WaPo ombudsman: “Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards”

posted at 6:02 pm on February 10, 2007 by Allahpundit

By which she means the print version of the paper, not the online version that hosts his blog. (Although, according to the editor of WaPo.com, Arkin’s column didn’t meet his standards, either.) It seems there’s a big difference between the fast-paced, seat-o’-the-pants standards of the electronic edition and the tough, exacting editorial scrutiny demonstrated by the ink-and-paper crew when they’re taking dictation from Carl Levin and rushing into print every crumb of Bush-bashing garbage that falls from his mouth.

Nice to see they think so highly of their Internet presence, though.

Did one online column irreparably damage Post national security journalism? No. But it does show that an online column rubs off on the newspaper. Opinions on Arkin vary among Post reporters who write about the military and national security. Some respect him; others think he harms The Post’s reputation

Arkin apologized. He said he was “dead wrong” to use the word “mercenary,” that it “is an insult and pejorative, and it does not accurately describe the condition of the American soldier today. I sincerely apologize to anyone in the military who took my words literally.”…

An editor read his column before it was posted but didn’t see the problem. Jim Brady, washingtonpost.com’s executive editor, said that had he seen it, he would have asked for changes. Arkin said he would have made them.

What’s the difference between opinion writing for the newspaper and for washingtonpost.com? The writing can be similar, but the editing is more intense at the newspaper. More experienced eyes see a story or a column before it goes into the paper; The Post has several levels of rigorous editing. There is “less of an editing process” for blogs at the more immediacy-oriented Web site, Brady said…

Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards, but then, newspaper editing isn’t perfect, either. But “mercenary” surely is live ammo; such an incidendiary word should have popped out in flames to most Post editors.

Exit question: How is it that most bloggers manage to avoid comparing U.S. troops to guns for hire with no editorial oversight whatsoever, yet WaPo.com needs at least two editors to hold their guys back?

Update: Arkin doesn’t meet the Post’s standards, but he certainly meets Keith Olbermann’s.

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I’d say that Arkins column fits the Posts standards perfectly. Viciously anti-military.

And notice that some at the Post respect Arkin and others think that he hurt the Post’s “reputation.” Not a word about anyone disagreeing with him though.

Capitalist Infidel on February 10, 2007 at 6:09 PM

Exit question: How is it that most bloggers manage to avoid comparing U.S. troops to guns for hire with no editorial oversight whatsoever, yet WaPo.com needs at least two editors to hold their guys back?

Because most bloggers aren’t rabid anti-American traitors?

steveegg on February 10, 2007 at 6:13 PM

I’m still trying to figure out why this guy is called a “Military Analyst”.

And more importantly, gets paid for it?

Romeo13 on February 10, 2007 at 6:15 PM

At the risk of redundancy (I’ve said this before — and no one likes to hear it, even though I believe it to be true):

“It’s ALL tabloid journalism.”
(There isn’t any OTHER kind of journalism.)

Why should the WA Post be held to a different standard from the blog sites?
Okay. I’ll admit it. My cynicism is showing (again).
Oh, and BTW, yes, I DO think that Arkin is a dipstick.

CyberCipher on February 10, 2007 at 6:24 PM

I complained to Deborah Howell at the time of Arkin’s first post and she emailed me that she was the ombudsman for the printed version and that I should email Jim Brady. I thought they worked for the same paper?

d1carter on February 10, 2007 at 6:28 PM

I wonder if the same coalition that went into Iraq during the first Gulf War, but stayed this time. Would the results be any different. I would say thousands and thousands of lives difference.

tomas on February 10, 2007 at 6:33 PM

What bother me is the emphasis on the “mercenary” and “obscene amenities”. The most deplorable part of the first two articles was Arkin’s assertion that the military was on the cusp of a coup to take over the government.

Civilian control and oversight of the military is a cornerstone of our Republic. That Arkin could so cavalierly attribute such motives to patriots is appalling.

The Washington Post has made a decision to support Arkin, I’ve made a decision to never read the Washington Post again.

MCPO Airdale on February 10, 2007 at 6:46 PM

I sincerely apologize to anyone in the military who took my words literally.

Literally? Was there any other way to take it?

