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Deborah Howell Responds

I've heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties.

Lobbyists, seeking influence in Congress, often advise clients on campaign contributions. While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.

Records from the Federal Elections Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that Abramoff’s Indian clients contributed between 1999 and 2004 to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats. The Post has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with specific directions on what members of Congress were to receive specific amounts.

One of those lists can be viewed in this online graphic, while a graphical summary of giving by Abramoff, his tribal clients and associated lobbyists can be viewed here. The latest developments in the Abramoff investigation are available in this Special Report.

-- Deborah Howell, Washington Post Ombudsman

By washingtonpost.com | January 19, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Category: Journalism
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Right100, and Ms. Howell,
Please, please take this comment to heart.
As much as you would like to believe otherwise, You are both compatriots of a political faction that is working to undermine the American system of government. Right100, I will take your best wishes in the next election cycle literally, for all of our sakes, your included.

Posted by: Right100's conscience | Jan 19, 2006 3:52:49 PM | Permalink

The dems had nothing to do with the Abramoff scandal.

Even though you really would like it if they were.

Posted by: Wishing Don't Make It So | Jan 19, 2006 3:52:22 PM | Permalink

Right100, and Ms. Howell,
Please, please take this comment to heart.
As much as you would like to believe otherwise, You are both compatriots of a political faction that is working to undermine the American system of government. Right100, I will take your best wishes in the next election cycle literally, for all of our sakes, your included.

Posted by: Right100 is an ass | Jan 19, 2006 3:52:10 PM | Permalink

This is dishonest. No evidence has yet come to light that Abramoff directed contributions to the Democrats.

Either you are reporting this, in which case you've not sourced it, or you are referencing prior reporting, in which case you've also not sourced it.

Doesn't anyone in charge at the Post feel ashamed that the person they hired as a judge has no grasp of the law?

Posted by: MarkC | Jan 19, 2006 3:51:45 PM | Permalink

I ask again, why was my comment removed?

I said that maybe you weren't a liar.

That maybe you weren't even first class at obfuscation.

But I DID say you were INCOMPETENT.

Is that it? Being called incompetent yanks your chain?

Posted by: garyb50 | Jan 19, 2006 3:49:13 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,

May I suggest that you address the concerns of Post readers by scheduling one of the Post's lovely live chats? I think taking the opportunity to answer questions and address the readers directly in that fashion would be helpful.

- corbett

Posted by: corbett | Jan 19, 2006 3:49:02 PM | Permalink

As others have stated, there is NO EVIDENCE that Abramoff 'directed' tribes to donate to Democrats. None.

It seems that you are missing the entire point of this story. Willfully, perhaps. The K Street Project was about one thing only--an effort to cut Democrats out of ALL the action, all the lobbying money. So why on earth would Abramoff tell the tribes to give money to his enemies?

Posted by: Drindl | Jan 19, 2006 3:48:57 PM | Permalink

Mrs. Howell:

Let us grant that some of Abramoff's clients gave money to Democrats on his advice. That is not news. It is lobbying. Happens every day.

Is there evidence of illegal activity in re that money? Of quid pro quo involving Democrats? That would be news. There certainly isn't any such evidence in what you have shown us so far. Nor has anyone else brought forth such evidence.

So the question then becomes: if it isn't news, why are you reporting it? Why are you repeating it? Why are you insinuating that Democrats will eventually be found "in the first tier" of people being investigated without producing any evidence that this is true?

Everyone who reads this, including you, knows the answer to that question.

If you were a reporter, what you did would have been unprofessional--an embarrassment for any news organization. You, however, are an ombudsman; the worst one I have ever encountered by far.

Nicholas Mycroft

Posted by: Nicholas Mycroft | Jan 19, 2006 3:47:58 PM | Permalink

The graph that Howell links to has been repeatedly shown to be meaningless and misleading (by independent sources, and even by conservative ones).

The document she links to has been shown to be misleading and manipulated (the joys of Photoshop!) Whoever produced this hack job (Willis?) needs to be fired and/or sued.

Why is the Post so intent on lying about this story?

Brothers and sisters, we have lived to see the day when the Post is to right of even Rich Lowry at the National Review! Katherine Graham, may her soul rest in peace, fortunately has not.

Posted by: Mike Wolf | Jan 19, 2006 3:45:00 PM | Permalink

what can I say, but,

heh

Posted by: mario | Jan 19, 2006 3:44:43 PM | Permalink

Deborah, you've made a mistake, when pressed about the mistake you don't apologize, you excuse yourself

tribes giving money to politicians has nothing what so ever to do with the republican influence machine

democrats ARE NOT implicated in this scandal

you have to distance them from this scandal and apologize for making the association.

by the way

how did wapo think you might be qualified for this position?

it would seem you are as unqualified as a brown was to fema

Posted by: me to me | Jan 19, 2006 3:44:11 PM | Permalink

I have another point.
In your earlier post on this issue, you confessed to receiving talking points from one of the right wing think tanks.
I applaud you for telling us where you get your information, but I'm a little curious if this is good journalism.

Specifically, shouldn't reporting on this story begin with public records? After consulting public records, wouldn't it be appropriate to contact any Congressmen which you mention in the story for comment. You tarred Reid and Dorgan but gave them no chance to explain themselves.
After consulting with the Congressmen directly, I see no problem contacting the official party offices for a statement.
Finally, at the end of the chain, you could talk to outside institutes.

Does this sound like a reasonable way to approach this story?
If it is not how you did your reporting, I would find it helpful to know more about your process---of course, any contacts that require confidentiality *cough* *Rove* can be respected.

Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 3:41:26 PM | Permalink

Whatever you do, Debby, don't let on that you were shopping at Nordstrom instead of doing your job.

Posted by: Brownie | Jan 19, 2006 3:40:40 PM | Permalink

"I've heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties."

How can a reader know whether a tribe gave money to a given politician on their own behalf or whether Jack Abramoff "directed" funds to said politician other than your unsupported assertion? Where is your proof? Do you expect readers to uncritically accept your assertion with no other evidence other than your say so?

Posted by: Bradford Fassett | Jan 19, 2006 3:39:43 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,

Many hundreds of Mr. Abramoff's emails have been made public.

On Feb. 11, 2002, he told Ralph Reed, "I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!! Oh well, stupid folks get wiped out."

Are there any correspondence which suggest that Abramoff directed his clients to give to Democrats? ANY?

Posted by: Andrew | Jan 19, 2006 3:37:00 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell:

While there was perhaps some debate over whether your initial false statements that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats were based in partisanship or based in incompetence, there was some small hope on the part of this Post reader that you might get it right this time around.

No such luck. Your defensive and again - factually baseless - response only reinforces the belief that you have no business working as ombudsman for the East Podunk Mailer-Courant, let alone The Washington Post.

Congratulations, you are now officially a one-woman credibility wrecking crew.

There are only two outcomes here: Either your superiors at The Post realize that you are a total liability and jettison your incompetent personage, or the paper sinks out of sight (hopefully with great speed) as it is dragged down by the cumulative effect of your “reporting” and earlier damage self-inflicted during the run up to W’s Adventure in Iraq.

Frankly, at this point, I could care less which happens, but I imagine that Post leadership cares, and hopefully your very public dismissal is at hand.

Posted by: PBI | Jan 19, 2006 3:36:18 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, your recent writings and the tone of them have been false, and demonstrably antithetical to shareholder value.

Mr. Abramoff is one of the most powerful men in the country. He is also a stridently partisan Republican, even once holding the coveted office of President of the Young Republicans, the well-known college drinking club for political aspirants. In the main, such an individual does not nor ever will "direct" his clients to give contributions to Democrats; if rare exceptions occurred, they were likely the result of shoddy vote calculation on the Republican side of the aisle. This fact should already have been obvious to a keen legal mind before it was abundantly amplified by thousands of concerned subscribers protesting your disastrous columns.

Well outside your personal area of expertise, your remarks above fail to mend fences, as should have been their purpose, and I believe they cause much further harm. You have helped your management in what appears to be a scurrilous campaign to deceive a distressingly shrinking readership on the decidedly partisan nature of the Abramoff scandal, but you have not helped well.

I believe it scant coincidence that the Washington Post Company's shareholders are now suffering as a result of what has become an obvious prostituting of journalistic integrity once of such proud repute, with share prices having fallen sharply. I believe this fall in price is highly correlated with the purposeful intent to disseminate falsehoods. In order to avoid further loss, I have instructed my family's trust to end what has been a long and profitable relationship, and to take appropriate steps to eliminate our WPO holdings.

Posted by: Karen Marriott | Jan 19, 2006 3:35:42 PM | Permalink

"A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties."

Shouldn't you thank Howard Kurtz for that little bit of unattributed spin? He trotted it out in an on-line forum recently; it sounded just as corrupt when he said it.

Posted by: dano347 | Jan 19, 2006 3:34:41 PM | Permalink

Let me lay it out for Deb one more time. Deb, suggesting something to a client is not the same as directing, as evidenced by the fact that various donations suggested by Abramoff were NOT made by the tribes.

But here is the more important point. Do you really expect that Abramoff would suggest to tribes that had traditionally contributed primarily to democrats that they start giving exclusively to republicans. Wouldn't Abramoff -an avowed republican lobbyist - have thereby risked an inference being drawn by the tribes that he was more interested in his cause than theirs? Should Abramoff really be credited with "directing" these tribes to do what they'd been doing all along, i.e., contributing to democrats? Or should the Post instead be emphasizing that this republican lobbyist directed these tribes to reverse their longstanding preference for democrats and instead contribute disproportionately to republicans?

If Abramoff's purpose was to direct as much money as possible from the tribes to his favored republicans he would do exactly what he DID do. He would gently and gradually attempted to influence them to shift their contributions to republicans. He most assuredly would NOT have "directed" them to suddently stop all contributions to democrats. To have done so would have caused suspicion that he was looking out for his own interests and not those of the Tribes. Which, as we all now know, was exactly what he was doing.

Really, Deb, as ombudsman for the Post you should have been able to figure this out for yourself. But we're here to help you, Deb. We're here to help.

Posted by: Thomas C | Jan 19, 2006 3:34:17 PM | Permalink

With only 15% of Americans reading the newspaper, you sure are trying to push that number down aren't you? Katherine Graham must be rolling in her grave. You're a dispicable ombudsman; and until they get rid of political hacks like you, I'm done with the post.

Posted by: rick | Jan 19, 2006 3:34:01 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell hasn't quite yet mastered the art of 'truthiness' because the essence of that is avoiding the appearance of 'wronginess'. She's being called out by the readers by her inartfulness. We need an ombudperson for the ombudsperson!

Posted by: | Jan 19, 2006 3:33:42 PM | Permalink

With only 15% of Americans reading the newspaper, you sure are trying to push that number down aren't you? Helen Graham must be rolling in her grave. You're a dispicable ombudsman; and until they get rid of political hacks like you, I'm done with the post.

Posted by: rick | Jan 19, 2006 3:33:33 PM | Permalink

The factually proper statement is that the Indian tribes REDUCED their contributions to Democrats after contact and association with Abramoff. The scandal is that the mainstream press has not looked at historical patterns of Indian political donations, but only at overall giving. It's in the details, that's where the spinners lie.

Deborah Howell, you owe your readers, and the Post, a retraction and correction.

Posted by: Kevin J-M | Jan 19, 2006 3:33:23 PM | Permalink

Posted by: Tom3 | Jan 19, 2006 3:25:16 PM

What about Ginger? Did she abstain? Oh gosh, what did I just say?! I hope no one takes that to mean I'm implying Ginger isn't abstinent. Gosh, there I go again. Abstinence. Is that the word? Oh well.

Buh Bye Deborah. Been nice. Do write. See ya.

Posted by: | Jan 19, 2006 3:31:49 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell:

While there was perhaps some debate over whether your initial false statements that Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats were based in partisanship or based in incompetence, there was some small hope on the part of this Post reader that you might get it right this time around.

No such luck. Your defensive and again - factually baseless - response only reinforces the belief that you have no business working as ombudsman for the East Podunk Mailer-Courant, let alone The Washington Post.

Congratulations, you are now officially a one-woman credibility wrecking crew.

There are only two outcomes here: Either your superiors at The Post realize that you are a total liability and jettison your incompetent personage, or the paper sinks out of sight (hopefully with great speed) as it is dragged down by the cumulative effect of your “reporting” and earlier damage self-inflicted during the run up to W’s Adventure in Iraq.

Frankly, at this point, I could care less which happens, but I imagine that Post leadership cares, and hopefully your very public dismissal is at hand.

Posted by: PBI | Jan 19, 2006 3:31:03 PM | Permalink

Okay, this would be funny if it weren't the comment I bet Howell and the gang were bobbling their haeds at (if they bother to read this).

"Ms. Howell, don't let these lefties get you down. You're doing a great job keeping the Post fair and balanced. The truth is always in the middle somewhere, not on the left or the right, and that's the bottom line here. Your job is to find the truth, not to kow-tow to a bunch of pajama clad left-wing jihadists, no matter how many "facts" they throw at you."

The very definition of "Truthiness", as in "Truthy", not "Facty". My assertations are the truth, regardless of the facts. Give this man a Colbert Report gold star!

Posted by: John N | Jan 19, 2006 3:30:44 PM | Permalink

NO DIRECTED MONEY! DO YOU HAVE ANY EVIDENCE THAT ABRAMOFF "DIRECTED" MONEY TO DEMOCRATS?

Remember This Interview???

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?
DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.
BLITZER: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.
DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...
BLITZER: What about Senator Byron Dorgan?
DEAN: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from Indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.
BLITZER: Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, we got to leave it right there.

Posted by: Richard | Jan 19, 2006 3:29:22 PM | Permalink

Mrs. Howell,

You are an embarrassment to your paper.
Do the right thing and resign.

Posted by: Michael Buckley | Jan 19, 2006 3:29:00 PM | Permalink

Why did you not report the fact (available from Bloomberg) that while tribes continued to give to democrats the level of giving to democrats DECLINED after their relationships with Abramoff began?

Is it really that hard for you to get the picture of what was going on there?

Posted by: aspTrader | Jan 19, 2006 3:26:40 PM | Permalink

At Jan 19, 2006 3:03:31 PM DougJ said, "The truth is always in the middle somewhere, not on the left or the right, and that's the bottom line here."

One person claims that 2+2=4 and the other says 2+2=6.... to which DougJ stands up proudly and states "2+2=5... it's in the middle and that the bottom line!!!"

Posted by: Steven | Jan 19, 2006 3:25:48 PM | Permalink


Let's see, here's your logic:
1) Donor A was a donor to Democrat B;
2) Donor A is extorted/conned into hiring Republican C;
3) Donor A reduces its share of donations to Democrat B;
4) Republican C is shown to be engaged in a gigantic criminal enterprise;
5) your conclusion: Democrat B and Republican C are in a criminal enterprise together.

The mendacity blows the mind. And I hope you do know you're being dishonest -- if this comes out of stupidity I'm even more frightened about how low our media has reached.

