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Duncan's Dough


Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's relatives are putting their best possible spin on this week's campaign finance reports that shows Duncan trailing his opponent for the Democratic nomination for governor, Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O'Malley, in the race for campaign cash.

A blog on the "Duncans for Doug" website, has an item posted by Glenn Duncan, one of the county executive's younger brothers.

"It is not surprising to see that Dougie trails his opponents in the cash buildup to the Maryland gubernatorial race," Glenn Duncan writes. "After all, we're Duncans and we are used to not having any money."

The website, created by Duncan's extended family, includes a family tree, photos and vignettes about family and a section titled "Ghosts of Christmases Past." Duncan campaign officials say the website is legitimate.

In his posting, Glenn Duncan talks about the family's modest upbringing

"Growing up with twelve brothers and sisters in our one bathroom home, there was a lot we learned to live without. Money was just one of them. Luckily, our parents taught us never to let a lack of money stop us from doing what we wanted to do."

The item on the blog also recounts how Doug Duncan won past races despite being the underdog.

"Many politicians are independently wealthy either through family money or careers before they become politicians. Doug is an exception to the norm. His life-long public service never made him a wealthy man. He lived in a small townhouse in Rockville with his wife and 5 children until recently," Glenn Duncan wrote. "Even now, his sons sleep in an unfinished basement when they return from College."

"I don't expect Doug to catch O'Malley and Ehrlich in fundraising this year. I do expect Doug to be the next Governor of Maryland."

One of Duncan's sisters, Eleanor "Nellie" Lide, responds to her brother with her own story about growing up a Duncan. She recalls how in 1976 she survived on $5 a day during a trip to Disneyworld.
"I would order a piece of ham for breakfast (75 cents) and Donna Tompkins would give me her two toasts and I'd make a sandwich. I'd skip lunch and have water - and then splurge on dinner (spend over a dollar)."

Tim Craig

By Phyllis Jordan  |  January 19, 2006; 12:39 PM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Hi everyone- They do have a great website! But I think the link is! Thanks :)

Posted by: Veronica | January 19, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I grew up in Mont. County and walked miles and miles to school in the snow with no shoes too. Enough of the "po-boy" talk. I like Doug and think he's been a good Co. Exec. but I don't like his attacks on fellow Democrat O-Malley. (If you feel like attaking, go after Gov. Erlich who seems like a Bush clone to me.)I say be nice to fellow Democrats, distinguish yourself in a positive way, tell us what you have to offer and why you'd be a good Governor, and you might get some of my money too. Quit the Demnasties.

Posted by: s | January 19, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

If you want to see the "offensive" quotes that the WaPo has censored, here they are:

Real Democracy Lives! Just not at the Washington Post.

Posted by: A Real American | January 19, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Heckovajob Wapo.

Posted by: Steve Kelso | January 19, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow! For a newspaper to decide to curtail free speech because they felt some people were engaging in "hate speech" is staggering.

Shouldn't the act of infringing on everyone's first amendment rights (especially since most of what we're talking about is political speech) be the last resort?

How about making people register with the site if they want to comment? Then you could ban people whose speech was too inflammatory.

You could post guidelines for acceptable comments and ask everyone to abide by them.

Hell, you could even wait and post all comments 24 hours later giving you time to censor all the "hate speech".

But to go directly to complete censorship of all comments seem a bit draconian and unnecessary. Especially because a much easier and more reasoned approach would have been for Ms. Howell to have printed a well-thought out and fair explanation or clarification.

I mean we were only asking her to do her job.

Posted by: Tony | January 19, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

In professional journalistic tradition would you please give the breakdown? How many comments? how many with profanity? how many personal attacks? This way your readers could gauge more accurately rathern than have to rely on a rather anodyne un-explanation of something the rather bizarre strangling of the comments line.

Posted by: C.B. Grayson | January 19, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

This is not a personal attack. Debbie, do your job.

Posted by: Virginia Housewife | January 19, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Grayson, I detect a hint of elitism in the decision and so I doubt you will get the breakdown you ask for. No, I think that the Post has decided that this many comments could not possibly come from thinking human beings, so thus, they must all be discounted as the ravings of a bunch of organized loonies.

Posted by: neil | January 19, 2006 6:24 PM | Report abuse

The editor, Mr. Brady, who turned off and made vanish the comments to all other blog posts has stated he did this because:

There were horrible examples of profanity -- a reader called and spoke with him, asking where those horrible examples WERE, as the reader hadn't seen them.

The editor replied that they had been culled BEFORE appearing on the website -- they never SHOWED UP. He said he couldn't afford the staff to personally review each comment.

I say, nonsense. That does NOT explain why the comments which already HAD been posted and HAD been deemed civil were made to disappear.

In addition, the software they use has handy plug-ins available which can easily filter for profanity.

I say this is just an excuse to limit the "rabble." Who are these people, these customers, to say they want a product of quality?

Bah. Humbug.

Posted by: Mrs. K8 | January 19, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

very interesting that the wapo not only turned off comments, they deleted those that were not "offensive" on Deborah''s "blog"

Deborah made a mistake, instead of apologizing and retracting her clear inaccuracy, she tried to dance around the very issue she caused

she tried to maintain that democrats are implicated in the abramoff scandal just as Conservatives are

in fact, there is no such association, and abramhoff said himself his only purpose was to forward the republican agenda

Deborah needs to retract her statements with a full apology to democrats...she needs to make it crystal clear that the only party implicated in this particular scandal is the republican party

then this organization needs to tell us exactly why she is still permitted to publish under the guise of being a journal inst and not a pundit

Posted by: me to me | January 19, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Ms Howl

I was raised with a very fundemental tenent regarding the work ethic when I was young.

