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Froomkin Departs, Leaving Angry Loyalists And Questions

By Andy Alexander

Dan Froomkin’s online White House Watch ended today in The Post, leaving an army of angry followers and a string of unanswered questions about the decision to terminate his contract.

His release sparked an outcry from a loyal audience built after five and a half years. My June 18 Omblog item reporting that he had been axed brought more than 870 comments -- nearly all of them expressing outrage. Other bloggers weighed in, questioning The Post’s decision. And I received several hundred e-mails, all of them from readers upset by the decision. Many said Froomkin’s dismissal is part of an effort to purge The Post’s opinion section of left-oriented voices. Typical was this e-mail I received Thursday from Bill Ziebell of Eugene, Ore.:

“I have lost my respect for the Post. It’s obvious that at the very time the country is turning to the left, the Neo-Con movement has taken over the editorial control of the Post. I have been reading the Post for years, but I will now go elsewhere. If I want to hear/see what the Loonies on the right are up to I can take a look at Fox. I don’t want, nor need more neo-con nonsense spewing forth from the editorial pages of what used to be a great paper...you’ve managed to become just another package of right-wing fishwrap.”

Institutionally, The Post is now responding by circling the wagons -- ironic for a news organization that insists on transparency from those it covers. Its initial statement on June 18 from spokeswoman Kris Coratti lacked substance (“Editors and our research teams are constantly reviewing our online content to ensure we bring readers the most value...while balancing the need to make the most of our resources”).

I was off much of this week with a minor medical problem. But when I was able to start querying editors yesterday, a wall of silence was erected. Raju Narisetti, the managing editor who oversees the Web site, declined to go beyond last week’s PR statement. Online Opinions Editor Marisa Katz, after talking Thursday with the Washington CityPaper, said she had been instructed not to respond to additional queries. And Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, who had previously responded to questions from me and other journalists (including the CityPaper on Thursday), today said he was unable to comment.

But based on my discussions with others at The Post, as well as Froomkin, here’s my take.

First, it’s not about ideology. My original Omblog post quoted Hiatt as saying Froomkin’s “political orientation was not a factor in our decision.” In my discussions with Froomkin, he has not cited ideology as the primary reason. And several veteran Post reporters have dismissed that as the cause. In an online chat this week, Post Pulitzer-winning columnist Gene Weingarten, who expressed “respect” for Froomkin and regret that White House Watch was ending, said: “I don't know why Froomkin's column was dropped, but I can tell you that the diabolical conspiracy talk is nuts. Froomkin wasn’t dropped because he is too liberal; things just don’t work that way at the Post.” It’s also worth noting that The Post hired Ezra Klein, a liberal political blogger, within the past several months.

Second, reduced traffic played a big role. White House Watch had substantial traffic during the Bush administration, but it declined noticeably when President Obama took office. The Post will not disclose precise numbers. Froomkin acknowledges the drop but told me much of it can be blamed on a change in format and poor promotion. He said that shifting White House Watch from a column to a blog when Obama took office was disruptive to his audience and "dramatically reduced the number of page views per reader.” He also said poor promotion, especially through links from the home page, had caused traffic to dip. “I felt that with adequate promotion, page views would have been much higher,” he said.

Third, money was a factor. The Post is losing money. The Washington Post Co.'s newspaper division, which is dominated by The Post, reported a first-quarter operating loss of nearly $54 million. Every aspect of The Post’s print and online operation is being scrutinized for cost-cutting. Thus, when editors detected the drop-off in Froomkin’s traffic and looked at what he is being paid (a former Post Web site editor puts it “in the $90,000-to-$100,000” range), he became vulnerable.

Finally, there was disagreement over changing the direction of White House Watch. Some reporters and editors at The Post view Froomkin as a superb, hard-working “aggregator” whose blog needed more original reporting. Weingarten, without expressing his own judgment, alluded to this in his chat: “I can tell you that there has been some disagreement about Froomkin's column over the years between the paper-paper and dotcom; the issue, I think, was whether he was as informed and qualified to opine as people who had been actively covering the White House for years.” Froomkin said his editors were urging changes in White House Watch, and he acknowledged
disagreement over content. For example, he was urged not to do media criticism. “I had always considered media criticism a big part of the column, as a lot of what I do is read and comment about what others have written about the White House,” he said.

In the end, Froomkin said that he was told in a recent meeting with his editors that his blog “wasn’t working anymore.”

“They wanted me to do it differently,” he said. But “the public response suggests that the readers were quite happy with it the way it was.”

And that, I think, succinctly captures the issue from both sides. The Post, needing to cut costs, sees a blog that has lost traffic and believes its author is unwilling to adjust to boost his audience. Froomkin acknowledges a traffic decline, but insists he maintains a robust audience and cites the large and loud reaction to his dismissal as evidence.

It raises several questions. Would Froomkin have been willing to work for less? (He did not answer the question when I posed it, and Post editors won’t say whether they offered.) If the Post insists on a larger White House Watch audience, how much must it grow to be acceptable? And were there other Post contributors who were more expendable?

James Fallows, blogging last week for The Atlantic online, described the Post’s dismissal of Froomkin as “insane” and wrote: “How does it make sense [to] get rid of an independent-minded, new media, presumably not-that-expensive, non-Washington-cliquey voice on politics and the media and leave... well, the full opinion and media lineup the Post is sticking with? Some people tell me that it's a mistake to say that the Post's editorial page (and the weight of its op-ed lineup) has 'become' neo-con and establishment-minded under its current editor, Fred Hiatt; the argument is that this is the Post's long tradition, which its anti-Nixon crusade concealed. I don't know. But I would have liked to have heard the argument about why Froomkin was the necessary next person to cut.”

It's too bad both sides could not have found a way to save White House Watch. The Post will lose a valued voice, even with its diminished audience. And Froomkin will lose the benefit of The Post's prestige and reach.

But he will surely find a new home soon. Web sites like The Huffington Post or Politico would seem a perfect fit.

With his loyal followers, he'll survive. So will The Post.

By Andy Alexander  | June 26, 2009; 3:13 PM ET
 
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Comments

Thank you for finally responding to the avalanche of reader mail on this. The "Circling the Wagons" against their own ombudsman shows the complete contempt the Post has shown for their own customers and readers. At least thanks for having the guts to post the questions. Watch your back & expect a bankruptcy announcement soon.

Posted by: dandoran | June 26, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

"Reduced traffic" is, sadly, a believable factor here. Raise your hand if you used to read Froomkin religiously during the Bush years -- especially 2004-06 -- but haven't been such a regular customer recently. (Raises hand.)

It's a bit like when a favorite old restaurant closes and everybody jumps up and says oh, what a shame, I *used* to go there all the time back when I was a kid, or lived in the city, or didn't have any money, or whatever.

Posted by: simpleton1 | June 26, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

They could have saved more money, I'm guessing, by firing that hack Richard Cohen and giving his space to Froomkin.

Posted by: bloggomio | June 26, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Very good analysis on your part in trying to explain Froomkin's firing;
it shows that the WH editorial staff have become politicians instead of journalists; you brought up a good example of hiring Ezra Klein to show that the Post isn't going neo-con, but their editorials and guest columnists contradict that argument.

I see the end of the Post as I once knew it, an investigative source of information that tried to find the truth, and shaking up the politicians in the process.

By becoming mainly a source of conservative news, the WH has become beggars to their own demise.

Posted by: spenceradams | June 26, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure the Post will survive.

The fact that management erected a "wall of silence" in response to your own inquiries, the official representative of the Post's readers, represents nothing less than contempt for your position and the readers you represent. No matter what business you are in, you are doomed to failure if you show such disdain for your customers.

Sorry to see you go.

Posted by: bcave | June 26, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"the issue, I think, was whether he was as informed and qualified to opine as people who had been actively covering the White House for years.” Is Weingarten kidding? Since when did an American citizen have to be "qualified" to have an opinion?

As for Froomkin's traffic, the Post started setting that up long ago, when they changed the name of his blog, then dropped him to the bottom of the menu, then took him off the menu altogether, making him more difficult to find. A year or so of that, and they could then say, "Sorry, Dan, your numbers dropped. Adios."

Posted by: chipgower | June 26, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The Post's basic response: "So, stuff it -- we know what we're doing."

Based on what? Their tremendous success lately?

Note the key sentence, from which all else flows: "The Post will not disclose precise numbers." (regarding Froomkin's traffic on the site). Gee, wonder why? Somehow, I think if the numbers for Froomkin were downright awful and collapsing, we'd have them. Are they down? I'm sure. There was a national election last year; you might have read about it; there ISN'T one this year. But I would BET that Froomkin's numbers (a) still beat the unholy you-know-what out of most of the WP blogs; and (b) still beat the unholy hell out of the some of the conventional-wisdom and right-wing dorks who continue to pollute the pages of the Post.

What the heck. When, in the immortal words of Micheal Ray Richardson, "the ship be sinking", and the guys steering the ship insist that they do know what they're doing, all the rest of us can do is laugh . . . and bail out.

Posted by: mdean3 | June 26, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

P.S. What good is an ombudsman if he gets a "wall of silence" built around him every time he asks a tough question? Are you just window-dressing, Mr. Alexander, or what? What's the point of your job?

Posted by: chipgower | June 26, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

One more thing -- note the COMPLETE lack of responsiveness from the Post hierarchy. Hilarious. They would find this completely unacceptable in any other institution they were covering.

Posted by: mdean3 | June 26, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

After the decision to fire Froomkin, plus the bizarre neo con tripe that is being provided in the opinion columns these days Im giving up my reading of the Post.

Posted by: cmccann2 | June 26, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander, you've gone far to redeem yourself...though you could have done more to produce stats to challenge the arguments, and produce some arguments to address the issue of whether media criticism should be part of the White House Watch column...OF COURSE IT SHOULD!

You've not won me back to the Post...you've affirmed my sense that the corporation has lost all perspective on it's responsibility to the public. Let it continue to suck up to those it covers and those who advertise. As i've learned this week trying to find a better sense of the crazy events in the world..readers can find better information and more respectful coverage elsewhere.

I may return to make fun of Post coverage, but it won't be to depend upon it any longer...which is sad for those of us who live here and did appreciate having a hometown newpaper with good national coverage. Thank heavens for the Falls Church Press...

Posted by: las100 | June 26, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

There's money for Bill Kristol to spread his brand of loose facts and subpar reasoning - but not Froomkin?? Who was willing to look at Obama with clear eyes? Man, the end is near.
Delighted to see the smug solons at the Post buckle and begin to fall - the clueless editors who go defensively to DefCon 1 when challenged. How clumsily handled was the response - two editors spoke to a rival publication but not to their own ombud??
LOL.
As this ship sinks, I bid farewell. You did little to entice us to stay and are now essentially shooting us the bird - the readers and customers you should value.
I'll tell my kids one day about a once-great newspaper that just couldn't change with the times.
Take the buyouts, staffers. You'll be out anyway in the next 18 months. Might as well get some dough in your pocket. Grab it - and run!

Posted by: mrcrister3 | June 26, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander, I appreciate the response, but you sidestepped several obvious reasons why things turned out the way they did:

1. Dan's traffic was down after the change in administrations, but as you said, the WaPo also changed the format of his work from column to blog, made it very hard to find (Dan used to get regular front webpage billing, usually under Bush-related articles) and similar changes at the same time. If these are the real causes for the diminished traffic, it's disingenuous to blame them on reduced interest.

2. Dan may rightfully be reluctant to monkey with what he feels is a successful form for his aggregation of White House reporting. If the WaPo management wants him to change it because a few White House beat reporters got bent out of shape because he was stepping on their toes or making them look foolish, they might reasonably want to look at whether they *are* being foolish by chumming up to the White House press office instead of pursuing honest, non-stenographic accountability journalism. Dan's column is a remarkable example of meta-journalism's ability to discern patterns and hidden agendas that the Briefing Room reporters miss.

3. Yes, the WaPo is losing money and has to economize, but you don't save money by sabotaging your writers and then firing them for their failure to increase traffic unless you have a political agenda to follow. Restoring Dan's column format and prominence to the home page would have cost several more buckets of electrons; at the current rate of bits/screen inch it would have cost the WaPo nothing to reverse the changes and see his traffic improve back to where it was. They didn't do it because they didn't want to.

I regret that the Washington Post is losing yet another reason why it was a great paper.

Posted by: DigiMark | June 26, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

(Raising hand) I'd also stopped reading Dan's column as much since Obama got sworn in, going from religious everyday reader to probably once a week. Yes the change in administration was part of it, but the change in the format of the column itself was a much bigger issue for me. Dan's column was so successful because it was a pretty comprehensive take on the largest stories of the day - all in one long entry. It was critical thinking done very well. Breaking his material up into shorter blog posts diminished the impact. You'd have to come by the site multiple times per day to get what you used to get in a single visit. Regardless. Dan will be successful wherever he lands. If Fred Hiatt thinks washingtonpost.com is going to be more successful without Dan, but with tired aged wingnut fossils like Krauthammer and George Will, ha! Good luck with that. By the way, there's nothing edgey or "new media" about running idiotic videos with Millbank and Cilizza. It's just idiotic and embarrassing.

Posted by: john7 | June 26, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

At least Andrew Alexander inquired as to why Dan Froomkin was let go. The silence and stonewalling from "Post' editors is somewhat astouding, similar to the Nixon's administration's walls of silence initially about the Watergate scandal, which certainly is highly ironic.

The editors or reporters who claim his column was not ended because of his progressive outlook, critical of Bush and occasionally Obama, have little credibility given the overwhelming bias of the "Post" toward neo-con opinions on foreign policy, national security issues. The relatively few liberal columnists left seem reluctant to criticize Obama.