The only real story in town regarding corruption is the K-Street Project -- which over more than ten years sought to not only illegally funnel money to the Bush Republicans, but also to illegally abuse Congressional power in order to punish campaign donors to the Democratic Party. Abramoff, Delay, Santorum, Frist, Rove, Reed, Norquist and the other players in the K-Street project engaged in corruption and extortion in a completely unprecedented scaled in the pursuit of their goal to establish a de facto one-party rule. Contrived 'balance' in reporting on this is an unprofessional and cowardly lie. Why are the media afraid to factually and *fairly* report this story?

Posted by: Mike Wolf | Jan 19, 2006 3:25:23 PM | Permalink

Is it my imagination, or has the WaPo now bottled out completely and removed the Technorati links from it's pages? I found these really helpful in locating other sites that had commented on the articles and had insight and information to add.

Or is that why you removed them? My god, you're cowards.

Posted by: Avedon | Jan 19, 2006 3:25:19 PM | Permalink

Dear Mrs. Howell,

Gilligan, the Skipper, The Professor and Mary Ann all voted you off the island.

Thurston Howell III says he wants a divorce.

Better start looking for a raft.

Posted by: Tom3 | Jan 19, 2006 3:25:16 PM | Permalink

Debbie, there's a HUGE difference. Abramoff was trying to buy influence. That's what lobbyists do. How on earth do you buy influence if the recipient doesn't know the money is from you? Unless you have proof that the Democratic recipients of tribal donatios knew it was actually being directed by Dirty Danny, you can't make an honest comparison.

Posted by: Farty McBreakwind | Jan 19, 2006 3:23:42 PM | Permalink

****************************************

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

Posted by: feckless | Jan 19, 2006 3:22:19 PM | Permalink

Nothing like deliberately missing readers' point while being patronizing at the same time, Ms. Howell. Your attack on Dan Froomkin showed what a twisted sense of justice you possess. I don't know why the post employs an ombudsman whose only function seems to be to insult readers'intelligence.

Posted by: lily | Jan 19, 2006 3:21:51 PM | Permalink

Other people have put the case so clearly, I hope someone does read through all of these. I agree with City Girl, Beulah, theAmericanist and Lee B. to start with....

My question would be, are we supposed to read the newspaper and figure out where facts are misstated by following up with the internet or...is the newspaper supposed to actually be a source of information that can be completely relied upon. (Errors are made but then apologies should be trumpeted to make sure everyone is aware the previous information was erroneous.)

At this point, you are not shocked and appalled that you have misinformed people, you seem to be trying to cover your tracks to those who are seeking factual and clearly stated news. I'm shocked over this.

I know the MSM (as it has become known) has been taking a beating recently. Unfortunately, I believe quite a bit of it is deserved but....but....I have continued to believe in the NY Times and Washington Post. They may not be covering some of the stories they should, all of the information may not be there and some problems have occurred, but, if a statement is made in the newspaper, I basically believe that statement for what it is. When I see the Washington Post name, it carries a label of credibility. That is what you should be safe-guarding, Ms. Howell. If you know anything about brands -- and the Washington Post is a brand -- you know you protect the good reputation of a brand at all costs because that is worth millions of dollars - literally.

Posted by: Jill Bryant | Jan 19, 2006 3:21:47 PM | Permalink

I just found out from a prior post that even the graphic that Ms. Howell links to in her 'clarification' is misleading. Two of the democrats mentioned in the graphic actually received ZERO dollars, and once received ONLY $500.

And for some reason, the graphic WHITES OUT THE ENTRY THAT MENTIONS TOM DELAY!

This is beyond incompetence. Is she posting a graphic given to her by the RNC? Given that it is obviously designed to muddy the issues, it certainly seems to be the case.

Posted by: lib | Jan 19, 2006 3:21:39 PM | Permalink

Disingenuous - there is no word that is better suited to describe your inclinations in the original article and the firestorm that followed.

You are doing one heckuva job there Deborah, keep it up and someday you can work for CNSNews too. It seems more like your cup of tea anyways.

Posted by: kurotenshi | Jan 19, 2006 3:20:12 PM | Permalink

Deborah, what's all that fuss about up there? It took me forever to scroll down across it to get to this comment box. Good luck with that.

What I'm writing about is to ask you if you see Sally Quinn this afternoon, tell her to call me. It's urgent. We need to finish up planning our Spring Cotillion. Thanks. You're a dear. Kiss Kiss

Posted by: Fannie | Jan 19, 2006 3:18:36 PM | Permalink

"There is no practical distinction between Abramhoff personally handing the money to a republican and him writing down specific instructions to tribes on who to contribute to for the Democrats. "

Yes, there is. Sorry. Thanks for playing, buhbye!

Posted by: TardyTurtle | Jan 19, 2006 3:16:05 PM | Permalink

Been following this shameful episode through the various media and I do hope the Post is seriously considering the swift termination of this imbecile...

Posted by: Ratpuppy | Jan 19, 2006 3:09:58 PM | Permalink

hey WP, this is getting embarrassing. seriously.

you need an ombudsman for your ombudsman.

Posted by: eb | Jan 19, 2006 3:08:52 PM | Permalink

So when's the next mass "accidental" deletion of comments, Post? Show us again just how much you care about your readers.

Even though I stopped subscribing when I moved from DC, I would gladly support and participate in a campaign to target the Post's major advertisers--particularly the national ones who Midwesterners like me could credibly threaten with lost business.

Posted by: chicagojason | Jan 19, 2006 3:08:31 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,


You are a disgrace to your paper, to journalism and to the very concept of an ombudsman. It is time for you to resign. Take the pain. Eat the rat.

Posted by: G. Gordon Giddy | Jan 19, 2006 3:05:33 PM | Permalink

Let me give some more contexts on the donations to members of Congress. The following comes from http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_senate_hearings&docid=f:96229.wais

and constitutes remarks of the chairman of the Senate committe investigating Abramoff's theft from the Indians.
There is another element to the Tigua story that I feel
compelled to address. It appears that Mr. Abramoff and Mr.
Scanlon used the good name and reputation of our fellow members
in Congress in their attempts to part the tribe from its money.
You will hear today from witnesses and read from documents
indicating that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon contended that
Senator Dodd and Congressman Ney were enlisted to spearhead
efforts in Congress to provide a legislative fix to the Tigua's
problems.
From what we know, that was not the case. Senator Dodd knew
nothing about the proposed legislative fix, never supported it.
And in fact, we are told that when the idea was proposed to his
senior staff, it was rejected at least three times. Congressman
Ney agreed to support a legislative fix after being told by Mr.
Abramoff that Senator Dodd wanted the language. So there was a
lot of shady things going on.
In short, the evidence demonstrates that Mr. Scanlon and
Mr. Abramoff told their clients that Senator Dodd and
Congressman Ney would push their proposal, knowing full well
that was not the case, in an effort to further persuade the
Tigua Tribe into continuing to pay them more millions of
dollars."

If you were a journalist, you would not write that Democrats received money from Abramoff---in an article about Abramoff's crimes---without noting that there is no evidence that Democrats in general knew of Abramoff's involvement at all.


Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 3:04:02 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, don't let these lefties get you down. You're doing a great job keeping the Post fair and balanced. The truth is always in the middle somewhere, not on the left or the right, and that's the bottom line here. Your job is to find the truth, not to kow-tow to a bunch of pajama clad left-wing jihadists, no matter how many "facts" they throw at you.

Posted by: DougJ | Jan 19, 2006 3:03:31 PM | Permalink

What a completely useless graph the Washington Post put together. First they put all the money that Abramboff, the firm he worked for, and his clients into one pot. How can they honestly do that?

Are they sure a donation made by a client was done in consultation? Do they know that Abramoff made any recommendation to donate to a Democrat?

The graphic completely disguises the fact that Abramoff personally only donated money to GOP politicians and PACs. It is dishonest to say that because these tribes hired Abramoff they some how became part of "Team Abramoff."

By the way who came up with that?

It is a rediculous invention.

Paying Abramoff did not give him control of where these casinos donated their money.

The most reliable indicator of where Abramoff spread his corruption is where he personally spent his money. The chart should have only looked at the pool of money over which Abramoff had exclusive control.

I suppose that wouldn't seem like fair journalism, only reporting Republican corruption, or provide a very compelling pie chart.

Posted by: Jason Rolsen | Jan 19, 2006 3:01:57 PM | Permalink

What is about the anger and fury on this comments. Are you posters still fuming about dan fromkin. Please don't tell me you think democrats are exempt from corruption? If the democrats had been in power that would have done the same thing. Remember 4 out of 5 of the Keating 5 were democrats. Who ever is in power is going to be corrupted by the money.There is no practical distinction between Abramhoff personally handing the money to a republican and him writing down specific instructions to tribes on who to contribute to for the Democrats. You'all are so blinded by rage that you can see the forest throught the trees. Better luck in the Next Election. Ha Ha

Posted by: Right100 | Jan 19, 2006 3:00:45 PM | Permalink

Howell: "A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties."


WHAT??? ARE YOU KIDDING.
So, in your 'opinion' the tribes are agents of Abramoff?? They took marching orders from him???

Really, again I will say it; no wonder the WAPO circulation is going down faster then DARTH CHENEY's.

You are a transparent agent for the GOP. Sickening.


Posted by: sutioc | Jan 19, 2006 2:59:46 PM | Permalink

Those who are willing to take the time can still find the FULL truth that your newspaper fails to deliver.
Abramoff made his living funneling money to the GOP. Period. What part of that does ANYONE disagree with? It is documented, witnessed, and indicted and plea-bargained.
The Post is doing some good work in spite of Woodward, Howell, Schmidt and their ilk. I still have hope for the future of a once fine newspaper.

For Woodward, Schmidt and Howell:
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

Posted by: Michigander | Jan 19, 2006 2:59:40 PM | Permalink

Do tell, what happened to the Deb Howell who was once so worried about doing a good job as a journalist that she cared about details and made corrections for SCHOOL LUNCH LIST errors, which affected, say, 1000s of people?

Now, she doesn't care about political lies and shell games that affect the whole nation. What was her price?

Posted by: WhaHoppa? | Jan 19, 2006 2:59:24 PM | Permalink

Howell wrote: "One of those lists can be viewed in this online graphic, while a graphical summary of giving by Abramoff, his tribal clients and associated lobbyists can be viewed here."

Howell's intellectual dishonesty (and her support of the Post's twisting of this story) is astonishing.

The "online graphic" that she refers to, when compared to actual FEC filings, ( http://www.capitaleye.org/abramoff_donor.asp?Name=Coushatta+Tribe+of+Louisiana )demonstrated precisely the opposite of what Howell claims. The list, which Howell says shows Abramoff "directing contributions" to Democrats, shows that....

1) While Abramoff supposedly "requested" $2000 each for Jean Carnahan and Max Cleland, and $5,000 for Tom Daschle, the tribe in question gave Carnahan and Daschle NOTHING, and Cleland on $500.

2) Every GOP incumbent who was running for re-election that is mentioned on the list got at least $1000 --- the total "contribution" to the GOP names found on this "graphic" exceeded $15,000.

Perhaps more to the point, the Post went out of its way in "photoshopping" the graphic to make it appear that Tom Daschle was a recipient of Coushetta tribe funds "directed" by Abramoff (the FEC filing shows he wasn't), they "whited out" the line directly below Daschle's name -- in which some kind of "contribution" was directed to Tom Delay through the lobbying firm of Williams and Jensen (that is the firm whose address is 1155 21st St NW, #300 see http://www.williamsandjensen.com/principals.asp?id=15 ) -- a firm where Tom Delay's former chief of staff found a very lucrative job the same year that Abramoff is "directing" $20,000 to that firm.

The other graphic, which makes it appear that there was a substantial increase in donations from Native American tribes to Democrats thanks to Jack Abramoff, disguises one key fact --- these tribes had been giving to Democrats for years-- the "increase" in contributions for Democrats is a reflection of Abramoff getting these tribes as clients, NOT an increase in tribal contributions to democrats per se.

Ms Howell needs to explain why she thinks the "graphic" she linked to is evidence that donations were "directed" to Democrats when the FEC filings prove that this document was virtually ignored when it came to Democratic politicians, but GOP incumbents listed on the "graphic" all received funds that year.....

She also needs to explain why she won't admit that she lied about Jack Abramoff giving money to "both parties", and giving money to Harry Reid and Byron Dorgan.

It didn't happen -- and it is inconceivable that Howell could have "done her homework" on the Abramoff scandal and yet have written what she wrote. How has to acknowledge that she was careless and incompetent -- that her sole purpose in writing the original column was to defend "Steno Sue Schmidt" and here efforts to disassociate Tom Delay from Abramoff, and to suck up to the GOP that wants to make the WHOLLY REPUBLICAN Abramoff scandal into something "bipartisan."

Its bullshit, pure and simple. Howell lied, and she continues to lie.

Posted by: paul lukasiak | Jan 19, 2006 2:59:15 PM | Permalink

The issue is not giving money, the issue is bribery.

It's the bribery, stupid!

Now give us a chart showing members of both parties who received the bribes that Abramoff and his (and DeLay's) associates have confessed to.

Posted by: cynical ex-hippie | Jan 19, 2006 2:57:37 PM | Permalink

This needs to be brought up again and not buried deep in a post. Do you get it WaPo?

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

Posted by: california_reality_check | Jan 19, 2006 2:53:38 PM | Permalink

I wish to quote Ms. Howell from the past, i.e. her commencment address at Mackey Hall, University of Colorado.

"I love this business, and frankly I don’t want you to go out there and screw it up. I want you to make it better.
So here’s my advice. My top 10 commandments for you to remember:

10. Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right. Misspelled names and words; wrong addresses; wrong times. Simple stuff. This is not rocket science.

When a job seeker writes me a letter and misspells my name or has my title wrong or a misspelled word or a grammar error, I either ashcan the letter or write and tell them to get a new trade.

Sweat the small stuff. Have you heard the line: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”? Tattoo that inside your left eyelid, and don’t forget it.

9. Don’t be afraid to look dumb and ask stupid questions. Accuracy demands it. I was once sent on two minutes’ notice to interview U.S. Sen. Gene McCarthy on his farm price support bill when I was a reporter in Minneapolis. I didn’t know anything about farm price supports. So I threw myself on the mercy of McCarthy and his aide. First they educated me, then they told me what was important about his bill, and then they told me who to call for criticism.

There was an old, wise judge – J.D. Todd – in Nueces County, Texas, when I was covering cops and courts for a radio and TV station. He could look at me and know whether I understood what was going on or not. He knew I had a noon deadline. As I would leave to call the office, he would say, “Debbie, approach the bench.” And I’d go up and he’d say, “You sure you understood all that?” And if I didn’t, he’d explain it to me.

Cops and politicians aren’t always trying to hide something from you. Let them help you when you need it. And if indeed they are hiding something, someone will know about it and probably will tell you if you keep your ear to the ground.

8. So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you’re wrong. Know when to say you’re sorry. Don’t get defensive about it. Remember, daily journalism is the first rough draft of history. And we never get it all right all the time. That’s why God made corrections. Let me give you two great examples of personal humiliation.

We inadvertently left the school lunch menus out of the Sunday paper when I was editor in St. Paul. We got thousands of calls from angry parents who used that list to decide whether to pack lunches for their kids.

