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Post Plays Catch-Up on AmeriCorps Story

By Andy Alexander

It’s a story with political intrigue. But readers haven’t learned much about it from The Post.

Brief summary: President Obama last week announced his intent to dismiss the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs the AmeriCorps program. The IG, Gerald Walpin, is a Bush appointee. His dismissal grew out of his 2008 probe into whether federal grants were misused by a nonprofit education group headed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and an Obama supporter. Yesterday, Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley requested that the Corporation provide “any and all records, e-mail, memoranda, documents, communications, or other information” relating to the dismissal, including any information on whether First Lady Michelle Obama played a role in the firing. Grassley is interested in the First Lady because of recent reports that she has been involved in decision-making at CNCS and because her former chief of staff, Jackie Norris, was recently tapped to become a senior adviser to the Corporation. Today, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the senior Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested that the White House provide information on the dismissal.

A variety of news organizations have reported on the flap in recent days. The Associated Press has written several stories. Same with the Examiner and The Washington Times. And the lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal raised numerous questions about how Walpin was terminated, and why.

But The Post has yet to run a word in print. And while The Post's Web site has carried several of the AP stories, there wasn't a staff-written article until late this morning, when Ed O’Keefe, who writes the Federal Eye feature, posted a solid piece.

In a comment on O'Keefe's piece, a reader noted: “Interesting that the Post buries this coverage in a blog. If this had happened under the previous administration, this would have been front page news.”

Said another: "Why aren't you investigating this and reporting on it? When the previous administration fired some top attorneys from the DOJ [it] was a huge story . . how about a little balance?"

That view was echoed in a handful of e-mails to me, including this one late yesterday from Peter Rice of Sarasota, Fla., who said there would have been “special editions” if the dismissal had been made by a Republican president. “But when the firing is done by the Most Perfect President Ever Barack Obama, the Wash Post is in full disinformation mode, presenting this as a non event.”

So why is The Post late to enter the game?

Deputy National editor Marilyn Thompson, responding to my e-mailed query, wrote that she was told the original story had “surfaced on a late afternoon when we had no more space in the national news section.”

Despite the fact that days have passed, she said “we are going to write about it, according to our political editor.”

It’s unclear whether Walpin’s dismissal was justified. O’Keefe’s story does a good job of laying out the background, including the fact that Corporation board chairman Alan Solomont, a Democrat, and vice chairman Stephen Goldsmith, a Republican, have backed Obama’s decision. He also quotes Walpin as insisting he was “basically fired because I was doing my job.” It will take some time to get to the bottom of it.

In the meantime, The Post needs to play catch-up and get ahead of the pack. That will help counter claims by critics that The Post is too enamored of President Obama to dig deep.

UPDATE, 7 p.m.: I'm told that tomorrow's Fed page will have an item on Walpin by O'Keefe.

By Andy Alexander  | June 16, 2009; 4:14 PM ET
 
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Comments

Where do the post pick up these stooges for ombudsmen? The previous debbie howell was a joke, as this one. The person before Ms. howell was pretty good though. This Walpin guy sounds like a real piece of work. My questions is why wasn't this Bushie fired immediately after Obama won the election? If we were to keep the same Bush idiots, why did we even vote for Obama? Go cry a river in Faux News, which he may have already done.

Posted by: August30 | June 16, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I thought newspapers had the ability to substitute stories if a bigger one came in before deadline. At least that was the case when I was managing editor (now retired) of a newspaper. And a story is in the works, she quotes. Her excuses have a fishy smell.

Posted by: Jimani2 | June 16, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

So there was no more space in the national news section until just now?

Yeah, that's totally believable.

Posted by: HughAkston | June 16, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Sir - you assume becuase the Wash Times and The Jouranl have articles that it's a story.

Doesn't sound olike much of a story. Sounds like political BS. And let me guess - conservatives are doing the whinning.

Thank you, Post, for not filling your paper with non-news.

Posted by: ScottChallenger | June 16, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

This is a non-story.

The Post doesn't need to catch up The Post needs to report the truth. How many people from the Clinton Admin. were "fired" when the Bush Admin. came into office?