The website currently has a headline stating Obama administration drafting a bill to keep some GITMO detainees indefinitely. Obama is turning out to be as reactionary and unmindful of the Constitution in some areas as Bush was.
With Dan Froomkin leaving, who will be left at this paper to have a balanced perspective about Obama and his administration? This paper may have as little credibility on foreign policy and national security issues as a state owned newspaper or television station in a politically authoritarian country.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 26, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Fromkin will survive, with no damage to his reputation, and a continued large readership.

The Post, too, will survive, for a while at any rate, but there is no doubt that its reputation and standing have taken a serious hit. I think the ombudsman needed to be more forthright about that unfortunate downward trend.

Posted by: trobador | June 26, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

They could have saved more money, I'm guessing, by firing that hack Charles Krauthammer and giving his space to Froomkin.

Posted by: mikenimzo | June 26, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the Ombudsman's efforts, but I don't think he was given accurate information. First off, I think it's total BS to say that Mr. Froomkin's liberal ideology was not a factor in the decision to fire him. I just simply don't believe that, no matter how many Washington Post Yes-Men say otherwise. I greatly preferred the old format to Froomkin's column. The new format, undoubtedly, contributed to any alleged reduction in "traffic." I also detect a large degree of professional jealosy (shouldn't that be an oxymoron?) in the decision. I think the other, careerist, corporate-minded Post journalists didn't like the fact that Froomkin was showing them up in just about every way possible. In sum, the Washington Post erred greatly in firing Dan Froomkin, but the error is entirely predictable in light of the establishmentarian, corporate, right-wing neoconservative bias of this paper. Of course they're going to axe the liberal s*** disturber and keep Krautheimer, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Gerson, Parker, Will, Milbank, Kurtz, Broder, Hiatt, Kristol (amazing) and the rest of that motley crew of status quo worshipping sycophants to the right-wing noise machine. It's all kind of discouraging.

Posted by: ejs2 | June 26, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for collecting rumors and providing a guess at why Mr. Froomkin was let go. Too damn funny. It is amazing to me that you feel comfortable publishing an employees rumored salary, but refuse to quantify the decline in traffic on his blog and/or compare his traffic to others at WaPo. He is gone - do you really need to protect that information?

My guess is that the folks at WaPo don't know why they fired Mr. Froomkin either.

I reject the notion that his was a 'liberal' voice. His 'blog' was one of the few places you could go to get legitimate and fact based criticism of President Obama. I never cared much about Mr. Froomkin's opinions - I read his column regularly because it provide me with facts (with links to sources) so I could make up my own mind.

WaPo reminds me of GM. Years of incompetent and intellectually corrupt management has destroyed an icon. We are left to watch the slow death spiral.

Posted by: kfitz1 | June 26, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

To the Post editorial management:
Your dropping of the Froomkin column is a great loss. Andrew Alexander, your latest Ombudsman, following a series of incredibly weak ones, at least raises some of the questions that Froomkin's readers have brought forward, though he ultimately sides with Management, as have all earlier people at the Post in this assignment.

I'm 56. I'm a Democrat. I'm a resident of DC. I am a PhD. I am a woman. I have been a consistent reader/subscriber of the Post since 1974. I want to read the Post in it's paper version and online. But your timidity and conservatism makes this impossible for me at this time.

Your columnists: Broder, Cohen, Marcus....Really???

Posted by: abmcc | June 26, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander,

At some other papers the person holding your job is called the Reader's Representative. How can you fulfill that function of you can't get answers from Post executives. To repeat another commenter's question, is your position just window dressing?
Further, if the eventual survival of the Post depends on editorial and business judgments of people such as Fred Hiatt, the future is dim indeed.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | June 26, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your useful take on recent events. Ultimately, it looks as though neither side was willing to make the compromises necessary to make the relationship work that the necessary compromises seem relatively trivial tell me that this was a relationship that had deteriorated beyond repair.

I'm sure that many of the responses from DF's readers have appeared unhigned to people inside the WaPo, but from where I'm reading the decision to fire him could be down to almost anything. That there was so little information and such a wall of silence from the institution meant that speculation and suspicion were about all there was for readers to chew on.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is another very important moment in the history of the universally troubled relationship between print and online news and hopefully productive lessons can be learned. My abiding sense is that the WaPo didn't properly understand Froomkin's value as someone who knew how to connect with an on-line readership. That's a problem.

Posted by: RichardHooker | June 26, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Alexander: "The Post will lose a valued voice, even with its diminished audience. And Froomkin will lose the benefit of The Post's prestige and reach."

I think that The Post will lose more than Dan Froomkin will. That's too bad for The Post.

Posted by: abmcc | June 26, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander, I would like to join those who complimented your work on this issue. I also agree with those who have suggested that an ombudsman who can get stonewalled by his own paper is not really an ombudsman at all. You have been diminished by this, and your own paper has done it to you.

Posted by: tmoore1 | June 26, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Alexander, you should also leave and take with you Krauthammer, Cohen, Gerson, Broder, Hayden, Kristol, Milbank, Hiatt and others with you. Papers are not built on snarky ill-informed op-ed columnists but on primary source and investigative reporting. Dan Froomkin wrote smart articles and he is you loss as is my subscription. The Post has lurched to the right and is making very poor hiring and firing decisions. I regret the state of your balance sheet but it your fault, not ours.

Posted by: harper-d | June 26, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

"And Froomkin will lose the benefit of The Post's prestige and reach."
LOL, on the contrary WP lost its prestige (and credibility) and reach to this regular reader...bye WP...my 1st and last post before I erase WP from my bookmark and replace it with whitehousewatch.com!

Posted by: LUER | June 26, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm....

A decline of posts after Bush left office and the Obama entered.

Guess the liberal left likes sending hate mail more than fan mail....

Should have kept Frootkin on until the Obama's taxes hit the liberals in their wallets. Posts will likely pick up.

Posted by: Spitfires | June 26, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

It is truly amazing to me that rightwing loonies continue to claim that the Post is liberal. We readers, and soon to be former readers, have seen the trend for years now, at least since the beginning of Bush's war. All it's going to take for me to never buy the Post again is to start eviscerating Sports and Style, too. Oh, for the days of Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham!

Posted by: justmike | June 26, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Mr Ombudsman,

Thank you for bringing our concerns about the firing of Dan Froomkin to the Powers that Be of the Washington Post. Even that's your job, I feel that you stuck your neck out to get some facts.

Personally, I feel that Dan's habit of speaking truth to power was not well-recieved in the executive suite: I believe that his reluctance to join the Bob Woodward is God cult worked against him; I also believe that his shout-out against Mr Krauthammer did not bode well; and, I believe that when all else failed, the editors came up with a real canard - "it wasn't working".

Dan had often made clear that he wasn't a White House reporter. He could have been but would have had to give up some of what made his column so fresh: sharing opinion and pointing out the fallacy and weekness of MSM reporting.

Too many institutions are dying by inches because of management's bad judgement.

Too sad.

BTW, I get a kick out of "Mouthpiece Theater" no matter what HuffPo says.

Posted by: bmschumacher | June 26, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Why not cut costs by dumping Will, Cohen, Milbank, Broder, Gerson, and Krauthammer? Why give Kristol space, he is always wrong? As is Fred Hiatt....

Posted by: gregrice | June 26, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

This is really almost too delicious to be true, but it is. The Washington Post, which broke one of the major news stories of the 20th Century by using "Deep Throat" to break through the Nixon administration's "stone-walling", is now stone-walling its own ombudsman. I think Alexander needs to look for a "Deep Throat" in the Post's management ranks to find out the real reasons for Froomkin's firing, which I think most of us suspect has everything to do with the Post's conscious move to the right side of the political spectrum. If this wasn't so pathetic and disheartening, it would be both ironic and highly amusing.

Posted by: marcb1 | June 26, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

The drop in traffic claim is meaningless without comparisons to other columnists/bloggers. I bet a lot of their numbers have dropped post-election.

As to costs, I bet they could have saved more by axing Gerson or Parker, not to mention Milbank, whom they ought to axe out of simple desire for quality.

Posted by: Seytom1 | June 26, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

To LUER - your post says it very nicely for many of us. Prestige? Gone with the wind now, as well as the reach.

Posted by: nana1ellen | June 26, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I gather that you're not a web expert, Mr. Alexander. But I think that what happened was quite clear.

You were told that the numbers for the blog had declined. But they won't give you the numbers. Why? What possible reason could they have other than that the numbers don't back up Mr. Hiatt's claim?

It's easy to drive down page views, and the Post's management did as much as they could to torpedo White House Watch. They changed the name. Hid the link. And as others have pointed out, 2008 was an absolute banner year for politics, with a truly historical election. EVERY political site's numbers are down this year!

Even so WHW managed to draw a large audience - I'd bet a larger daily average than any other political blog or column at the Post. If I'm wrong, let Fred Hiatt prove it.

As for the suggestion that there was a political element to this, that Dan Froomkin was fired because he was a liberal, that's absolute nonsense. He was a fiercer critic of President Obama and the Democrats than any neocon here. But he wasn't a partisan; he simply displayed a journalistic integrity that seems to be almost forgotten these days. That was what made him so valuable, and nearly unique; he used absolutely consistent, fair standards to report on ANY political figure or party. Dan Froomkin was the antithesis of a pundit, because he relied on simple, unspun FACTS.

And as a media critic, he was simply unsurpassed. Your Mr. Kurtz doesn't seem to have been willing to even mention Dan Froomkin's firing; nor has he mentioned his own ties to the RNC, through his wife (a highly paid lobbyist for the Republican Party). Perhaps that's part of the reason that the Post establishment pushed Dan out.

Well, they succeeded in pushing me out too. I'll be signing out from the Post now, and deleting my bookmarks and links. I won't be returning; I'll consider it a particular point of pride not to visit the Post again. I was a daily visitor, spending at least an hour a day here with many page views...but frankly I can easily do without the Post.

I look forward to reading about the end of the Washington Post sometime in the years to come - hopefully in Dan's new column somewhere else!

Goodbye.

Posted by: PMaranci | June 26, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

There was conflicting information provided in this article: money was an issue in the release of Dan Froomkin, but Ezra Klein was recently hired. I still don't believe we have the full story. Whatever, Dan Froomkin was the primary reason I read WaPo. He provided factual, verifiable information, and cited sources. That cannot be said for a number of the "more valued" columnists.

Posted by: mriles | June 26, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin was my No. 1 WaPo read.

If finance is an issue, why are you keeping blowhards like Broder?

I don't accept your explanations. Readers treasure Froomkin.

You've lost your Opinion section's best asset.

Posted by: KevPod | June 26, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin will survive - the Post? I give it two years.

Posted by: donbashline | June 26, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

You didn't check with Weingarten before quoting him so liberally, did you? I imagine he would be appalled at the lack of journalistic integrity you displayed in making his words, tossed off as an opinion, as an authoritative source on the firing. Other people have not picked up on this, but this is the weakest thing I have seen in a long time.

Posted by: dailykos1 | June 26, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

The Post still has good news writers, but the opinion/analysis side is in bad shape for the future. There are two good opinion writers - Robinson and Jenkins (sportswriter). Achenbach is also an excellent writer. Other than them, the Post is stocked with dim-witted fuddy-duddies. Cohen is a terrible writer and was kept on after an openly racist column claiming that Jews are intellectually superior! Gerson and Kristol are mindless, right-wing hacks who are out of touch with reality. Will is senile; he wrote an Abe Simpson-like rant against blue jeans, and his attempts at science writing are contemptible. Weingarten is unreadable. On the whole, the Post seems to be increasingly slanted to the retired folks demographic, and the Times is pulling away as the nation's newspaper of the future.

Posted by: Renu1 | June 26, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Someday, when the history of the demise of establishment newspapers is written, WaPo's firing of Froomkin will make it into more than a few accounts.

To think that I once had WaPo's web site as my home page -- that now seems ages ago, before the steady shift to the right -- and not 'fresh' voices from there (assuming there are any), but Bush-admin retreads and past-their-prime hacks who have no qualms about riding their reputation, blithely making up facts if need be. No room for Froomkin, but now there's room for Cal Thomas? Please...

What strikes me most about the comments here is the extremely high percentage of thoughtful, reasoned, and perceptive ones, in stark contrast to the ugly ravings that characterize reader postings to most WaPo articles. It just now occurred to me that there might be a connection between the quality of the postings and the quality of the columnists.

But at least we have one thing to be thankful for -- WaPo has clearly stated its intentions, and so I'm looking forward to all the time I'll save by no longer reading it. I should be able to get my news and commentary from elsewhere with a lot less sifting through the chaff that has come to dominate its pages.

PS: thanks for including the paragraph about James Fallows's reaction -- message received. ;-)

Posted by: jetchs | June 26, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I too am deeply concerned about the Post dropping Froomkin. My view is that Froomkin has been and still is an articulate critic of the current WH regime and has not backed down on some of the critical issues the traditional media has seriously ignored such as torture. Hence I think the Post is not so interested in challenging the status quo and those who seek to uphold it. This is seriously needed, and so I'm off to Talking Points Memo, HuffPo and Democracy Now for my news.

Posted by: valeriedc | June 26, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Other weaknesses:

1. No context on the money issue. How much do the other op-ed people make. How much to the ridiculous Chris Cilizza (sp?) and Dana Milbank make. (I thought it was an SNL parody.)

2. The stonewalling from the Post.

3. The glossing over of the fact that Froomkin thinks ideology did play a part. It was not the major part, but it's clear from parsing your words that you are lying by omission.

4. The glossing over of the degree to which his media criticism burned egos at WaPo and the degree it reflected an ideological bent. After all, Kurtz is basically a Republican operative (and not just through marriage - read his stuff).