Then we got the snowplowing days screwed up on a snow emergency and caused hundreds of our readers to get parking tickets. Those both caused Page 1 corrections that I personally wrote. Another great moment in American journalism."

Those are words she purports to live by.

TK

Posted by: Terry Karney | Jan 19, 2006 2:52:57 PM | Permalink


Indian tribe money is not implicitly dirty, any more than any of the directed money from any of Abramoff's other clients is dirty money. The reasons the tribal money has a central part in this story is that Abramoff ripped off the tribes.

Politicians may see any Abramoff-related money as radioactive and return it. That's fine. But the tribes were the victims, not the criminals.

Posted by: | Jan 19, 2006 2:51:30 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, one journalist to another, you're just wrong on this. You need to admit it, apologize and move on, because that hole you're still digging is never going to get any shallower.

Posted by: Lex | Jan 19, 2006 2:51:21 PM | Permalink

As a longtime reader of the Washington Post, I am appalled at Deborah Howell's performance as the paper's ombudsman. I am a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I can not imagine an editor at my former paper allowing such poorly researched material to get into print--whether as a news story, opinion column, or God forbid, an ombudsman's essay.

There is NOTHING of an ombudsman in Deborah Howell's approach to her job. An ombudsman's role is to represent the voice of the reader in the paper; to examine the paper's--and its writers'--intentions in the articles that the paper prints. Ms. Howell does none of this; she has a palpable agenda, and her tone is authoritarian (certainly not authoritative). I can only imagine how she came to be hired for this position, but it reflects very poorly on the Post that she has performed in such a careless and biased way so soon in her (one hopes, brief) tenure.

The Post need a REAL ombudsman, not some hack who sees her job as lecturing readers on the errors of their points of view, and whose own point of view is so transparent and partisan.

Posted by: Kevin J-M | Jan 19, 2006 2:51:15 PM | Permalink

This is disgusting. If this is how the ombudsman treats her readers, the people whom she is paid to represent, then it is clear that I have no reason to trust anything that's printed in the Washington Post.

A once-great paper is now a laughingstock.

Here is some simple advice, given freely to Ms. Howell:

Just stop it. Stop it at once. You are not only hurting your newspaper, you are hurting our beloved country with your falsehoods.

You are on the wrong side of history.

Posted by: Mrs. K8 | Jan 19, 2006 2:50:55 PM | Permalink

Once again you show an intent to tar the Dems with the Abramoff brush. There seems to be a goal here to make this bi-partisan, even if just a little, for the sake of 'balance'. Clients of Abramoff were giving to Dems before Jack got the accounts. Look at the money those clients contributed after Jack was in the picture. It was a LOT less, and you can be sure if Abramoff could have got all the money to the GOP, he would have.
The K-Street project existed to build up GOP coffers and deplete the Dems. What part of that does anyone disagree with? Abramoff made his living filling the GOP belly with cash. This has been documented, witnessed, indicted, and plea bargained.
You can't build a permanent GOP majority if the other side has access to as much campaign money as you do. Where did ALL the Abramoff money go? GOP non-profits, GOP PACs, GOP 'charities', GOP travel, GOP campaigns,...etc.

I was dissapointed when I learned the Times had been used plant talking points for the GOP to quote at the rest of the media. I fear that some of that is going on at the Post also. You print a half-truth, or a lie, and the next thing we see is the GOP using your fog as a talking point. The Post still does some fine work in spite of the shills in your midst. I wish I could still trust all of your staff.

For Howell, Woodward and Schimdt:
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776


Posted by: Michigander | Jan 19, 2006 2:49:51 PM | Permalink

Ben Bradlee never allowed such arrogance among WaPo employees.

Bradlee is, of course, a legend.

Why does the current WaPo management allow Ms. Howell's childish rants?

Posted by: Mark Schenectady | Jan 19, 2006 2:47:36 PM | Permalink

If this is how the Post's OMBUDSMAN treats readers, imagine the level of contempt regular White-House bootlickers at the paper (and elsewhere, Tweety) feel for us.

Tell me again why I should read this paper...

Posted by: Just Imagine | Jan 19, 2006 2:43:59 PM | Permalink


Ms. Howell, Learn the law of holes. It is: when in a hole stop digging.

Posted by: Jake | Jan 19, 2006 2:41:20 PM | Permalink

Why was my comment removed?

Pathetic.

Posted by: garyb50 | Jan 19, 2006 2:39:52 PM | Permalink

Methinks we're dealing with someone who cannot admit to a mistake. Which, by the way, sounds very similar to a certain someone now "leading" our country. A mentor perhaps?

Face reality: As a pig with lipstick is still a pig, a blatant lie gussied up with a shiny new verb is still a blatant lie.

An ombudsman nobody believes. Congratulations Washington Post.

Posted by: Rick | Jan 19, 2006 2:39:18 PM | Permalink

"The Post has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with specific directions on what members of Congress were to receive specific amounts."

Forgive me, but at this point I can't trust you on this without verifying that these lists contain specific directions from Abramoff to the tribes. And that is just the beginning of the inquiry.

Posted by: Disillusioned Post Reader | Jan 19, 2006 2:37:06 PM | Permalink

It seems to me that WaPo is deleteing some posts even now.

The paper still doen't get it.

If you want to have a web presence and attract readers, do not engage in censure. The readers are intelligent enough to discriminate between posts that are relevant and the ones that are not.

In any case you should publish objective guidelines for the posters if you want to delete the posts that do not satisfy your criteria of publishability.

Posted by: lib | Jan 19, 2006 2:35:19 PM | Permalink

Are you such a jounalist that you haven't even notice that the contributions Abramoff Directs are all to republicans? don't you think this is something your readers deserve to know? so which is it, are you blatently dishonest or merely supremely incompetant?

Posted by: Laura McClendon | Jan 19, 2006 2:29:15 PM | Permalink


Those patched together graphics are pathetic, and they don't prove anything.

Where is an email or a memo from Abramoff that "directs" the tribes to donate?

WHERE IS YOUR EVIDENCE ???

Produce the evidence or retract your statements.

At this point Ms. Howell and the Washington Post have completely lost their credibility. Ms. Howell may never regain hers.

Posted by: James | Jan 19, 2006 2:26:10 PM | Permalink

Dear Ms. Howell--

First, permit me to say thank you for offering a posted response. It is the first time, to my knowledge, that you have engaged in a public dialog with Post readers in any way. Although I do not find your response to be persuasive or to put to rest the serious concerns that have been raised by so many, I would encourage you to find a way to pursue a regular means of conversation with Post readers.

Your first several columns have kicked up quite a few dust storms. There are similar themes in the complaints about all of them: you are committing factual errors; you are choosing topics that do not reflect priority concerms of readers; you seem to believe that there is no objective truth about anything, just charges from "both sides," and in any case that the Post's writers are under no obligation to find that truth; and you seem all too accepting of complaints about perceived "liberal bias."

May I respectfully suggest that a little retrospection is in order here. You are doing something wrong and it would seem appropriate for you to think about what you can do better. That, rather than the legalistic defense you gave us is what I would have appreciated more from you.

Assuming your paymasters at the Post see fit to continue your employment despite the evident dissatisfaction of your "clients," I would hope you will put up a web log, as Bernard Calame of the Times has done, to continue to publicly respond to readers, and that, moreover, you will think about all this before you put pen to paper on your next column.

Sincerely,

CityGirl

Posted by: | Jan 19, 2006 2:25:05 PM | Permalink

So Indian tribes are merely agents of Jack Abramoff? He has the power to direct them to do things?

Posted by: Howell is a GOP shill | Jan 19, 2006 2:24:53 PM | Permalink

Dear Ms. Howell,

May I call you "Debbie?" Thanks, hon.

Debbie, my own fact-checker spent less than five minutes and found a couple of quotes from dear old Jack Abramoff that I believe you may be able to incorporate into your defense as you respond to all these frivolous comments (or should that word be "scurrilous?"). Hmmm. I must ask my fact-checker to look that up...

"It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently."

"It was my role to push the Republicans on K Street to be more helpful to the conservative movement."

Now, correct me if I'm wrong Debbie, but I believe by saying what Jack said in those quotes, I'm sure it was his intent to be an equal opportunity contributor, to Republicans and Democrats alike.

Do you follow me? I hope so. It's making me cry over some of these comments about you and I want you to start defending yourself. I hope these quotes help you in that regard.

Sincerely,

Posted by: Beulah | Jan 19, 2006 2:24:30 PM | Permalink

"A better way to have said" what is in fact misleading and wrong in both instances of Mrs. Howell's fumblings is this bit of essential, truthful reporting from Bloomberg on December 21, rather than the semantics dance she seems compelled to perform: "Abramoff faces allegations that he bilked the casino-owning tribes out of millions of dollars and attempted to corrupt public officials. E-mails released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee during a year of hearings offer evidence that he directed the tribes to donate funds to specific lawmakers. Abramoff's tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past." http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aBTFEkGJUbSI&refer=us#

Posted by: Jack Gladney, Illinois | Jan 19, 2006 2:24:22 PM | Permalink

This
doesn't seem that complex. There is one statement in the ombudsman's original column, another in her clarification, and the flap with MediaMatters.

The ombudsman wrote Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

You wrote it, so how it's worded is not only the meaning, it's solely your responsibility. It isn't true. He gave more than $127,000 to Republicans, and none to Democrats. Was this something you knew, but didn't consider important? Or was this something you didn't know?

You tried to clarify your original error by saying "A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff 'directed' contributions to both parties."

But you there is no "better way" to say something false.

What you said in the first place was WRONG -- not something that would have been true if you'd said it some other way. You said Abramoff made contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. He did not.

Say so.

It is not clear what you meant by "directed". There is a question of fact involved. Make it central -- did Abramoff's clients contribute to Democrats BEFORE they hired him? If they did, it is false to say that contributions to Democrats were at Abramoff's "direction".

He could not have been 'directing' what they did BEFORE they hired him. So the only 'direction' he could have given regarding contributions to Democrats would have been to maintain prior levels, increase or decrease them. Which was it?

Write your stuff by stating plain facts, please.

Finally: I read Media Matters and your reply. They called you on a one-sided approach that was also factually wrong.

You replied that the Post's reporting wasn't exactly wrong, because it was necessary to include both sides. If that commonplace had been a sound defense of the Post's reporting, it would have been sufficient.

But they pointed out that the original passage did NOT include both sides, which you had not even addressed when you announced you wouldn't respond further to Media Matters.

The facts are simple: Abramoff contributed only to Republicans. His clients had been contributing to Democrats before they hired him, and their contributions to Democrats went down (and up, to Republicans) after they hired him. You flat out mis-stated the first, and your writing continues to be misleading on the second.

The original reporting on this did NOT include the simple factual observation that the whole purpose of the K Street project was to skew all lobbying, campaign contributions and policymaking toward Republicans and Republican clients.

If someone thinks there is another side to that factual reporting, it can be tested by the facts which you did not print, on which your writing is misleading. It is consistent with both the facts and the K Street project that Abramoff would have (as he did) contribute only to Republicans and directed his clients TO CONTRIBUTE LESS to Democrats than they had before: isn't that the only way to make your misleading statement about what Abramoff "directed" into an accurate one?

So, why didn't you write to be accurate?

If the Post's ombudsman had scrupulously written ONLY the facts, none of this flap would have been necessary.

So -- what are you going to do about it now?

Posted by: theAmericanist | Jan 19, 2006 2:24:05 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell... you need to stop digging that hole, lest you wind up as deep as the rest of the RNC when it comes to credibly addressing this important Republican scandal.

Let me dorect you to the national review Online. I'm sure you know if it. From there I quote Rick Lowry's op-ed of January 10th:

"The GOP now craves such bipartisan cover in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Republicans trumpet every Democratic connection to Abramoff in the hope that something resonates. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), took more than $60,000 from Abramoff clients! North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan used Abramoff's skybox! It is true that any Washington influence peddler is going to spread cash and favors as widely as possible, and 210 members of Congress have received Abramoff-connected dollars. But this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.

Abramoff is a Republican who worked closely with two of the country's most prominent conservative activists, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Top aides to the most important Republican in Congress, Tom DeLay (R., Tex.) were party to his sleazy schemes. The only people referred to directly in Abramoff's recent plea agreement are a Republican congressmen and two former Republican congressional aides. The GOP members can make a case that the scandal reflects more the way Washington works than the unique perfidy of their party, but even this is self-defeating, since Republicans run Washington.

Republicans must take the scandal seriously and work to clean up in its wake. The first step was the permanent ouster of Tom DeLay as House Republican majority leader, a recognition that he is unfit to lead as long as he is underneath the Abramoff cloud.

The behavior of the right in this matter contrasts sharply with the left's lickspittle loyalty to Bill Clinton, whose maintenance in power many liberals put above any of their principles. Next, Republicans will have to show they can again embrace the spirit of reform that swept them to power in 1994."


http://www.nationalreview.com/lowry/lowry200601100816.asp

Posted by: Dallas Reality Bites | Jan 19, 2006 2:20:45 PM | Permalink

This is amazing. Howell defends herself by citing a Republican talking point which is supported by no evidence whatsoever. If WaPo believes that this hack is representing the interests of its readers, then there really is no reason to believe a word in this rag. What a waste.

Posted by: Michael | Jan 19, 2006 2:20:24 PM | Permalink

This point bears repetition...

"The evidence shows that Abramoff directed his clients to REDUCE their donations to Democrats when he came to represent them. How this taints Democrats is beyond me."

Something that WaPo editors and writers should take note of.

Posted by: TimW | Jan 19, 2006 2:19:59 PM | Permalink

Post Reader,
Sure, context tells you alot.
The context of Howell's remarks about Democrats receiving "Abramoff money" was that she said there would be stories which tarred the Dems in the future. In addition, she singled out Dorgan and Reid as recipients of "Abramoff money".

Compare what she wrote to the post from JMM and you see the difference between factual reporting and intentional misrepresentation.

Oh, and the reason Marshall had to write his post on the meaning of "Abramoff money" was because of the intentional obfuscation which the WaPo and other outlets have been promulgating on this matter.

Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 2:18:53 PM | Permalink

I'm not into bashing anyone right now. I just think it is time to step back and understand the bigger picture which includes as a primary point the actions and motives of Jack Abramoff.

Everyone has friends. Many of my friends give money to Democrats, and many give money to Republicans. They're still my friends.

However, if I had an agenda of destroying a political party and I were in a position to do it through illegal means, and then I did a lot towards that goal through illegal means, I would expect that the focus would be on my motives and my actions. What my friends do with their money would be entirely irrelevant unless they were also working towards my goal.

What bothers me here is that the focus should not be on side stories that have minimal, if any, meaning in the context of the big picture.

Getting back to Ms. Howell's comments, it is of my opinion that she is focusing on the side stuff which has little or no value in the context of the big picture.

I guess if I were an ombudsman and did that, I would expect to hear from a lot of angry readers as well.

Posted by: JP | Jan 19, 2006 2:17:39 PM | Permalink

With respect to the defense of Ms. Howell's characterization of the Abramoff/Delay scandal as somehow also impacting Democrats I must say: so what?