I'm paraphrasing:

An honest day's work for an honest day's pay.

What were you raised with Debbie?

You certainly haven't been doing an honest day's work. Your lies and childish attempts at finessing your disformation regarding Jack the A and the Democrats is frankly not even worth $6 an hour. What do you take down for a salary at Wapoo? Six figures?

Your not worth paying that kind of cake for the clumsy prose you produce.

I here American media are sub-ing out proof reading to third world countries. Perhaps you could telecommute.

Posted by: Gentleman Jim | January 19, 2006 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Shutting down reader comments on the other blog--most of which were neither profane nor hateful--threatens to ruin the reputation of this newspaper.

By hiring "Lovey," covering her butt, and now refusing to allow criticism you have compounded your shame.

We're witnessing the death throes of the traditional media.

Posted by: Tommy Yum | January 19, 2006 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Only way to control a people is to prevent congregation, discourse and dissention.

Surest way to become irrelevent is to stop listening to your consumers.

Yet knowing this, WP cuts off comments.

Way to go.

Posted by: Urban Pirate | January 19, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

So this is the level of contempt that Washington Post has for its readers.

A non-retraction response from the Ombudsman when readers point out that her statement is demonstrably false.

When the readers point the vacuousness of the non-retraction response, the Post shuts down the comments altogether, deleting every comment, most of which had no profanity but only a reasoned critique of Ms. Howell's second statement.


Posted by: lib | January 19, 2006 6:49 PM | Report abuse

This paper obviously holds its readership in contempt.

Bear that in mind when you learn someone advertises in the Post. Like the paper itself, that advertiser regards you as another rube, ripe for squeezing a few dollars out of.

Posted by: Wake Up, Readers | January 19, 2006 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Lord almighty woman- print a retraction already! Then, if you have any evidence whatsoever that the tribes that donated money to Democrats did so at Jack Abramoff's behest, print that too. (By the way, that goes for Republicans- you should only say they got tribal donations at Abramoff's behest if you know it for a fact and can prove it to your readers.) If you don't have proof you should retract that and stop saying it. One thing that we do know for an absolute fact is that Jack Abramoff is a Republican operative who only gave his own money to Republicans and only personally fundraised among his friends for Republicans.

After you print those things, you should draft and print your resignation, because as an ombudsman you are a complete joke. Your actions are doing grave harm to the Post.

Posted by: pamela | January 19, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I have an idea.
What about going over to Calame's blog at the NYtimes to say nice things to him about receiving comments, and mention the flap here. You could put quotes from Howell and ask if he thinks they are ombudsmanly or not.

It's a thought.. and if you go to the NYtimes of course you will be scrupulously nice and complimentary.

Posted by: Marky | January 19, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

what I found most interesting was Brady's accusation of "hate speech".

I'm not sure what he was talking about -- the people who have pointed out the essentially racist nature of how Howell (and he Post) have concentrated their attentions on Native Americans -- and have cast them as the "corrupt villians" rather than as the victims of Abramoff's deals with the GOP?

Or perhaps those who, like Duncan Black at Atrios, noted the anti-semitism in Sue Schmidt's piece, in which she presented "conservative Christian" Tom Delay as being befuddled by the bearded, yamulka-wearing "exotic jew" Jack Abramoff ---- in the middle of a piece in which Schmidt allowed all of Abramoff's former associates to attempt to distance themselves from this (in the words of Eric Cartman) "big fat jewy jew".

It seems to me that the only "hate speech" was coming from the Post -- and it was subtle, but unmistakeable.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | January 19, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse

I was going to write about the Post's latest affront to journalism, about its lop-sided views or perhaps just implore the editors to be fair and balanced.

But, what's the use? They have been bought. It's over!

It is a shame that a newspaper with such a rich history has become the rag that it is today.

Folks, responding to people like those at the Post really has no effect. If they don't like what you're saying they shut you down. Their goal is to control the information and feed the public their own slanted message.

Perhaps we can borrow a tactic from our friends on the right. The people in control at the Post are capitalists not Journalists. Their God is money, not truth.

Of course we can boycott the paper, but we probably aren't their target market anyway. Maybe as a group we need to make it clear to advertisers that we will not support the products of companies that subsidise this garbage. I've never been fond of this sort of thing, but I can see no other way.

Posted by: TT | January 19, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Um, doesn't anyone on here spouting off about The Post as Organ of the Right know that it was The Post that broke the Abramoff story in the first place, and led the way with every breaking development. I doubt we would have ever heard of Jack Abramoff if it wasn't for Post reporting. Did the ombud make an error? Perhaps. But don't crucify an entire newspaper over it. Geez.

Posted by: Junior | January 19, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

tech-savvy journalism students will be studying this brouhaha for years ... Lil Debbie is part of the old and passing-away school of journalism ... blogs are part of modern discourse ... insulting readers with computers by slamming shut comments is no way to solve this mess the new Ombudsperson has gotten the Post into ...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2006 7:31 PM | Report abuse

You have a good point; however, it is also because of articles like Howell's that the public has the mistaken impression that the Abramoff scandal hits both parties equally. It is not a small issue.

Posted by: Marky | January 19, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

One thing is for sure, Debbie is incompetent. No doubt about it. She is an airhead, a liar, a stupid, ignorant fool. The WaPo is becoming a national embarrasment.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2006 7:39 PM | Report abuse

come out, come out, wherever you are.

