The Curious Case of Daniel Froomkin

posted at 6:05 pm on June 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Daniel Froomkin generated quite a following, especially on the Left, with his White House Watch blog during the Bush administration.  Froomkin took to the role of blogger quickly, using the blog to move away from a reportorial style and frequently assailed Bush, to the point where the Washington Post’s own ombud had to address complaints over its bias.  However, Froomkin attracted plenty of traffic and attention and became one of the more well-known opinion journalists at the Post.

Now, however, the White House is under different management — and coincidentally or not, the Post has told Froomkin that the WHW blog has “run its course”:

In a move sure to ignite the left-wing blogosphere, washingtonpost.com columnist Dan Froomkin (author of the “White House Watch” blog) has been let go by the news organization, POLITICO hears. In so many words, Froomkin was told that his blog had essentially run its course.

Froomkin’s work for the Post has, at times, been amongst the most popular, but he has also ruffled some feathers, including former Post ombudsman Deb Howell, who used a column to field complaints over the labeling of Froomkin’s “highly opinionated and liberal” “White House Briefing” column, which was subsequently changed to “White House Watch.” …

Froomkin was a frequent target of the right, but the left welcomed his voice within the Washington Post’s umbrella and Froomkin said that his mission was to “watch the White House like a hawk.”

The Post hasn’t abandoned the concept of blogging.  They just hired Ezra Klein to blog for them, and thus far don’t appear to be shutting anyone else down. Nor does traffic levels seem to be the problem, not from the explanation given to Politico’s Patrick Gavin from the Post, which is that they needed to “balance their resources.”

That leaves just a couple of interpretations.  One could be that the Post didn’t trust Froomkin to maintain an hawk-like watch on a Democratic administration.   That might be a problem, but I’ve talked with Froomkin, and he seemed to take that job seriously.  Perhaps the Post thought they couldn’t trust him to do that, but if that was the case, they should have removed him during the Bush years, and they didn’t, so that explanation seems unlikely.

The other interpretation is that perhaps the Post just doesn’t want that level of scrutiny during an Obama administration.  If so, we’ll see soon enough, because if they don’t bother to have a White House-focused blog that gives more careful scrutiny than their normal reporting, we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats.

Update: A couple of theories have come to me over the evening.  One e-mailer suggested that Froomkin was some sort of threat to the Post’s conservative columnists, which is just silly.  Froomkin was sharply left, but the Post managed to survive having him and Charles Krauthammer in the same organization, although there apparently wasn’t much love lost between them.

A source with some knowledge of the Post’s relationship with its bloggers suggests that it just might be a traffic level decision.  Froomkin worked as a free-lancer, reportedly on six-month contracts, and that would make June a decision month on whether traffic supported his work.  Liberal blogs have had a fair decline in readership since Obama took office, so that could be it.

Update II: The piece appeared on Michael Calderone’s blog at Politico but was actually authored by Patrick Gavin.  Sorry for the confusion — I just missed the by-line.


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I go for Door Number 2, Ed.

Of course the WaPo has a different standard, because they didn’t endorse Boosh. They did endorse Barry.

Del Dolemonte on June 18, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Perhaps he’s been hired by the White House as the spokesperson for Kal Penn.

gabriel sutherland on June 18, 2009 at 6:09 PM

I am sorry, but if you or anyone else thinks that this scum bag would “watch” the Obama White House (vs. cheerlead) then you are a real sucker. As a WaPo reader, I must say today is a fantastic day!

Dan Fruit-kin is an anti-american, anti-israel scumbag. I hope the only employment he finds is at the local Wendy’s or BK. Total neo-phyte, total loser. Case closed.

sayabule1 on June 18, 2009 at 6:11 PM

I’m with Del.

txag92 on June 18, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Oh please, who needs another adoring mouthpiece for the administration, the Post has that covered. Times are tough, why pay this guy to duplicate efforts already in progress.