The Abramoff/Delay corruption scandal isn't about Abramoff bribing every official in Congress. It is about a specific pattern of bribery and money laundering involving his Indian Clients in direct exchange for official governmental favors performed by Republican officials. No one anywhere has any evidence that this uber-Republican lobbyist engaged in that sort of money exchange with any Democrat in Congress at any point in time! So the nonchalant inclusion of Democrats who happened to have received some campaign contributions (none of which anyone has initmated were in any way involved in the Republican corruption scheme)is a totally irrelevant point. Sure, Republican operatives will try and confuse the issue by making this claim, but responsible and intelligent people expect "journalists" to be more responsible, more savvy and more discerning than to fall for such cheap and FALSE characterizations. Falling for this kind of garbage is bad enough, but then trying to make excuses for it only compounds the problem.

The Abramoff/Delay corruption scandal is a Republican scandal through and through. Period. Why? Because the corrupt officials of the Republican party control every branch of government at the Federal level and thus Democrats have no power to deliver the quid pro quo favors Abramoff sought. This scandal is huge and is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the massive Republican corruption in Washington that has been growing for years now. Delay and Abramoff were at the heart of this corrupt political machine, but despite the indictments of both the machine continues to operate with little or no hindrance and certainly no hindrance at all from the likes of the Washington Post's ombudsman who seems to feel her job is to be an apologist for the corrupt powers that be. Nothing ever approaching this level of corruption happened during Democratic control of the congress since World War II and probably before. Nonetheless, people like our ombudsman simply cannot bring themselves to point this out or recognize it and lord knows what it will take for her and the many others of the pampered Washington press corps to start doing their jobs instead of protecting their powerful pals.

Posted by: Lee B. | Jan 19, 2006 2:17:09 PM | Permalink

Do you remember making this statement, Ms. Howell?

"8. So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you’re wrong. Know when to say you’re sorry. Don’t get defensive about it."

Please take this to heart. Your whole tenure as Post Ombudsman has been characterized by a culture of defensiveness.

Your mistakes were no minor deficiency in wording. You made false statements that have no doubt misled many Post readers of your Sunday column.

Posted by: Concerned Post Reader | Jan 19, 2006 2:16:38 PM | Permalink


A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "told his clients that Democrats were just as crooked as Republicans, so the clients should make" contributions to both parties.

It's all there, in the graphic.

Now, on to my next column, where I will criticize the Post not for failing to cover the demotion of the U.S. prosecutor investigating Abramoff's dealings in Guam, but for failing to mention that Decmocrats stood by while a U.S. prosecutor was pulled off an investigation in Guam.

/phony ombudsman

Posted by: Ottnott | Jan 19, 2006 2:16:27 PM | Permalink

Heckuva job Debby!

Posted by: corky | Jan 19, 2006 2:15:43 PM | Permalink

Time for another blogger ethics panel

Posted by: | Jan 19, 2006 2:15:27 PM | Permalink

At least we still have the internet!

Posted by: corky | Jan 19, 2006 2:14:32 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, do you recognize these words?:
"Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right."

http://tinyurl.com/danch is just in case you can't recall who it was that said those words.

Posted by: Ashley Brooks | Jan 19, 2006 2:13:48 PM | Permalink

Here's what Bloomberg ( http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aBTFEkGJUbSI&refer=us# ) reported a month ago:

"Abramoff faces allegations that he bilked the casino-owning tribes out of millions of dollars and attempted to corrupt public officials. E-mails released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee during a year of hearings offer evidence that he directed the tribes to donate funds to specific lawmakers.

Abramoff's tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past."

Ms. Howell seems to have overlooked that last sentence, in particular the words "continued to," "even after," and "in smaller percentages." Fine journalamist she is.

Posted by: JeffCO | Jan 19, 2006 2:13:03 PM | Permalink

Celo - Exactly so. Full circle now. Heck of a job. Give her a raise AND the Medal of Freedom.

Posted by: california_reality_check | Jan 19, 2006 2:12:31 PM | Permalink

Armstrong Williams for Washington Post omsbudsman!

Posted by: corky | Jan 19, 2006 2:11:30 PM | Permalink

Mrs. Howell,

How is it that you haven't issued a correction to your inaccurate statement? I'm a very rational and pragmatic person, and I don't get it. At the very least you are losing your credibility as an ombudsman. It's not just the political crazies on either side of the debate that your losing.. it's normal, middle-of-the-road people like me.

Abramoff didn't give money to Democrats... period. Muddying the waters in this respect is simply dishonest. And in not telling the story accurately, you are failing at your job. Where is the evidence that Abramoff "directed" his tribal clients to pay DEMOCRATS? Where is your proof? What is your source?

Your credibility is quickly blowing away.

Posted by: TimW | Jan 19, 2006 2:11:19 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,

Why don't you write a note saying you've heard not only from critical readers who think you're a bought-and-sold GOP conduit, but also from readers who think you're practicing responsible journalism.

You can say the proportions were about equal.

Just think: It'll be just like telling the Abramoff story all over again.

Posted by: LMAO | Jan 19, 2006 2:10:21 PM | Permalink

Do "liberals" not have better things to do? Is smug, uninformed infantilism the substitute du jour for enlightened activism these days? Is there a better way to draw more public attention to Democratic entanglements with "Abramoff money?"

It was perfectly clear to Josh Marshall, for example, that "general" discussions of "Abramoff money", however imprecise or problematic, refer less to "personal contributions from Abramoff" than campaign "contributions from entities [Abramoff] worked for as a lobbyist."

Also apparent to Marshall: "We know from some of the publicly released emails, that Abramoff in many cases used his clients' bank accounts very much as if they were his own, often giving them specific amounts and recipients for political contributions."

So why isn't it "clearer" to hysterics foaming to no avail? Or are "liberals" REALLY that dumb?

More Marshall -

When you hear about Republicans and Democrats getting 'Abramoff money' what's being talked about aren't personal contributions from Abramoff but contributions from entities he worked for as a lobbyist. So, for instance, Abramoff lobbies for Indian tribe X. Indian tribe X contributes to politician Y. Hence, politician Y got 'Abramoff money'.

Now, is that logic fair? Is that 'Abramoff money'?

As a political matter, it probably makes sense now for every pol to unload that money -- a conclusion most of them, as you can see, are coming to on their own. On the merits, though, it's more difficult to make generalizations.

We know from some of the publicly released emails, that Abramoff in many cases used his clients' bank accounts very much as if they were his own, often giving them specific amounts and recipients for political contributions. In many cases, too, he had them make donations that had little or nothing to do with their own interests (defined in lobbying terms). For instance, what interest did a couple of Abramoff tribe clients have giving money to the New Hampshire Republican party a day or two before they pulled their phone-jamming scam?

There are other cases though where a given politician was associated with Indian rights issues either before Abramoff came on the scene or because of the state or district they represent. There are members of Congress in both parties who fall into that category and are, to some extent, being unfairly tarred.

For these reasons, pure dollar amounts can't tell the whole story without getting more deeply into the context.

[ http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007441.php ]

Posted by: Post Reader | Jan 19, 2006 2:09:30 PM | Permalink


A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "begged his clients to make" contributions to both parties.

No, I don't have any evidence that Abramoff did that, but did you see the shiny graphic I linked to?
/phony ombudsman

Posted by: Ottnott | Jan 19, 2006 2:06:46 PM | Permalink

Howell: "A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties."

Really? Why would that be a "better" way? Have you seen any direct evidence that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties? I don't think that you have. In fact, the records show that Abramoff's clients contributed LESS to Democrats after they became his clients. And you also seem to miss that a lot of Abramoff's clients (like the Indian tribes in the gambling biz) already had longstanding relationships with Democrats who had worked on their behalf in years past and issues present.

Saying "Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties" is unsupported and shows a real lack of character on your part. Why not just own up and say "I was wrong" instead of all this twisting to try to CYA?


Howell: "While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties."

Really? Show me the evidence for that. Show me the evidence that contradicts the fact (FACT!) that Indian tribes that becamse Abramoff clients donated less money to Democrats after he began to represent them than before.

You know what else? There's a world of difference between perfectly legal campaign contributions (no matter who directed them) and criminal activity to which Abramoff has pleaded guilty. You're going out of your way to equate legal activity by Democrats with criminal acivity by Abramoff and Republicans. There is no way in hell that you're that dumb. That only leaves me to choose between utter incompetence or partisan shill. Which is it?

Posted by: Roman Berry | Jan 19, 2006 2:06:05 PM | Permalink

Celo,
That's a very interesting catch.
Remember what we know of Judy Miller: she was fed propaganda which the NYtimes put on the front page, and then the White House would cite the NYtimes to complete the "alley-oop"
play.

This is very suspicious.

Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 2:05:30 PM | Permalink

You want to know why people are so upset at your incompetence? This is what Scott McClellan (SM) said today on the subject:

(SM): Like I said, people are insinuating things based on no evidence whatsoever. And remember, this is a gentleman who contributed, either through himself or through his clients, to both Democrats and Republicans. This was not --

(Q): Not many Democrats.

(SM): Oh, there's significant amount, if you look at some of the media reports, that has been contributed by his clients to Democrats.

See that?!?!? You are now responsible for this lie.

Posted by: celo | Jan 19, 2006 2:03:18 PM | Permalink

This response is simply stunning, Ms. Howell. You must be joking. Do you even follow what is going in Washington? Do the names Norquist, Reed and Delay mean anything to you? They are Republican operatives that came to Washington to launch a well-recognized decades-long campaign to drive Democrats from public life. That is what this story is about. That is the context that is important here. How on Earth can you be missing this bigger picture? You must understand this back story to understand why your initial statement and current statement is so wrong and misguided. You are simply ignoring the bigger issue here and missing the point of the entire scandal. That you do so is simply a disgrace to your paper and the field of journalism.

Posted by: Hank Essay | Jan 19, 2006 2:02:49 PM | Permalink


"directed"?

WTF, Deborah?

Posted by: Ottnott | Jan 19, 2006 1:59:49 PM | Permalink

Hey, What's this about Okrent getting payola after shilling for the GOP---link?

Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 1:59:48 PM | Permalink

So much for professionalism! Your standards are sooo good! I've decided to drop the Post for the Washington Times, at least I'll be assured on what I'm getting into. LOL, El Loco

Posted by: el loco | Jan 19, 2006 1:59:30 PM | Permalink

Retraction, or resignation.
The ethics of true journalism demand one or the other.
I, for one, have a preference...

Posted by: Tim@Philadelphia | Jan 19, 2006 1:53:20 PM | Permalink

Hope that Dan Froomkin is really enjoying this.

Howell and Harris conspired to try to get rid of his column, putting out bizarre arguments that readers would somehow be mislead.

They got nailed.

Now, after receiving her CD from Phelps, a CD that only plays once before self-destructing, she learned of her most recent mission: lie and obfuscate abouth the Abramoff scandal

Now, she's been nailed again, even worse, and emergency calls for assistance have been placed to her allies, Kurtz, Willis and Schmidt

Just eat it up, Dan, there is a G-d, after all, but, be careful, don't get so engrossed reading all these posts that you don't have time to do your job

Posted by: Richard Estes | Jan 19, 2006 1:53:00 PM | Permalink

I'm just gonna start calling Howell "Mrs. Daniel Okrent" and get the obvious out of the way.

Same thin skin, same complete lack of respect for the people she's supposed to be representing, same unending right-wing spin, not matter how ludicrous it makes her look.

Same big fat paycheck with a right-wing front group when she finally quits - if she's not getting it "under the table" now.

You have no credibility left, lady - and neither does the Post.

Posted by: dave | Jan 19, 2006 1:52:08 PM | Permalink

You'll have to forgive us for our angry comments, but we thought you were the ombudsman for the readers of the Washington Post, not the RNC.

That having been cleared up: You're doing a heckuva job, Debbie!

Posted by: ABBinMI | Jan 19, 2006 1:50:15 PM | Permalink

Dear Ms. Howells -- I do not assume you are a dishonest person. But I feel you still are not addressing the main point others are making.

re today’s WaPo article on the Dem’s reform plans:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/18/AR2006011801760.html


“So far, the scandal has had a distinctly Republican focus. The GOP has received nearly two-thirds of the campaign donations from Abramoff's lobbying team and Indian tribal clients, and 100 percent of his personal donations. Federal prosecutors looking into the Abramoff case have so far implicated only a Republican lawmaker, a Bush administration procurement official and GOP aides in charging documents.”

Fair enough, but the article then proceeds to repeat the Republican talking points about campaign donations accepted by Dems, but the article doesn’t add, which it should have done, that despite these attempts to portray this as a “bipartisan scandal” nothing (beyond the single Louisiana Dem) has been shown to be unethical or illegal about any of these donations to the Dems listed in the article. Moreover, while the article lists each of the supposedly suspicious donations to Dems, it does not provide a similar exhaustive list for Republicans, which the reporters should know would be substantially longer and be for substantially larger amounts. These facts have been reported elsewhere, but the Post ignores them. So again, the Post’s coverage remains biased to shield Republicans from full disclosure about the profoundly Republic nature of this scandal.

If the Post concludes that nothing has been proved regarding these far more numerous Republicans wrt to their accepting contributions, and therefore this information should not be in the article, then the same standard should apply to the Democrats. If Ms. Howells wants Post reporters to be fair to both sides, than she needs to examine and report on these obvious and continuing examples of imbalance and bias.

Please do your job.

Posted by: John Chandley | Jan 19, 2006 1:42:52 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, I look forward to the Washington Post printing a pie chart of this spreadsheet:
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/washington-post-ombudsman-repeats-lie.html

When one sees $172,933 contributed to Republicans and $0 contributed to Democrats, one can reasonably conclude "the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties" requires a full retraction.

As an ombudsman, does your job not entail representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens?

Please read the comments above and the comments to follow with the interests of the Washington Post's readship in mind.


Posted by: bartkid | Jan 19, 2006 1:42:10 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, its good to see that you are willing to respond to you readers. We were a little worried about you for a few days.

Beyond the obvious semantic distinctions that you point out, the real question here is was there a quid pro quo.

We're not so naive to think that lobbyists don't try to influence both sides of the aisle. Perhaps the story that needs to be written is how our elected reps responded after they received the money.

There's a ocean of difference between whether John Cornyn helped one tribe keep another from opening a casino and Patty Murray allocated federal funds for a tribal health clinic.

That's the story I'd like to see.

Posted by: Jim in Redmond | Jan 19, 2006 1:38:30 PM | Permalink

Another day has gone by, and still no retraction from Deborah Howell and the WaPoo! Unbelievable!

And instead of issuing a retraction, you trot out more GOP propaganda! My god woman, do you have no shame at all?

Here are some relevant quotes about this whole situation:

"Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right. Misspelled names and words; wrong addresses; wrong times. Simple stuff. This is not rocket science."

"So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you’re wrong. Know when to say you’re sorry. Don’t get defensive about it. Remember, daily journalism is the first rough draft of history. And we never get it all right all the time. That’s why God made corrections."

