets Harris a couple of courage points, but as Brad mentions, "It didn't go very well." You should read the whole thing, but here is a sample:
Q: Can you give any examples--other than Republican National Committee eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini people who are seriously confused about Dan Froomkin's role at WPNI?

A: I cannot comment for the record because I've promised I won't comment on this.
At least nobody can say Harris hasn't learned anything from covering politicians.


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