Posted by: Oh, Lovie | January 19, 2006 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I am a former member of that "passing away school of journalism" referred to above. It's quite obvious to me that the old way is over and that journalists who work in this new world better be a lot braver than in the old days. They need to PRESUME that people will be uncivil sometimes in their comments and feedback. For God's sake: when I was a managing editor, calls would frequently slip past the receptionist and wind up on my phone. Callers would threaten me and my staff, cancel their subcriptions in "uncivil" ways and sometimes even tell me about the spaceship that had just landed on the paper's roof. I dealt with their complains--sane ones and otherwise--and then I moved on. That's called being a grownup and going your job. Too bad that Howell et al have such thin skin.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2006 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The comments deleted in the great purge had extensive, detailed, and well-sourced accounts of your Ombudsperson's lies (and also made pretty much everyone involved at the Post -- Kurtz, Steno Sue, Willis, Leen -- look like blatant right-wing hacks, especially whoever photoshopped that document... that's got to be a fireable offense anywhere.)

Why delete the comments, when you could simply have frozen the posting of new ones?
Hadn't the offensive ones supposedly already been deleted? Brady's post is shockingly disingenuous.

Brothers and sisters, we have lived to see the day when the Post is to the right of Rick Lowry at the National Review!

The Post still won't say that Abramoff is a Republican scandal, won't say that Abramoff, like Delay, Frist and Rove, was a key part of the Republican K-Street project, and won't properly cover the K-Street Project -- which had as an avowed goal to starve the Democratic Party of funding, which was pursued with the use of bribes and extortion. This attempt to establish one-party rule threatens the very viability of our democracy like never before in our history. The co-opted, power-worshipping journalists at the Post are enablers, and therefore and in practice part of the plot.

Posted by: Mike Wolf | January 19, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I'll make this brief. The decision to close the comments page for Deborah Howell is simply laziness and cowardice. The independent bloggers out there manage their comments on their own and eliminate the odious themselves without the resources of a Washington Post. If Deborah Howell can't stand the heat of legitimate umbrage over inaccurate and sloppy reportage, then she should get out of the kitchen. It would be a good idea, perhaps, for her to pick up a good dictionary and refresh her memory about the definition of the word "ombudsman(woman).

Posted by: Retired Catholic | January 19, 2006 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Deborah Howell is an embarrassment to the Washington Post and all journalism. Since the Post ownership is quite happy to have her on board as an obedient lap dog it is incumbent on her to resign.

But Wapo and the NYTimes are dinosaurs. Your readership is drying up. Nobody is buying your newspaper. In a couple of years you will be just another website publishing Republican talking points and trying to support yourself by selling banner ads for penis enlargement pills.

Hurry up and die.

Posted by: Sophocles | January 19, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Here's another idea. Call or write the Post's advertisers, print and/or web based. Let them know how unhappy you are with the Post and them by association.

The Post obviously isn't going to listen to its readers. Maybe they'll pay attention when ads start getting pulled.

Posted by: debit | January 19, 2006 8:15 PM | Report abuse

So Indian tribes are merely agents of Jack Abramoff? He has the power to direct them to do things?

Posted by: Howell is a GOP shill | Jan 19, 2006 2:24:53 PM | Permalink

Posted by: Deleted comments 8 | January 19, 2006 9:41 PM | Report abuse

At least we still have the internet!

Posted by: corky | Jan 19, 2006 2:14:32 PM | Permalink

Posted by: Deleted comments 12 | January 19, 2006 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Grrr, email your whining about the Abramhoff bit to the Post. This blog is about MD politics and frankly there are very few connections, nor do we really care.

Posted by: George-- | January 19, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

According to Brady, "People were not routinely seeing the problematic posts I mentioned were that we were trying to remove them as fast as we could." Well, if the "problematic posts" were deleted, why are all of them now removed? It's one thing to close a comment-thread, it's quite another to disappear the entire thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2006 10:41 PM | Report abuse

We are still waiting for a retraction. And a real obbudsman.

Then we can talk about Maryland politics and Ehrlich's connections to Abramoff.

Posted by: a | January 19, 2006 11:06 PM | Report abuse

How sad things have become in the MSM. How sad that we have to watch this happen, and lose faith in those whose job is to be unbiased and to report the facts.

How sad that the WaPo is harming our country in this manner.

Posted by: Jeff | January 19, 2006 11:10 PM | Report abuse

when the comments disappeared for a while, I wondered if the webmasters studied HTML at the Rosemary Woods Secretarial School. With the total deletion of comments, I am more reminded of Fahrenheit 451 ( or '1984' while on a numerical jag )

Posted by: wilson46201 | January 19, 2006 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: wilson46201 | January 19, 2006 11:21 PM | Report abuse

It really would be in the Washington Post's, and everyone's, best interest if Deborah Powell resigned. When the Washington Post has an ombudsman who actively listens to the questions and legitimate points put forward by the Post's own customers I will again read it's product. As it stands, Powell's performance has shown a disturbing deference to the Republican party and its well funded think-tank punditocracy. How many more times will she err on the side of the GOP before your entire organization enters the 'Rush Limbaugh' realm of credibility? Will it really have to come to a point where both papers which start with 'The Washington...' are so subjectively slanted right that it's laughable?

Or has it gotten to that point already?

Posted by: Wayne E B | January 19, 2006 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I am confused about the Wapos idea of the function of an ombudsman. Perhaps you have reversed the definition and think it is an "official to investigate public authorities' (the current administration)complaints against individuals (citizens concerned that the facts are reported accurately)". It seems that Ms Howell considers her role to diffuse administration talking points and then refuse to listen to criticisms of her errors and inaccuracies...and in removing the blog the Wapo would seem to condone her approach.