Who spoke these words of wisdom? Why my goodness, it was Deborah Howell!

1. Issue a retraction

2. Issue a correction

3. Issue an apology for refusing to do this for so long.

4. Fire Deborah Howell.

Posted by: Kurt | Jan 19, 2006 1:38:25 PM | Permalink

This response is deeply disappointing, especially from my hometown paper. I hope Ms. Howell will either begin to act as the ombudsman of the paper in a serious way or else resign.

Posted by: mcg | Jan 19, 2006 1:32:36 PM | Permalink

From the Washington Post Co web site.

2001 - Katharine Graham died on July 17 at the age of 84.

I am thankful she is not here to see this.

Posted by: california_reality_check | Jan 19, 2006 1:31:25 PM | Permalink

"We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." Orwell ---
This comment thread looks like a battlefield.
You should admit you are wrong, Mrs. Howell, and move on instead of impudently twisting the facts.
Barring an admission and retraction the Post should fire Mrs. Howell and hire someone with a clue.
sorry lovey, but you are trying to cover a lie with a lie. Why? time to go now.

Posted by: warbly | Jan 19, 2006 1:31:16 PM | Permalink

Mrs. Howell, does the RNC just leave plain brown envelopes stuffed with cash on your doorstep, or is there an offshore account involved? I'm really curious how they pay you off to lie and obfuscate. Or can you be bought off for just not being scowled at by Republicans at D.C. dinner parties?

If you think that you don't need credibility in order to stay in your position, there are countless unwashed masses who will work tirelessly to prove you wrong. I would say "for shame," but in your case, it's already proven to be a waste of breath.

Posted by: wapo_has_no_clothes | Jan 19, 2006 1:28:50 PM | Permalink

Howell's response is lame. She still doesn't get it. I’m going to make this easy for her ...

Let’s say Howell forms the "We're Not Responsible, But Let's Get Rich Schemers, Inc." Her job as director is to provide financial guidance and to make investments for her clients. She has many associates who work with her, and are in on what end up being ponzi-like scheme(s). She hands out money (or "returns") to friendly “investors” and clients she likes. Because she likes these guys, she also tells them about her Ponzi scheme(s). Many knew about it before, but didn’t care about the cheating because they’re at the front end of making money. And besides, they can claim a degree of “plausible deniability” if caught. Howell makes a bundle and becomes rich and powerful.

As the cash roles in from other sources, Howell also encourages associates to dole out some (but only a little) money to a smaller group of investors and clients – who she doesn’t particularly care for, and are in the dark. Howell does this to show she can work with a broad group of clients and investors. Howell gets busted for the scheme. The insiders start to abandon her like rats on a sinking ship.

Query: Are the investors and clients who received money from Howell's "associates" - but were left out of the Ponzi scheme - equally to blame for the sins of Howell's cheating company?

Posted by: Mark in California | Jan 19, 2006 1:23:47 PM | Permalink

Sean, you mean "PWNED" not just "owned"!

Posted by: Flappy | Jan 19, 2006 1:23:45 PM | Permalink

Instead of showing the readers the graphic on where Indian money went, why not show us a graphic of what Jack was doing with his personal checkbook when it comes to political contributions?

Would it be inconvenient for Ms. Howell and the Post to show that Jack's personal giving was a big fat zero? A donut hole?

Posted by: Ben | Jan 19, 2006 1:23:21 PM | Permalink

Abramoff directed his Native American clients to GIVE LESS MONEY TO DEMOCRATS than they had before. Tribes who consulted with Abramoff changed their contribution patterns, INCREASING CONTRIBUTIONS TO REPUBLICANS and DECREASING CONTRIBUTIONS to Democrats.

Posted by: Wrong | Jan 19, 2006 1:22:22 PM | Permalink


"A better way to have said it"?

That's your reponse?

The point is, A better way to have said it, would be TO NOT SAY ANYTHING AT ALL, especially if its a lie and misleading.

Your premise is all wrong, and that's the problem.

Posted by: johnnyr | Jan 19, 2006 1:22:16 PM | Permalink

OK, let's say that Abramoff did direct some tribes to make contribution to Democratic Congressman. What laws or ethics rules were broken by Democrats for receiving these contributions? None that I know of. Which Democrats facilitated special legislative favors on their behalf as a result? Considering that Democrats have no power to do anything in the House and little clout in the Senate, the answer is likely to be "nothing." If the Post has proof of this, then let's see it. Otherwise, stop the nonsensical portrayal of this as a bipartisan scandal.

Posted by: Roy G. Biv | Jan 19, 2006 1:21:45 PM | Permalink

Fine,
Now, if you and whoever hired you will just resign in disgrace, we can start again the search for someone to attempt the reassembly the WaPos former credibility. Unlike you, such persons could start the reassembly with the few remaining tattered remnants of said credibility instead of scattering them further to the winds... or the dumpsters.
Ever So Sincerely,
Michael D. Adams
Atlanta

Posted by: Michael D. Adams | Jan 19, 2006 1:20:54 PM | Permalink

No, Ms. Howell, you are STILL wrong.

Jack Abramoff did not donate money to Democrats. PERIOD. He did not do it directly, and he did not do it INdirectly. In fact, his entire reason for being in Washington in the first place was to destroy Democrats. To say anything else is to deliberately misrepresent what Abramoff did -- and the fact is, by misrepresenting Abramoff's donations, you aid and abet those who wish to make Americans think Abramoff donated to both parties.

You now have TWO inaccurate statements to correct, and you should do so IMMEDIATELY and PUBLICALLY.

Posted by: Joseph Fedoro | Jan 19, 2006 1:20:03 PM | Permalink

Ms Howell:
You mis-stated the facts before. Why not just retract the comment instead of digging yourself in deeper? Now you say that Abramoff "directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties."

Where is your evidence for this assertion? The fact that some Indian tribes contributed money to Democrats and these Indian tribes also had dealings with Abramoff in no way means that Abramoff "directed" any contributions to Democrats.

Now you've got two retractions to make! Please do so "with all deliberate speed!"

Posted by: sonate | Jan 19, 2006 1:18:42 PM | Permalink

Why don't you just report the facts as you know them? The facts appear to be that (1) Abramoff made numerous donations to Republicans, and none to Democrats, and (2) clients of Abramoff have given money to both parties, but it is unclear whether such money was directed by Abramoff or not.

Instead of reporting the facts, you simply lump all the contributions together and claim they were all "directed" by Abramoff. However there appears to be no factual basis for this statement, at least as regards category (2) above. You have thus only served to confuse the issue. This is quite a disappointing exercise of journalism. Especially coming from an ombudsman, I expected better.

Posted by: Michael | Jan 19, 2006 1:17:52 PM | Permalink

I want to know why Tom DeLay's name is "Whited Out" from the list you reference at (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2006/01/18/GR2006011801026.html) as"this online graphic" at the bottom of the list. If you are trying to get rid of this evidence, you will have to do a better job, including erasing the reference to DeLay's name in the right-hand column.

Please, if you're going to censor for political reasons, at least censor for political reasons well.

Oh, and please read up on exactly what the role of an "ombudsman" is supposed to be. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Posted by: Stephen Bent | Jan 19, 2006 1:15:57 PM | Permalink

Unbelievable!!

Readers point out a huge problem with your previous work and you try to make the problem go away by making another huge error.

I hope your days are numbered there in your cozy little office but given it's the Post one suspects they are not.

Ms. Howell you have no way of knowing whether Jack Abramoff did or didn't direct clients' money to Democrats. Until someone actually does some legitimate well-sourced reporting about whether he did, you ought to keep quiet. Please print retractions for each of your mistatements.

Heckuva job, Debbie!

Posted by: ftm | Jan 19, 2006 1:15:32 PM | Permalink

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."

John Adams, 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,' December 1770

Posted by: california_reality_check | Jan 19, 2006 1:14:50 PM | Permalink

So we're supposed to believe that the Indian tribes couldn't do any thinking for themselves, and made every contribution based on "direction" from Abramoff.

But we also know these tribes gave LESS to democrats after hiring Abramoff.

That's a pickle...

Wait! I have an idea, Lovey!

Tell your readers that the tribes gave the democrats some kind of super-dollars which are far more powerful than regular dollars!

We'll weasel our way out of this one yet!

Posted by: Helpful Post Staffer | Jan 19, 2006 1:14:11 PM | Permalink

Does flat-out lying and refusing to issue retractions affect the public perception of the value of your brand?

The people who watch the bottom line might want to know:

>>>The Washington Post Company

1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20071
202.334.6000
TWPCoReply@washpost.com

Ann McDaniel
Vice President

Rima Calderon
Director - Corporate Communications

>>>Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

P.O. Box 17370
Arlington, VA 22216
703.469.2500

Tim Ruder
Vice President - Marketing


>>>The Washington Post

1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20071
202.334.6000

Eric Grant
Director of Public Relations and Contributions

Lisa Bolton
Public Relations Manager

Posted by: Shystee | Jan 19, 2006 1:12:25 PM | Permalink

Upon what do you base your allegation that Abramoff directed his clients to contribute to Democrats? In fact, his clients have reduced their contributions to Democrats.

Does the post need an ombudsman for the ombudsman?

Posted by: dave in illinois | Jan 19, 2006 1:11:31 PM | Permalink

Again, intellectual dishonest is Ms. Howell's game. In her post, Howell ties every contribution by an Abramoff client to wrongdoing. This scandal is not about just contributions. It's about influence for sale (actually, it's "bribery" according to the indictments), and about Abramoff abusing his clients by using them as a personal ATM to fund his Republican cronies regardless of their connection to the clients' interests. There is no evidence or allegation that Abramoff bought influence or funneled money to any Democrat. Ms. Howell's refusal to recognize this--again--is a complete discredit to the Post and to American journalism as a whole. She is showing herself to be the epitome of the mainstream press' abandonment of its role as the Fourth Estate.

Posted by: Drew | Jan 19, 2006 1:09:24 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell also needs to apologize to the readers for calling them 'angry' as if the concerns that they so emphatically expressed were based on emotion rather than on a rational analysis of her article.

I thought we are long past the days when, for example, women were called 'hysterical' for complaining about all and sundry humilities that they had to suffer.

Posted by: lib | Jan 19, 2006 1:09:12 PM | Permalink

When you've dug yourself into a hole, it's a good idea to stop digging.

Ms. Howell your lack of knowledge and refusal to see the facts of the matter is breathtaking in scope. As you said, "Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing."

I suggest you also take your own advice and get a new trade.

Posted by: Corinne | Jan 19, 2006 1:07:36 PM | Permalink

Atrios has this link to a fine commencement address by Ms Howell. Maybe she should read it again, and consider how it applies to this situation.

An excerpt from Atrios's excerpt:

Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right. Misspelled names and words; wrong addresses; wrong times. Simple stuff. This is not rocket science.

Posted by: Jay | Jan 19, 2006 1:06:45 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,

Your failure to print a direct retraction of your completely false statement is highly unprofessional.

"For you to report on criminal activity of Republicans, and Democrats accepting legal campaign contributions ---not from Abramoff---side by side is the worst sort of journalism."

Ah, but the sort with which Mr. Hearst would have been sooo pleased.

Posted by: clare boothe lucid | Jan 19, 2006 1:05:28 PM | Permalink

... And, while it is almost certainly a red-herring, what about the proof that donations received by Democrats from Indian tribes were made BECAUSE Abramoff directed them to be made?

Philosophically, what good is your "news" if it is 1)Incorrect and 2) False. More like outdated and erroneous gossip, which is why I don't read your paper.

Posted by: decon2 | Jan 19, 2006 1:04:47 PM | Permalink

Deborah, you made a very specific charge in your previous column. Now, instead of admitting the mistake, you're rationalizing it. Do you honestly expect your readers to buy what amounts to an excuse instead of an apology?

As an ombudsman, you are now officially useless to the readers you purport to serve.

Posted by: mike innocenzi | Jan 19, 2006 1:04:20 PM | Permalink

By continuing to give cover to the Republican Party on the Abramoff scandal by making intentionally misleading and unsupported statements to muddy the truth, Deborah Howell and the Washington Post are making a strong statement. That statement is that not only do they endorse those responsible for the corruption in Washington, they are fully fledged participants in that corruption.

Posted by: Richard | Jan 19, 2006 1:03:29 PM | Permalink

In many ways the Post's coverage has completely missed the point... the perfectly legal campaign contributions that were given to politicians by Abramoff and his clients is only the tip of the iceberg. Its the off the books stuff that was going on that got him into trouble. And the Post has not even begun to delve into that.

In short, what you have been reporting is slanted to give the appearance of bipartisan impropriety. And yet the real story behind the K street project - the slush fund - remains out of sight.

Posted by: Andy | Jan 19, 2006 1:03:24 PM | Permalink

So, if he directed the tribes to give to the Red Cross, the Red Cross would be guilty of being involved in the scandal as well, correct?

Posted by: EvoMan | Jan 19, 2006 1:03:15 PM | Permalink

Wow, truthiness wins again at the WP.

Posted by: Michigan | Jan 19, 2006 1:02:22 PM | Permalink

In the end, your preposterous assertions and the rancorous, patriotic response they have generated will help all Americans understand the basic, oh-so-uncomfortable-for-you, fact: THE ABRAMOFF SCANDAL IS A REPUBLICAN SCANDAL.

I hope you and Tweety Matthews enjoy being hoist by your own petard.

Posted by: All's Well | Jan 19, 2006 1:01:33 PM | Permalink

At one time I was a regular reader of the Post. I am not now, and will not be for the foreseeable future. Rememdies include:

1) Retracting your false statements

2) Apologizing to Senators Byron Dorgan and Harry Reid

3) Apologizing to your readers

4) Future reporting on the Abramoff and Republican pay to play scandal in full context, not in psuedo balance that searches and highlights any hint of Democratic involvement however tangential.

Posted by: decon | Jan 19, 2006 1:00:48 PM | Permalink

As a journalist, you should have provided us, your readers, the complete picture. When you wrote “While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.”

You needed to clarify that with this sentence: “Abramoff's tribal clients continued to give money to Democrats even after he began representing them, although in smaller percentages than in the past.” (source:bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arVHles5cKJc&refer=us#)

To not include the statement that Abramoff directed his Indian tribal clients to give less money to Democrats” makes you look ignorant, corrupt, or just really lazy. It’s time to start working hard again and trying to give your readers the whole truth. The best place to start is with a retraction.

Posted by: Bob | Jan 19, 2006 12:59:46 PM | Permalink

You no longer have any credibility.

Posted by: Tony | Jan 19, 2006 12:59:06 PM | Permalink

The GOP, via hacks like Howell, has gotten away with this crap for way too long.

You're exposed, Ms. Ombudsperson.

Quit, or enjoy laughing-stock status.

Posted by: Awake American | Jan 19, 2006 12:57:37 PM | Permalink

Again, Ms. Howell is intentionally misleading about the facts. The fact is, these tribes had historically given to many Democrats, completely legally. Then Abramoff directed these tribes to reduce donations to Democrats, and redirect those funds to Republicans. Please explain how this makes the Abramoff scandal a bi-partisan problem?

