Froomkin Torched

by dday

It may sound odd to you, but I actually don't read a ton of punditry. I prefer primary sources, and I find the High Broderism so prevalent in the chattering class to be completely unworthy of the slog. If a pundit says something particularly egregious I'll probably find it elsewhere. But to me, Dan Froomkin was quite a good pundit, always intellectually honest and worth reading. And so the Washington Post fired him today. Several things are notable about this. Glennzilla notes that Froomkin's columns are widely read and popular online, so his firing is curious for a medium that is losing market share and needs to attract eyeballs. Second, far from being a house organ for any President as long as he had a D next to his name or some unthinking cheerleader, of late Froomkin has shown himself completely willing to criticize the President from the left:

The Politico says the move is "sure to ignite the left-wing blogosphere," but Froomkin's departure, if true, should disappoint anyone concerned with insightful political analysis. Indeed, far-right complaints notwithstanding, Froomkin has spent months scrutinizing the Obama White House, cutting the Democratic president no slack at all. Just over the past couple of days, Froomkin offered critical takes on the president's proposed regulations of the financial industry, follow-through on gay rights, and foot-dragging on Bush-era torture revelations.

Froomkin was one of the media's most important critics of the Bush White House, and conservative bashing notwithstanding, was poised to be just as valuable holding the Obama White House accountable for its decisions.

The Post, a sea of arch-conservatives (Will, Krauthammer) and status-quo Broderists (Hiatt, Cohen, Broder) had an oasis with Froomkin, who did the work media should do - questioning power vigorously regardless of ideology. Now they fired him. Sad.

...Froomkin's statement:

I’m terribly disappointed. I was told that it had been determined that my White House Watch blog wasn’t "working" anymore. But from what I could tell, it was still working very well. I also thought White House Watch was a great fit with The Washington Post brand, and what its readers reasonably expect from the Post online.

As I’ve written elsewhere, I think that the future success of our business depends on journalists enthusiastically pursuing accountability and calling it like they see it. That’s what I tried to do every day. Now I guess I'll have to try to do it someplace else.