Howell vs. MediaMatters.Org (and the World?)

Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell has been duking it out with MediaMatters.org recently.

First the liberal media watch dog group said on January 10 that Howell “endorses practice of printing misleading — even false — Bush administration claims without rebuttal.” (They were referring to comments made by Howell on the Post’s internal “omblog” [gosh, who knew the word ‘blog’ could be made to sound even worse than it already does?]). Howell responded, maintaining that “I did not say that I endorsed printing misleading or false statements. I would never do that. I said that she was giving the administration’s point of view. Either take that off your site or print my side of this.”

Call it a draw.

Then, following Howell’s column this past weekend in which she lauded the Post’s investigative reporting on Jack Abramoff, MediaMatters came back at her, charging “Post ombudsman Howell twice falsely claimed Democrats received contributions from Abramoff.”

Turns out MediaMatters may have won that battle. In his washingtonpost.com chat, Howard Kurtz conceded


    “Howell’s column Sunday said that a number of Democrats ‘have gotten Abramoff campaign money.’ That was inartfully worded. I believe what she was trying to say, and I have not discussed this with her, is that some Democrats have received campaign cash from Abramoff clients, and that this may have been orchestrated by the convicted lobbyist. That’s why you have a number of Democrats (as well as many Republicans, now including Denny Hastert) giving back the tainted dough or donating it to charity. Even National Review Editor Rich Lowry says this is basically a Republican scandal — we are talking about a Bush fundraiser and Tom DeLay pal — but where the tangled web has extended to Democrats, we need to mention that too.”

Outrage at Howell was at least partially responsible for the flood of comments that hit the Post’s post.blog recently.

And now, for the play’s final act, Howell seems to have put up her last word on her omblog:

    Omb Learns Lesson
    Posted By: Deborah Howell
    Date: 1/13/06 5:45:52 PM EDT

    * The omb lesson is that I replied to mediamatters.org last week that I thought I had been misrepresented. That’s just brought another attack. From now on, I don’t reply.