It is not. Abramoff is a Republican. This scandal is a Republican scandal. Everyone who took money from Abramoff was a Republican. It is people like Ms. Howell that are destroying democracy in America, and allowing rampant corruption and cronyism to overtake our checks and balances.

Posted by: mike bell | Jan 19, 2006 12:57:22 PM | Permalink

Willful deception. Let's say it again: Willful deception.

Posted by: nobody | Jan 19, 2006 12:56:09 PM | Permalink

Another point. I could be wrong about this, but my understanding is that Abramoff's crimes are not related to the campaign contributions of his clients, generally speaking. I think there are some exceptions---involving Ney for example---but isn't it generally true that Abramoff's crimes are money-laundering and fraud? The largest money transfers were the payments to Abramoff and his "charities", not the campaign contributions.

I don't understand the journalistic point of focusing on campaign contributions, except in one way: if you look at Abramoff's personal campaign contributions, they show that he was a thoroughgoing Republican, a fact your newspapers has taken pains to obscure.

Have I got that about right?

Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 12:55:10 PM | Permalink

"It's obvious that Ms. Howell has an agenda, to wit, to make sure that the readers are confused about the main targets of Abramoff's campaign contributions, so that it is not viewed by them as just a Republican scandal."

by lib

And indeed, not just Ms. Howell and Steno Sue, but also the LA Times. And the press will do ANYTHING to make it an equal affair of the Democratic and Rebuplican parties. To whit, front page LA Times: 'Culture of Lobbying May Resist Reform' and inside, 'Democratic Legislation similar to GOP.' Nice. The hedes tell the story.

Posted by: Max Renn | Jan 19, 2006 12:54:01 PM | Permalink

Assuming, for the moment, that Ms. Howell's unsubstantiated claim that Jack Abramoff "directed" the indian tribes to donate money to Democrats, that does not explain the obfuscations of her earlier post.

Ms. Howell's post was written in such a way that it blurs the distinctions between Abramoff's direct donations to Republicans vs. third-party-somewhat-Abramoff-related-Indian-tribes' donations to the Democrats. Whether this was done intentionally or by accident matters only if we want to determine that the source is a shill, or merely incompetent.

IN any case, I'm getting the impression that Ms. Howell's role as alleged "ombudsman," has as much to do with readers' advocacy, as Scott McClellan's role as Press Secretary has to do with DC press corps advocacy.

Posted by: Larry LeSueur | Jan 19, 2006 12:53:23 PM | Permalink

Deborah, some advice from a wise woman:

"So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you’re wrong. Know when to say you’re sorry. Don’t get defensive about it. Remember, daily journalism is the first rough draft of history. And we never get it all right all the time. That’s why God made corrections. Let me give you two great examples of personal humiliation.

We inadvertently left the school lunch menus out of the Sunday paper when I was editor in St. Paul. We got thousands of calls from angry parents who used that list to decide whether to pack lunches for their kids.

Then we got the snowplowing days screwed up on a snow emergency and caused hundreds of our readers to get parking tickets. Those both caused Page 1 corrections that I personally wrote. Another great moment in American journalism."

source: Deborah Howell

Posted by: Advicer | Jan 19, 2006 12:53:11 PM | Permalink

How dare you? This is much worse than the other article, because you state as fact that Abramoff directed contributions to Democrats. What proof do you have of that? Your paper certainly hasn't reported any knowledge of any.

Again: How dare you?

Posted by: Thom Little | Jan 19, 2006 12:52:41 PM | Permalink

Hacktacular!

Posted by: Karin | Jan 19, 2006 12:52:38 PM | Permalink

What exactly does "directed his clients to make contributions" mean? And exactly what evidence do you have for such a claim? Somehow I doubt you have any, Lovey Darling.

Posted by: nobody | Jan 19, 2006 12:52:04 PM | Permalink

The K Street project's sole purpose was to ensure that no money, perks or jobs went to Democrats. It's poster boy has been nabbed, threatening to show that the whole project was corrupt, and directed money away from Democrats through illegal means.

There is one reason and one reason only that the WP would try so hard to stretch whatever facts they have to insist that Democrats were beneficiaries of a project designed to cut them out: to appease the conservative talking heads who will scream bias any time printing the facts might make the Republican party look bad. So no matter how low the GOP machine goes, balanced journalism requires you take the Democrats down with them.

If the facts look bad for Republicans, everything must be carefully finessed to ensure that Democrats suffer for GOP wrongdoing. The WP's readers must be convinced that Democrats were active participants in a project meant to screw them, so that the listeners of talk radio are satisfied.

Everyone in Washington knows what the K Street Project was. To pretend the K Street Project was bipartisan requires willfull deception on your paper's part. If after reading your reporting your readers walk away thinking Democrats were co-conspirators, then your reporting is misleading at best, dishonest at worst, but irresponsible in any case.

Stop playing stupid. You know what's going on here. Stop being "fair" and start being honest.

Posted by: Memekiller | Jan 19, 2006 12:51:49 PM | Permalink

How do you know this? The tribes that were Abramoff clients actually shifted their giving towards Republicans while employing Abramoff.

The more you say, the deeper the hole you dig. HONEST news agencies are making the Post look foolish: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arVHles5cKJc&refer=us#

Posted by: Nordy | Jan 19, 2006 12:47:59 PM | Permalink

I believe the evidence shows that Abramoff directed his clients to REDUCE their donations to Democrats when he came to represent them. How this taints Democrats is beyond me.

Maybe the fundamental truthiness of "both sides are corrupt" trumps inconvenient facts at the new WaPo?

Posted by: Chris | Jan 19, 2006 12:47:51 PM | Permalink

You wrote "a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money." This is still incorrect and still needs to be retracted. Your answer here, that Abramoff "directed" money, is a spin job and when journalists spin, journalism is over.

You can do better. Print a retraction.

Posted by: Stephanie | Jan 19, 2006 12:47:39 PM | Permalink

So, before Abramhoff, who was "directing" contributions to the Democrats?

Lame lame lame.

Posted by: Steve Kelso | Jan 19, 2006 12:45:09 PM | Permalink

Better yet would have been to say that we know Abramoff gave and directed money to Republicans and that we suppose that he also directed money to Democrats from looking at FEC records. Since you're basing the two claims on different chains of reasoning, one direct and the other purely suppositional and inductive, it's best to lay that out in full detail if informing the reader is your first priority.

Posted by: matt | Jan 19, 2006 12:44:49 PM | Permalink

It's sad when the readers have to do the fact-checking that the reporters should be doing. But it's even sadder when the ombudsman for READERS defends the reporters who do not report factually in the face of facts presented by those very readers.

People are forgiving when you own up and honestly admit a mistake. They are not so forgiving when you dig yourself deeper into the hole of defending the indefensible - non-factual reporting.

Posted by: janeboatler | Jan 19, 2006 12:44:35 PM | Permalink

More obscurantism from Ms. Howell. She says it would have been better to have said that Abramoff "directed" these contributions by his clients, but in fact there is no evidence that he directed these contributions. These tribes had contributed to democrats for years before their association with Abramoff, and we know that their contributions to democrats declined during the time they were represented by Abramoff. There is every reason to believe that contributions made by these tribes to democrats were made DESPITE Abramoff, not because of any direction received from Abramoff.

While Howell and the Post tar dems for taking contributions from these tribes, Bush gets a pass on his decision to return contributions from Abramoff but keep contributions made by his associates and clients. From Howell's and the Post's perpective the question of whether Abramoff "directed" contributions all depends on who received the contribution, not who made it.

Ms. Howell, you are a disgrace. Go peddle your RNC talking points somewhere else.

Posted by: Thomas C | Jan 19, 2006 12:43:11 PM | Permalink

What exactly is the job of an ombudsman? Ms. Howell's own words say getting the facts right is the most important part of journalism. Check, verify, and confirm. In her use use of the word "directed" Ms. Howell is speculating, inferring, or making shit up without offering any facts or basis whatsoever to substantiate her statement. Her utter disregard for following her own sage advise demonstrates, conclusively, that she is either unqualified for her position or arrogantly corrupt. When can we hear from the Post?

Posted by: kyrocky | Jan 19, 2006 12:42:26 PM | Permalink

So, if you go to a judge and say "I was not at the scene of the crime", and then it is proven untrue, would you defend the statement:

"a better way to has said it would be 'I was at the scene of the crime'"?

That is not a better way to say it, because you are, in fact, saying something else that is not *it*. The two *its* are different things.

Posted by: corrector | Jan 19, 2006 12:41:48 PM | Permalink

Sorry for double posting---I didn't see that the comments are in reverse order.

Posted by: Marky | Jan 19, 2006 12:41:46 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,
Your failure to print a direct retraction of your completely false statement is highly unprofessional.

Also very disturbing is that you used your previous article to promise that Democrats would be the subject of more "Abramoff-related" scrutiny in the future.
On what basis is the Post pursuing stories about connections between Abramoff and Democrats? Abramoff's crimes involve only Republicans, as far as we know. For you to report on criminal activity of Republicans, and Democrats accepting legal campaign contributions ---not from Abramoff---side by side is the worst sort of journalism.
Whatever legal activities Abramoff's clients were involved in has as much relevance to Abramoff's crimes as the fact that he is writing a commentary on the Talmud---precisely none.

If you want to improve the reporting, then why don't you distinguish between those actitivities of Abramoff which were illegal or suspected to be so, and those "Abramoff-related activities" which have no taint of scandal whatsoever.

Oh, and you should resign... but if you don't, I think your lack of credibility and professional standards leads me to inquire whether you have received any compensation from any organization besides the WaPo for any of your "journalism-related actitivities".

Truthily yours,
Marky

Posted by: marky | Jan 19, 2006 12:40:59 PM | Permalink

Abramoff "directed" less money to the Democrats.

I'm sure you meant to point that out as well, but just didn't have enough time because you were too busy responding to all your critics.

Posted by: Bill Priff | Jan 19, 2006 12:39:59 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,
Your failure to print a direct retraction of your completely false statement is highly unprofessional.

Also very disturbing is that you used your previous article to promise that Democrats would be the subject of more "Abramoff-related" scrutiny in the future.
On what basis is the Post pursuing stories about connections between Abramoff and Democrats? Abramoff's crimes involve only Republicans, as far as we know. For you to report on criminal activity of Republicans, and Democrats accepting legal campaign contributions ---not from Abramoff---side by side is the worst sort of journalism.
Whatever legal activities Abramoff's clients were involved in has as much relevance to Abramoff's crimes as the fact that he is writing a commentary on the Talmud---precisely none.

If you want to improve the reporting, then why don't you distinguish between those actitivities of Abramoff which were illegal or suspected to be so, and those "Abramoff-related activities" which have no taint of scandal whatsoever.

Oh, and you should resign... but if you don't, I think your lack of credibility and professional standards leads me to inquire whether you have received any compensation from any organization besides the WaPo for any of your "journalism-related actitivities".

Truthily yours,
Marky

Posted by: marky | Jan 19, 2006 12:39:56 PM | Permalink

This is pure B.S.

Posted by: res | Jan 19, 2006 12:39:35 PM | Permalink

The more I think about it, the more comical this whole L'affaire de Howell sounds.

The ombudsman of one of the best papers in the capital of the country that wants to bring freedom and democracy to the free world is a hack and a parrot for the party in power.

That's quite funny on many levels if you think about it.

If you don't laugh, what are you gonna do? Cry?

Posted by: dundee | Jan 19, 2006 12:39:09 PM | Permalink

I can't believe it. You've chosen to bolster your error by insulting American Indians.

Just....unbelievable.

Posted by: Deborah | Jan 19, 2006 12:37:34 PM | Permalink

Uh... retraction? You have now admitted that you said something false. SO correct it already!

Posted by: Eli | Jan 19, 2006 12:36:11 PM | Permalink

Is there a way of contacting the Washington Post Co.'s stockholders? I think they should know that Ms. Howell is destroying the Post's credibility and "brand equity".

Ms. Howell wrote: "[Abramoff] had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties."

This is not poor wording, it's a lie. It's stating as fact something that is not, and this is easily verifiable. Abramoff has never made any contributions, substantial or otherwise, to the Democratic party.

Whether Abramoff directed indian tribes to donate to Democrats is an entirely different issue than the one presented in the quote above. But once again, Ms. Howell is making a statement of fact that is not backed up by any, ahem, facts.

Posted by: Shystee | Jan 19, 2006 12:36:10 PM | Permalink

I find it ironic that this post was put under the category "Journalism" instead of "Half Measures".

While I, unlike some of my fellows here, am willing to consider that Abe suggested that his clients continue to support Democrats who were supportive of Native American issues, as they had in the past (albeit at a fraction), the clients aren't on trial here, they're victims.

As stated elsewhere, this was pretty much the only honest lobbying he appeared to do.

But again, what Dear Doting Silver Haired Old Lady Ombudsman claimed was that Abramoff himself bought Dems with his own dirty money.

Big difference. Kinda like the difference between an electric bill from Enron and a bribe from Ken Lay himself.

Posted by: Flappy | Jan 19, 2006 12:35:46 PM | Permalink

Hey, Deb, I think you need to get the same editor that you said that Bob Woodward needed to get.

Posted by: johnr | Jan 19, 2006 12:35:00 PM | Permalink

others have already asked this, but i want to ask it again because it's really central to the whole thing:

what evidence do you have that abramoff "directed" money to democrats?

it's worth noting that, as a fairly committed partisan, it would be a little odd for abramoff to have done such a thing. kind of like if james carvell had funnelled money to republicans. just because it sounds unlikely, doesn't mean it's not true. it just requires some evidence to back up the assertion.

so please provide the evidence or retract it if you don't have any. it's really as simple as that.

if you don't address the question at all, all it will do is further ruin your credibility and solidfy your reputation as someone who mindlessly parrots republican spin. please prove that stereotype to be wrong and do the honorable thing here.

Posted by: upyernoz | Jan 19, 2006 12:34:43 PM | Permalink

Will we see the same treatment given to the donors of Duke Cunningahm?

Another case of the establishment treating Native Americans as corrupted, ignorant and as pawns of the benevolent white man.

Let us see the Abramoff standard applied to the myrida defense contractors in the Cunningham Graft/Corruption Scandal?

-Greg B.

Posted by: Greg B. | Jan 19, 2006 12:34:28 PM | Permalink

Why doesn't the Post how much Jack's clients gave to Democrats before he came on the scene as compared to when he was "directing" them to give to the Democrats.

Posted by: Moses | Jan 19, 2006 12:34:05 PM | Permalink

others have already asked this, but i want to ask it again because it's really central to the whole thing:

what evidence do you have that abramoff "directed" money to democrats?

it's worth noting that, as a fairly committed partisan, it would be a little odd for abramoff to have done such a thing. kind of like if james carvell had funnelled money to republicans. just because it sounds unlikely, doesn't mean it's not true. it just requires some evidence to back up the assertion.

so please provide the evidence or retract it if you don't have any. it's really as simple as that.

if you don't address the question at all, all it will do is further ruin your credibility and solidfy your reputation as someone who mindlessly parrots republican spin. please prove that stereotype to be wrong and do the honorable thing here.