Posted by: tcalder | January 20, 2006 3:38 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post may be counting on the idea that the thousands of comments represent a minority of their readers. They are undoubtedly right, but what will get their attention is lost subscriptions. The Congressional offices and staffs of Democrats represent over 250 loci of people who take the Post. I suggest you call the staff of your Congressman and advocate that their office cancel all (or at least reduce) their subscriptions. I would advocate calling the Congressional offices and politely asking their staff to cancel their personal subscriptions. If, each office represents 30-50 subscriptions (official + unofficial) and we only get 10% response, I guarantee that the Post will notice.

Posted by: elliottg | January 20, 2006 7:02 AM | Report abuse

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

Posted by: Bears Constant Repeating to the Hacks | January 20, 2006 8:37 AM | Report abuse

A quote, from Deborah Howell:

"Well, if we don't watch the government, who will? No one. I mean, I think that's our historic role as watchdog, and I think, to me, it's been eroded in the last few years as newspaper readership has gone down."

Posted by: Talk is Cheap | January 20, 2006 8:45 AM | Report abuse

While insisting that "transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture," Brady said he and his colleagues are disappointed "that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about."

Damn, this is infuriating. It has gone far beyond Ms. Howell and her misstatements, to the shameful reactions of the Post. I will try to be clear about this, Mr. Brady: this has nothing at all to do with "issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about." It has to do with factual reporting in your newpaper and on your websites, and how your organization responds when its reporting (or written commentary, including editorials, which is another issue that doesn't get enough attention)is shown to be factually incorrect. In this case, it is so egregiously incorrect as to raise serious and legitimate concerns about whether your institution itself has been subverted to serve the agenda of a "unitary" political entity. It is not the fault of your readers, I think, that we live in a time when so many "reporters" have been exposed as being paid agents dispensing Republican propaganda.

Oops. Pardon me. I said "Republican." If I was being "fair and balanced" I would have not forgotten to say "both parties do it," except .... they don't, do they?

Damn! I see your problem. It's hard to sound "objective" and "balanced" when one side is ... like, you know ... wrong, and the other one isn't. Maybe, if I'd gone to journalism school, like you guys, I would know how to ignore the facts and pull that off, like Ms. Howell has done so well.

Really, the Post needs to resolve this issue.

Posted by: Galen | January 20, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Sharpen your pencils girls and boys:

"[Jim] Brady will be online Friday, Jan. 20, at Noon ET to discuss his decision [to turn off reader comments on] and user interactivity."

Posted by: Lou | January 20, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | January 20, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

it is amusing to see that Jim has posted a censor to work this blog. there was an obscene comment just before this one a minute ago but now it is gone. can't the webpeople create a simple comp[uterized filter for Carlin's 7 dirty words so valuable human beings can be assigned to dig more deeply on the GOP-Abramoff Scandal?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 20, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Posted by: Edmund Burke | January 20, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Why do you continue to delete comments in this thread many, if not most, of which without any 'profanity'? About half seem to be gone. Can someone explain what's going on and why you are deleting reasonably-worded comments that are critical of the Post and of Brady?

Further, Brady continues to ignore the following basic contradiction. Brady said in the live discussion that:

1) You had to delete existing comments (and not just disallow new ones) because of 'profanity'.

2) There was no 'profanity' in the existing comments (as pointed out by readers who went through the cached copies stored on other websites) because you had already deleted offending comments.

How can Brady say those two things in consecutive answers without realizing that he makes himself looks like a fool? Brady arrogantly refuses to admit that he jumped the gun and screwed up on this one (which would be perfectly understandable and readers would forgive). He's putting himself in the same position as Ms. Howell -- i.e., approaching terminal credibility damage.

And when are you going to address the many serious issues raised in the deleted comments, such as the absence of any evidence of donations 'directed' to Democrats (and the fact that you never asked the tribes), the reduced donations to Democrats from donors who were extorted into becoming Abramoff clients, the context of the K Street Project and its goal of cutting off the Democratic Party's funding, etc.?

And what about the photoshopped document? Even in a right-wing propaganda rag that would likely still be a fireable offense. Who's responsible for it? Smith, Willis, both of them? (Dear censor: This is a legitimate question that Post must answer, not a 'personal attack' on Smith or Willis -- they're just the most likely culprits based on her reporting and his comments on these boards.)

Posted by: mzw | January 20, 2006 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Off topic - Just a quick observation, but come on... the Jim Brady discussion was a joke - first off, the initial comment that pops up had to have been hand selected to support the premise that Jim and the WaPO continues to push, that it's all the fault of uncivil commentors:
Cache Valley, Utah: if ya can't stand the heat...

Publish partisan lies and not expect a backlash? Get real pal!!!

Fire that f***ing b**** forthwith and all's well that ends well, no? Otherwise, batten down the hatches, pal, 'cause there's a storm a brewin' and it's gonna be nasty.

If Howell, Kurtz, et al. can't admit a mistake, then what the heck are you guys doing in the business?

Posted by: Kevin | January 20, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Why are any of you surprised by WaPo's response? There isn't a sliver of established media in the US that wouldn't cut someone off their channel when they so much as step out of line.

They don't *beep* single words out, they don't replace profanity in written text with {explicit} markers. They shut it down! If it isn't going their way, they don't want to play. After all, they pay for the infrastructure right?

It's called taking your toys and going home. And very few people or companies have the guts to stick through an unchoreographed bruising.

Face it. American media is professional wrestling and WaPo is just another actor on the mat.

I dig the way this thread was hijacked though. Hopefully the corporate and media blogging craze will set everyone straight on the amount of feedback people are compelled to give. All reporters and politicians ever do is talk talk talk, it would be a refreshing change if they got over the initial bruising and learned to listen.