5. No comment on whether the decision was run past Graham or not.

Weak. weak. weak!

Posted by: dailykos1 | June 26, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading the Post since I came to DC to go to American University in 1966. I remember the great op-ed pages of Phillip Geyelin and his not bad successor Meg Greenfield. Fred Hiatt, quite frankly, with his determination to provide a sinecure for every neo-con hack who can string a semi-coherent 600 words together, has disgraced a great institution. Someone should hand him a pistol and tell him to close the door to his office and do the right thing.

Posted by: purdyjack | June 26, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

The question is whether the thoughtful ones remaining – Tom Toles and Eugene Robinson – are enough to overcome my resentment and make me still read the paper despite your disregard for quality.

Posted by: KevPod | June 26, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, this is at least a somewhat respectable stab at an explanation, still with nothing to go on but the word of the people involved, no numbers nor facts about negotiations, the fact remains that he's gone and the rest, Krauthammer et al are staying.

I don't think there's any need for conspiracy theory: Occam's razor would seem to indicate short-sightedness and stupidity, as well as a few too many stepped-on-toes of reporters who were shocked to be reminded what thier real job is (on the other hand, some reporters said their job was saying 'on the other hand'...)

Even the idea that he lost traffic is risible in the face of how hard he was to spot (even for loyal, every column reader like myself) it was like playing Whack-a-Mole. It's noce to hide a column and then plead that the numbers (whatever they may be) are down.

He wasn't an 'opinion' columnist either...
You guys are stuck with a bunch of opinion-writers that we can see on Fox or in other magazines and nothing but old thinking. Why come to the Post? We can get it elsewhere,and with Froomkin, we'll have to.

The Post will survive? Well, maybe this, but you guys are rally screwing up your brand.

BTW, this response is a good example of the 'on the one side/on the other side' crap that is killing the rest of the 'journalism' in your paper.

Please note my address 'ddevice1'.
I'm gone.
Note how often I came before.
Seriously, I was a daily reader.
I don't subscribe so I don't have the honour of telling you to stuff your subscription, but the thought is there, believe me.

A paper that can't tell Froomkin from an opinion writer is bad enough. One that can't see his value as opposed to the others you are keeping is not worthy of the name of newspaper.

PS: BTW, the word is 'TORTURE' and it's another word for watching a once great paper sink in it's own stupidity.
Shame, Shame, shame on you.

Posted by: ddevice1 | June 26, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post scavenges a New York Times' castoff wacko and then buries and ultimately cuts loose a writer/aggregator who provided useful information, and this is somehow not a political decision? Kind of points out the futility of interviewing yourself.

BTW, given the trends, I don't share your unsupported certainty that the Washington Post will survive.

Oh, and your attempt to find a squishy middle-ground made me cringe.

Posted by: BleepedOff | June 26, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

The Post may survive without Froomie but it will do so without me. Bye bye Post...it was a nice 40 years.

Posted by: janouzpoha | June 26, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

As stated in the 2nd comment, reduced traffic is believable, and I also acknowledge not reading as often. But WHB/W started midway through the Bush presidency. As Froomkin has done a great job of pointing out, Obama has a lot of potentially dangerous positions, but it's so early, and there's still a wait-and-see feel to everything. I think readership would continually rise as we get deeper into the Obama presidency.

Posted by: dabberc | June 26, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

LOSERS!

Posted by: andyk2 | June 26, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

"Froomkin said his editors were urging changes in White House Watch, and he acknowledged
disagreement over content. For example, he was urged not to do media criticism. “I had always considered media criticism a big part of the column, as a lot of what I do is read and comment about what others have written about the White House,” he said."

So it's not the kerfuffle with Krauthammer we have to thank for this, but the thin-skinned Kurtz? Suddenly it all makes sense...a stupid small-minded pig-ignorant sense. What others have said here is true: Froomkin will do well without the Post but the Post has taken another huge step toward obsolescence.

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | June 26, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I think the Post's reputation is on the line here. This article makes the situation worse. The Post is overloaded with Bush lovers like Gerson, Krauthamer, Will, etc. None of these guys even comes close to original reporting and they often ignore obvious facts that make their arguments less persuasive. The idea that there is a "wall of silence" to the ombudsmen makes me even more suspicious. Why not just come clean? I would have more respect for the paper if they just said they thought Froomkin crossed the line decency by assuming (gasp) that politicians and beltway insiders were honest brokers of information. I will probably still go to the Post for local news and sports, but I am suspect of all the rest. It's too bad too. I will always cherish my days delivering the Post back in the 1970s. Meanwhile, I definitely will follow Froomkin whereever he goes.

Posted by: jmII | June 26, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

They got rid of the wrong guy. Why not let Krauthammer go, instead?

Posted by: ecat124 | June 26, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Why circle the wagons when you're already shooting yourselves? See you in bankruptcy court. Soon.

Katherine Graham would be so proud!

Posted by: thrh | June 26, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Post management to Ombudsman: Drop Dead

Posted by: formerloyalWPreader | June 26, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

If the editors won't talk to you or explain themselves to us, who are they to call out the Administration for non-disclosure?

And why do they have an "ombudsman" if they don't cooperate with him?

Posted by: KevPod | June 26, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Politico a perfect fit? That made me laugh. Politico is about and for insiders. Dan, with his attacks on the establishment, is an outsider. Politico is staffed by some of the same people who sparred with Dan when they were all at the WaPo together!

I appreciate the honesty of this post - "circling the wagons" and "wall of silence" speak volumes and no one can be surprised to read that about WaPo management.

I can see why Dan would be offended to take a pay cut; why should he, when there was so much highly-compensated drivel sharing space with him at WaPo?

Dan had a very personal connection with his readers, which can't be said of most other Post writers. Dana Milbank? Charles Krauthammer? Would the Post get hundreds of furious emails and comments from despairing Milbank fans if his inane columns disappeared?

And if the decision was made in part because Dan refused to back down from his media criticism, what's the implication? That Howard Kurtz felt like his toes were being stepped on? Or that WaPo just doesn't want itself and other media orgs criticized at all?

Posted by: unojklhh1 | June 26, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Froomkin's demise may be because he too often served in the role of Post ombudsman. I add my voice to those of others who note that the Post worked diligently to drive down Froomkin's numbers, then fired him for having fewer hits. Amazing.

The Post's explanations remind me of an old Reader's Digest story: A man asked a farmer to borrow a rope. The farmer declined repeatedly, without explanation. Finally, the man demanded to know why the farmer would not lend him the rope. The farmer said, "Because I need the rope to tie up milk." Astonished, the man noted that you can't tie up milk with a rope, to which the farmer replied, "I know, but I don't want to lend you the rope, so any excuse will do."

Posted by: gsross | June 26, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

It's like a game of "telephone!" Post management to Ombudsman to Readers: Drop Dead.

I don't need an intermediary: RIP Washington Post

Posted by: bgeorge33 | June 26, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks at least for the background on this. I've had a hell of a time finding Dan's column since he went to the blog format and mostly disappeared from the front page.

It's sad to see Dan be let go. It's sad to see what's happened to the Post. I used to read the print edition religiously each morning and check out the blog entries and online updates during the day. Lately, I've barely been able to drag myself to even get the Sunday paper.

I hope the Post manages to right itself and start becoming the paper it once was. Not having WHW will make that job harder.

Posted by: epicurus1 | June 26, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, at long last you attempted to find out why Dan was fired, ,and essentially they wouldn't tell you. Hiatt is not "unable to comment"; he's unwilling. Coratti's statement certainly "lacked substance" , and "circling the wagons" and "erecting a wall of silence" shows the disdain they have for the readers and their representative. "The Post will not reveal precise numbers". of hits to his work,[ after doing their best to hide it and make it less effective]. Let's be clear, they are not revealing any numbers! If they did, they would have to give numbers for other writers, to demonstrate that it was not cost effective to keep him on. That's why it's absurd to suggest politics wasn't involved. They refuse to account for their actions to you and to us. They are telling their customers nothing, because they neither care what we think nor care if we leave. It is no way to run a business. What good is an ombudsman who is stonewalled by his employer? Thanks, at least for trying.

Posted by: lillianlil | June 26, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the Post still refuses to provide comparative figures on Froomkin's readership versus the rest of its editorial stable. Without those, I for one will continue to doubt the Post's official explanation that ideology had nothing to do with his firing. The Post has deservedly taken a serious hit to its credibility.

Posted by: Eminpasha | June 26, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

So, "reduced traffic played a big role". Since it's clear this is what it takes to get your attention, I will now avoid the Post religiously, even for local news.

And to think, I used to deliver your paper as a young boy. Perhaps I'll shed a tear or two in memory, at the bankruptcy sale.

Posted by: Carneades | June 26, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

In the land of 300 million citizens, or hundred of thousands of WaPo subscribers,
big Dan gets several hundred people to email to complain.
WhoopdeDoo.
He is like a bad lounge lizard, with a few far left wingnut fans. I am amazed we stockholders had to pay this no-talent's salary for this long.....

Posted by: merley1 | June 27, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

After reading the comments contained herein, and if you take your position half-way seriously as being the official representative of the Post readership, you would resign your position after being confronted with the "wall of silence" by the Post management. Such hypocrisy with respect to the need for transparency in every other institution the Post covers, except itself, is beyond the pale. The Post has no credibility, nor does your position as Ombudsman.

Posted by: bcave | June 27, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

They won't give you any information, they say "trust me it wasn't ideology," and you believe them? Why? You think they'd come out and say, "we fired him because he's liberal?" They had two choices - lie or say no comment. And look what you got - three no comments and one guy who admits he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Decreasing readership? Last year was an election year, for chrissake. Of course a politics blog readership is down.

Ezra Klein, liberal? Ezra is a great blogger, but he's a policy wonk. He doesn't do straight-up politics. And if he starts, we'll see how long he lasts.

No, the real reason Froomkin was fired is that he made the rest of the opinion writers look like the lazy, craven stenographers and sycophants that they truly are.

I still subscribe to the Post out of habit, but I don't even look at the oped page any more. Why should I? Broder, Will, Krauthammer, Cohen, Gerson, Hiatt - fossils and fools.

Posted by: Bloix | June 27, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

This episode has been an eye-opener.


The response of the WP editors to their own Ombudsman (circled wagons, zipped lips) is as off-putting and revealing as the axing itself. The once-famous corporate culture of Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham has deteriorated all the way to.....what?


The WP, at a time of existential challenges from without, appears hobbled from within by poor leadership, pursuing dubious strategic goals.


Your newspaper needed Froomkin (and more like him, if you could find any) much more than Froomkin needs the WP.


I write this as a political moderate, and a registered Republican for more than 30 years.


I valued Froomkin's analyses because they were driven by genuine, deeply-held journalistic values. Froomkin pulled no punches, and he was tenacious in his pursuit of the main point.


And what a welcome contrast he provided, to many of your other writers!


The tone of much of the WP's current political reportage and commentary is either "fawning" or "snarky" (sometimes both). Important political stories are often weighted down by a predictable subtext: i.e., the calculated display and celebration of the "insider status" of those writing the stories.


Froomkin did not engage in that kind of narcissistic, distracting, clique-ish, "privileged insider" writing. Instead, he set a professional example of what the WP, as a serious newspaper evolving in the 21st century, *could* do, and *should* do, but probably won't.


In mapping the long decline of your once-great institution, this incident may prove to be a notable inflection-point. Your downward trajectory just got steeper.


Good luck.

Posted by: egb3 | June 27, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

It's hard for me to believe that the Post's regular Op Ed writers individually get more "traffic" than Froomkin. Perhaps there are certain right wing ideologues who need a regular fix of Krauthammer or Will, but beyond that, I just cannot see a reason why anyone would read any of the Post's pundits regularly. The Post publishes some good pieces by non-regular writers, but that's about it.

Posted by: rjoff | June 27, 2009 1:23 AM | Report abuse

The reason why Dan's column was "must read"
- he daily linked us to 15 to 30 other good reads covering lots of points of view, adding facts NOT reported elsewhere in WaPo. He kept his readers well-rounded and INFORMED.
That's why I read the NYT daily, delivered to my doorstep when I lived in three different states (none of them NY). Why I've always subscribed to my local paper, and Time and Newsweek. Why I read the LA Times and WaPo online.
But Dan Froomkin always delivered info and links to new, fascinating additional news sources so I felt I was fully informed or at least knew what facts were still missing from the big, important stories. Dan even linked to great cartoons that I would have otherwise missed.
Several years ago, WaPo had by far the best on-line website. I would have paid for an on-line subscription- it was so good, and so easy to navigate and it had 5 times as much info as any other newspaper on-line edition.

But then someone at WaPo started messing with it. The site became more difficult to navigate, many things I loved and used to read daily were difficult to find or missing entirely. I spent less and less time on WaPo site, and now you're removing the BEST column on your site. The "daily don't miss column by Dan Froomkin" because it delivers SO MUCH MORE NEWS than anything else on WaPo.com.

Why did you fire the original editors, creators of your website. .COM IS THE FUTURE. The WaPo print edition is NOT available for home delivery across the country like the NYT. I can't even find it in airports. And now someone at your paper is destroying YOUR FUTURE. Find THAT wrong-headed fool and fire him.

Lately, there is far too much opinion and too little INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING. Isn't that what journalists are supposed to do and what newspapers should report?