Cindy Munford on June 18, 2009 at 6:14 PM

I pulled the plug on my local paper the day after the elections — why send my money to a group so anti-American? When there’s a local paper that handles journalism professionally, and maintains a skeptical and evenhanded journalistic demeanor, I might reconsider — but I won’t hold my breath.

cthulhu on June 18, 2009 at 6:14 PM

Dissent is no longer patriotic (at least until the next Republican President)

Speedwagon82 on June 18, 2009 at 6:14 PM

I am sorry, but if you or anyone else thinks that this scum bag would “watch” the Obama White House (vs. cheerlead) then you are a real sucker. As a WaPo reader, I must say today is a fantastic day!

Dan Fruit-kin is an anti-american, anti-israel scumbag. I hope the only employment he finds is at the local Wendy’s or BK. Total neo-phyte, total loser. Case closed.

You make many thoughtful, well-reasoned points.

YYZ on June 18, 2009 at 6:15 PM

As a WaPo reader, I must say today is a fantastic day!

So you think the Post is doing this to increase the scrutiny on the White House? I hope you’re right (and I like the Post, too), but I’m doubtful.

Ed Morrissey on June 18, 2009 at 6:15 PM

There is no need to watch the White House now, everyone there is totally trustworthy.

myrenovations on June 18, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Unbelievable. I will soon need jaw surgery – it drops daily at the incredible blind bias on display from the MSM and their nonchalant shoulder shrugging.

djl130 on June 18, 2009 at 6:19 PM

we’ll see soon enough, because if they don’t bother to have a White House-focused blog that gives more careful scrutiny than their normal reporting, we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats.

As if the point even needs to be made. I’d be shocked, shocked I tell you, if the Post did indeed have a different standard for the R’s that they do for the D’s.

glennbo on June 18, 2009 at 6:23 PM

we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats.

I believe all of us already know this to be true, however the firing of Daniel “I do Shroom-kins” just confirms it.

I say good riddance to smelly (and ugly) trash! Oh and I have some advice for Shroom-kins, perhaps he should see if TOTUS is willing to pay is bills and mortgage while he tries to find another job, after all according to most Obama voters once he was elected the Obama admin will pay their bills and mortgage, right?

Liberty or Death on June 18, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Washington still has a paper?

portlandon on June 18, 2009 at 6:24 PM

firing a liberal blogger is a clear sign of liberal bias in the media.

sesquipedalian on June 18, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Useful Idiot no longer useful.

Disturb the Universe on June 18, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Stalin dispensed with many of his allies once they were no longer serving his purpose, too.

Disturb the Universe on June 18, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Maybe they are just a little bit more concerned about offending an Obama Whitehouse than they were about offending a Bush Whitehouse?

Its called self-preservation, and after watching what happened to a couple of automotive manufacturers, various attorney generals and a significant number of financial insitutions, who could blame them?

Facism – nah, could never happen in America, could it?

Fatal on June 18, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Watch dogs out.
Lap dogs in.

Disturb the Universe on June 18, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Now a Liberal knows what it feels like to be laid off in Obama’s America.

Beaglemom on June 18, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Dan Fruit-kin is an anti-american, anti-israel scumbag. I hope the only employment he finds is at the local Wendy’s or BK. Total neo-phyte, total loser. Case closed.

sayabule1 on June 18, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Tell us how you really feel.

Johan Klaus on June 18, 2009 at 6:33 PM

Ed,

I think the WaPo fired Fruit-kin because they (finally) realized that he is completely incapable of writing anything objective.

Have you actually consistently read this guy’s hate-filled “columns” over the last few years. He makes Eugene Robinson look like Jesse Helms. Fruit-kin is so far off the deep-end that I understand he wears a bib when writing his “columns” about Obama to protect his shirt from all of the slobber.

If you are expecting the WaPo to “scrutinize” the WH, then you have a lot more faith in the liberal MSM than I ever will.

sayabule1 on June 18, 2009 at 6:35 PM

hey,maybe this is the post’ssss idea of hopey/changey.

SHARPTOOTH on June 18, 2009 at 6:38 PM

firing a liberal blogger is a clear sign of liberal bias in the media.

sesquipedalian on June 18, 2009 at 6:25 PM

In this case…yes it is!

Liberty or Death on June 18, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Now a Liberal knows what it feels like to be laid off in Obama’s America.

