I blogged about the axing of Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch column over at Comments from Left Field, but I noticed after publishing that the buzz is starting to pick up on this story, so I’m going to do a link roundup here.
Michael Calderone of Politico broke the news and has been updating throughout the day.
Glenn Greenwald asks why the Washington Post has chosen to drop its best and most highly regarded (judging by link traffic and cites) columnists (emphasis is Glenn’s):
One of the rarest commodities in the establishment media is someone who was a vehement critic of George Bush and who now, applying their principles consistently, has become a regular critic of Barack Obama — i.e., someone who criticizes Obama from what is perceived as “the Left” rather than for being a Terrorist-Loving Socialist Muslim. It just got a lot rarer, as The Washington Post — at least according to Politico‘s Patrick Gavin — just fired WashingtonPost.com columnist, long-time Bush critic and Obama watchdog (i.e., a real journalist) Dan Froomkin.
What makes this firing so bizarre and worthy of inquiry is that, as Gavin notes, Froomkin was easily one of the most linked-to and cited Post columnists. At a time when newspapers are relying more and more on online traffic, the Post just fired the person who, in 2007, wrote 3 out of the top 10 most-trafficked columns. In publishing that data, Media Bistro used this headline: “The Post’s Most Popular Opinions (Read: Froomkin).” Isn’t that an odd person to choose to get rid of?
Glenn points to Froomkin’s focus on the torture issue as one highly probable explanation — as does Andrew Sullivan. Sulllivan predicts that “This purge will prompt a real revolt in the blogosphere. And it should.”
Especially given the fact that, in Paul Campos’ words, the WaPo”has no problem hosting the one-note rantings of the loathsome Charles Krauthammer, while going out of its way to hire the comically inept and (worse yet) totally boring William Kristol.” One would think a strong liberal voice — not to mention one that also criticized the Obama administration from a leftist standpoint — would be considered pretty much essential for the paper’s “credibility.”
Steve Clemons calls Froomkin’s column “invaluable,” and adds:
Froomkin was the new media hybrid of Woodward and Bernstein during the George W. Bush administration and provided one of the best informed portals into America’s palace politics.
I want all TWN‘s readers to know that Froomkin was one of those who greatly furthered serious public discourse about torture, domestic spying, the Iraq War, and many other stressful and important subjects — and his platform at the Post will be missed.
Reaction on the right, what there is of it, is predictably thick-headed. Dan Riehl puts his finger on the truly important question now:
… [W]hat does the Post plan to do with Froomkin’s niche, “White House Watch”, that promised to watch the WH like a hawk while Bush was in residence?
Will they hire someone from the Right to counter what they did with Froomkin/Bush? Or perhaps they’ve concluded this isn’t a WH in need of watching?
Sure, Dan — they could hire rehire Froomkin, who was doing exactly that.