Where is Dana Priest? Her investigative reports on the VA treatment of wounded soldiers was great. I haven't seen any articles by her and she was bounced from your Q and A? Why? I checked for her columns and there's nothing since May. Did you fire her too?
It's almost 40 years since your glory days of Watergate investigative reporting. Get the journalists you have left back to investigative stories. Have them read the reports from International Red Cross that were linked in one of Dan's columns. The story about the imprisonment, forced nakedness, and perverted treatment of the 72 year old Iraqi mother of a Iraqi suspect was chilling and it had nothing to do with any "ticking bomb", just evil let out of Pandora's box spread across every wartime prison.

Here's hoping you bring back the people that originally made wapo.com worth paying for. And fire the jerk who's been screwing it up.

Posted by: milwaukee1 | June 27, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

nobody would tell you why Froomkin was fired, and you didn't quit ???

what kind of ombudsman are you ???

fred hiatt's butt boy ombudsman ???

some people who serve as ombudsmen have self respect, and take pride in their responsibilities

I guess you ain't one of them

you just keep on thinking the wapo is gonna survive, if it helps you look in the mirror each day

and btw, if a competent journalist like Froomkin costs 100k per year, how much does a Butt Boy Ombudsman like you cost them

as long as the check clears, you're okay with anything

I'm sorry, but I demand a little more from a person who claims to represent me

goodbye mr alexander, and good riddance

Posted by: unsubscribed1 | June 27, 2009 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Ombudsman,

the mere perception of the Washington Post "circling the Wagons" is enough to tell something is amiss, which you clearly acknowledge.

The changing of format indeed sounds like a setup for diminishing numbers of visits. And I agree with Froomkin that he must cover the media reports about the White House. If you are determined to find the truth and give a balanced picture of what is going on, you have to look closely at what the media are doing.

Even without changes number of visits would have declined slightly after the election, since liberals had gotten what they wanted and Bush was finally out, but soon enough there would be lots to look at in terms of promises held, what's good and what's bad, how the new administration works and how the media reacts to it. I think the numbers would have risen again after a prolonged "honey moon".

And how does the Post save money by cutting one liberal loose and hiring another? Are the salaries that different in size?

Posted by: asoders22 | June 27, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

A total failure by a doomed paper

Posted by: jquiggin | June 27, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA.
Look out "all" the Froomkin groupies whining and crying.
WooHoo, we got a few dozen wingnuts in withdrawal.
Froomkin WAS a partisan hack, who was an embarrassment to a great paper. An embarrassment to journalism!
The real question is how he kept his job this long.?

Posted by: merley1 | June 27, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

For years I had correlated a newspaper's news reporting and editorials. If the reporting was reliable, I felt the editorial opinion would be also. Dan Froomkin disabused me of this naivete when he pointed out how a Fred Hiatt editorial contradicted facts in a story by two Post reporters.
So I have no problem believing Mr. Hiatt is making another mistake in dropping Dan's White House Watch. Losing credibility is pretty much the death knell of a newspaper. (See also Judy Miller re Iraq war at the NYT. Oh, the humanity!)

Posted by: shadrivers | June 27, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

So this column wraps it up for the Post . . . not enough traffic, cost cutting, etc. Pretty pro forma and not very satisfying or informative.

But what about the responsibility of the paper to report? Will we believe criticisms of Obama by Krauthammer? or Gerson? or Will? I think not. So why spend time with the Post?

One of the many things I liked about Dan Froomkin's columns was that he presented facts along with their sources and allowed me to make up my mind. I don't see that in columns by the above-mentioned who present opinions and diatribe as fact. So why spend time with the Post? and its advertisers?

Why indeed?

Posted by: syrdavid | June 27, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Just as one example: which do you think generated more hits -- Froomkin's blog, or the painful "On Faith" musings of the egregious Sally "Mrs. Ben" Quinn, who hasn't written an interesting word in twenty years?

Bet I know the answer to that question.

Bet Sally keeps HER blog, even if NOBODY reads it. Sacred cow? You betcha.

Posted by: mdean3 | June 27, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

No one but the left-wing moonbats cares at all about this.

P.S. Froomkin earned $90-100,000 !!! Yowza, I would have guessed around $30K.

Posted by: mediaskeptic | June 27, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Only now, after the reader outrage and Post stonewalling, do you admit that the initial statement from Kris Coratti was lacking? And how do you possibly feel justified in publishing Dan's salary range while withholding site traffic stats? That is purely unconscionable, and only serves to make you appear another cog in the machinery of a political hit.

The optics on this are horrible for the Post, and I certainly don't share your enthusiasm for her continued success if this trend of unjustifiable decisions and subsequent circling of the wagons continues.

Posted by: brownbagger46 | June 27, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

With one act, Andrew Alexander has proven himself to be a better Ombudsman than that terrible Debbie Howell. But shame of the Washington Post management. I hope the paper dies.

Posted by: playa_brotha | June 27, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

If WAPO wanted to save money it should have fired Krauthammer and George Will, oh and Milbank as well. Not one of the few left here that writes without spin.

And for all those here who go to the above mentioned columns and leave comments putting them down. Remember, you are giving them page views. Simply boycott that lousy writers!

Posted by: datdamwuf2 | June 27, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The news paper industry is becoming just like the automobile industry. Producing a product that no one wants and then blaming the customer for the lack of sales.

I doubt that you will read this comment (or any) but just so you know, things are less about left or right, up or down but rather about insider verses outsider. You have too many people who are insiders who are more impressed about wining awards than people who are interested in getting to the truth whether or not it is a single truth (original reporting) or an meta-truth which is what Foomkin did.

Wining a pulitzer seems to impress you a lot and it used to be impressive but now it is the goal in itself not something tacked on after doing a good job.

These are the complaints that the guy that wrote "The Wire" said was the problem with the news industry and I agree.

Posted by: wrolston | June 27, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

And here we get to see several reasons that traditional newspapers are dying.
First is the narrow scope that traditional journalist seem only to see the world through shallow definitions of one group vs. another. I am upset over the Froomkin firing, but I am NOT Froomkin “loyalist” as it is simply put. I was a “Washington post” loyalist, who no longer likes the direction the paper is going.
Next while the powers that be at the post claim that Dan’s firing had nothing to do with his left leaning tendencies, (which I found doubtful, as others have posted, hiding a column, then getting rid of it because of lack of traffic is a poor excuse), it does seem to be the case that some columnists are keeping their jobs because of their right leaning tendencies. How else to explain the Post getting rid of a colonist who had been right about so many things over the last few years, and keep so many who have been wrong on just about every prediction, claim, and policy that they have pushed (Kristol, and Krauthammer). Even keeping one who knowingly lies (Yes when G. Will leaves out know facts to make a point that is a lie)?
And finally we see the last reason newspapers are dying. As Alexander says, he’ll find a home elsewhere, and so will his readers. Yep, they sure will. Then the Post will look around and say, why is our readership down? Must be those evil blogs, who have hack columnist, ignoring the fact the Post now holds all the hacks.
I for one will stop reading the post, and start reading a news source that doesn’t simplify it’s analysis of events, rewards columnist that are shown to be correct in their opinions, and doesn’t just arrogantly claim they will survive, but strives to do so.

Posted by: TheCaptainDamnIt | June 27, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

OK folks, if you think the answer is to fire Post pundits who don't share your narrow views, there is no reason to tell us. That suggestion has been made many times here.

The Post still has more liberal voices than conservative voices. If you need an all-liberal lineup, try the NY Times or the Huff Post.

Posted by: bobmoses | June 27, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else having their posts "held for review by the ombudsman" before posting? Nothing offensive in it, no swear words or insults (other than things like "nepotistic sycophantic pandering" are considered offensive - on the other hand, they should be!).

Another symptom of the Post "circling the wagons." It's an odd thing for a newspaper to be doing, but this isn't really much of a newspaper anymore, anyway.

Posted by: ManateeMD | June 27, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update. I for one, hated the blog format for WHW. Hopefully, Froomkin will take it back to its original form when he lands somewhere else.

As a reader, potential ex-reader, I'd like you to address the disturbing right-ward tilt of the Post's opinion page. To me, publishing Paul Wolfowitz on Iran is beyond ironic. Not to mention Liz Cheney on anything. And what expertise does Gerson bring? Could you query the powers-that-be about this, or don't they want to discuss that either?

Posted by: lkschweik | June 27, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The real tragedy is that people like Milbank, Carlson/Cox, Krauthammer, Kristol, and Gerson are still being published by the Post, despite their stuff running the gamut from uninteresting and unfunny to just plain awful.

Posted by: sembtex | June 27, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Every post here is the same:

"How can you run the columns of (insert names of pundits who don't share the commenter's narrow views), yet get rid of a pundits who hates Republicans as much as I do."

You folks need to get over your silly and intolerant notion that only those pundits that share your narrow views are worthy of being published. What happened to that liberal "tolerance for other ideas" that you all beat your chest about when demonizing conservatives?

Posted by: bobmoses | June 27, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I loved Froomkin's format before the blog and yes I was guilty of not logging in as much as I had before. HOWEVER; Froomkin was one of the best and even when I had to use search to find his columns, it was still better than 75% of the rest of WAPO.

I love the way he brought things together over a variety of subjects and made intelligent, insightful comments on politics and the MEDIA. Anybody who watched you guys cozy up to WAR in the early Bush administration needs watching and critique.

You lost a valuable asset when you fired Froomkin; plus a reader who no longer hits your site at all. I agree that with another post that says that:

"The real tragedy is that people like Milbank, Carlson/Cox, Krauthammer, Kristol, and Gerson are still being published by the Post, despite their stuff running the gamut from uninteresting and unfunny to just plain awful."

AMEN!

Posted by: reboot923 | June 27, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure the Post will or should survive, either. I just see a string of embarrassments: dumb columns with no factchecking from George Will, most things from Krauthammmer, Cohen, etc., the reporter in the live chat who complained that Media Matters was on a high horse because they reported on what a Senator said and not the context of that statement (illustrating the reporter doesn't know the difference between "reporter" and "stenographer").

I guess page hits are what matters, so I'm doing my best to avoid the Post. Except for Tom Sietsema, I don't think I can give him up. So congratulations, Washington Post, your dining critic is the only thing worth reading.

Posted by: willwheels | June 27, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr Alexander
I too would like to thank you for at least attempting to get behind the wall of WaPo omerta.

Froomkin's column was always one of the high points of my intarwebs day.

I could always depend on him for a meticulous summary of what was happening in the journamalistic coverage of the White House, always with plenty of links to the original sources, always with a thoughtful analysis. He also showed a great deal of respect for his readers, constantly interacting with them (his biweekly On-Lines were an interactive, respectful model that sadly wasn't followed by most of your other writers in theirs).

The only indication that I ever got of his politics was that he wasn't/isnt a die-hard follower of either Bush or Obama. He struck me (through literally daily views over... what? five years now?... as a dedicated truth-teller, as someone who's role was eventually to point out the lack of honesty and integrity in media coverage of the presidency.

He will be followed by people who respect the ideas of honesty, transparency and accountability. Wherever he goes next.

The Washington Post has not only lost one of its most valuable voices, but has lost someone who was your best model in an effective transition to the internet age.

I'm not sure there's room for two Washington Times, but you'll be able to find out, won't you?

Posted by: wmdoor | June 27, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure the WAPO will survive or even should survive. Instead of Froomkin, Fred Hiatt should have looked in the mirror and axed himself. But neocons don't work that way - they destroy until nothing's left to destroy. Sad, in the past WAPO used to be a newspaper that had to be read, but no longer ...

Posted by: edfunk1 | June 27, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein is a good example of the direction the Post should pursue. You have to read his column before you know what he is going to say and his thoughs have substance. Too many of the Posts op-ed writers whether they be right wing or left wing just regurgitate fixed ideological positions with little or no substantial thought. The issues at the center of current attention are very difficult ones with major long term implications for American society. We do need comments from people who can come to grips with their substance. We don't need the continual cheap shots that appeal only to fixed ideological positions that characterize most of the Post's Op-Eds whether they come from the right or the left.

Posted by: dnjake | June 27, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Its laughable to make a big deal out of a drop in readership. Readership dropped because Hiatt et al. wanted it to drop. Many times it took me more than a handful of clicks to even find Froomkin's blog. Why wasn't it "a column" on the front page everyday like in the past? Most days the Post site has true garbage in the space below the Opinion Section. If readership was really a factor, management would have made changes to in an attempt to restore numbers instead of making further counterproductive changes. I disagree that Froomkin benefited from the prestige and reach of the Post. Believe me, Froomkin's readers will be able to find him and he can do his thing anywhere on earth. I bet the Post wasn't even providing Froomkin with an assistant. The Post on the other hand will lose a tremendous number of younger, web savy political readers. It is extremely short sighted for the Post to ignore this demographic going forward. Especially given the magnitude of their financial problems.

Posted by: bolisalindalae | June 27, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

A couple points in quasi-rebuttal:

(1) Yes, I too read Froomkin less in recent months--but his column also became harder to locate. A year ago, say, I could always scan down the Post's Home page to find his link. More recently, it seemed to appear on the Home page only intermittently. Sometimes, I'd be typing "Froomkin" in the site search box to find him.

(2) To say the "diabolical conspiracy talk is nuts" sounds a tad insulting and defensive. Nobody needs to resort to a "conspiracy theory" to observe that the Post editorial page IS heavily populated by neo-cons. On the day of my own letter to the editor (6/19/09), WaPo's site featured: Gerson, Kristol, Parker, Wolfowitz, Krauthammer, Michael Hayden.

Maybe Froomkin wasn't sacked because of ideology, but the Post's diversity of thought suffers, nonetheless.

Posted by: Sophie2008 | June 27, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

So, because Fred Hiatt says this wasn't about ideology, we must take him at face value?

That's laughable.