Beaglemom on June 18, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Actually it’s already happened-far Leftist Looney Toon syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall was fired a couple of months ago.

He blamed it on Bush, of course.

Del Dolemonte on June 18, 2009 at 6:39 PM

He’s creepy looking — like most moonbats. Glad he was fired.

Blake on June 18, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Not many people know it, but Fruit-kin’s wife worked for the George W. Bush DOJ. Maybe the Post just figured that one out.

sayabule1 on June 18, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Can’t say his replacement is any better, the creepy ezra klein. yech.

Blake on June 18, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Few people on the web could be more consistent in their Obama bootlicking and Bush hatred than Froomkin. Just today he said that the reason that the public was afraid of Obama’s multi trillion deficits was because the press wasn’t doing its job in explaining to the peasants why these are necessary. I used to call his column “White House Worship” after Obama was sworn in.

DJ Rick on June 18, 2009 at 6:42 PM

If so, we’ll see soon enough, because if they don’t bother to have a White House-focused blog that gives more careful scrutiny than their normal reporting, we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats.

Is that a serious statement? I guess that’s the non-confrontational approach Ed… almost… Obama-like.

BKeyser on June 18, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Maybe Daniel wouldn’t let “O” eat his waffle?

the Coondawg on June 18, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Ed,

Thanks for reporting on the reality distortion field created by sycophants in the media. We are all witness to the erosion of our freedoms. It is happening right before our eyes. We must all Fight to stop it. We owe it to future generations.

Geochelone on June 18, 2009 at 6:45 PM

They are playing musical douche bags.

Geochelone on June 18, 2009 at 6:45 PM

I guess his wasnt one of the 600,000 jobs that the Dear Leader was going to save or create.

HA!

DJ Rick on June 18, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Looking around the internet, it seems like the lefties really are upset about this firing.

myrenovations on June 18, 2009 at 6:46 PM

Oh, good grief. Ezra Klein? This Ezra Klein?

flipflop on June 18, 2009 at 6:49 PM

did they actually pay Froomkin? Could be an easy cost cutting opportunity.

mperek on June 18, 2009 at 6:49 PM

He’s creepy looking — like most moonbats. Glad he was fired.

Blake on June 18, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Yep, especially those beety little eyes of his behind those glasses…a clear sign of moonbat-itis!

Liberty or Death on June 18, 2009 at 6:49 PM

We’ll know they have a different standard? Wasn’t that proven long ago?

True_King on June 18, 2009 at 6:52 PM

The Fourth Estate in the bag for Obama? I’m shocked, as shocked as I was to find that gambling was going on at Rick’s.
The bastards in the MSM sold their souls and their credibility when they pushed Numbnuts for president. They can’t go back now. They are the ‘know-all’ elite.

GarandFan on June 18, 2009 at 6:54 PM

What of the rumor Amanda Carpenter is getting the job?

JiangxiDad on June 18, 2009 at 6:54 PM

I go for Door Number 2, Ed.

Del Dolemonte on June 18, 2009 at 6:08 PM

When it comes to Obama, what does the Washington Post put out other than Number 2?

Loxodonta on June 18, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Hopefully, he didn’t sign a no compete clause.

bloggless on June 18, 2009 at 6:59 PM

It’s things like this that make people continue the Letterman saga.

GoodBoy on June 18, 2009 at 7:03 PM

Today truly is a fantastic day.

sayabule1 on June 18, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Karl Rove, you magnificent bastard!

cjtony97 on June 18, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Froomkin deserved to be fired since back in January when he wrote this nonsense.

After eight years, we’ve gotten used to having a president whose credibility is shot, whose policy apparatus is utterly politicized, and whose decision-making process is completely opaque. So what do we do with President Obama? Do we treat him with the same skepticism with which we learned to approach Bush? If not, how do we hold him accountable? These are some of the issues I’m wrestling with as I prepare to make the transition from Bush to Obama – and I’d welcome your input.

He was trying to figure out how to turn from “watchdog” to lapdog. If as a reporter you have to figure out how to hold a politician accountable because he is as liberal as you, you shouldn’t have a job. He was wasting space at this point.

