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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, February 12, 2006

I am a twit without a functioning brain

Jim Brady

Jim Brady Acting Up Again: It's the Accountability, Stupid

With this nasty letter in the Washington Post, online editor Jim Brady shows just how aggressive he is willing to be to avoid accountability at his newspaper. It's quite remarkable, actually. He still does not understand what went wrong.

Howell committed an act of journalistic malpractice. She was caught in an error on a very important story, and her reaction to the readership who commented on it was to stonewall. Then she grudgingly admitted an error four days later, decrying partisanship and namecalling the whole time. It was a pathological incapacity to take responsibility.

And now Brady comes back with a truculent regurgitation of right-wing bias, as if to prove that he might be accountable to someone, but that someone is not 'the left' or 'partisans'. In his bitchy little note, he wouldn't even name Jane Hamsher or Atrios by name, even though he quoted both of them. They were intentionally nameless and faceless mean angry bloggers. Jane of course is an accomplished screenwriter, novelist, and journalist, Duncan has a PhD in economics. Riff raff.

But here's the money quote on what this is all about:

In fact, Abramoff directed clients to give to members of both parties, but he had donated his own personal funds only to Republicans.

That's just nonsense. The American Prospect showed as much in a study done by a nonpartisan research group:

But the Morris and Associates analysis, which was done exclusively for The Prospect, clearly shows that it's highly misleading to suggest that the tribes's giving to Dems was in any way comparable to their giving to the GOP. The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway.

So even if Brady's claim were true, and I would concede that it could be technically true (though no one to my knowledge has proved it), it obscures the larger and much more relevant point that Abramoff was a key cog in a Republican political machine. That is the point that Brady is effectively covering up. I'm sure he isn't covering it up because he is a right-wing political operative, as he derisively would snort. He isn't. The Washington Post has done excellent work on the Abramoff scandal, far outpacing the New York Times. But that doesn't mean that the paper is acting responsibly, for it isn't.

Jim Brady repeated something that isn't true, or at least, is extremely misleading. And he did it to prove, childishly, that Jane Hamsher didn't 'win'. That he's not accountable to her, because she's mean. Well having comments on a blog, or allowing technorati on your site, or doing online chats, doesn't mean anything if you don't actually act based on the feedback. It's not accountability or transparency, it's entertainment for riff raff.

In other words, I disagree with Jay Rosen's insulting comments to Jane Hamsher:

Meanwhile, flaming the friends of transparency isn't helping anyone. Get it, Jane?

Is Brady a friend of transparency? That's hard to tell, since he's certainly not acting in good faith.

Jim Brady doesn't get it. nor does he want to. He would rather pretend that there was a barbarian invasion to his precious Washington Post than deal with the fact that his readers are no longer passive consumers but active participants.

This is why he thinks he can attack people and get away with it, instead of realizing that every time he raises this issue, he's going to be responded to. This is not the wingnut coalition which hops when told to. There is no free pass for attacking our collegues.

I know reporters and editors react like scalded cats when criticized, that they believe themselves the guardians of democracy. Well, there are a lot of people who feel they have failed and no longer trust them. Journalism is no longer a one way street. Reporters and editors are now accountable to their readers for the facts and omissions in their stories.

posted by Steve @ 12:37:00 AM

12:37:00 AM

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