Posted by: rick_desper | June 27, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

No, I am sure this wasn't about ideology, instead, this was about the fact that he WaPo editorial board didn't like having someone on staff who was willing to publicly note the poor state of American journalism and, in particular, the Post's poor performance during the Bush years. I was a long time subscriber, until I wearied of Debbie's inane right-wing hackery. Froomkin was the only Post writer I continued to read. Now, there's no one. Best of luck. The Post will need it - your confidence in the future of a company that is loosing $54mm/annum is impressively naive.

Posted by: astrayer | June 27, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight. The Post editors refuse to answer your questions. But you unquestioningly report all the criticisms of Froomkin? As if the mere fact they say, "This is why," must be accepted?

You are simply too credulous. And I wonder why? How about listing all the questions you would have asked if they'd been willing to answer? At least let us know what makes you wonder. Froomkin-- always a journalist-- answered your questions. What questions would you ask the editors?

Let's list a few that Mr. Alexander can ask:
1) Why won't you answer my questions?
2) Why has it usually been hard to find Froomkin's column? How often have links to it been advertised on the frontpage?
3) What is the proportion of readers who have come in from the front page vs. those who came from a Google or search link or a blogger's link?
4) What's Paul Wolfowitz doing in your paper? What does a man have to do to be too untruthful for the Post?
5) When and why was Froomkin's column transferred to be under Fred Hiatt's authority? Who decided that? How long after that was the firing decision made? Who made the decision?
6) How do Froomkin's readership stats compare to your other columnists? Who has better stats? Who has worse? Are renewal decisions made on this basis?
7) Given the very high-profile battle fought in the last couple years over this column, what assurance can any columnist or reporter (non-union, that is) be given that independence of thought will not be punished?
8) Froomkin has criticized Post reporting and commentary in the past, recently taking on Charles Krauthammer in a devastating critique. Is true self-criticism and media criticism allowed at the Post (and no, Kurtz doesn't count-- he won't even criticize his other employer)?
9) As for readership stats, a brave sports columnist in the Post stood up for his colleague and said straight out that his own readership stats were not nearly as good as Froomkin's. Can you investigate and find out whether the stats of other columns-- especially those mentioned on the front page-- are markedly better? (
That's a start, at least.
I hope you don't mind our doing your work for you.

Posted by: lister1 | June 27, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

So the WaPo saves $90-100K by firing Froomkin, but looses $200-250K in lost advertising and readership? Another brilliant neo-con business decision!

Posted by: BBear1 | June 27, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Andy walks an agonizing tightrope here, trying to let the facts out without antagonizing his tight-lipped bosses.

Nonetheless, the tipping point truth gets through quite clearly:

Kurtz and Krauthammer, with the justifications being that Froomkin "didn't have enough experience" to comment on such issues (Krauthammer) and "shouldn't" (was straying onto the professional and ideological turf of) do media criticism (Kurtz).

Apply enough pressure to an ideologically sympathetic editor (Hiatt), stir with a cost-cutting motive, and...Voila.

Sad. And, Andy--professional and ideological.

Sad.

Posted by: caraprado1 | June 27, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

If you want credibility, dump the neocons not reporters like Dan that try to hold them accountable.

Neocons are failed Americans that destroyed our country.

Posted by: getalife1 | June 27, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I just love the sneering "aggregator" dismissal -- as if Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, or George Will does actual reporting.

"gsross" above hits the mail on the head: Froomkin had stepped into the vacuum left by the atrociously awful ombudsman Deborah "Stay Tuned" Howell. Imposing accountability on the Post -- let alone on the White House or the bien-pensant corps of "journalists" covering it -- turned out to be his undoing.

Posted by: wapo1 | June 27, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it has been really hard to find Froomkin on the online WashPo in recent months. You have to be consciously trying to find his column to get it. I'm not surprised that it resulted in a drop-off of readership. So the question is, why did WashPo change the format?

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | June 27, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Broder has not said anything original in the last ten years but he is still there; Will is likewise painfully predictable, but that does not bother anyone at the WP; Cohen lack of logic and basic intelligence can drive one nuts but his stock is obviously still high with the editors; and then there are the always wrong but mightily opinionated neocons, like Krauthammer and Kristol. Who will you axe next -- Eugene Robinson? What universe are you living in? Why not rename the paper into the Weekly Standard Jr. while you are at it?

Posted by: clare_knight | June 27, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Go read McClatchy. They've got better news, better blogs, and they called their shot on Iraq. WaPo has David Broder, George Will, and a gaggle of lying neocon shills. It's an easy choice to make.

Posted by: lambert_strether | June 27, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Roll Call:

Gerson: Rigidly self-justifying ad infinatum.

Will: A pose, tilting towards softening overripeness (e.g. global warming).

Cohen: Lifts ideas from blogs.

Krauthammer: Smug, self-righteous, thin-skinned narcissist. Actually believes he always knows better.

Kristol: Wrong, yet bitter.

Froomkin: Honest voice.

Hiatt: Small town mayor outside of Shanghai, enforcing party discipline, while willing to gain local credits by reinforcing the power of similar-minded colleagues.

Therefore: Froomkin not "experienced" enough (in adopting one of the above poses).

So, of course, fire Froomkin.

Posted by: caraprado1 | June 27, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

What's this "aggregator" vs. "reporter" nonsense?

So "reporters" do more legitimate journalism because they talk to sources in person or over the phone?

For the last 8-9 years, the turf-guarding defensiveness of "reporters" has become quite a loathsome and pathetic spectacle.

Posted by: Enceladus | June 27, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

As the Washington Post abandons journalism, in favor of political hackery and phonyism. The Washington Post is becoming a right-wing Hate And Greed Orgy. Like Fox and the Washington Times, the one thing that you will never find here is the truth.
David Gregory of NBC was asked whether George Bush was lying in the lead up to the War In Iraq and whether he knew it at that time. He said Yes, but it wasn't his job to contrdict the President.
Edward R. Murrow was a journalist, a man of integrity. Mr. Froomkin is also. Kathryn Graham is also. Woodward and Bernstein too. Ben Bradlee did too. Stephen Colbert is the man who showed That The King(George W. Bush, Our Tyrant) wore no clothes he is also. They were and are journalists.
David Gregory, Reverand Moon, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and Fox are a perversion of integrity, the truth and journalism. They embody the spirit of Joseph Goebbels.

Posted by: bkohatl | June 27, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I don't really believe this was some kind of partisan political firing. I just think the Washington Post is staffed by egotists and cowards who couldn't stand having someone around reminding them how badly they do their jobs and demanding they do better. I don't think that's any less damning -- more, probably.

I agreed with everything Froomkin said about the insipid, stupid, pointless questions most Post reporters come up with to ask politicians, particularly the White House press corps. In a perfect world, Froomkin would have been given control of the newsroom and told to kick some ass. But we don't live in a perfect world, and we're stuck with Dana Milibank making the world's most embarrassingly unfunny "comedy" videos, Richard Cohen yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, Bob Woodward faithfully transcribing whatever b.s. the latest person in power tells him, etc. etc.

You had a guy who spent every day providing a useful critique of the news process. And you tossed him away and kept Howard Kurtz, thoroughly mired in conventional wisdom, who hasn't had a useful insight in his life and challenges no one. You canned the auditor, and you don't think people notice.

Well, they do. Too bad you didn't choose to improve your paper instead.

Posted by: tracy2 | June 28, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

No one is indispenable, so Andrew Alexander is right that Froomkin's departure won't kill the publication. What will kill the publication is the insularity and arrogance of its management, which is on full display here. Wow, what a shame.

Posted by: MagicDog1 | June 28, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Froomkin was like a superb, highly talented war correspondent suddenly left with a reduced readership when the war ends.

He was an absolute "must read" every morning for me and my wife during the years when almost every day brought some shocking new outrage from a Bush White House running amok. Froomkin provided a tremendously valuable and memorable service by pulling together in a single column all the White House outrages from multiple sources.

But when the Bush era ended, my wife and I seldom read him anymore -- and probably wouldn't have resumed reading him daily unless the day arrived when the Obama White House became as truly outrageous as its predecessor.

Froomkin should have accepted the advice of Post editors and broadened the focus of his column. Like maybe focusing on political outrages throughout all of government, which would have instantly brought back me and my wife as faithful readers.

Ernie Pyle was the most talented and beloved combat correspondent of World War Two. But had he survived the war, even he would have been forced to find a new beat when the war ended.

Posted by: Californian462 | June 28, 2009 3:46 AM | Report abuse

let's be real. froomkin was canned because he called out the villagers on their failures. compare and contrast froomkin vs the wapo's leading media 'critic':

Froomkin:

The White House Correspondents Association annual dinner, which takes place tomorrow night, is an orgy of self-congratulation, the ultimate black-tied manifestation of the dangerous coziness between Washington’s journalistic elites and the people they cover.

Howie:

CBS bash has band but just fruit + cheese. No CNN, Fox pre-parties. Era of wretched excess over?

Posted by: mycomment | June 28, 2009 5:24 AM | Report abuse

When a paper is on an economy drive in straitened circumstances, and when the paper's management refuses to engage with its ombudsman, what more obvious economy measure could there be than dispensing with the position of ombudsman?

If you don't recognise the position when you have it, why keep it?

Posted by: AlanDownunder | June 28, 2009 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Hundreds are outraged, threatening never to read the Post again. How many people would care if Boring Broder, Dull Dionne, Mirthless Marcus and the Wrong-Again Wingnuts were canceled?
Post, you are making yourself obsolete!

Posted by: johnqpublic3 | June 28, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Media criticism seems to have been the final straw. Comments about a neo-con takeover are on the mark as well.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | June 28, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

ejs2 wrote at 6:21 pm on June 27, "Krautheimer, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Gerson, Parker, Will, Milbank, Kurtz, Broder, Hiatt, Kristol (amazing) and the rest of that motley crew of status quo worshipping sycophants to the right-wing noise machine." Bingo. I might have exempted Parker (sometimes) and Milbank (usually) from that list, but the overall categorization is spot on. What a bunch of lunatics.

Posted by: frodot | June 28, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Well, duh....the Post made it harder to find Froomkin's column, so traffic fell and they canned him because traffic fell.

They wanted him to broaden the scope of the column, but when he suggested moving into media criticism, the Post told him no; he would have to broaden the scope in a different way.

Citing another liberal voice on the op-ed page does not necessarily mean that voice in the equivalent of Froomkin's, who, in my opinion was more about speaking truth to power.

And that's what this is about. Froomkin was pulling back the veil, and it made the people in charge, The Establishment, uncomfortable. He had to go.

There are some absolutely TERRIBLE columnists who remain, columnists who have blood on their hands. Arrogant cowards and useful fools. It's shameful.

You're doing a lousy job for an Ombudsman. But that's clearly what The Post wants; your predecessor was bad, too. But at least you don't have blood on your hands.

Posted by: AdHack | June 28, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

With the ever-growing gaggle of conservative voices in the Post's stable, it is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst to suggest that this had anything to do with saving what is in reality a paltry amount of money. $90-100,000 is nothing to the Washington Post, and you and the editors know that - they're just hoping the readers don't.

Ever since the Post joined and later led the drumbeat for invading Iraq, the paper's integrity and balance have been questionable. This does nothing to dispel the feeling from many that conservatism is the order of the day in the Editorial offices of the Washington Post. Thank God these clowns weren't in place during Watergate.

Kathryn Graham spins in her grave, and one has to wonder how and why Ben Bradlee allows these shenanigans to occur without comment.

Posted by: kemp13 | June 28, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

This ombudsman problem highlights one of the problems with the Washington Post's journalism these days. Instead of reporting real evidence and hard facts, the ombudsman simply talks to a few people and writes down what they say. Web and reader statistics for Froomkin and other comparable writers like Roger Cohen shouldn't be hard to find. Does he get any? Nope. Is the the ombudsman's problem or the Washington Posts? Neither - it's the readers.

I'm tired of the days of stenography. Unfortunately, if the Washington Posts ombudsman parctices it, then there's not much hope for the paper.

Posted by: sallyomally12 | June 28, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Whatever else may or may not be true about the Froomkin firing, one thing is patently clear: the Post's management holds its readers in contempt. We are to take what's given; we are not entitled to know anything about the Post's decisions from on high, lest we find evidence to question those decisions. While the entire world has changed, and demands greater accountability than ever before, none of those changes have touched the Post's senior editorial management. As others have written, the insularity and arrogance are truly staggering. While the decision about one columnist won't determine the Post's future, the deeply ingrained culture of its senior management very well may.

Posted by: bcamarda2 | June 28, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I think you are the one hoping to make this political Mr Ombudsman, with your use of terms like "angry loyalists", "upset readers" and "purge left-oriented voices". That is the spin in spite of the stonewalling, in fact what the stonewalling is expected to support.

I have a different view. First of all, I'm a conservative and totally reject the entire radical neo-con movement, of which your paper does much to promote.

The dirty little secret about Dan Froomkin imo is that he was fine as long as he just went after Bush, but with a new president who was elected and expected to reverse everything Bush, Froomkin was expected to play the game and look the other way - that is actually be partisan - as Obama in effect consolidates the radicalism implemented under Bush.

Dan Froomkin to his credit, hasn't, and has been just as tough on Obama as he was on Bush, which might eventually get people actually thinking . . . which is the last thing your handlers want.

The agenda is empire abroad backed up by police state at home, or at least the mechanisms in place just in case. I wouldn't even call it a conspiracy since it's being carried out before everyone's eyes, with those like you involved in "public enlightenment" playing their assigned roles.

Dan wasn't playing his part, which is why he had to go.