.

GT on February 10, 2007 at 7:00 PM

More experienced eyes see a story or a column before it goes into the paper; The Post has several levels of rigorous editing

Translation:
Most of our reporters are just jumping at the bit to publish bilge like this but we won’t let them express their honest opinion ’cause then we’d look like loons.
But trust us anyway.

billy on February 10, 2007 at 7:10 PM

I have to ask. Does no one at the Post monitor their on-line content? You would think that someone at the Post would have had to approve that post.

William Teach on February 10, 2007 at 7:13 PM

GT nailed it – “I apologize to anyone who took my words literally” means “I apologize to anyone who thought that by calling US soldiers mercenaries I was calling US soldiers mercenaries.”

If we’re not supposed to take his words literally, why are we reading them?

Unless maybe Arkin’s a satirist, like Amanda Marcotte…

Levy on February 10, 2007 at 7:22 PM

Arkin apologized. He said he was “dead wrong” to use the word “mercenary,” that it “is an insult and pejorative, and it does not accurately describe the condition of the American soldier today. I sincerely apologize to anyone in the military who took my words literally.”…

Okay, I see a pattern here with the halfwits at the newspapers/newsblogs and the more notorious lefty/liberal bloggers.

Whenever anyone who takes “the pen is mightier than the sword” to the next level, the level of defamation/libel of groups of people, it’s all just “satire” or “Hey, I was just kiddin! C’mon…” after the fact. If no one kicks up a stink about it, it’s all good and it stands.

Bull pucky. These people are pathetic.

SilverStar830 on February 10, 2007 at 7:22 PM

Levy on February 10, 2007 at 7:22 PM

bah… you beat me by a half a second :)

SilverStar830 on February 10, 2007 at 7:23 PM

I hope we can all agree they don’t “mean it”. This is PR.

RightWinged on February 10, 2007 at 7:37 PM

I’ve seen a few Dem talking heads on the cable shows say that Arkin was hardly ever on NBC news, which is’nt true at all. I used to see him all the time on MSNBC and he was always put forth as a non-partisan military analyst and he always spent his time on air bashing Bush and bashing the military. But Dems know they’ll get away with it because they know the media will do a whitewash of the story (Edwards bloggers for instance) or not cover it all.

forged rite on February 10, 2007 at 7:43 PM

The “ombudsman” and Brady can BOTH get screwed. And so can MSNBC for NOT firing Arkin.

And Why should I give a rats butt what “tiny limp-dick” (JD Mark Levin’s label for Olbermann) thinks? He’s nothing but a pig liberal anyway?

georgej on February 10, 2007 at 8:05 PM

There’s no abject groveling in this (as in being honestly aghast at what was written). In fact the underlying tone is annoyance – with the readers. Kick the customers when they find your product sucks and have the cheek to complain to their friends an aquaintences about it. That’s what happens to every other company with a crap product. Why should the media be exempt from such treatment? Journalism isn’t anywhere near rocket science, though from the tone of these editors, you’d believe it was. In fact, doctors have a tougher trainig and job, let’s see, how about engineers, how about plumbers who must go to trade school and then must apprentice to pass their state exams for certification. Any “journalists” and editors have to pass a certification exam before they are allowed to write or edit for a paper?
Oh, and about that lousy product. Every other business tries to keep their customers by apologizing,and send them new, improved replacements, no charge, and call them up and send them freebies and a note to ask if they’re happy now and they don’t want to lose them as customers. Why does the media think it’s above all that? They have a stinkin’ monopoly and don’t have to listen to the customers?

naliaka on February 10, 2007 at 8:31 PM

“Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards”

which means he should have been more tactful in his blatant hatred of the military and republicans

Opinionnation on February 10, 2007 at 9:05 PM

WaPo ombudsman: “Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards”

‘ya think?

Wade on February 10, 2007 at 9:13 PM

WaPo ombudsman: “Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards”

Is Arkin headed to rehab?

Wade on February 10, 2007 at 9:15 PM

In a word – bullshit.

Pardon the profanity, but no other word fits.

Professional writers choose words carefully; professional editors consider all of the obvious buzz words thoroughly.