Every time there is a change in administration there are a lot of changes at the Corporation because they are political jobs. I know first hand because I have worked with them since 1998.

Posted by: rlj1 | June 16, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

rlj1 -

"How many people from the Clinton Admin. were "fired" when the Bush Admin. came into office?"

Yes, and it was a huge story which is why you are citing it now. Liberal pundits were screaming corruption from the mountain top, but of course now it is a "non-story". Well guess what, you Bush haters lost your mind over every "non-story" of the past eight years and now you folks can listen to it for a while.

I guess all of that "Speaking truth to power" crap was just more empty liberal rhetoric.

Posted by: bobmoses | June 16, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the workings of the right-wing mind, if there are indeed workings of the right-wing mind to understand. The Post ombudsman scolds the Post for missing a story that appears to hold the possibility of nasty publicity for the Obama Administration, and here we have bobmoses ranting about "Bush haters" and "empty liberal rhetoric." Right-wingers are so locked into their positions they apparently can't think, just react.

Posted by: chuckbarb23 | June 16, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Here are some other stories WaPo has missed:

Obama's non-existent US birth certificate;
ACORN's connection to the Obama Administration;
ACORN's fraudulent election activities; AND
Obama's move to increase US population via amnesty for illegal immigrants so that he can tax them to pay for his gigantic, trillion dollar mess of a federal budget.

The funny thing is that WaPo is not MISSING these news stories, they are just burying them to protect their elected supreme leader. This newspaper is a fraud to the American people and will pay for its treason.

Posted by: bmayhewbz@hotmail.com | June 16, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Controversy? What controversy? This is a political appointment. The incumbent serves at the pleasure of the president. Since when did presidents fail to appoint members of their own party to such positions?

Posted by: donnolo | June 16, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

This irratates me:

"His dismissal grew out of his 2008 probe into whether federal grants were misused by a nonprofit education group headed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and an Obama supporter."

You state this as fact when it is not known for a fact. It's truly disingenuous to make the sort of statement without any support whatsoever.

Posted by: arancia12 | June 16, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

For the posters above showing their ignorance, Inspectors General are appointed by the President for specific terms and can be removed only for cause, and only 30 days after a notification from the White House to the Congress. Senator Obama was a strong backer of the IG act that included those provisions. Ooops!

Posted by: capsfan77 | June 16, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

So much for transparency.

So much for bi-partisanship.

For those of us who expected cronyism, lies and and underhanded, ethically challenged behavior from this administration, this is par for the course.

For those of you infatuated with the man, you are as contemptible as ever in your fawning.

Posted by: nlynnc | June 16, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

And what's not "factual" about the quote? Perhaps you don't think Kevin Johnson was an NBA "star"? OK, maybe he was just a jouneyman player.

Posted by: capsfan77 | June 16, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

This is NOTHING!!!!

Is there a BLACKOUT of the US Media covering the saga of the Japanese Bearer Bonds-- ($134 BILLION of them) recently smuggled into Chiasso, Italy??

THIS is either a HUGE issue for the US if they are real, or the most MASSIVE financial smuggling case in HISTORY, and no one in the US is covering it, except for one story in BLOOMBERG recently!!!

WHERE are the updates?????


WHERE is the truth on this????

EARTH to WAPO!!!

Posted by: misssymoto | June 16, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

We have all pretty much come to expect that the post will not publish anything bad about Obama or any of the libs in Congress. No matter how corrupt, like Feintein ripping of the government through her husbands company, Durbin dumping his stock just before the crash, the post will find a way to avoid it. Its ok, by the way, Dodd's wife is sitting on a bunch of health industry boards, in case you may want to check into it. That way you can apologize why you missed it...

Posted by: steve4 | June 16, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

C'mon. Give the republicans something so they can feel good about themselves. Go ahead, print the story already.

BTW, it's nice to know the congressional Republicans are so concerned. lol.

Posted by: mikem1 | June 16, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why they refer to him as the "ombudsman". "House apologist" would be more fitting.

As to the story, it's hardly surprising the Post hasn't written anything, given that the events are unflattering to The Chosen One.

Posted by: stratman1 | June 16, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Glad someone noticed that the Post's selectivity is political not editorial. Will it change anything? Nope!