Posted by: seydlitz89 | June 28, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I noticed in Sunday's print copy there was no mention of this issue. I have been a 7 day a week subscriber for over 25 years. Now AMC Theaters no longer advertises their daily movie times in the printed paper. Folks with a subscription, it is time to bail out. I'm reducing my service to Sundays only so I can still get the TV Guide and the store sale inserts. The Washington Times is cheaper "if" I wanted to read a comparable opinion section in print form (but of course I won't, I'll follow Dan Froomkin wherever he goes).

Posted by: boulav | June 28, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Given your reporting here, its clear now that the Post deliberately moved to cut diminish Froomkin's audience by making his column almost impossible to find. No links from the front page, put into the blog section, then, while other blogs are listed alphabetically by author, they list it using the White House Watch name, thus putting it at the very end of the list.
And then the Post is suprised at the the drop in readership? Please. This is the most infuriating part, that the Post believes it's readers to be stupid enough to swallow this tripe.

Posted by: rochrist | June 28, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

bobmoses, thanks for the insight. We are wingnuts. For me, Froomkin called lies, lies and called torture, torture. Enjoy your WaPo, your Iraq War and your USA Torture. DanJ in NoVA

Posted by: danwesjac | June 28, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The only worthwhile column in WaPo was Dan Fromkin ! I will follow him and delete my shortcut.

Posted by: agnetaw | June 28, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

After 15 years (first as a subscriber while in the DC area and then as loyal follower on the web when I had to move elsewhere), I am saying goodbye to Washington Post. Good luck, you will need it.

Posted by: palpay01 | June 28, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

So how much did the Post pay to Froomkin to get him to go away somewhat quietly? That's the only way any of this makes any sense and something that the ombudsman should/could find out. What are the conditions of the separation agreement?

Posted by: EliRabett2003 | June 28, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

After reading most of the comments and agreeing with them, I'd like to offer what I think is an additional perspective (sorry if this is redundant with comments I overlooked).

When is WaPo going to take a marketing perspective in how it manages its opinion and editorial pages? I am a daily and Sunday subscriber who lives in the DC area. This is your primary audience; I can't imagine that many paying customers live outside the DC area. What are our politics? They aren't neo-con, for the vast majority of us. We lean moderate to liberal, on average. We are also more than 50% female. But you continue to have a great overrepresentation of right wing or right-leaning writers, the vast majority of whom are male. The work of many of whom consistently appear in MediaMatters.org features, which you should view as disgraceful, because they are fact-challenged, despite MediaMatters' giving a lot of slack to opinion writers versus reporters. This right wing bias - and inaccuracy - is offputting to your target audience.

I think you can guess where I am heading with this. Get rid of some of the worst, overpaid people who are writing columns that do NOT inform and do NOT appeal to your target audience. Produce a product on the OpEd pages that more of us want to read. Then you will have better OpEd pages, AND more paying customers.

Thank you.

Posted by: ac12 | June 28, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

True, the Post will survive and so will Dan Froomkin. But the Post's prestige is diminished and Froomkin's is enhanced.

Posted by: EastofKansas | June 28, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Dan was inquisitive, meticulous and his columns offered a bevy of resources for readers. On top of that he applied the same standard to everyone.

Which of the columnists you're keeping meet all those standards?

Posted by: KevPod | June 28, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin was one of the few things I found worth reading in the WaPoo any more. Sadly, I'm one of the people who didn't read him as often since realPresident Cheney and the Chimperor left office. But in light of Hiatt's neconnery, I doubt that Dan would have survived anyway.

I was in the Washington area last week to visit my mother. (I live in Australia now -- my wife and I were some of the few liberals who actually DID leave the country because of Bush. It's worked out well for us, mates!) The print edition of the Post is a shell of what it used to be. The page width of the newsprint is slimmed down by 1/6, and I reckon it averages maybe 25% ad content, not the 66% that papers used to consider ideal. (I was a newspaper reporter in my first career, so I pay attention to factors like that.)

The Post is a dying newspaper. I grew up reading it during the 1960s and 70s, and it was my professional role model. I regretted its slow demise because of what it used to be. But decisions like this make me want to put my hands on a shovel and help dig its grave. But the Post doesn't need my assistance -- it's shot itself in both feet, and now is pointing the pistol at its gut. Good riddance -- you've turned into rubbish!

Posted by: Bukkonen | June 28, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I have noticed some changes that I haven't been able to put my finger on, but now things are starting to make sense. The Washington Times has brainwashed the Washington Post. It is now right-wing brained. Eugene, stick with MSNBC.

Posted by: livegreenordie | June 28, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

There probably was reduced traffic, considering how someone went out of their way to bury his content once he got big. Of late, it had become impossible to find. Not ideologically related, my eye. It seems the Washington Post is run by Lockheed and is trying to compete with the Washington Times for dumbed down readership. I'm sure Froomkin will be fine. What about anyone else at your paper who wants to speak truth to power? They've been shown what is in store for them.

Posted by: SarahBB | June 28, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

The real question is: How much are the neocons paying Hiatt under the table to help kill off the Post?

Kristol, Krauthammer, Kagan, Gerson... what kind of audience do these clowns attract? Certainly not the potential subscribers the print Post desperately needs--upscale, intelligent Washington-area readers who are politically savvy (some might say obsessed) and have no need for arguments aimed at the uninformed and gullible. Yet Hiatt keeps adding such readership-killing voices as K-K-K and Gerson to his stable while jettisoning those who actually have an ability to draw new readers. Strange, eh?

Posted by: whatmeregister | June 28, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

"For the last 8-9 years, the turf-guarding defensiveness of "reporters" has become quite a loathsome and pathetic spectacle."

I agree. Dana Milbank's narcissistic hissy fit over Nico Pitney getting to ask a question at Obama's press conference is a good example. The Post used to be my homepage. I changed that about two years ago when it was becoming evident that Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Richard Cohen, David Broder, Michael Gerson, and Kathleen Parker were all banging the same drum. They all supported the invasion of Iraq, expressed fondness toward (The Economist) "the frat boy president," and found a place in their hearts for torture. Then, to add balance, the Post hired the insufferable William Kristol and got rid of Dan Froomkin. It seems, now that things have worked out so well after eight years of the neo-con men running the country, the WaPo is trying to emulate the WSJ editorial page or maybe the Washington Times. Increasingly, the only reason I have read the Post was to catch up on Dan Froomkin's pieces, often difficult to locate, and to check the headlines. I may still occasionally check the headlines, but I'll look for intelligent commentary elsewhere.

Posted by: retsbewt | June 28, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Hi Andrew:

Glad you're feeling better.
FYI: I'm not an "angry Froomkin loyalist". I'm a disconcerted Washington Post reader.

Posted by: lkschweik | June 28, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen Parker, David Broder, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Fred Hiatt... worthless.
Dan Froomkin... priceless.
Goodbye, WAPo.

Posted by: klemme76 | June 28, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

I just now went to White House Watch to read Froomlin's final post entitled "White House Watched". It's no longer there.

Please explain.

Posted by: AlanDownunder | June 28, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Heh. The "wall of silence" really says it all about this story.

Don't most good editorial page people *like* to describe their reasoning and present their arguments in a plain, direct way?

When an honest decision is made, it's easy to explain them. When a decision is not honest or thoughtful, that's when the walls go up.

Posted by: fritz5 | June 28, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for finally responding, Mr. Alexander. Your response seems honest and straight-forward, and I for one appreciate it.

On the flip side, I'm sure that if you polled Froomkin's readers, you could find a similar avalanche of opinion about costly features that could be dropped, while Froomkin kept. David Broder, Richard Cohen, and (especially!) Bill Kristol leap to mind. I'm sure that they, collectively, make more than the approximately 100K that Froomkin did.

I'm still with Fallows on this decision; it's utterly insane. And frankly, I don't believe political views didn't take part. Read digby's posts on the subject of the Post's editorial bent in the last 8 years; putting Froomkin under the war-cheerleading neocon Fred Hiatt was the death-knell of "White House Watch."

Posted by: dougom | June 28, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Andy,

Please make sure to bring Fred Hiatt his coffee and slippers. You will be expected to crawl like a servant, of course.

After all, if you want to keep your job, you had better know your place.

Puppy.

Posted by: MarkinJC | June 29, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

"I was off much of this week with a minor medical problem."

Andy,

Would that medical problem be pulling your head out of Fred Hiatt's posterior?

Posted by: MarkinJC | June 29, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Correction to my post of 11:32pm. The final article is still there. Put it down to technical glitch, slow load, whatever.

Posted by: AlanDownunder | June 29, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Andy, but you still have a job...

Posted by: SpaceCity | June 29, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

BTW: I'm not reading the post anymore (I got to this via a link from a blog). I'm not linking to it from my blog. I DO NOT TRUST anything the Post publishes anymore. Goodbye.

Posted by: SpaceCity | June 29, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

The post won't release the traffic figures, but they will probably get out anyway. Someone who works there will anonymously releast them to the web, or someone will hack into the computers, or someone will figure the numbers out indirectly like by looking at ISP logs.

There are some things where the web is just a whole lot more powerful than any newspaper.

Posted by: eduardo24 | June 29, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

What is most remarkable about the ombuds view of the termination of Froomkin is the amount of conversation at the wapo dot com and wapo paper about what Froomkin should and shouldn't be doing.

The news guys wanted him to stop doing media coverage. wtfark? Sounds like they didn't want the scrutiny. Do you agree?

Q:If what Froomkin was doing sucked who would give a shyte?

A:Nobody,the simple fact is: there was so much internal debate about what he was doing and so much external interest in reading him that firing him clearly points to issues inside the paper and not with Froomkin's work.

Q: want a cocktail weenie?
A: yes for all the cocktail weenie - the villagers - set but no for real journalists who don't abide by the conventions.

Posted by: NeilSagan | June 29, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect, absolutely no one BELIEVES that Mr. Hiatt is turning the POST into The WASHINGTON TIMES JUNIOR. From one of the best newspapers in the world, to Right Wing Trash and Dishonesty. Isn't there another Ben Bradlee and Kathryn Graham out there? God, I hope so, before Mr. Hiatt destroys the Post, which is well on the way to accomplishing.

Posted by: bkohatl | June 29, 2009 2:05 AM | Report abuse

To MarkinJC: Alexander's medical problem was a broken foot, according to Froomkin. Do be such a jerk.

Posted by: asoders22 | June 29, 2009 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Well I think what Mr. Froomkin said about the switch from a column to a blog & the lack of promotion is correct. I think the general public at large would be better off if he was doing a column about Obama, who's not the same type of low hanging fruit Bush was. When there's a game changing event, people who understand the game are the ones I want to pay attention to. This decision is a failure of management in a lot of ways I think.

As for the Posts financial issues, I keep looking for new ways to be a paid subscriber outside of "home delivery" since I live at the ends of the earth, or owning a Kindle, which I don't much want. They could do better with this.

Selling the online advertisements to readers better might help. There's very limited geolocation going on with some of the advertisers that could be farmed better.

Posted by: timscanlon | June 29, 2009 4:21 AM | Report abuse

This is plain business sense, and makes me question everything about this paper. Buffett is old and K. Graham, who knew better, is sadly gone.

Just in the name of balance, having hired so many, and kept so many, from the right (Broder is center and it moonwalks stage right from there), you had an obligation not to cut off your left arm to spite your face.

You should be *printing* the rabblerouseers, not burying them. Hiatt must have ridiculous reserves.

And who is this ombudsman, so easily assuaged? Stand the heck up and ask a darn question already. This is just sad.

Posted by: not_that | June 29, 2009 5:33 AM | Report abuse

While I appreciate the following up, it does seem pretty weak when the bosses "aren't available" to talk about it. Sure they are, and hopefully you will keep after them until they do - otherwise you aren't doing your job, pure and simple. If the Post simply wants to move it's editorial positioning to what everyone sees as a rightward lurch, then they should have the guts to say so, not hide behind "no comment" and the like. And saying the Post will survive seems more like a mantra of wishful thinking than a conclusion anyone can draw from this example of poor decision making. It's not so much firing Dan as it is keeping on others who time and again have been caught out on obvious lies and distortions. It's clear Dan was upsetting the village insiders, and we can't have that can we?

I for one am moving on, as it seems are many others. I've been a Post reader since Watergate, and while it's sad to leave what was my daily paper I don't see any other way to voice my opinion on this matter.

Posted by: HuckTim | June 29, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Just curious, how did Mr. Gerson's recent column about dogs (I guess he likes them now) fare in terms of online readership? I know it really opened my eyes about an important topic on the mind's of many americans but did it also do well in terms of readership?

Posted by: wkristol | June 29, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I posted this on Saturday morning, but it was deleted; sorry if it appears twice:

Dear Mr. Alexander:

I was sorry to hear that the editorial staff is so secretive and defensive, but I'm not surprised. Folks act that way when they have something to hide. I WAS surprised that you happily parrotted a rumor about Mr. Froomkin's salary (and a blind quote to boot!), while failing to pursue the readership statistics which might actually provide some meaningful background to the story.

But, in the interest of bringing some facts to the fore, here are some verifiable numbers

6/18/09: WHW: Spending Jitters Don't Change the Fundamentals (rumors of firing).
188 comments, about 150 of which are angry reactions.

6/18/09: Alexander: Post Axes Froomkin's "White House Watch" (the first official announcement).
873 comments, about 97% of which are angry complaints.

6/19/09: WHW: Froomkin Watch, Obama's Bogus New Excuse for Secrecy (Froomkin confirms news of firing).
266 comments, mostly complaints, plus most of the next column's 85 comments.

6/26/09: WHW: White House Watched (Froomkin's final column).
400 comments so far, virtually all complaints and sad farewells.

6/26/09: Alexander: Froomkin Departs, Leaving Angry Loyalists and Questions.
150 comments so far, mostly complaints.

