Ombuds Mani Padme Hum

So, last week we discovered that the Washington Post does still have an Ombudsman.  In a startlingly offensive column, Patrick B. Pexton brought out all teh standard tools of the Wash Post Ombudsman trade.  Namely, he blamed everything on offensive bloggers and angry emails.  This was in defense of Jennifer Rubin* who not only got the central fact of one of her posts incorrect, but when she corrected it - insisted that being factually wrong had no bearing on her argument.  And did so in a borderline racist way, to use Pexton's words**.

Anyways, I though I might check in to see if his latest column is going to offend me.  SPOILER: It does.

On first read it seems innocuous - he isn't circling the wagons to defend some Post writer who clearly stepped outside the bounds.  And shockingly, he seems to be saying that the opinions of readers of the Washington Post should count for something.  I know, imagine an ombudsman having that position.  It's quite surprising.

But then you remember he's talking about the Washington Post, and it falls apart.  I doubt if he could have written moar insincere words if he had tried.

He starts off by talking about the Post's competitors and how they have paywalls up.  Apparently this means that Politico and Bloomberg and teh Grey Lady are all publications doing journalism for two limited audiences: fat cats and power elites.  While teh Wash Post isn't.  BWAAhahHaHahhhaHAHAHHAhha.  Pull teh other one, it's got bells on.

The Wash Post isn't a Village rag written for Washington insiders.  What colour is the sky in Pexton's world?  Hey remember a couple years ago when Katharine Weymouth was pimping out her newsroom to fat cats and power elites?  But that was then and it's not like the Wash Post didn't do a thorough investigation into the situation and come up with some serious changes to the way they did things.  Wait, they did investigate and decide that everything's hunky dory.  Apparently the problem wasn't with the cash-for-access scheme but rather the advertising for it.  Katharine Weymouth?  Still publisher of the Washington Post.

Besides, what would it mean to "be a paper for the rest of us"?  I suppose that means cutting out all the gossipy meaningless tripe articles and only focus on the newsworthy.  To which I will point out Pexton's column from before the Rubin defense.  The one where he calls a story on Michelle Obama's lunch newsworthy.  A story they decided belonged under Politics and Policy.

Nevermind that the justification (it's hypocritical of Michelle to binge while promoting healthy eating) is wrnog.  There is no hypocrisy because a healthy lifestyle, including diet does not preclude the occasional caloric splurge.  Because Michelle is fighting against childhood obesity, and the only standard by which Michelle Obama can be considered obese is the one that fashion magazine editors have where they photoshop size 0 models to make them look thinner (incidentally, also unhealthy).

Nevermind that the entire monster lunch story is single anonymously sourced.  One source that refuses to identify themselves.  Yeah, totes not gossip - completely a "within-the-bounds" news story.

Nevermind that you most of your column to address one line in a different article about Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.  Holy crap.  A hit piece written solely to discredit the current First Lady which turns out to be totally groundless*** - you say is fine because of the hypocrisy - which isn't actually there.  A single throwaway line in a piece about someone else entirely - needs investigating, a talking to for the writer, and public admonishment in the paper.  SHE WAS FUCKING WRITING ABOUT BETTY FORD FOR FUCKS SAKE!

And I haven't even started in on the left-right bullshit (This means that The Post can’t be a liberal publication or a conservative one.) that apparently must be in every single Wash Post Ombudsman column.  Congratulations Patrick B. Pexton, you're certainly doing a great job at meeting the Ombudsman standard set by the late Deborah Howell.

* I went on at length about this in the comment threads at Teh Mothership and Crooked Timber
** That Pexton recognizes Rubin's "correction" as both a non-correction, "potentially" offensive and borderline racist might make you wonder why he went to such lengths to defend her writing.  Well the reason is because he is a douchebag.
*** And in violation of the Washington Post's policy about anonymous sorucing.  PROTIP for Patrick Pexton, not that he'll ever read this:  Also too - a fucking anonymous Washington Post journalist?!?! WTF! Your paper is not only using anonymous sources for catty, petty and substance-free attacks on public figures, it's also the anonymous source too!  Isn't that the sort of thing a fucking ombudsman should be fucking looking at you useless fucking piece of crap?  Fuck.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

** That Pexton recognizes Rubin's "correction" as both a non-correction, "potentially" offensive and borderline racist...

I call that a "nonpology". I still haven't issued my own nonpology for this:

The Washington Post no longer employs an ombudsman (whether the last quit in despair or was fired as a useless expenditure, I do not know).

But maybe I'll just let the War Criminal Post twist in the breeze (the previous ombudsman was Alexander Alexander, or somesuch).

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

Andrew Alexander. Notable for actually trying to be an ombudsman. Here he is on the Weymouth Salon thing (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/11/AR2009071100290.html).
The Washington Post's ill-fated plan to sell sponsorships of off-the-record "salons" was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions.

And on anonymous sourcing(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/17/AR2010121704658.html):
Staff-written news blogs are replete with violations of The Post's long-established and laudable standards governing confidential sources. These unnamed sources often are cited without providing readers with even a hint of their reliability or why they were granted anonymity.

Ran across both of these while writing this post up but left them out because I didn't want to embarass Pexton anymore then he's already done to hisself.

Also thundra, I did see your comment. Not an ogre or a racist? She's both! I suspect the number of times your confronted with "stupid or evil" has conditioned you to respond that way.

I would have said that I prefer to get my assessments of who is and isn't racist from someone who doesn't automatically assume all terrorists are Muslim.

Substance McGravitas said...

This means that The Post can’t be a liberal publication or a conservative one. It must be hard-hitting, scrappy and questioning — skeptical of all political figures and parties and beholden to no one. It has to be the rock-’em-sock-’em organization that is passionate about the news. It needs to be less bloodless and take more risks when chasing the story and the truth.

They should be passionate risk-takers like Jennifer Rubin.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

They should be passionate risk-takers like Jennifer Rubin.

Not to mention, Kraphammer. Dive right in, phony journalists! The water's just fine.