Posted by: mdsinc | June 16, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

PERHAPS, it is a case much like the one Bill Hamilton made to Deborah Howell when he responded to complaints that the Post didn't cover "issues" during the campaign - "WE HAD A LARGER PURPOSE." And PERHAPS, when ABC News broadcasts from the White House next week instead of its studios, it will be because it HAS A LARGER PURPOSE. And PERHAPS, when Barack Obama made a commercial for NBC News, it's because he HAD A LARGER PURPOSE. Aren't you people in journalism just proud as punch of yourselves?

Posted by: chatard | June 16, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

And what's not "factual" about the quote? Perhaps you don't think Kevin Johnson was an NBA "star"? OK, maybe he was just a jouneyman player.

Posted by: capsfan77
___________________

I can't say the quote the not factual just as Alexander cannot say it is. We just don't know.

Proximity of two events is not proof one caused the other...or do you avoid stepping on cracks?

Posted by: arancia12 | June 16, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

So much for transparency.

So much for bi-partisanship.

For those of us who expected cronyism, lies and and underhanded, ethically challenged behavior from this administration, this is par for the course.

For those of you infatuated with the man, you are as contemptible as ever in your fawning.

Posted by: nlynnc
____________

What I find contemptible are people like you who try to ease their conscience by generalizing their own prejudices to a larger population.

I had no illusions that the Obama administration would be some pure and sainted organization. Personally, I've read the Bible and I've seen the world around me and I'm relatively confident there are no perfect people.

I voted on platform, not party, dear. Perma-war was not on the Democratic platform so the choice was clear.

I have never heard a liberal call President Obama the messiah. That sort of speak only comes from the rabidly conservative sect.

Posted by: arancia12 | June 17, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post has for the most part slanted writers and stories that support the left and attack the right. Only Charles Krauthammer and few others are the exception. We read it because they allow us to vent. Otherwise they are worthless.

Posted by: mharwick | June 17, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

chuckbarb23 -

Hmm. I was responding specifically to a posters comment.

Sorry that your blinding partisan hate only allows you to spew knee-jerk "I hate conservatives" bumper sticker rhetoric. Maybe someday you could actually read and understand before you comment.

Posted by: bobmoses | June 17, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I voted on platform, not party, dear. Perma-war was not on the Democratic platform so the choice was clear.

_________________________

Yeah, how's that working out for you?


For me, the decisions he has made about Iraq and Afghanistan are about the only things President Obama has done right since he was elected. Not enough to make up for all the other disasters and future disasters he has initiated, but I'll give him credit for listening to Petreus and Odierno on that issue.

Posted by: etpietro | June 17, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"Deputy National editor Marilyn Thompson, responding to my e-mailed query, wrote that she was told the original story had “surfaced on a late afternoon when we had no more space in the national news section.”"

Oh, well, that explains everything. NOT.

What a pathetic excuse.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 17, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

AmeriCorps is a valuable perhaps noble organization. They support programs for education, protecting the environment, public safety and health.

If money is being stolen from this program it doesn't matter what party the thief supports, they need to be brought to task.

Posted by: kinsella2 | June 19, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

AmeriCorps is a valuable perhaps noble organization. They support programs for education, protecting the environment, public safety and health.

If money is being stolen from this program it doesn't matter what party the thief supports, they need to be brought to task.

If the person investigating the theft is removed, that may point to a greater problem.

Posted by: kinsella2 | June 19, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

All conservatives ask for is for the Democrats to follow the rules. Is it too much to ask for the slow witted Liberals that pontificate on this blog? If you have been as corrupt as Kevin Johnson has been then you need to be called in on the carpet. If you are Obama and want to cover for KJ then do it with the understanding you are setting yourself up for impeachment. Remember, you liberals attempted to put everyone in the Bush administration on trial that had to do with the firing of the Attorney's in the AGO. I remember the cries from all of you let's get Libby,Rove,Cheney and put Bush on trial. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Let's impeach Obama!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: pechins | June 20, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Why do you assume that his dismissal has anything to do with a 2008 audit of an Obama supporter? Have you looked at Wilpen's record? Odd choice of an IG don't you think?

Posted by: larry34 | June 20, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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