The good news? The complaints are likely starting to die down.

The bad news? The complaints are tapering off because the Post has hemorrhaged so many readers. Nearly 1,900 comments have been posted, 95% of which (~1,800) were complaints about the firing!

Think about that -- then add the number of e-mails or letters sent directly to the editor, ombudsman, or publisher. And THEN take the standard ratio of reader complaints expressed (via e-mail or letter or comment) compared with overall dissatisfaction (the "silent majority" who are just as angry but lack the time or energy to write a complaint). What's the ratio - 1 in 5? 1 in 10?

Consider it, then: your inept management practices have probably alienated SEVERAL THOUSAND regular web readers, in the key advertising demographic which your newspaper hopes to reach (M,F, ages ~35 - 55).

How about writing a column about that, and maybe adding some blind quotes about Mr. Hiatt's salary? That would make for some interesting news!

Posted by: ManateeMD | June 29, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Freddie Freeloader Hiatt strikes again!

Here's a list of the "A-list" paleocon and neocon punditry currently soiling WP's op-ed page:

Krauthammer
Gerson
Kristol
Hiatt
Will (the only half-way sane one of the bunch)

Here's a list of the "liberals":

Robinson
Dionne

Looks like parity to me.

Not that I actually read any traditional papers on a regular basis anymore, but if the Post continues to go down this road of out-nutting the Moonie Times, I'll only come here to look up movie times and restaurant reviews. The op-ed page has long since passed into the realm of the Moonie Times and the WSJ Nutjob Crew.

Posted by: elroy1 | June 29, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander,

Your last sentence seems a bit snide. Froomkin has gained a wider audience given the shoddy way this firing was handled and his readers will follow him to his next blogosphere home. He will more than survive - he will thrive. The Washington Post however has lost what remained of its credibility in the eyes of this former reader.

This must be awfully embarassing for you as an Ombudsman to be basically given the wall of silence from the decision makers involved in the firing. Don't you consider that ironic given your last column heaped criticism on Rhee's silent treatment? "Rhee's reaction to The Post's coverage strikes me as petty and thin-skinned -- and perhaps calculated." Perhaps there are greener pastures for you elsewhere where your work is actually valued by your employer.

Posted by: dijamo | June 29, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

So that's it, eh? The readers are left to twist in the wind without any rational explanation or comment from the powers-that-be.

Dan was a scientist, doing detailed research and passing objective information along to readers he assumed were intelligent.

The remaining columnists are more like priests who begin with a conclusion then data-mine to add selective supporting facts. The goal is to persuade, not inform.

With its "wall of silence," (not to mention marginalizing Froomkin readers as "angry") the Post has lost any right to editorialize about lack of disclosure by the government.

Posted by: KevPod | June 29, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Alexander:
Thank you for making the effort. One question you didn't address: how many people canceled their subscriptions in protest?

I am one of those readers that did. I now subscribe to the New York Times. "The wall of silence" the editors and managers set up, showing little respect for their ombudsman and their readers, convince me I made the right decision.

Posted by: Elkay1 | June 29, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Alexander:
How can you serve as an effective Ombudsman if the editors will not respond to queries?
The WaPo is dying and a large reason is the contempt it shows for its readers. Why on earth would I patronize a paper that insults me? I only came here to comment and will not be reading the WaPo anymore.

Posted by: concernedcitizen8 | June 29, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

But when I was able to start querying editors yesterday, a wall of silence was erected. Raju Narisetti, the managing editor who oversees the Web site, declined to go beyond last week’s PR statement. Online Opinions Editor Marisa Katz, after talking Thursday with the Washington CityPaper, said she had been instructed not to respond to additional queries. And Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, who had previously responded to questions from me and other journalists (including the CityPaper on Thursday), today said he was unable to comment.

Ombudsman:

How can you have a shred of self respect left? Aren't you required to resign in protest if the company you work for won't allow you to do your job as you think you should do it? What is the purpose of your position if you can't get answers to legitimate questions from several hundred readers? When was the last time you got 870 comments on a post, 95% of which asked basically the same question: What was the real reason Froomkin's column was systematically sabotaged (by changing format, removing any mention of his column from the front page, making it extremely hard to find at the bottom of a long scrolling page, and basically trying to make it disappear from the paper). Can't you see that your overlords are treating you like a lackey, by not respecting you or your position enough to answer your readers' legitimate questions?

Posted by: srw3 | June 29, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely Dan will survive. I doubt the Post will.

The guy's column has been systematically buried in weirder and weirder places on the WaPo site making it harder and harder to find. I ended up having to use the "search" window.

Then Hiatt blames the drop off in readership on Dan ? WTF ?

Don't patronise me - Froomkin was fired because he pissed off Wolfowitz by highlighting his lies (what the hell has that failed has-been got to contribute to any discourse ?).

You are a poorer newspaper by his absence. I agree with these commentators - if I want to see nothing but right-wing drivel, I'll just tune into Fox.

Posted by: polaris11 | June 29, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander, you continue to shill for your contemptible bosses instead of representing the readership. The issues and arguments you present are simply laughable. Anyone who followed Dan Froomkin's columns could see the way that he has been systematically pushed off into the margins, dating all the way back to the original decision (championed by your paper's previous om-bootlicker, Ms. Howell) to rename Dan's column in order to avoid "confusing" the readers. I've been noticing how it got harder and harder to track down Dan's columns over the past several months. When it got to the point where I had to search through the blog directory for him I knew he was done for. The decision to convert this column from a Howard Kurtz-style summary to a blog was only the final nail in the coffin. Don't try to blow smoke up our @sses -- we are not the fools you take us for, and we know what really happened.

If you were a REAL ombudsman, maybe you could make a graph showing how often Mr. Froomkin's column was reachable by a single click from the WaPo's main page, and correlate this with his online readership numbers. Nobody can read a column if they can't find it.

Of course, they're marginalizing you the same way, Mr. Ombudsboy. You don't even get a teaser line on the main page -- just a link that says "blog." So I'm guessing that you're one of the hapless fools, as opposed to the power-hungry neocons who have conquered your once-great newspaper from within.

Anyway, it's time for this once-loyal reader to say goodbye to the Washington Post. I won't shed any tears the day I hear you've discontinued all of your print editions due to lack of interest. Hope you enjoy your final swirl around the toilet bowl...

Posted by: jerkhoff | June 29, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

You know, in so many ways this reminds me of the mainstream press's response to the Steven Colbert speech. In Colbert's case, major media outlets including the Post and NYT went out of their way to ignore and marginalize the criticism, only to be overwhelmed by a viral wave of support through YouTube. Once again, the WP's readers have shown that they know more than the fools who are running this rag into the ground...

Posted by: jerkhoff | June 29, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

It's a sad day when thinking people tell you they will no longer read your newspaper.

Posted by: SarahBB | June 29, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Can I second the call to get a blind quote on Hiatt's salary? How about Broder??? I would be shocked if Broder makes less than 7 figures and he is 100% dead weight for the paper and could be let go with no complaining...

1800 negative comments = 100s of thousands of angry readers

<>Message sent via bugmenot

Posted by: member5 | June 29, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

What was brilliant about Froomkin was that he really offered a new way forward for the traditional media: media as social science, where you support your work, allow for an examination of its credibility, with appropriate citation/reference. You dismiss him as an "aggregator", but the function he really served was to bring readers current on the thinking and reporting on the most pressing matters of the day (Is someone who brings together all of the current scientific wisdom on a particular topic a mere aggregator? Try it.) This is in contrast to the craven "trust me on this one" style of all of your other editorial writers.

Anyway, the Post has happily sealed its doom, chosing outmoded journalism over future. (This claim about reduced traffic is patently dishonest, as Froomkin's columns undoubtly drew in considerable web traffic, despite the Post's own attempt to bury his column, because of his numerous links to outside sources, a concept the ombuddy doesn't seem to understand.) The Post would prefer to traffic in the newsroom "pecking order" journalism (seniority and cronyism will determine who gets to say what) that the public has no interest in. We simply want accurate, timely and broad information, which the Post is acknowledging it is not in the business of providing.

Posted by: mediapsych | June 29, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

A "wall of silence" is all I needed to read...from a newspaper!? Hiatt and the gang....what a surprise. I almost want to re-subscribe to the paper just to cancel my subscription. You have hacks like Milbank, conflict of interest in Kurtz, double standards or just plain clueless drivel from the irrelevant Broder, Will...a total doofus, Krauthammer...what a joke, Kristol...I wonder what they pay him to be consistently wrong or disingenuous, Cohen...total boob...there are some shining lights in the op-eds...probably Toles hit the nail on the head most often. But this continued downward spiral just makes it easier and easier to dismiss the opinions...and the "wall of silence" helps seal the deal for me. Goodbye and good riddance to a lot of bad rubbish.

Posted by: patrickinIL | June 29, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander,
I second the call to check on lost subscribers in subsequent columns due to Dan's firing. I am one of them, a 12-year Post subscriber, but no more. I cancelled the day after Mr. Froomkin's firing. It was the last straw amid mounting frustration at the Post's apparent affirmative action hiring program for lost neocon souls wandering the post-Bush political landscape. Why Hiatt would think Post readers, after an overwhelming rebuke at the ballot box stretching back two election cycles, want more of the politicized, tried-and-failed hackery of these neocon clowns is bizarre, and just a terrible business decision.

Posted by: aware2 | June 29, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm slapping my forehead wondering what I'm missing. Froomkin was our watchdog over the White House. He was a bulldog.

I wish we could clone him to watch over the Senate and another to watch over the House!

Power can corrupt good people, the need to raise large sums of money over and over and over again also corrupts politicians. We desperately need more Froomkins because most of the MSM is in bed with the scoundrels.

I have seen no proof that Froomkin was a partison. the Bush White House was a mess...of course any good watchdog would have called Bush out (the MSM dind't until his popularity tanked.

Obama is already proving to be a liar, having promised transparency and doing the opposite. Froomkin was not about to let him get away with it, and that's the way it should be. Both parties are corrupt.

The Post still has some good reporters but it's editorial pages are an embarrassment. You have 4 or 5 columnists all writing the same right-wing drivel, and one Froomkin, a watchdog doing real, skeptical, hard-nosed, journalism, so of course Froomkin had to go.

Froomkin was not let go because he was partisan, he had to go because he was writing what no no else on your paper had the guts to write.

Posted by: Trakker | June 29, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Alexander, I appreciate your honest effort to analyze the situation. However, when you dismiss the idea that Mr. Froomkin was dismissed for his "ideology", I think you use a very narrow meaning of that word. You appear to believe that Mr. Froomkin's ideology is "liberal", and that he wasn't fired for being liberal, and that's the end of the inquiry.

I think there is more to his ideology than that, and that it includes his willingness to aggresively criticize other reporters and opinion writers - including the Post's - when they are lazy or dishonest. In other words, his "ideology" includes a particular view of the role of journalists relative to government and relative to each other, which ideology seems to me at odds with the dominant ideology of the Post's editorial page - even among those who would be described as "liberal" (see Milbank, Dana).

I think your efforts to understand the reasons for his firing are not complete until you ask whether his criticism of the state of journalism in general, and Post columnists, in particular, made him enemies within the Post that left him vulnerable once his traffic declined from its highs.

At the risk of devolving into pure snark, I also wonder what the basis is of your confidence that the Post will survive. As far as I can tell, the evidence at the moment points in the opposite direction.

Posted by: Mork1 | June 29, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I wish I had several more subscriptions to the Post so that I could cancel them all now.

You know, I have to say - "Paper of Record for the Federal Government" and all - it just makes a weird kind of sense for you to do some, you know, coverage of the White House, but whatever. Thoughtful, critical, uninfatuated coverage, I meant. I'll be reading Froomkin wherever he ends up. Have fun with your surviving and all.

Posted by: eyeswideopen2 | June 30, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Save some real money plus reduce a lot of hot air- axe the three jackasses, Krauthammer, Kristol, and Will

Posted by: dboston | June 30, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

You people are full of it. I just cancelled my subscription after 12 years. Goodbye and good riddance.

Posted by: veeve | June 30, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Californian who really has appreciated Wapo for the last 4 years. I slowly began to notice the lopping-off of treasured journalists: Peter Baker, Jon Weisman and now Froomkin. Yes, Dan's "new" format was a mess and the marketing of his column became close to nonexistant, but his vigor and insight circumvented both sides of the aisle. It's a real shame. Compared to the NYT (Dowd, Brooks, Collins, Cohen, Krugman and Friedman), the WAPO is minor league, save for Robinson.
Absolutely disheartening.

Posted by: erin_go_bragh | June 30, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Dan Froomkin made skillful use of the Internet to provide information to the Post's readers. This is a poor decision by the Post's management.

Posted by: mike78smith | June 30, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Sent this to Ombudsman:
One thing that has always bothered me in the Post's comments-- for years-- about Froomkin is the concerted attempt to diminish his credibility by suggesting that he's not "qualified". Weingarten did this again just the other day, as you quote:
Weingarten, without expressing his own judgment, alluded to this in his chat: “I can tell you that there has been some disagreement about Froomkin's column over the years between the paper-paper and dotcom; the issue, I think, was whether he was as informed and qualified to opine as people who had been actively covering the White House for years.”