Posted by: Kris | January 20, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

All I want to know is:

What evidence does the Washington Post have that shows that Jack Abramoff directed contributions to Democrats?

That's it. I have asked politely in two emails (no response) and six comments (all deleted).

Posted by: Andy Ternay | January 20, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mel, why make this a gender issue? Howell has been a terrible ombudsman, but she's only being an apologist for all the incompetent, greedy and corrupt MEN who run this country.

I hope all those men were worth it. Oh whoops, they're taking this country down the drain. That was a crappy investment on our part.

Just kidding in the above paragraph but really, this is not a gender issue and it doesn't reflect on the many hard-working and competent female journalists out there.

Posted by: Jenna | January 20, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Yep, the censorship has begun. My post from about 20 mins. ago has been deleted. It contained nothing but reasonable points and questions and yet someone has take it off. I did use the word "lazy-a** but it was not used in a personally attacking way.

WashPo has become a fascist POS paper and that small action has confirmed that this paper has gone down the drain. Nice job guys!

Posted by: Jenna | January 20, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad the comments seem to have been turned back on (though it would be nice to have the old comments as well).

One suggestion is to have your botteom line guidelines right under post a comment along with a link to a more detailed description.

You might also want to start the practice many popular blogs have of open threads (just incase anyone actually wants to discuss Marlyland politics here).

Posted by: Steve Rhodes | January 20, 2006 5:20 PM | Report abuse

It's sad that my 80 year old father, who reads the Post religiously every day, told me that Jack Abramhoff had donated to both Republicans and Democrats. Don't you feel any responsibility to your readers?

Posted by: citizen k | January 20, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

One of the things I find most remarkable about Ms. Schmidt's story about Abramoff and the Indian tribes is that the reporter does not appear to have even bothered to talk to the tribes to get their side of the story. The idea that all the money given by Indians to Democrats was directed by Abramoff is simply absurd. It is almost as if the Post's attitude is that the ignorant redskins can't possibly know what to do with their money without first hiring a white man to tell them who to give it to. Therefore it follows (at least in the Post's eyes) that all the money the tribes gave to Congress was directed by Abramoff.

Posted by: shargash | January 20, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

OH OH I know...just get the guys who arringe all of Idiot in Chiefs PR apperances to be the only ones allowed to comment and all your problems are solved..For instance:

Hello Debbie Pooh. Say wasn't that a lovely story about the Repubs and Dems taking money from that meanie Jackie Abramhoff? And to think they all got the same amount of money. Is there no honor in s Washington these days? My my. Say are you wearing a flower dress today or are you realxing in a slack suit? Just wondering.

Posted by: Stephen | January 20, 2006 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Nice try. The poor ol' Post, subject to such nasty, insulting degrading comments.

Your friends in the media are helping make this the story for you, because, after all, issuing a retraction for the false statements of Howell and Schmidt about the Democrats taking Abramoff money is apparently off the table.

Access journalism must be protected at all costs, even if it means shutting down a Post blog. Accordingly, Howell gets to put her false perspective up on the website, free of any criticisms or correction, as she will again be allowed to do this Sunday.

And, then, the comments to her original column and web statement will magically reappear about 3 or 4 days later, when the news cycle has moved on.

After all, does anyone really believe that it would take the Post SEVERAL DAYS to restore the numerous, substantive comments that pretty much shredded what Howell, Schmidt and Kurtz had to say?

My best guess is that the Guild, legal counsel, Post management and possibly all three, demanded that Howell be given access to the site, free from refutation.

If only the New York Observer would look into it for us, and find out the details.

Posted by: Richard Estes | January 20, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey Wapo...It's a new day dawning so you better get used to it.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'

Posted by: Stephen | January 20, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

By the way, want to know why substantive comments about Howell and the Post are being deleted from this thread?


Posted by: Richard Estes | January 20, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to be very nice. I'm not going to use "hate speech" or "curse words" or whatever other excuses The Washington Post used to shut down the other blog.

My question is simple: Why run a blog at all if you're going to disable comments? Then it's no longer a blog, it's just a newspaper column that happens to be online. There's no user input. I find it especially sad that the Ombudsman blog is the one whose comments are being disabled. It's pretty much useless without reader comments.

Washington Post tried to step into the world of blogging, and it looked like they failed. Might as well withdraw.

By the way, I'd still like a retraction on the utterly false statement that Democrats were involved were Abramoff. Abramoff was a lifelong diehard Republican and he was funnelling money in exchange for influence. Why would he deal with the Democrats, who control no part of the government?

Posted by: Cyde Weys | January 20, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Why are comments from just a couple of hours ago being deleted? My post from about 90 minutes ago is gone. I had no profanity--all I said was the amount of money going to Dems from Indian tribes was substantially lower after Abramoff became their lobbyist.

Posted by: Jill O'Brien | January 20, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

For the first time in 30 years,

I did not buy a post at my local news stand

today. It made me feel better.

Posted by: Avid reader | January 20, 2006 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't suppose it occurs to you that if you keep up with this "blame the victim" rhetoric about Ms. Howell's utter failure to do her job and consequent temper tantrum when this was pointed out to her, might actually lead to more cancelled subscriptions. You're losing readers all the time. Personally I think it would serve the Washington Post right if so many liberals/progressives cancelled their subscriptions that the paper had to go out of business. It would be just punishment for carrying Bush's water, for being the second Republican Party house organ after the Washington Times. You can sneer at us and dismiss us all you want, but you may very well end up bitterly regretting that you did so.

