Thursday, January 19, 2006

Deborah Howell wrote in the column "Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff" on january 15 2006

"And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

It is trivially easy to demonstrate that this assertion is false. As of 7:54 EST January 18 2005, I can find no evidence that Howell has corrected her false statement of fact. I can find no evidence that The Washington Post has corrected the false statement of fact printed on its pages. I can't even find any evidence that anyone at the Post is willing to confirm that the false statement was indeed printed in the Washington Post. The most recent comment on the false statement to appear in the Post is the blatantly false statement that Howell did not write what she wrote.

Obviously this is intollerable. The Washington Post is supposed to be a serious newspaper. It can not allow a false assertion made by a Post employee in the Post to remain uncorrected. This issue can be separated with questions of bias or the debate about whether the best way to fight corruption is to throw the Republicans out. The post published a demonstrable falsehood. It has not acknowledged or corrected the error. This is totally unacceptable.

She has not written an article of column containing the word "Abramoff" since then.

The most recent entry containing "Howell" and "Abramoff" is this online discussion with Jeff Leen Assistant Managing Editor, Investigative. When challenged about the false claim made by Howell, Leen replies with his own blatant undeniable falsehood. Given the publicity, I find it absolutely impossible to believe that Leen didn't read the article by the Post's ombudsman discussing the work of his team. Thus I must conclude that the Assistant Managing Editor, Investigative of the post chose to lie to readers. I think he should be fired immediately.

Arlington, Va.: On Sunday, The Post's ombudsman printed an outright falsehood in her column, i.e., that Democrats had taken money from Jack Abramoff. There is no evidence that any Democrat got money from Jack Abramoff, and until there is proof that casino interests gave money to Senator Reid and Indian tribes gave money to Senator Dorgan at the behest of Jack Abramoff, this remains a Republican scandal, no matter how hard the RNC tries to spread the blame. When will we get a retraction?

Jeff Leen: The ombudsman was talking about campaign money put up by Abramoff's tribal clients that he was directing to Democrats as well as Republicans. She was not simply referring to his own personal contributions. Abramoff's personal money all went to Republicans, but that amount is dwarfed by the $5 million tribal war chest he controlled. Two-thirds of that went to Republicans and one-third to Democrats. So far, the Abramoff affair is clearly a Republican scandal, judging from the indictments and plea agreements. But the investigation is far from over and it is difficult to predict where it will ultimately lead.

Put together Leens lie and Howell's false claim "She was not simply referring to his own personal contributions" and "And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." Which is it ? Did Leen not read the column under discussion ? Is he incapable of understanding plain English ? Does it depend on what the definitino of "he" is ? I think that Leen decided to lie and must be fired.

On a separate note, Leens claim that Abramoff directed money to Democrats is completely unsupported by evidence (except unless I am mistaken the simple claim by a Republican operative). In contrast, Abramoff's e-mails contain proof that he directed contributions to Republicans. Leen's claim about what Howell wrote is totally false. His accusation against Democrats is unsupported by evidence and irresponsible.

The only other entry containing "Howell" and "Abramoff" and
the only Washington Post entry containing "Howell" and "correction" since Howell's column is the on line discussion in which Howard Kurtz responded to a criticism of the claim in the 11 false words by discussing another sentence in Howell's column.. Then when challenged again, Kurtz refused again to aknowledge the existence of the false 11 words, discussing yet another sentence in the same column

Cannon Falls, Minn.: You asked in your column how reporters can forget about Abramoff being completely tied to Republicans? Well your own ombudsman did so on Sunday with her column talking about Democrats receiving money from Abramoff.

No Democrats were given money by Abramoff. When will there be a correction to her inaccuracy?

Howard Kurtz: Howell did note at the bottom of her column: "So far, [Post staffers] Schmidt and Grimaldi say their reporting on the investigations hasn't put Democrats in the first tier of people being investigated."

I wonder if he would have quoted every word in the article except for the relevant 11 words if readers had continued to ask general questions. However someone from Washington DC nailed him with the quote of the 11 words. Kurtz did not confirm or deny that the 11 word quote was accurate. He did not concede that he had twice responded to indirect quotations of Howell's claim by quoting other parts of her column and he refused to concede that the 11 word claim is totally false rather saying that a different (completely unproven) claim is "more accurate". Now a claim that is unproven and completely unsupported by any evidence other than the assertion f a partisan operative is certainly not less accurate than a claim which is demonstrably false. However, in ordinary english usage when one says that A is more x than B, one implies that B is at least a little tiny bit B. Howell's 11 word claim is totally totally false.

Washington, D.C.: Your response to Fort Washington, Md. missed the point. Howell falsely claimed in her column of Abramoff that "he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties." Your additional quote from her column does not make that claim less false.

Why did she make that false claim, and what is The Post going to do about it.

And why did you change the subject in your response to Fort Washington?

Howard Kurtz: I have not delved deeply into this myself, but I believe it would have been more accurate to say that Abramoff steered contributions to politicians of both parties.

Note again that Kurtz presented no evidence for his modified accusation against Democrats. I think this is partly due to the fact that the only such evidence is a claim by a Republican operative. In contrast, positive proof that Abramoff steered contributions to Republicans can easily be obtained from his e-mails.

Kurtz was pathetically ineptly dishonest in his effort to avoid admitting that Howell wrote a totally false statement in the Post. When caught, he did not attempt to respond to the clearly valid accusation that he had deliberately changed the subject.

A search for "Abramoff" and "correction" returned the same totally dishonest online conversation with Kurtz and this

Bethesda, Md.: Desson

Did you know you were nominated as the Hottest Postie on last week's Reliable Source chat? Congrats, but your fans always knew that.

I missed the show last night but heard that George Clooney made some crack about Jack Abramoff. Can you repeat it?

Desson Thomson: I heard about that last week. I admit I was CHUFFED as we say in England. I need to strut around the newsroom more these days. As for the quote, Clooney was thanking Abramoff, sophomorically, because "who would name their kid Jack with the last word 'off' at the end of your last name?" Sad but true. He could have been talking about Abramoff as a corruption figure, which would have tied in with his movies Good Night and Good Luck, and Syriana, but noooooo. Had to be a Beavis and Butt-head joke. Disappointing.

Which is amusing to the sophomoric, but which does not correct the false claim of fact made in the Washington Post.

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