Ripclawe on June 18, 2009 at 7:24 PM

It’s the country that suffers. The idea of a White House “Watch” is an excellent project. It’s amazing that WaPo is so far from objectivity and independence that it can’t staff the project for this most naive and inexperienced of administrations. Of course, it would have been nice if an objective and independent journalist had manned the project for the last administration.

Mark30339 on June 18, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Froomkin is a partisan hack, and while there are many examples illustrating that fact, I personally proved it in August 2005 when he “Dowdified” a Bush remark regarding Cindy Sheehan’s protest in Crawford, TX.

WashPost Writer’s Deception: ‘Bush Mischaracterized His Iraq Critics’

Froomkin’s angle was that on August 24, 2005, Bush was creating a straw man argument by suggesting everyone who thought the Iraq War was a mistake were advocating immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq, but the entire Middle East region.

Here’s Froomkin’s blog that day (bold mine):

Fighting Back — and Mischaracterizing His Critics

Bush took 10 minutes away from biking and boating at a Utah resort yesterday to step before the microphones. The first question he faced from reporters, not surprisingly, was about war protester and grieving mother Cindy Sheehan.

Here’s the text of his remarks.

“I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake,” Bush said. “I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East would be — are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States. So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I met with a lot of families. She doesn’t represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with. And I’ll continue to meet with families.”

But as several media reports pointed out this morning, critics of the Iraq war are not advocating an immediate withdrawal from the greater Middle East. And many are not even calling for an immediate pullout from Iraq. Rather, they are asking for a specific plan to bring the troops home, and maybe an acknowledgement of error.

In reality, Bush was not referring to all war critics, he was referring specifically to Cindy Sheehan and people who agree with her. Here’s the entire exchange cut-and-pasted from the White House website (bold mine):

Q: Mr. President, we know you met with Cindy Sheehan a year ago, but she says a lot has changed since then; she has more to say to you. And even some Republicans have said that you should meet with her. Why not do that when you get back to the ranch?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I did meet with Cindy Sheehan. I strongly support her right to protest. There’s a lot of people protesting, and there’s a lot of points of view about the Iraq war. As you know, in Crawford last weekend there were people from both sides of the issue, or from all sides of the issue there to express their opinions.

I sent Deputy Chief of Staff Hagin and National Security Advisor Hadley to meet with Ms. Sheehan early on. She expressed her opinion. I disagree with it. I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake. I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East would be — are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States. So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I met with a lot of families. She doesn’t represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with. And I’ll continue to meet with families.

For those who would say Bush shouldn’t be believed when he said Sheehan told Hagin and Hadley she wanted withdrawal from the Middle East entirely: Howzabout letting Sheehan speak for herself?

From the Los Angeles Times: Ron Brownstein wrote this regarding Sheehan’s opinion one week before Froomkin’s above post (August 17, 2005):

The danger for critics is that pressure on Bush to change direction may diminish if the public considers their alternatives less attractive.

Though groups like MoveOn support the Jones-Abercrombie proposal for a gradual withdrawal, Sheehan told a conference call Tuesday that she considered that time frame “not soon enough.” She is urging an immediate return of all U.S. troops — an idea that polls show most Americans oppose.

Still not good enough for you? Click here to see a screencap of the February 2005 scheduling of a Marin [County (CA)] Peace & Justice Coalition symposium on the topic “How to Get the Bush Administration out of the Middle East.” There were two featured speakers, and the second was “Cindy Shaheen (sic) whose son was killed in Iraq.”

If anything, it’s nice that Froomkin and I (for the time being) will be getting paid the at same rate for blogging (that is to say, zero.) After all, I do more research he does.

L.N. Smithee on June 18, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Much to my surprise, Froomkin is the first to be declared ‘obsolete’ under the new administration. I expected Jake Tapper to get this treatment for ABC first.

jon1979 on June 18, 2009 at 7:38 PM

There is no one more redundant than a left-wing blogger these days, they could fire half of them and there would still be thousands of them mouthing the same old talking points.

echosyst on June 18, 2009 at 7:39 PM

Much to my surprise, Froomkin is the first to be declared ‘obsolete’ under the new administration. I expected Jake Tapper to get this treatment for ABC first.

jon1979 on June 18, 2009 at 7:38 PM

Man, I used to hate Tapper. Now, it seems he’s lost his taste for the Obama Fool-Aid, and as a result his intellectual honesty has regenerated in his brain.