Posted by: Frank Sinatra | January 20, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

P.S.: That "Prickly City" cartoon that ran in today's Post was disgusting. How dare you accuse people of hate speech when you publish such homophobic filth. It must be really great to work for the Post and be utterly incapable of doing wrong.

Posted by: Frank Sinatra | January 20, 2006 6:21 PM | Report abuse

As certain White House operatives are famous for their profanity-laced threats to underlings and reporters over the telephone, I can only surmise that we're dealing with a kiss-up, kick-down organization. It's all right to salt a tongue-lashing from above with curse words, but from angry readers it becomes hate mail.

Profanity, however, is clearly not the issue. The issue is still, as it has been from the beginning, accuracy in journalism.

Ms. Howell, Howard Kurtz, Jim Harris, Derek Willis and now Mr. Brady are all complicit in a scheme to cover the truth. This story is like a tar baby: everyone at the Post who touches it gets stuck to it.

No use trying to fling the tar on your readers. The issue has not yet died down, and we will continue to shout as long as you continue to cover your ears.

I suppose everyone over there is grinning and laughing over this little episode, but I really think you should start taking it seriously. We are fed up with GOP corruption, and it is to your shame that you are trying to cover up, rather than cover, scandals so enormaous that they dwarf the corruption of the Gilded Age.

You are not dealing with a bunch of nitwit readers. You are confronted by a readership that is literate and angry.

Blogs, with thousands of comments a day, quite competently manage the task of filtering out profanity and threatening e-mails. Your refusal to deal with the problem of shoddy journalism by blaming the readers shows a complete lack of good faith in the implied contract with readers.

When the history of how American democracy was lost is written, the Washington Post may well earn a whole chapter.

It's only a Maryland Moment, but its effects will last a lifetime.

Posted by: notjonathon | January 20, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I admit I hate lies and falsehoods--and I admit that the WAAAAAAAAAshington Post prints both--and refuses to take responsibility for their lies and falsehoods. And in their suppression of the truth and free speech, they are an enemy of the people. Washington Post is the new Pravda.

And Deborah Howell still sucks, big time.

Posted by: TruthLover | January 20, 2006 6:33 PM | Report abuse

WaPo journalists,
Don't allow Republicans to define words for you. The sentence "Jack Abramoff donated to Democrats", for example, has a clear, unambiguous meaning in English.
In no way could an ordinary person read that and understand that a reporter was referring to Abramoff's clients. The simple truth is that the Republicans have been pressuring the media to distort the common language meaning of words for 20 years now.

Take a step back and consider what are the typical complaints of left and right wing bloggers about the press---the same hold true for left and right in general, but bloggers are a good place to start. What is the number 1 complaint of right wing bloggers? Liberal Media Bias.
Do you know what the number one complaint of the left wing bloggers is? I think not, judging by the comments in this mornings' chats. The number one complaint of left wing bloggers is about sloppy, inaccurate reporting. Another complaint is reporting spin and opinion instead of fact.
In both cases, the left wants more emphasis on accurate, truthful reporting.

When the right wing cries "liberal media bias", that is just a stick to keep you in line---it has no objective meaning whatsoever, based on numerous studies, and evidenced by the abject failure of someone like Bernie Goldberg to come up with a definition when asked.
There is no liberal media bias: the problem with the media is that there are vast sums of money spent on producing propaganda and on placing calls to journalists and on getting payola op-eds in the paper---none of which have the intention of providing the public with the truth.

I have two suggestions. The first is to acknowledge that "liberal media bias" is a canard, and that you have no obligation to satisfy either right or left---nor do you have any obligation to write stories that come down equally hard on Democrats and Republicans. Some stories are, by their very nature, partisan.
I don't remember too many complaints that "Republicans are getting ******** too" during the Clinton years (see, I'm a good boy--no profanity).
My second suggestion is that, as far as possible, your reporting avoids the practice of quoting partisan think tanks. There was no reason for Howell to quote the Hudson Institute. It would have been appropriate, if she so desired, for Howell to quote the Republican party, but it is a disservice to readers to allow surrogates of the GOP to act as arbiters of truth. Needless to say, you may hold the same standard on the left.
When it comes to matters of policy, your practice may differ, but the Abramoff story requires no deep thhought to understand.
I fault Howell for not contacting Reid and Dorgan for comment also.

That's all I have to say for now.
I hope you take my criticism to heart. A free, fair and critical media is an essential component of an open society. Right now, you're not doing your part.

Posted by: Marky | January 20, 2006 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Is the Post removing comments that advocate the firing of Deborah Howell? She should be fired, immediately.

Posted by: Semblance | January 20, 2006 7:14 PM | Report abuse

If the traditional media ever hopes to regain the trust and respect of the American people, it has to start taking responsiblity and telling the truth.

Howell told a lie, no Democrats took money from Abramoff, and a correction is long overdue.

Posted by: Sadie Baker | January 20, 2006 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Another point. I'm sure I'm not the first to bring this up, but I don't see any mention in the current batch of comments.
Abramoff had many other clients besides the Indians, among them some very wealthy corporations.
Would you produce an article ---along with charts---on how corporate clients of Abramoff made their political donations?
Can we expect to see all such recipients tarred as having received "Abramoff money" too?
****, I'll get a ****-on if you just refer to Eli Lilly as an "Abramoff client".

Posted by: Marky | January 20, 2006 7:22 PM | Report abuse


Democrats receieved NO money from Mr. Abramoff. (period)

Native American tribes may leaglly contribute to whom ever they please.

Mr. Abramoff never directed anyone to give any money to any Democrats.

