WaPo Clears Ezra of Wrongdoing

WaPo‘s Ombudsman Patrick Pexton has declared that whatever liberal blogger/news reporter/Democratic activist Ezra Klein did at a recent briefing of top Democratic Senate aides was not “evil.”

In fact, he says it wasn’t a “briefing” at all. That’s what Klein declared. That’s what three Democratic chiefs of staff with whom he spoke said. Case closed, right?

Maybe. But not so fast. In Pexton’s story published late Friday afternoon is the news that the briefing (or whatever people are calling them these days) was in fact a “private meeting” of Democratic chiefs of staff to discuss “strategy, coordination and policy.” At some point they supposedly stopped the “private strategy meeting” and invited in Klein. Did they pound a gavel and declare, “Strategy Session Over” and let Klein in the thick wooden doors? It’s so normal, they say, that they’ve done this in the past, with WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza or NBC’s Chuck Todd. Interesting to note that neither Cillizza nor Todd came forward when Klein was being criticized for participating in the so-called non-briefing and non-strategy session. One chief of staff, however, declares the idea that Klein would “brief” them as “absurd.”

The ombudsman notes that Klein’s blurred role as a reporter whose opinionated work appears on WaPo‘s news pages is something that bothers his colleagues and “makes reporters in the Post newsroom, and readers, uncomfortable.”

Pexton’s report adds up to a whole lot of new, unanswered questions. If the briefing/strategy session/séance is so innocent, why are the contents still a mystery? Klein says the meeting was a way to develop sources, something all reporters in Washington do. But talking with a group of Senate aides who have supposedly blended a strategy session into a undisclosed off-the-record meeting with a reporter in the Capitol? That is not something all reporters do.

“Evil” may be overkill and not a word we’ve ever used to described Klein. We’ll reserve that for Gargamel (the sworn enemy of the Smurfs) and Osama Bin Laden. But unusual and likely unethical behavior for a reporter, aides and WaPo? Now that’s right on target.

Read Pexton’s story here.