Posted by: upyernoz | Jan 19, 2006 12:33:48 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell has now said she will no longer respond to criticism from non-Republican organizations. Her reasoning is that MediaMatters was not silenced when she responded to one of their criticisms. Here is an example of her "engagement" with MediaMatters:

"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."

MediaMatters then printed her side of it, but also went on to explain the problems they had with the paper printing demonstrably false claims by the administration without rebuttle or skepticism, which Howell had defended, and continues to defend as good journalism. In contrast to Howell, MediaMatters criticism was specific, detailed and professional. Please read for yourself, here: http://mediamatters.org/items/200601100008

Just because Howell makes indignant demands to remove criticism of her paper does not then necessitate that an organization devoted to correcting disinformation should then be silent if the paper continues to defend printing demonstrable falsehoods unchallenged, just because those falsehoods happen to come from the President.

But because Howell made demands that MediaMatters then complied with, she has put them on the blacklist. Why do you continue to respond to the right wing bloviators? Is it that you always find the criticism of the right-wing echo chamber to be polite? Or is it that you always agree with their attacks? Because I know any demands from you would not silence them.

Posted by: Dylan Otto Krider | Jan 19, 2006 12:33:46 PM | Permalink

Really, it's embarrassing when state-run media in China, e.g., CCTV-9, is more honest and has less propaganda than the "free" Washington Post.


People get it though, now.

What I don't get is how the WaPo can think they can suceed in a business model that includes Charles Krauthammer and Howell.


Really, of what use is organs like the Post when the memory hole is forever broken?

Howell, nothing short of a full-fledged apology should do.

And then on to firing Bob Woodward.

Posted by: Mumon | Jan 19, 2006 12:33:46 PM | Permalink

others have already asked this, but i want to ask it again because it's really central to the whole thing:

what evidence do you have that abramoff "directed" money to democrats?

it's worth noting that, as a fairly committed partisan, it would be a little odd for abramoff to have done such a thing. kind of like if james carvell had funnelled money to republicans. just because it sounds unlikely, doesn't mean it's not true. it just requires some evidence to back up the assertion.

so please provide the evidence or retract it if you don't have any. it's really as simple as that.

if you don't address the question at all, all it will do is further ruin your credibility and solidfy your reputation as someone who mindlessly parrots republican spin. please prove that stereotype to be wrong and do the honorable thing here.

Posted by: upyernoz | Jan 19, 2006 12:32:59 PM | Permalink

It has taken days for Ms. Howell to publish a "non-retraction retraction". I thought a sense of humility as well as rigorous fact checking were essential parts of Ms. Howell's job. Remember, newspapers are the first draft of history. That suggests that redrafts are sometimes necessary, and that the paper and its ombudspeople are competent to correct and aknowledge error.Neither is apparently the case here.

Posted by: afc | Jan 19, 2006 12:32:23 PM | Permalink

others have already asked this, but i want to ask it again because it's really central to the whole thing:

what evidence do you have that abramoff "directed" money to democrats?

it's worth noting that, as a fairly committed partisan, it would be a little odd for abramoff to have done such a thing. kind of like if james carvell had funnelled money to republicans. just because it sounds unlikely, doesn't mean it's not true. it just requires some evidence to back up the assertion.

so please provide the evidence or retract it if you don't have any. it's really as simple as that.

if you don't address the question at all, all it will do is further ruin your credibility and solidfy your reputation as someone who mindlessly parrots republican spin. please prove that stereotype to be wrong and do the honorable thing here.

Posted by: upyernoz | Jan 19, 2006 12:31:58 PM | Permalink

So, let's agree, Deborah, that all of the direct contributions from Abramoff went to Republicans. Every single dime.

Let's also agree that the overwhelming majority of his "directed contributions" went to republicans.

That's the truth. Now it might be wise to investigate who his clients gave to BEFORE they were directed by Abramoff. I'm betting some of their pattern of giving remained the same. Businesses don't just begin making contributions when they hire a new lobbyist, after all. I'll make a guess that those contributions pre-Abramoff were far more evenly split between the parties. What would that tell you?

What it tells me is that none of the reporters at the Post are insightful enough to examine this possibility. You've got the resources to do so, however. Why don't you?

www.allspinzone.com

Posted by: SpinDentist | Jan 19, 2006 12:31:55 PM | Permalink

Man...this whole thing has become so pathetic.

Why won't the WaPo simply issue a retraction/correction?

I don't understand. Is it about her ego? Is it because she is being defensive?

Who is the ombundsman for the ombundsman??

Posted by: Myself | Jan 19, 2006 12:31:55 PM | Permalink

Perhaps Ms. Howell should note that Jack Abramoff "directed" his clients to donate less money to Demcocrats than they used to donate to Democrats.

Ironically, before Mr. Abramoff represented Native American clients they were perfectly able to "direct" their money to clients, largely Democrats who have been better at representing and much less likely to simply "use" the clients as cash machines.

So when Abramoff started "directing" money to politicians, substantially less money was "directed" towards Democrats and more mone was "directed" towards Republicans.

So, Ms. Howell, given the chance to shed led has "chosen" to continue to paint the Republican/Abramoff/Delay money laundering racket as somehow being and equal opportunity corruptor.

Ms. Howell, have you no sense of decency?

-Greg B.

Posted by: Greg B. | Jan 19, 2006 12:30:28 PM | Permalink

I am having trouble understanding if that is a correction or not? Can anyone please provide some clarity on this issue? Furthermore did this run in the newspaperl?

Posted by: Dylan | Jan 19, 2006 12:29:36 PM | Permalink

Why is the ombudsman doing reporting anyway? Can we please just get back to having an ombudsman who just does her job--critically looking at the Post's reporting in advocacy of the readers? Why have so many of the articles just acted as a soapbox for reporters and editors?

Posted by: sp | Jan 19, 2006 12:29:34 PM | Permalink

You're a hack, Howell.

Posted by: Old Hat | Jan 19, 2006 12:29:28 PM | Permalink

"he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties."

Evidence, please?

There is substantial evidence that tribes with long-standing histories of donations to the Democrats continued to give to Democrats, but in SMALLER amounts. Have you done an analysis showing anything to the contrary? Or did Denny Hastert tell you about these "directives" himself?

Posted by: Andrew Foland | Jan 19, 2006 12:28:47 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell- Did you forget your own words?


"So here’s my advice. My top 10 commandments for you to remember:
[edited]
10. Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right. Misspelled names and words; wrong addresses; wrong times. Simple stuff. This is not rocket science.

When a job seeker writes me a letter and misspells my name or has my title wrong or a misspelled word or a grammar error, I either ashcan the letter or write and tell them to get a new trade.

Sweat the small stuff. Have you heard the line: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”? Tattoo that inside your left eyelid, and don’t forget it.

9. Don’t be afraid to look dumb and ask stupid questions.

8. So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you’re wrong. Know when to say you’re sorry. Don’t get defensive about it. Remember, daily journalism is the first rough draft of history. And we never get it all right all the time. That’s why God made corrections. Let me give you two great examples of personal humiliation.

7. Don’t be a jerk. Too many young reporters act like you can’t get a story without being rude. Be friendly. You’d be surprised how far you can get on a smile and a pleasant manner. When I was a kid police reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, I baked cookies for the dispatchers. They called me before the competition when there was a hot story breaking. They once sent a patrolman to fix my flat tire.

6. Have respect for the English language.

5. Treat your trade, your sources, your audience and the janitor with respect. Be someone who gives a damn about your town, even if you’re just passing through.

3. Do not disregard the spiritual, the inspirational good news, if you will.

2. Look for diversity in everything – diversity of race, gender, income level – in your sources, in opinions.

http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:3GK8-snbBcYJ:www.colorado.edu/journalism/boards/bylines/school/messages/47.html+%22When+a+job+seeker+writes+me+a+letter+and+misspells+my+name%22&hl=en

Posted by: Moses | Jan 19, 2006 12:28:36 PM | Permalink

This is a disgrace. A refusal to admit that the first piece was wrong, followed by a "clarifying" piece that is also wrong (because there is no evidence that Abramoff "directed" any tribe to make contributions to any Democrat.

For Shame.

Posted by: Upper West | Jan 19, 2006 12:28:05 PM | Permalink

Wow, I didn't think there was anything you could do that would be worse than ignoring the lie you printed about Abramoff's dealings but you figured out something worse. You defended the lie and dug yourself deeper into an ethical morass from which you are unlikely to drag yourself out of. Step One: Stop lying. Step Two: I really think you should hire an assistant ombudsman to keep you in line. Anyone who knows the facts and hasn't signed any pledges to be faithful to RNC spin would probably be a good minder for you. There's no doubt that you need the help.

Posted by: eRobin | Jan 19, 2006 12:26:43 PM | Permalink

Remind me again why Pravda wasn't journalism and the WAPO is?

Posted by: President Merkin Muffley | Jan 19, 2006 12:26:14 PM | Permalink

It's obvious that Ms. Howell has an agenda, to wit, to make sure that the readers are confused about the main targets of Abramoff's campaign contributions, so that it is not viewed by them as just a Republican scandal.

Given that a number of Washington Post personnel have attempted to defend her indefensible and false statement, one wonders if her agenda is shared by the Washington Post as a whole. If that is indeed the case, it is really shameful for a paper that used to pride itself in its fearless reporting.

Posted by: lib | Jan 19, 2006 12:25:48 PM | Permalink

C'mon, saying that Deborah Howell was wrong or that even that she was lying to her readers in order to hang on to her EZPass to the GOP plutocrat social club is a bit harsh, don't ya think? Kinder to simply say that her steno'd reationalizations lacked the appropriate degree of "truthiness" or even maybe they could potentially give the appearance of "wronginess".

Posted by: ananke | Jan 19, 2006 12:25:25 PM | Permalink

contributions from the tribes to democrats DECLINED after the the tribes became clients of abramoff.

Posted by: Some Guy | Jan 19, 2006 12:25:20 PM | Permalink

Lumping legal campaign contributions from people who happened to be "clients" of Abramoff into the same pot as money that illegally went from Abramoff, or clients, to crooked politicians is akin to tarring the citizens of California for the crime of being associated, as consumers, to Enron.
You seem to think that, were it not for Abramoff, an indian tribe might have never thought to contribute to the Democrat who happens to represent Nevada, INCLUDING Las Vegas?
Do you think it's not important to mention that a cub reporter could easily find that those "clients" gave MORE to Democrats BEFORE Jack Abramoff got involved; less to Dems and more to Republicans after he began advising.

If making this scandal look less "Republican", you seem to think nothing of tarring the tribes who were already screwed by Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Tom DeLay and their buddies.
For that, you owe the tribes, and your readers, an apology!

Posted by: Jack Ballinger | Jan 19, 2006 12:25:18 PM | Permalink

Is there any evidence that Abramoff "directed" contributions to Democrats? I haven't seen any. I'd like to. I'm wholly serious.

Thank you.

Posted by: Joel | Jan 19, 2006 12:22:27 PM | Permalink

Whoa!! Why would Abramoff steer money *away* from Democrats that support the Indian interests? Isn't that, in fact, THE ONLY HONEST THING HE HAS DONE? He would be defrauding them twice had he failed to advise them on where to focus their attention. After all, that is the "legitimate" job of a lobbyist.

Now, lets tackle the very concept of a "legitimate" lobbyist.

And stop with the dishonest, CYA crap. Your credibility is Zero.

Posted by: Marcelo | Jan 19, 2006 12:22:19 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell- You made more than one remark about the Democrats getting money from Abramoff.

Rememeber you stated that:
- "a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money."

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

What you said was not true and you don't seem to want to take responsibility for your statements. Will the Post make a correction?

Posted by: nat | Jan 19, 2006 12:21:47 PM | Permalink

Isn't the role of the ombudsman to clarify and not to obfuscate?

Upon reading Ms. Howell's post I have a simple question: What evidence prompted the use of the word "directed?"

While it may be the case that lobbyists "often advise clients on campaign contributions" what proof demonstrates that contributions from his Indian tribal clients were made at his behest in this specific instance?

I see this question about the choice of the word "directed" has already been asked. Repeatedly. Well, where's the proof?

Posted by: MBinChicago | Jan 19, 2006 12:21:46 PM | Permalink

lib: To extend your analysis a little further, B and C have been giving to D for years, but when A appears on the scene, B and C suddenly start giving lots more money to R than before, but somehow this means that D and R are equally involved in the conspiracy.

Posted by: KCinDC | Jan 19, 2006 12:21:05 PM | Permalink

Deborah Howell is a disgrace to her profession. There is not one ounce of proof that Abramoff "directed" any of his clients to give anything to Democrats. And to make a statement like that without offering any evidence means Ms. Howell is either incompetent or she is dishonest. Take your pick.
To paint his clients as mindless rubes who dutifully funnel funds to wherever Mr. Abramoff decides is silly. It's quite likely that these tribes donated to Democrats of their own accord because they (like almost every other company out there) knows that it makes sense since we are a two-party system.
In any case, the facts in this case seem to point to only one thing. These Indian Tribes were duped and victimized by Mr Abramoff who is nothing more than a Republican crook / bag man. To insist on trying to paint this as some sort "bi-partisan" scandal and to try and taint democrats by association like this is nothing more than Yellow Journalism and something that one would expect from the Washington Times or Fox News, not the ombudsman of the Washington Post. Maybe Ms. Howell should look up the definition of ombudsman and be reminded of what the roles and responsibilities of that position are.

Posted by: Tom Vagias | Jan 19, 2006 12:20:02 PM | Permalink

"Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties"
Cite your reference please.
Without a reputable reference this remark is purely conjecture (or worse, an outright falsehood), and should be identified as such.
Please do your job.

Posted by: Shawn | Jan 19, 2006 12:19:45 PM | Permalink

You still have offered no proof that Abramoff did, in fact, direct ANY contributions to Democrats.

The only thing you have proven is that American Indian Tribes contributed money to Democrats.

And while we are on the subject of Democrats receiving money from American Indian tribes, why is that so significant? Is it the Washington Post's position that accepting money from an American Indian tribe is somehow a bad thing? Is their money somehow dirty, or less valuable than say money from a business oriented group?

Please stop with these weak justifications of your reprinting of GOP spin points. Until you have proof that Abramoff actually DID direct any contributions to Democrats, you and the Washington Post are being exposed for the craven partisans this paper is trying so desparately hard to hide.

Posted by: David (Austin Tx) | Jan 19, 2006 12:18:31 PM | Permalink

Abramoff broke the law. Were the proceeds of his criminal actions donated to any politicians? If illegal money was donated to politicians, who were those politicians? Did they know the money was dirty?

Since we know - in spite of "reporting" in the Washington Post on this issue - Abramoff only donated to Republicans, we already know that this question only needs to be asked of Republicans.

But the questions do need to be asked.

To date Ms. Howell, the Post reporting on this has been less than stellar. Are journalists at the Post capable of asking these questions? Are they capable of cutting through Republican talking points and actually determining the answers? Are they capable of reporting those answers without Republican spin?

And to explain, I'm using the word spin to mean "bald-faced lies."

You are the ombudsman. You are here to take reader questions and get answers from the staff of the Post. Thus far you've seem ill-equipped to fulfill that role.

