A good start: the Washington Post cuts 80 jobs


The newsroom of the Washington Post is getting smaller, and I couldn't be happier.

This isn't schadenfreude (did I spell that right?) It isn't as if workers are being thrown out on the street — they're either taking early retirement, or they aren't being replaced when they switch jobs. No individuals will be harmed in the downsizing of this media property.

I grew up reading the Washington Post, starting with the comic section in 1977, graduating to Sports, then the "Style" section (as opposed to "substance," to be sure). When I was a teenager, I started devouring the front section. Although the Post approached the news with a liberal slant, it was hardly the Village Voice. Yes, they downplayed the evils of communism, and they were relentless cheerleaders for feminism, and shameless apologists for racial favoritism, but the reporting was (mostly) intellectually honest enough to mention the other side.

Not today. I have nothing but contempt for the Washington Post, and I hope I live long enough to see the company fail, or at least transformed into something less odious. My visceral dislike began almost three years ago in Al Kut, Iraq, where my Marine unit was administering one of the provinces. Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran visited the city for a few hours, then went back to Baghdad to file a story about how the civilians hated us and we were afraid to mess with a local thug who took over city hall and proclaimed himself mayor.

The truth, as I wrote in June 2004, was that almost all of the civilians were friendly, except for the thug and his small number of supporters. A short time after Chandrasekaran's article appeared, the "occupation" of city hall ended with the thug slinking away without a fight.

My article made the rounds in the blogosphere, prompting dozens of people to e-mail me with encouraging messages. However, Tom Ricks, the Post's senior military correspondent, sent me a message disputing my account of the events in Al Kut in spring of 2003. Was Ricks in Al Kut back then? No. Did he have other sources disputing what I said? No. Did he raise any logical or chronological questions about my account? No.

What it came down to, for Ricks, was that Chandrasekaran was a reporter for the Washington Post, and I was not. Furthermore, Ricks thought I sounded like a "staff guy" who gave upbeat press briefings.

In real life, during the war I was a sergeant who carried a rifle 24 hours a day and went 37 days without showering. My civil affairs team were all awarded combat action ribbons, which you don't get for being a "staff guy" (unlike combat pay, you only get that ribbon if somebody is actually trying to kill you.) Tom Ricks, senior defense correspondent for the second-most-important American newspaper, didn't bother to figure that out. Nor, when I sent a polite response informing him of this, did he deign to respond.

When the Post has journalists like this on its payroll, and abject buffoons like Dana Milbank covering the White House, it is not entitled to anyone's respect or deference. Not to mention the paper's role in the various trumped-up "scandals" like "domestic spying," to name one of many.

I used to regard Post-haters with bewilderment: who could hate a left-of-center but basically responsible newspaper with such a great Food section? Now, I reluctantly count myself as a detractor. Eighty fewer people at the Post is a mighty good start, as far as I'm concerned.

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schadenfreude (did I spell that right?)

You did - unless you want to be picky: in German all nouns are capitalized.

say that with a german accent:

"All German nouns are CAPITALIZED!"

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This page contains a single entry by Eric Johnson published on March 12, 2006 10:47 PM.

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