All of these things are perfectly clear to the even most modest observers.

Like me.

And even we expect professional journalists to be able to find and substantiate these facts and state them clearly without being coy about it.

Abramoff and all of his ccronies are George Bush's and the republicans' buddies.
No Democrats admitted.

Posted by: yellowdog jim | January 20, 2006 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Re 7:12 comments Marky, Well said.

Posted by: bren | January 20, 2006 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Do you like it now, gentlemen?

Posted by: Withal Due Respect | January 20, 2006 8:32 PM | Report abuse

It's as if the press is turning into the same kind of pile the Bush administration has become. They apparently never make mistakes, and everything they say is true because they are the ones that said it.

What's up with that?

CNN even repeated the lie. We are not as dumb as you need us to be in order to keep getting the all-mighty advertising dollar. Too bad, eh?

Amabramoff gave ZERO dollars to Democrats. That's a fact, check it out... it's called journalism.

The Indian tribes he represented gave LESS money to Democrats than they did before Abramoff directed them to give MORE money to Republicans. Again, this is a FACT... it is the TRUTH... how hard can it be for goodness sake...

Posted by: Boyd Rak | January 20, 2006 8:54 PM | Report abuse

What part of being called on your lies is it that you don't understand?

Posted by: K. Ron Silkwood | January 20, 2006 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Now that bin Laden has resurfaced, perhaps the MSM needs to ask the president to fully explain the most important flipflop ever offered by a U.S. president:

"I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'"


"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care."

Posted by: Rich | January 20, 2006 10:03 PM | Report abuse

The Post did print the Gore speech on Constitutional history and law-I think the NYT missed that one. So maybe it is too early to give up on them. But if they are undoing the point of a blog then they should reconsider the business they are in. Maybe Deborah could get a job writting speeches for Karen Hughes.

Posted by: Dennis | January 20, 2006 10:35 PM | Report abuse

In regards to Howell/Abramoff affair.
The stakes have gotten too high WaPo.
And the turf has changed.
If you cannot get the story straight and insist on demonstrable misinformation and/or lies and coverups, and we catch you?
Well, the rules have changed.
We will be on you like flies on a Virginia cow paddy.
Get used to it.
Don't underestimate our intelligence and the growing relentlessness of our pursuit. We're tired of liars and partisan hacks. Especially as the pile of corpses mountains up as a result of those lies.
Wanna stay in business?
Then do your job. Tell the truth.

Posted by: UnMask911 | January 20, 2006 10:38 PM | Report abuse

In the faint hope that there are in fact people of GOOD faith at the Washington Post reading these posts and objectively pondering their validity, I'd like to try to point out the bigger picture with regard to Abramoff:


Posted by: PinThemDown | January 20, 2006 10:48 PM | Report abuse


Abramoff is NOT a congressman. Thus HE needed and received NO donations from anyone to run for office. Nor is he some sort of bland, non-partisan corporate lobbyist catering to receptive ears in both Parties. He was basically a member of the RNC/Rove/Delay/Hastert/Frist squad of loosely-affiliated money men (and don't tell me the Democrats were unaware of this guy's partisan credentials and connections).


Posted by: PinThemDown | January 20, 2006 10:50 PM | Report abuse


This IS NOT some sort of typical campaign-financing scandal, as it is being portrayed so far by the Washington Post, and by others focusing on the publicly-compiled financial records that include legal Indian Tribe campaign donations. The involved Indian Tribes factor into this ONLY BECAUSE of where THE BULK of their money ACTUALLY went.


Posted by: PinThemDown | January 20, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

The truth will out; whether or not you chose to print it is, in the end, irrelevant.

The only reason I read the news is to see what others wants me to believe today, not to find out what's really going on.

Posted by: Ben | January 21, 2006 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Mr. Brady, Ms. Howell, or any of those in command at The Washington Post understand exactly who reads the articles and columns they post on their web site. Would Mr. Brady or Ms. Howell attack the readers who subscribe to the newspaper in the same manner they attacked their web site readers?

You don't bite the hand that feeds you --- especially the very people who would have been willing to pay for a subscription to the But charging for your web site now is just a pipe dream far far off into the distant future.

Face the fact ladies and gentlemen, conservatives like me --- from Texas have turned away from cable news entertainment, offended by the casual displays of malevolence, racism, and paralogistic defamatory statements that comes out of the mouths of bullies and pundits. Although, I've yet to meet a Republican that reads your web site, I've read enough blogs to understand that the majority of your readers are liberal. At a time when reality and truth are far brighter on the left, from a business point of view you're making some deadly and irrational decisions.

Posted by: Leslie Pool | January 21, 2006 1:38 AM | Report abuse

The Post has done a horrible job informing its readers on the politics of Abramoff's contributions. Still, today, you are failing. Your rationalization of Ms. Howell's misstatements does not wash. Your current 'explanation' of what happened is still incredibly sloppy. Is there nobody there capable of writing a clear, accurate report on this story?

Posted by: david curtis | January 21, 2006 1:39 AM | Report abuse

It's very strange, indeed. In the face of all evidence, Mr. Brady bravely goes out to "talk to the public" (or should I say talk down to the public) and repeats the falsehoods of Ms. Howell and Sue Schmidt unrepentantly.

I still think you heard more swear words on the phone from the White House than you ever saw on these pages.

Posted by: notjonathon | January 21, 2006 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Abramoff didn't give any money to Democrats.

The tribes used to give more money to the Democrats before Abramoff was "directing" their contributions.

These are facts. I want to hear Mrs. Howell acknowledge these facts. I want her to admit that these facts do not square with what she has written. Why do you not understand that?