Tapper still has hiccups of bias, but he’s no longer a hack. Following him on Twitter has been a revelation — he can’t stand Robert Gibbs giving him and the WHPC the runaround. OTOH, following Tweets from CNN’s Rick Sanchez and MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer confirms they’re just as dumb as they appear to be.

L.N. Smithee on June 18, 2009 at 7:46 PM

we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats.

Was this ever in doubt?

jdkchem on June 18, 2009 at 7:54 PM

we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats.

Oh Ed! If you like the post, and haven’t discovered that the above statement isn’t painfully obvious, then shame on you!

And in other news, water is wet.

rightside on June 18, 2009 at 7:59 PM

I imagine that they would prefer someone other than Froomkin to write up something similar to the White House Watch.

Froomkin did an excellent job and the Post did make an effort to balance their blog opinions… this weas covered well by Ed in CQ days.

It’s really sad to see all the hateful comments about Dan. He is a nice and very approachable guy who encourages readers to look at conservative blogs and diversify their reading. It was one such write up that led to my wandering over to read Ed’s stuff for the first time. If you think he is merely a cheerleader for Obama then you simply haven;t been reading him since the election.

lexhamfox on June 18, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Ah, but the thing y’all all seem to be missing is that the media spent 8 years building a whole media infrastructure dedicated to enlisting pop culture in ridiculing a sitting President. Froomkin was part of this.

Then their guy won. Lapdogs are boring. Boring loses readership/listeners/viewership. And that pop culture media is going to spend the rest of this four-year-term at least being lapdogs. Therefore, they are going to bore the crap out of their audience and lose that audience. Froomkin was let go probably because he was boring his audience.

Sekhmet on June 18, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Actually it’s already happened-far Leftist Looney Toon syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall was fired a couple of months ago.
He blamed it on Bush, of course.Del Dolemonte

I had forgotten about him. Liberals are pretty forgettable.;)

Beaglemom on June 18, 2009 at 8:39 PM

,

we’ll know that the Post has a different standard for Republicans than they do for Democrats

.
We’ll know that, um, six months ago.

itsnotaboutme on June 18, 2009 at 9:03 PM

what’s the over/under on that?

brennan251 on June 18, 2009 at 9:56 PM

Did Froomkin bring anything to the table other than just another outlet of lefty talking points while pretending to not be a lefty?

ikez78 on June 18, 2009 at 11:20 PM

I am sorry, but if you or anyone else thinks that this scum bag would “watch” the Obama White House (vs. cheerlead) then you are a real sucker. As a WaPo reader, I must say today is a fantastic day!

Dan Fruit-kin is an anti-american, anti-israel scumbag. I hope the only employment he finds is at the local Wendy’s or BK. Total neo-phyte, total loser. Case closed.

sayabule1 on June 18, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Worth repeating. And Good Lord, Ed, your ability to grant the benefit of a thousand doubts to scum leftists like the Post is not gracious, but really annoying and delusional.

Jaibones on June 18, 2009 at 11:23 PM

Here’s Froomkin wasting what is supposed to be his White House Watch space to do an apparently urgent Krauthammer watch. Froomkin comes just shy of calling Krauthammer himself evil. The article is filled with so many lies, half truths, moral vanities, etc. that I don’t really have the time to fisk it. His style of writing is exasperating. He is like a Metal Storm of liberal conventional wisdom, firing more fallacies per second than can be effectively countered. Let him go. He would have been useless anyway.

shazbat on June 19, 2009 at 12:35 AM

What’s a Froomkin? Who cares what a Froomkin thinks or says? Froomkin can now use the time to go shave that pathetic attempt at hirsuteness off his face, and get a real job. The San Francisco Chronicle might be a good place to try, although I understand everyone there’s on a day-to-day contract. Maybe minute-to-minute.

bradley11 on June 19, 2009 at 8:00 AM