I would like to be proven wrong. America would be better off if I was proven wrong. You play an important role. Reporters at the Post play an important role. A democracy requires a vibrant, skeptical, probing, intelligent media.

American democracy has been missing that for quite a while now. You can help fix that. I suspect you won't, but I will continue to hope you will.

Posted by: Kevin Lyda | Jan 19, 2006 12:18:09 PM | Permalink

why can't you just come out and say "What we said was wrong. What we should have said is ______."

Instead you call it "a better way to say it...." NO. NO. NO. One statement incorrect, and the incorrect statement does not follow from the correct statement.

Just admit it. The writer screwed up.

Posted by: words have meaning | Jan 19, 2006 12:17:11 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, please print a retraction to the misleading "parroting" of George Bush's claim that Abramoff was, ``an equal money dispenser''.

Your defense of the inaccurate reporting of your paper, makes no sense. The republicans control both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Since 2001, they have made loyalty to the GOP a requirement for anyone hired as a lobbyist.
What influence could an Indian tribe, or another entity, like "Eli Lilly, Merck, the City of Oakland, Fannie Mae, and JC Penney", hope to "purchase", by giving money to any democrat?

Why are you singling out Indian tribes as being "directed" in their "giving", by Jack Abramoff, but not other non-Indian clients.

Here is an example of more accurate reporting; give it a look, and consider resigning. Your efforts have further undermined the credibility of the WaPo, the exact opposite result of your intent..or is it?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aBTFEkGJUbSI&refer=us
"... Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Bush's comment about Abramoff in a Dec. 14 Fox News interview was aimed at countering Democratic accusations that Republicans have brought a ``culture of corruption'' to Washington. ...."

Posted by: Host | Jan 19, 2006 12:15:57 PM | Permalink

'A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties.'

Ms. Howell and Howard 'inartful wording' Kurtz obviously have the same mentor.

Is it so hard to say plainly that your statement was wrong?

Ms. Howell is a disgrace to Washington Post. She has brought dishonor to the insititution of ombudsman.

Posted by: don dundee | Jan 19, 2006 12:15:21 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, please print a retraction to the misleading "parroting" of George Bush's claim that Abramoff was, ``an equal money dispenser''.

Your defense of the inaccurate reporting of your paper, makes no sense. The republicans control both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Since 2001, they have made loyalty to the GOP a requirement for anyone hired as a lobbyist.
What influence could an Indian tribe, or another entity, like "Eli Lilly, Merck, the City of Oakland, Fannie Mae, and JC Penney", hope to "purchase", by giving money to any democrat?

Why are you singling out Indian tribes as being "directed" in their "giving", by Jack Abramoff, but not other non-Indian clients.

Here is an example of more accurate reporting; give it a look, and consider resigning. Your efforts have further undermined the credibility of the WaPo, the exact opposite result of your intent..or is it?

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aBTFEkGJUbSI&refer=us
"... Between 2001 and 2004, Abramoff gave more than $127,000 to Republican candidates and committees and nothing to Democrats, federal records show. At the same time, his Indian clients were the only ones among the top 10 tribal donors in the U.S. to donate more money to Republicans than Democrats.

Bush's comment about Abramoff in a Dec. 14 Fox News interview was aimed at countering Democratic accusations that Republicans have brought a ``culture of corruption'' to Washington. ...."

Posted by: Host | Jan 19, 2006 12:14:13 PM | Permalink

Please back up your assertion that Abramoff "directed" the specific contributions to democrats.

Or retract it.

Posted by: Not Satisfied | Jan 19, 2006 12:11:57 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell's pants are on fire.

Posted by: NTodd | Jan 19, 2006 12:11:57 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell, here is some advice:

Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right. Misspelled names and words; wrong addresses; wrong times. Simple stuff. This is not rocket science.

When a job seeker writes me a letter and misspells my name or has my title wrong or a misspelled word or a grammar error, I either ashcan the letter or write and tell them to get a new trade.

Sweat the small stuff. Have you heard the line: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”? Tattoo that inside your left eyelid, and don’t forget it.

(Source: Deborah Howell)

Posted by: Arjunasbow | Jan 19, 2006 12:11:36 PM | Permalink

Echoing other comments, I still haven't seen on what basis reporters and the ombudsman have inferred that life-long Republican partisan Abramoff actually advised some clients to give money to Democrats. Has anyone looked at his clients' giving to Democrats in the years before he started advising them? It seems this would provide indirect evidence. But really, it seems like Ms. Howell and others are connecting dots that maybe ought not be connected.

The dots that I see and I think ought to be considered here are the K Street Project, Hastert's "majority of the majority rule," DeLay's unprecedented abuse of House rules (like keeping votes open), the bribe offered to that Ohio Representative on the floor of the House during the Medicare vote, etc. This really isn't bipartisan -- let's give the GOP credit where it is due.

Posted by: Drew | Jan 19, 2006 12:11:30 PM | Permalink

Even assuming that Abramoff was in control of all giving by his Indian tribe clients (and I still think the focus on only his Indian clients is suspicious), and that the tribes would never have given to those politicians without hiring Abramoff as a lobbyist, is there any evidence at all of illegal activity related to those perfectly legal contributions?

And in any case Howell now admits that there was a false statement in her column, so she should publish a retraction.

Posted by: KCinDC | Jan 19, 2006 12:11:02 PM | Permalink

According to Deborah Howell, if, say, Ford or General Motors were represented by Jack Abramoff, and those companies (viw their PACs) gave money to Michigan Senators Stabenow and Levin -- this is apparently hard evidence of a quid pro quo. Or, that Abramoff "directed" those Michigan industrial giants to give money to the two sitting MICHIGAN Senators.

How stupid is that logic? The indian tribes Abramoff represented gave money to their HOME STATE SENAYORS! Some of whom were Democrats.

BIG DEAL! That means absolutely nothing. And to suggest a moral or ethical equivalency between what Abramoff did with the GOP leadership and that is the height of journalistic misfeasance.

Posted by: Hesiod | Jan 19, 2006 12:09:56 PM | Permalink

You still have offered no proof that Abramoff did, in fact, direct ANY contributions to Democrats.

The only thing you have proven is that American Indian Tribes contributed money to Democrats.

And while we are on the subject of Democrats receiving money from American Indian tribes, why is that so significant? Is it the Washington Post's position that accepting money from an American Indian tribe is somehow a bad thing? Is their money somehow dirty, or less valuable than say money from a business oriented group?

Please stop with these weak justifications of your reprinting of GOP spin points. Until you have proof that Abramoff actually DID direct any contributions to Democrats, you and the Washington Post are being exposed for the craven partisans this paper is trying so desparately hard to hide.

Posted by: David (Austin Tx) | Jan 19, 2006 12:09:27 PM | Permalink

MS. Howell main objective seems to be to cloud the issue by using an expansive definition of association so that it tars both the parties equally. Why cannot she jsut first say that all of Abramoff's personal contributions went to Republicans?

Let me diagram her logic for her.

B and C have been giving money to D for a long time.

Now A acquires B and C as clients.

B and C continue to give money to D.

A turns out to be a criminal.

So A and D are part of a criminal enterprise.

Amazing!

I should be an ombudsman. How does one get such a position?

Posted by: lib | Jan 19, 2006 12:08:40 PM | Permalink

So the tribes wouldn't have given proven supporters of their cause donations unless Abramoff had directed them to, and they never gave money to these same Dems before Abramoff came on the scene?


A-huh.

Posted by: jules | Jan 19, 2006 12:08:37 PM | Permalink

But what evidence is there that Abramoff did in fact "direct[]" such contributions, either? Jack Abramoff was the former national chair of the College Republicans, was a Republican himself, and donated exclusively to Republicans. On what basis do you say that he directed contributions to Democrats?

Abramoff was a lobbyist, and thus his clients were the types of people who had interests on Capital Hill; one would expect those people to give money to a lot of politicians, and probably some would give to each party. But it's not the receipt of contributions that's at the heart of the story here; it's the actions of one Jack Abramoff. Yet that surrounding context can lead to an incredible amount of confusion about what, exactly, happened that was scandalous and how far it stretched, and (one would think) the journalist's role would be sweep away the confusion and explain precisely what happened. But instead what we've gotten from some at the Post, and notably Ms. Howell, has been misleading generalizations, and then a whole lot of excuses why what was misleading wasn't really misleading, or why it's not fair to question her, or what have you. I'm not one calling for Ms. Howell's ouster and replacement, but I definitely think that the ombudsman shouldn't shy away from doing the ombudsman's job. That's not been done here, so far.

Posted by: Jack Roy | Jan 19, 2006 12:07:00 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell,

If you would like to recover some of your credibility, you could simply state that the evidence clearly shows that the Abramoff scandal is overwhelmingly a REPUBLICAN scandal. It isn't even a close call; Democrats were nowhere near Abramoff, while the GOP Congress and the White House was in bed with him.

Posted by: eagleye | Jan 19, 2006 12:06:20 PM | Permalink

Exactly how did Abramoff 'direct' this money to Democrats? It is well known, and verifiable, that the Indian Tribes have long been Democratic donors. How much were the tribes giving to Democrats vs. Republicans pre-Abramoff?

Since you don't seem to get the gist of the question, I will ask it again: WHAT IS YOUR PROOF THAT ABRAMOFF DIRECTED THE TRIBES TO DONATE TO DEMOCRATS?

You are only digging yourself a larger hole with disingenous CYA crap like this response. Grow up and start acting like a professional news organization.

Posted by: Chris | Jan 19, 2006 12:05:41 PM | Permalink

And the proof that Abramoff "directed" contributions to any Democrats is where???

The fact that the Indian tribes who were the VICTIMS of Abramoff gave money to Democrats is not proof that Abramoff directed the tribes to contribute that money!

As KCinDC mentions above, why aren't you saying that the money donated from any of Abramoff's clients is "directed" and therefore dirty?

Posted by: MikeinDC | Jan 19, 2006 12:05:17 PM | Permalink

Your graphic completely disguises teh fact that Abramoff personally donated money exclusively to Republicans. That strikes me as dishonest when you consider that these donors paid Abramoff to lobby for them. Did they pay Abramoff, and _only_ Abramoff? No. Does paying Abramoff give him some sort of mind-control ray regarding where they spend their money? No. The most reliable indicator of where the Abramoff rot spread is where went the only pool of money over which he had exclusive control. I suppose that doesn't make for a very compelling pie chart.

Posted by: Tim F | Jan 19, 2006 12:05:04 PM | Permalink

I thought part of the bigger scandal was that Abramoff was laundering money and the laundered money was what was going to the GOP.

You know, like the 300K that was supposed to go to children, but the charity never received it.

Did the Dems get any of that sweet action, or was it just the GOP?

Posted by: Alex | Jan 19, 2006 12:04:57 PM | Permalink

The point, Ms. Howell, is that there is NO EVIDENCE AT ALL that any of the money "directed" to Democrats by Abaramoff via his clients was in exchange for votes or favors granted.

The mere fact that some of Abramoff's clients gave oney to Democrats doesn't equal "Abramoff funneled bribes to Democrats through his clients, wink wink, nudge, nudge say no more."

You clowns in the media nee dto start reporting the fricking truth for a change, and not sucking up to the whiney rigtwing establishment.

Posted by: Hesiod | Jan 19, 2006 12:04:04 PM | Permalink

Some Abramoff clients might have given money to Democrats. But there is little evidence that Abramoff "directed" his clients to send the money there.

Yes, it is common practice for lobbyists to direct contributors dollars, but it is a huge leap to then say that a certain lobbyist directed all a certain clients donations.

We know that Abramoff gave all his cash to the GOP. We know that Abramoff ripped off a lot of his clients. We don't know that he directed all the donations of those clients (who in many cases he fleeced.)

Posted by: Samuel Knight | Jan 19, 2006 12:03:52 PM | Permalink

So this is that "truthiness" thing Steven Colbert keeps talking about, no?

Ms. Howell, you'd be better off simply admitting you were wrong. Saying Abramoff "directed" contributions to Democrats--which is true, sort of--is quite a bit different than saying Abramoff "contributed" to Democrats. Just admit that you were trying to be "fair and balanced" here, and massaged the language to make it appear that this is a bipartisan scandal.

You'd be better off in the long run. At least then we'd be able to consider trusting you.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke | Jan 19, 2006 12:02:15 PM | Permalink

How do we know that Abramoff directed the Indian tribes to make these donations?

I believe all of the tribes had pre-existing relationships with many Congressmen.

Isn'the real issue where Abramoff and his family sent money?

Posted by: Shiva@KStreetProject.Com | Jan 19, 2006 12:01:56 PM | Permalink

keep digging, Howell ... first you thought that it was acceptable to have Dan Froomkin's column "balanced" by a right-wing blogger ... now, you're refusing to retract a statement that is factually incorrect by tap-dancing around with a "what I should have said was" two-step ...

you were wrong. W-R-O-N-G. it's okay, you can admit it.

Posted by: Exiled in CT | Jan 19, 2006 12:01:07 PM | Permalink

What proof do you have that fund were "directed" to Democrats by Abramoff? Is this pure conjecture or do you have proof. If this is what you consider reporting nowadays, then this paper has gone down the toilet. Additionally, why does the ombswoman always seem to create isues that seem to impact democrats, instead of creating controvercies on the republican side?

Posted by: Life Free or Die | Jan 19, 2006 12:00:54 PM | Permalink

Ms. Howell is digging herself a deeper hole. What, her words don't mean anything? She made a mistake, perhaps honest, perhaps not. Judging by the way she has summarily dismissed her critics, and by the way she tries to skate around her misstatement in this post, she doesn't get the benefit of the doubt regarding her honesty. The Post ought to be ashamed of the way she is doing her job.

Posted by: AB | Jan 19, 2006 12:00:21 PM | Permalink

KCinDC - What you are hearing is the sound of crickets chirping.

Posted by: california_reality_check | Jan 19, 2006 11:55:50 AM | Permalink

Thanks for responding. Are the Indian tribes are being treated differently from Abramoff's other clients? If we're going to treat all contributions from the Indian tribes as dirty, shouldn't we also apply a similar taint to Eli Lilly, Merck, the City of Oakland, Fannie Mae, and JC Penney, among others?

I'm not connected with the Wampum blog, but I'd be interested in your response to the points raised here:

http://wampum.wabanaki.net/vault/2006/01/002282.html

Posted by: KCinDC | Jan 19, 2006 11:48:41 AM | Permalink

First question on-line today.

Michael Fletcher: Hello,everyone. As always, there is a lot going on. So let's get started.
_______________________

Ohio: All excuses about "inartful statement" aside, when will The Post print a correction for the Ombudsman's factually innaccurate claim that Jack Abramoff -directly- gave money to Democrats? It's one thing to claim that Abramoff's clients gave money to Dems. It's another thing entirely to say that the influence peddler bought Dems as well as GOP.

So print that retraction!

Michael Fletcher: Geez, I was hoping for an easier start. That's something you have to take up with the ombudsman.

Posted by: california_reality_check | Jan 19, 2006 11:41:47 AM | Permalink

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