Posted by: Bill Priff | January 21, 2006 4:52 AM | Report abuse

Those posts above by "Deleted 42" are potentially confusing, out-of-context. That context can be found here.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad | January 21, 2006 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2006 5:05 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Brady,

You recently made the following comment:

"But what she meant to say was that he was directing money to Democrats, which as I said, is beyond any kind of argument."

Beyond any kind of argument? Really? I don't recall ever seeing a Washington Post article that included a confirming statement from the Tribes involved that this statement is in fact true. Any serious and responsible journalist should have contacted the Tribes immediately to get their facts in this story. And yet the Washington Post, and others, apparently doesn't think this sniggling little detail is important.

Perhaps you would have found that their donations to the political parties changed dramatically after Jack Abramoff started bilking them of millions.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2006 8:45 AM | Report abuse

What does "Precondition Failed" mean, and what are those conditions for posting on this blog???

Posted by: PinThemDown | January 21, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

[Because the nonspecific "Precondition Failed" error messages I'm getting are beyond me, so I'm ending my truncated message here, and sending it by email to Jim Brady instead.]

It is the MONEY-LAUNDERING of TENS OF MILLIONS of dollars that is the real scandal, and the crime here.

Posted by: PinThemDown | January 21, 2006 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The problem isn't going to go away because you don't like hearing about it. The simple fact is that Howell wrote something that was not true. She was asked to correct it and did not. Now Kurtz and VandeHei are being brought in to complain about rudeness from readers. When you tell a lie and don't correct it when asked, it tends to goad people into a frenzy. And perhaps your audience is too stupid to notice the lie and is "all about" the rudeness, but the rest of the world can tell a hawk from a handsaw.

Or if Hamlet is too obscure for you, ask yourself this-- Why is it the Post is increasingly pandering to those who have attacked it for years for telling the truth, which they claim is "liberal bias" and refusing to respond ethically to the left, which only wants a factual correction in a timely fashion?

Don't you know that many Democrats had relationships with Native Americans long before confessed Republican criminal Abramoff began to victimize them? And that after he started bilking them, the amount of money they gave to their old friends went down? Tell me, please, what evidence there is that Ambramoff made ANYONE give money to a Democrat? And if he did and they did, is there any evidence the money given was the kind of bribe that he personally gave to much of Washington (some 60 people, by his own boasts)?

In fact, isn't it true that he was selling lunch with the President of the United States for $25,000 a pop? That the two were close friends, chatting casually about their children? And isn't it true that the whole point of an ombudsman is to represent the citizens in confronting a powerful and complex institution like the Post?

Why, then, is Howell NOT doing her job if a simple correction and apology for a straightforward and unambiguous factual error-- spread, no doubt coincidentally, by the GOP machine-- would have ended the "controversy" instantly?

Posted by: Tomm | January 21, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

poor Debbie in her latest scrivening: She seems so full of herself, so proud to be the center of attention. An ombudperson is supposed to be a peacemaker, a fixer of broken relations. The WaPo has hired for a 2-year contract a Dragon Lady to mend fences with the readers (eyeballs). Doesn't bode well for the Post, does it?

Posted by: wilson46201 | January 21, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Dear Deborah,

I vigorously and strongly disagree with your defense in your most recent column. First, my disdain for your integrity was created with your complaint about Froomkin. It grew when I saw what you had to say about Woodward (this might not be in the chronological order you wrote these columns, but only in the chronological order I read them). It culminated with the column about Abramoff. (Your forays into "balanced" reporting with respect to Pentagon recruiting reports didn't help.) This combination of writing, this failure to represent your readers, your tin ear to criticism is what lead me to call for your firing. Your most recent column exhibits some sincerity, but you cannot repair your damaged reputation with sincerity. You tell us that the Washington Post has data to back up your claims that Abramoff directed the contributions of his clients, but the proof that you cite shows no such thing (a incomplete, photoshopped, partial piece of paper with not context) and (obviously) I am not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. You lost that privilege. You've done a terrible job in my opinion; your bio or testimonial from colleagues will not change my opinion. Doing the kind of job that I think you should will change my opinion, but you have a great deficit to make up. I really don't care whether they can fire you or not, but if you cannot do your job, the Washington Post should refuse to publish you.

Elliott Gorelick

Posted by: eg | January 21, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

part of an e-mail I sent to Ms. Howell, under the subject line: Not a personal attack, no profanity:A nice caveat would have been: As many Indian tribes have contributed to Democrats in the years before Abramoff came on the scene, this is not an indication of corruption on the part of the party, since the facts show that contributions from tribes to Democrats actually declined during this period.~~~~~
You continue to fail to mention that Abramoff scammed the tribes in question, therefore they are the victims of Abramoff, not his agents. In other words, you continue to try and smear the Democrats with a scandal that was unquestionably meant to starve them of funds, by implying that Abramoffs victims were involved in the scam.

This sort of caveat seems to be beyond Ms. Howell, for some reason

Posted by: sunny | January 21, 2006 11:15 PM | Report abuse

In Ms. Howell's latest, she writes: "My mistake set off a firestorm. I heard that I was lying...." Well, which was it, negligence or lying? Ms. Howell can't be bothered to say.

But then again, who cares? One's as bad as the other when the tilt is always in favor of the guys who are in charge. This is a story about trolls only to the extent it points up WAPO's thin skin as well as its journalistic shortcomings.

Posted by: Little Debbie | January 21, 2006 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Please publish a story containing real evidence that Abramoff 'directed' clients to contribute to Democrats. Or stop claiming it. Thanks and keep smiling!!!!! :-) :-)

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