Post ombudsman Deb Howell weighed in today:
The NAM, the ACCF and the national parents of the Minnesota group and Northern Virginia Realtors do lobby Congress. Broder later said he broke the rules on those speeches. He also said he had cleared his speeches with Milton Coleman, deputy managing editor, or Tom Wilkinson, an assistant managing editor, but neither remembered him mentioning them. Wilkinson said Broder had cleared speeches in the past. Editors should have been consulted on all of the speeches as well as the cruise.
“I am embarrassed by these mistakes and the embarrassment it has caused the paper,” Broder said.
Woodward said he doesn’t accept money from partisan organizations, the military, government groups or any group he might cover. He said he turns down “lots” of speech requests and gives “many” without charge. He said he believes he is complying with Post policy, which he called “fuzzy and ambiguous. The question is: Where does the money go? I don’t keep the money. It’s a straight shot into the foundation that gives money to legitimate charities. I think that’s doing good work. My wife and I made a commitment to do this.”
Broder should have followed his own and The Post’s rules. Woodward’s case is somewhat different, but Downie would like to know and should know what groups Woodward is speaking to in case he wants to object. Woodward’s name and The Post’s are synonymous, and whatever Woodward does is associated with the paper, even if he’s rarely there.
Most of all, The Post needs an unambiguous, transparent well-known policy on speaking fees and expenses. It should deal with charities and those on contract. Approvals for speeches that involve fees should be sought and given in writing by a high-ranking editor. Fees should be accepted only from educational, professional or other nonprofit groups for which lobbying and politics are not a major focus — with no exceptions.
Ken Silverstein has read Howell’s piece and says that it “was was not as disappointing as I had feared,” although “Howell goes very easy on Broder.”