Dan Froomkin Briefing

The Washington Post’s new ombudsperson took a gentle swipe at my brother on Sunday, suggesting that the name on his column “White House Briefing” was somehow misleading or confusing.

Dan wrote a brief reply. Then the readers chimed in: and they love him!. Advantage, Froomkin!

Update: Wow. There’s even more pro-Dan-Froomkin outpourings after Post National Politics Editor John Harris replies.

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18 Responses to Dan Froomkin Briefing

  1. Mojo says:

    I agree with Howell. Accurate labels on the web site are vital to maintaining the Post’s reputation. That’s why Will’s column will now be labeled Pedantic Wankery.

  2. dilbert dogbert says:

    Is this why the journos hate the blogs? They get their head handed to themselves in a very public place. Hit’m again harder! Harder!

  3. Brad DeLong says:

    Well, that’s certainly remarkable!

    Since I’ve known Dan since he was five, I may well be biased. But I will say that only Dana Milbank’s byline on something in the *Post* raises my expectations more than seeing Dan’s byline on something.

    I do have to say that there is something creepy about John Harris’s comment. Harris doesn’t want to kill Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing–but others, whom he does not name, do want to kill it. Harris thinks Dan Froomkin’s column is biased–or, rather, he doesn’t think that but only that Dan is “not trying very hard” to avoid being perceived as biased. Harris thinks that readers are “confused” because they think Dan is “one of the [print *Washington Post’s*] White House reporters”–but he doesn’t care enough about clearing up “confusion” to name even one of his three (they are Jim VandeHei, Peter Baker, and Michael Fletcher).

    Can anybody point to any way in which Dan’s column is an “obstacle” to Baker, Fletcher, or VandeHei’s reporting (as John Harris says it is)? Or point me to something that Baker, Fletcher, or VandeHei has written that adds value relative to the wire services?

  4. Mickey Finn says:

    I left a comment on the pathetic Harris ‘explanation’. Dan and Arkin are the only reason I even read the WaPo. Easy to see why the regular WH stenographers are upset. The WH Briefing simply reveals the yawning gap between the RNC talking points they’ve committed to print, and what actually happens.

  5. Ann Bartow says:

    I sent Sivacracy readers here: http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_firedoglake_archive.html#113442242607540843
    Just couldn’t friggin’ believe Howell’s comments. But if you think about it, maybe all she is saying is that Dan has a trademark problem! If he simply renames his column something like “Briefing About The White House.” or “One Of The Few Things Worth Reading In The Washington Post,” any confusion ought to dissipate.

  6. Harris’s commentary isn’t just creepy. It’s dispiriting. It’s not flattering to the Post that the paper that brought down Nixon through dogged, adversarial reporting is now one with a Politics editor who writes:

    “If he were a White House reporter for a major news organization, would it be okay for him to write in the fashion he does? If the answer is yes, we have a legitimate disagreement.”

    What, then, is a White House reporter supposed to be at a quality news organization? A palace stenographer? Why is John Harris Politics editor and not writing holiday roundups of office gift ideas?

  7. Willie Buck Merle says:


    Hope you are doing well. I was wondering when you were going to post about this. I am in total agreement with Mojo. Now that there is a war between the Preppies and the Nerds maybe they should change their banner to Washington Post HS.

    ps. Hey dweeb, are you going to have any more tech posts soon?

  8. Joaquim Barbera says:

    A very, very sad story. So this guy doesn’t like the title of Dan’s blog? Does that justify going to the ombudsman with an extremely harsh (e.g., putting the newspaper’s credibility at stake) and totally unfounded (e.g., not a sign of any consistent basis) accusation, and afterwards, disregarding the opinion and reasoning of hundreds of readers, to insist on the same idea in a separate column with, again, no credible supporting facts? This has a name: character assassination; and a place: high school (or a similarly specious moral atmosphere; Congress, for example). No colleague at work deserves this, Dan Froomkin certainly doesn’t deserve this, the Washington Post doesn’t deserve this and the global audience that would like to continue looking up at the WP as a source of reliable and objective information doesn’t either.

  9. Joy Jacques says:

    Does anyone know if they even asked Dan to change the name before they teed off on him in public on Sunday? I keep asking that question, but I don’t have an answer.


  10. If they do press him for a name change, I suggest “White House Briefing Briefing”.

  11. Michael says:

    Several of Dan’s readers have suggested “Dan Froomkin’s ‘Cooking with Walnuts'” which I think has quite a catchy sound to it.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Wow, John Harris is an idiot. When has Froomkin ever said anything along the lines of, “So, I asked McClellan . . .” The reader who posted that we would know if Froomkin was a Post reporter because then there would be follow up questions at the briefings was right on. I’d like to see Harris post 10 examples of people being confused by Dan’s status. Because I’d be impressed if 10 people who were that stupid actually read the WP.
    Perhaps example #1 is Harris himself. Or the reporters who get so much extra exposure thanks to Dan? Who would mess with such a popular column? When do the business people chime in? Advertisers?
    I think it’s time for some other outlet to make a bid for Froomkin’s WHB . . . as long as it’s not Times Select, I will follow.

  13. Lobstergirl says:

    WP WH reporter Peter Baker, in his online chat on the WP site today, says that the whole Harris brouhaha is just an issue of clarity. He says readers of the paper WP are shown clearly what is opinion and what is reporting by placement in the paper, but readers of the website may be confused because boundaries are not so distinct. He says this will be helped by putting White House Briefing in the drop-down box in the Opinion section where it can share space with George Will, etc. Baker thinks that WH Briefing was just moved to this drop-down box as a result of the Howell-Harris folderol, but it’s been there for awhile.

    Me personally, I go the Post website every day, several times a day. I give the headlines a once-over, then I head right to “Cooking With Walnuts”. I have an insatiable desire to know what’s going on with walnut-cooking.

  14. Linda says:

    It really is character assassination. Howell’s role is to arbitrate between the Post and its readership, not to provide a public platform for Harris to vent his insecurities about Dan’s column.

    I wonder if this nonsense originates outside the Post–maybe someone powerful complained to the Post’s management about something that offended them in one of Dan’s columns.

  15. dilbert dogbert says:

    MMM? There is the K Street Project so I guess this is the Press Project? Why arent they satisfied with Fox and the MSM?

  16. Barry says:

    John Harris all but confessed that his real motivation was seeing Froomkin dare to oppose the Bush administration.

  17. BroD says:

    What on earth prompted Harris to come out as a total idiot? Doesn’t WaPo have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy?

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