I guarantee the word “mercenary” was vetted, discussed, considered … and then green-lighted.

Arkin knew what he was doing. His editors knew what they were doing. The paper knew what it was doing.

The only thing they didn’t know was the reaction they’d get.

Which – when you surprise yourself with imbeciles trapped in the same brainwashing bubble – isn’t really surprising.

Professor Blather on February 11, 2007 at 12:46 AM

I’ll ask again, here, although he hadn’t answered there the last two times I asked (and I don’t expect him to answer here, either.)

“When, sir, was ‘mercenary’ ever an accurate description of the American soldier?”

htom on February 11, 2007 at 1:38 AM

“It’s ALL tabloid journalism.”
(There isn’t any OTHER kind of journalism.)

You got that right, CyberCipher. The WaPo and the National Enquirer are approaching a Harmonic Convergence of Critical Mass B.S.

In fact the underlying tone is annoyance – with the readers. Kick the customers when they find your product sucks and have the cheek to complain to their friends an aquaintences about it. That’s what happens to every other company with a crap product

. Why should the media be exempt from such treatment?

Yes, oh yes, let the awful truth be told. The WaPo scribblers look at the rest of us and see Larry the Cable Guy and Anna Smith. At best, they see us as children, and it’s Okay for adults to lie to children if the adults can convince themselves that their motives are worthwhile

Janos Hunyadi on February 11, 2007 at 3:36 AM

Professor Blather writes: “Which – when you surprise yourself with imbeciles trapped in the same brainwashing bubble – isn’t really surprising.”

One of my shooting buddies is a journalist. He’s an exception to the rule in that he is a gun owning, competitive target shooter. And I have no doubt that he would agree with everything you say.

georgej on February 11, 2007 at 10:17 AM

So, the post is saying that there are two standards, one for the print edition and one for the on-line edition, and I have no doubt that the post’s supporters are more than willing to accept this.

I guess there’s two different worlds in journalism; the real world where the print edition is located and another ‘virtual’ world where the on-line edition is located. Each world has their own separate editors, their own separate standards, and their own separate perceptions of decency. These two worlds are completely different from each other and are not inclusive, according to the post.

I wonder if the post and their supporters wold be willing to extend the acceptance of a two-world/dual-standard approach to journalism to other journalistic entities, like Fox News or the Washington Times? I doubt that very much.

RedinBlueCounty on February 11, 2007 at 12:28 PM

What bother me is the emphasis on the “mercenary” and “obscene amenities”. The most deplorable part of the first two articles was Arkin’s assertion that the military was on the cusp of a coup to take over the government.

This is typical of how Deborah Howell approaches these controversies. Up to a point it can be reasonably explained by space constraints in print. But very often, and certainly in this case, the result is to misrepresent the force and scope of the controversy. I may blog on this later today if I have the time. The same thing happened–was it just last week?–when she wrote about disproportionate antiwar- and abortion-protest coverage. She limited her analysis to the fact that the pro-life march was on A10, the antiwar on the front page. This ignored the fact that the antiwar story was twice as long and that there were two or three other stories about the antiwar march as opposed to the single pro-life story. Not to mention a similar online imbalance.

So.

Christopher Fotos on February 11, 2007 at 1:32 PM

“Arkin’s column did not meet Post standards”

Since the Washington Post allows bloggers to appear under the WashingtonPost.com masthead, it should strongly consider whether those blogs should go through the same editorial process as its op ed opinion pieces.

As show by the Arkin fiasco, the Post is allowing whatever reputation it has to be befouled by foul mouthed guttersnipes and low life weasels.

The Post should learn from the experience, not give crybaby excuses.

slp on February 11, 2007 at 4:16 PM

1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party and that you will remove the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party’s right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, or that is otherwise inappropriate. You will indemnify Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Company, its employees, agents, and affiliates from any and all claims and/or damages (including but not limited to reasonable attorneys’ fees) resulting from any claim brought by any third party relating to content you have posted. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated.

Hummm. looks like, according to the WAPO’s own blog posting guidelines, he DID violate their policy. They should remove his ability to post as they would any other violator of that policy. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, it never will.

RedinBlueCounty on February 11, 2007 at 5:27 PM