But of course Froomkin is a highly qualified journalist, working for two decades not just at the Post but at several highly regarded regional papers. And as far as being a media critic, well, he is a Neiman editor and Michigan journalism fellow-- he has often written media criticism for academic journals, which, yes, puts him somewhat above Howard Kurtz, if we must brandish credentials. From Wikipedia:

In 1997 he joined washingtonpost.com as a senior producer for politics. From 2001 to 2003, he was editor of washingtonpost.com. His column launched on January 12, 2004. In a career in journalism spanning over 20 years, he has also worked at The Winston-Salem Journal, The Miami Herald, and The Orange County Register. He was a Michigan Journalism Fellow and editor of new media for Education Week
Froomkin is also deputy editor of Nieman Watchdog: Questions the press should ask, a blog hosted by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University that, according to his account of it, "seeks to encourage more informed reporting by soliciting probing questions from experts."

Weingarten's delicate suggestion that Dan might not be "qualified" to comment on the WH correspondence borders on the slanderous, but this is precisely what the "print Post" has been doing to Froomkin for years. A couple thoughts: First, if HE'S not qualified, how can I, a mere reader, be qualified to make decisions about what to read and believe? And yet of course, I do, and I sure hope the Post would fight to the death for my right to do so and to express my opinions (as I do, loudly) about Krauthammer and Cohen. And second, by any measure that makes any sense, including Weingarten's own measure, surely Froomkin is qualified-- what kind of qualifications are needed, if not long experience in several types of journalism, including political journalism, and a degree from Yale, and years as an editor?

I hope you correct the misapprehension left by Fred Hiatt and others that there's something lacking about Froomkin's qualifications. Whatever reasons the Post had for firing him, it really can't be a qualification problem.

Posted by: lister1 | June 30, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Works for me.

Posted by: tresangelas | June 30, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I have to belatedly comment on two points that Alexander posted above.

Cost: Raise your hand if you think George Will, William Krystol or Charles Krauthammer don't make several times what Froomkin did, at least. And Froomkin was right about Bush years before the rest of the Washington establishment media caught on to him. The neocon war criminal enablers I listed above are still defending what the last administration perpetrated on the country and the world.

To paraphrase an old American battle cry from 1812, what we have here is: "Millions for obfuscation and propaganda, but not one penny for truth and reality!"

The "media critic" charge. It is absolutely true that Froomkin had become an aggregator, quoting extensively from other commentators. But the Post NEEDS a left-leaning media critic as a counterweight to the rightwing Howard Kurtz. Kurtz is married to a rightwing political operative, and it shows.

While he ably covered his rear by criticizing tabloid fluff-level Bush media foibles like the Jeff Gannon episode. Meanwhile, on things that really mattered in terms of billions spent and hundreds of thousands of death, he was dutifully silent. Not a word on Bush/Cheney's Saddam-9/11 disinformation campaign or the media's deafening lack of commentary on it and complicity in it. Not a word on any of the countless lies we were told, even when bloggers and small media voices WERE commenting on them. He was Bush and the neocon's obedient servant throughout.

So if Froomkin was being a media critic, well more power to him. The Post needs a real one.

Posted by: B2O2 | June 30, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Count me among the thousands of loyal readers who will sorely miss Froomkin's insightful columns. I hated the format change from column to blog, but still read him regularly. I noticed that he was not linked to from the Post's politics blog page or from the front page, and it's kind of obvious that the lack of promotion created the dropoff in readership.

Your loss. I'll be following him wherever he ends up.

Posted by: punkybrewster1 | June 30, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Fire Froomkin.
Keep George Will, William Krystol, Charles Krauthammer, and hire Paul Wolfowitz?? So much for the myth of the liberal media.

The Post now leans so far to the right, it is beginning to read like FAUX News in print.

I am a 59 year old native, and have been teaching for 37 years. I grew up reading the Washington Post. I dreaded the thought of its demise. Now, I have no desire to read it anymore.

A democracy needs an honest, open press to survive. We are, I fear, in big trouble. I have to wonder who, at the Post, is so deep in bed with the greedy corporate big money, that they are willing to sell journalistic freedom, honesty, and our country with it.


Posted by: AmericanTeacher | June 30, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

this is nothing more than b.s. froomkin's sacking was a cost cutting measure? i would love to compare his check with prissy george's, krazy krautie's, or goofball gerson's. if nothing is clear, it is that alexander is an idiot, or at least he presumes his readers are.

Posted by: jimfilyaw | June 30, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

It was only a matter of time before they got rid of Froomkin. Without Bush in office, the column lost its reason to exist.

Posted by: smc91 | June 30, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Well heck, so all we have to do is stop trafficking on op-ed columns and they may end up getting canned?

I SAY WE STOP GOING OVER TO MILBANK!!!

I say him on Howie's show and if that's the type of person the WaPo wants on their staff compared to a Family man like Froomklin... then I'd say...

What a rag this paper has become!

I believe you guys wanted to sabotage Dan anyway so that you could let him go! That's why you gave his column that u-g-l-y looking format!

The business world does that all the time when they can't "canned" you on your work performance!

Posted by: danders5000 | July 1, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Today I reread the May column in which Froomkin tore into Krauthammer's torture justifications.

It was a fine column. But it made me realize that interpersonal anger/enmity/hatred must have played a pretty big role in the Froomkin dismissal, to the point where the Post, inexplicably and irrationally ("insane" quoth Fallows), went against both its own business interests and its own journalistic reputation. That's how deep the animosity went, and that's how anxious they were to get rid of him. Wow.

And that's why the Ombudsman (better than the hapless Howell but still basically a get-along, go-along kind of guy) reported on the "circling the wagons" response of management. Nobody, including the ombudsman, is going to tell the readership that the people in charge just hated his guts too much.

The former best journalist at the Post is probably, to judge from his published work, an abrasive kind of guy. The kind who would not be invited to a "good" fraternity in college. Or to a big corporate boardroom. Or to an exclusive country club. Geniuses tend to be rough-edged in their personal interactions.

Should he take a Dale Carnegie course in preparation for the next round? That's a personal decision for him to make. But I am waiting for his truth-to-power brand of journalism to reappear soon at another venue. I am a fan and supporter of Froomkin, "warts and all" (as the great composer Haendel remarked about his imperfect physiognomy). Next chapter, please, and bye-bye, Post.

Posted by: trobador | July 1, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

What kind of "reportage" is this?

How can Mr Gene Weingarten who says "I don't know why Froomkin's column was dropped", claim to have any knowlege as to why Froomkin was not dropped? Maybe he should write a series of articles chalenging the torture advocates at the WaPo and see how long he keeps his job.

Why can you not tell us who instructed Online Opinions Editor Marisa Katz,"not to respond to additional queries".

When you write that the Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, said he was unable to comment- does this mean he does not want to or, that he has been told not to.

When Mr Hiatt claims that “political orientation was not a factor in our decision.” why should we believe it. What exactly are Mr Hiatt's qualifications in truth telling?

The WaPo has become a advocate and enabler of torture, and fired its lone dissenter. Yes you are right, there is nothing to see here. There is no editorial board conspiracy. And the WaPo has no clothes. Goodbye.

Posted by: TSearl | July 1, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Uh, TSearl, Weingarten is already out of his job. Took the parachute in the last round of WaPo "cost reductions". However, you're right, his opinion is tainted by the arrogance of reporters doing "the beat", proud of making so many calls and "footwork", and not noticing that this kept them from digging deeper into the details (they don't have the time) and that the personal relationships they established with their sources biased their work. Froomkin deliberately chose not to fall into this trap, and for his job this was the right decision. A good paper needs both: Reliable reporters like Weingarten, who provide the facts, and intelligent "aggregators" like Froomkin, who view that material and create fair, informative reports out of it.

Posted by: Gray62 | July 1, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Suddenly the NY Times looks better to me. Bye WaPo.

Posted by: swebjr | July 1, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post has taken us into darkness to create the Evil Empire of Ronald Reaga. Helen Thomas is a journalist. No one at the Republican Washington Post is. Mr. Hiatt your journalism is a perversion of journalism. And you have no integrity. Go back to Berlin 1945, where your character and behavior can truly be appreciated for what it is. You deserve the Joseph Goebbels award. Helen Thomas Deserves the Medal of Freedom. You lie and she tells the truth, whatever the consequences.

Posted by: bkohatl | July 1, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Is it just a coincidence that the Politico story about WPo access-for-sale sessions appeared shortly after the Froomkin firing? Was Froomkin about to deal with it?

"Washington Post sells access, $25,000+"

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/24441.html

In any case what a sad, sad downward spiral for this paper.

Posted by: trobador | July 2, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

It seems that the more stuff like this happens, that the Post's sole reason for existence is to line the cages of local SPCAs. No wonder this sh!tty paper is going broke. Zeig Hiatt!!

Posted by: VeloStrummer | July 2, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please! NOT ideological? Give me a break! They set him up. Who changed the format of his blog so it was harder to access? Who then complained that readership had fallen off because of the change? Who tried to muzzle Froomkin when it came to the media, which in fact has failed us all along by being, as Dan puts it, stenographers to liars? The powers-that-be plainly don't want an unleashed liberal voice around, and they wouldn't have hired Ezra Klein without making sure ahead of time that he would toe the party line, which has become increasingly right-wing. Finally, who made the decision to fire Froomkin, and is he Republican? I can tell you that already--of course. No doubts. Nobody is buying the "not ideological" line.

Posted by: shaman7214 | July 2, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

So high were Dan's numbers, they could fall and still be higher than most. By media criticism, you mean criticism of the Post?

Posted by: jhbyer | July 2, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"...The Post view Froomkin as a superb, hard-working “aggregator” whose blog needed more original reporting."

Then he was the only one on that rag
including the editors, who ever bothered to actually read the whole thing -- which, as we know was was way too often not original, not checked, often pure, planted, propaganda, or plagiarism or fiction.

But if you think reading the Washington Post makes anyone more knowledgable on a topic, then Froomkin was the most knowledgeable. He actually had to do his homework -- he had to READ.

Other columnists and editors are baldface incompetents judging by failure to acknowledge other related, even at times conflicting, information written in the same paper. This gives the Post and the new York Times both a weird, disjointed effect, like the fable of the blind people describing an elephant completely differently due to having examined only one portion of it. That's their political reporting -- blind to connections.

It's been years and dozens of apologies for the same thing from the Post and NYTimes: Failure to fact-check, failure to realize the "source" as self-serving and deceitful, failure to recognize whole fictional specials they print as fact -- and then fire the writer for the editors' failure to edit. It continually prints - still -- letters, opinions and columns from the Pentagon and other paid government propagandists as coming from of an "independent" analysts" -- while not printing submissions well-informed "amateurs" and firing Froomkin because he actually read and analyzed before he wrote. Firing him BECAUSE he read and analyzed -- his insistence on giving an informed summation flys in the face of all the Post kneels for.

And these rags are always sorry sorry sorry when they're caught and do it all over again, with the length of time between failures decreasing between apoplogies. Now, if the paper even apologizes at all, they're back at it again the next day.

Finally, probably tomorrow, in true Bush Big Brother era anti-reality mode, they will tell us that smart people know that propaganda is truth, that fiction is fact, that knowledge is ignorance, that crfitical analysis of what appears in their pages is a fool's game (and they're right about that, now, aren't they?).

Shoddy journalism? No. Fake journalism.

Congratulations to Froomkin. Now he can get that real job with a REAL news outfit I advised him to get last year.

As for the Post? Who he?

Posted by: KentL1 | July 2, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the Post got rid of Froomkin - the best thing they had going - and keep yahoos like Kurtz, Gerson, Krauthammer, and other very predictable right wing voices. Froomkin had journalistic integrity and criticized Obama as well as Bush. His columns were witty and insightful. With each passing day, I have less reason to visit the post. It used to be a must read every day - not so much anymore.

Posted by: jswallow | July 3, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Fire Hiatt. Re-hire Froomkin. Quickly! Before you lose us all.

Froomkin's analysis of the Obama White House
will be sorely missed.

Krauthammer, Will, Gerson? If they go, there will be dancing in the streets.

Posted by: freedom9 | July 3, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Post - thanks for firing Froomkin.

Now that I have no further reason to visit your website, you've made my morning media swim much more efficient.

Good luck with that "survival" stuff. You'll need it.

Posted by: antinomic | July 3, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

On the day of the announcement of Mr Froomkin's firing, I expressed my outrage to Mr Alexander, and sent e-mails to the editors. I am sure that their spam filters have since been adjusted to divert any e-mail containing any reference to Mr Froomkin or his column. Time has not changed my opinion. I returned to the Post's site today for the first time since the firing, only to print and read Dan's last columns. I will not be back again. The commentators above have already articulated the arrogance of management's position exceptionally well and I see no need to be redundant. The Post will go the way of the Philadelphia and Detroit newspapers. The Baltimore Sun is now little more than a thin collection of wire reports, and might follow the Seattle and Denver papers. It wasn't Craigslist and the Internet which killed the newspapers, but rather the widespread failure to provide their core functions of accountability journalism needed to maintain a free society. Reprinting a press release is not news. The firing of Mr Froomkin has antagonized the Post readership, because the firing is such a clear rejection of the newspaper's basic function. However, I confidently expect the Internet bloggers and writers to step up and perform the vital function of the fourth estate to watch the watchmen. As for the Froomkin firing, I join the chorus of voices who state that his column/blog needed to diligently sought, after the re-design. A product cannot be sold if it is hidden from long time users as well as potential new customers of that column. This entire episode reminds me of a law firm which decides that a talented lawyer did not fit the prevailing organizational culture. The lawyer is not asked to work on any new cases and then is fired six months later because his billable hours had dropped. The arrogance can be found in part in the idea that the prevailing legal culture has any intrinsic value. The risk is that the talented young lawyer will take important clients with him, when he leaves. Whether the Post editors have felt that readership will not substantially change, will not leave, or perhaps the Froomkin reader is someone the Post cares not to retain--we will never know. Frankly, though, I no longer care about the Post's plans and problems. I am gone.

Posted by: PittsburghReader | July 3, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

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