It's really funny and somehow not so surprising about readers' response when WaPo did an article recently this Sunday about the Abramoff's money trail prompting angry cries from unhinged Liberals toward a left-leaning WaPo news media of all thing. Enough so to get the attention of the Drudge Report. Article writer Deborah Howell, Washington Post Ombudsman, wrote recently in response to angry readers where the WaPo blog had to shut off the comments.
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.
Jim Brady goes further trying to explain here rationale in erasing all of the comments. It's a Jim Brady thing here, I digress, but it was Howell who wrote about the Abramoff article. I think both parties went the wrong way with this thing by agreeing (together, I suppose) to shut it down and delete the whole thing.
But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we've decided not to allow comments for the time being. It's a shame that it's come to this. Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it's a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.
With WaPo's very large reader base why did Deborah Howell or Jim Brady expect "civil conversations" from people with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, opinions, party affiliation and personalities? Especially from people who perceived that WaPo attacked their own Democrats and expect a "reasoned debate" thereafter? Either Deborah Howell or Jim Brady need to find the time to sit down and be the moderator or not and let it go like some blogs do, theoretically so.
Regardless, Liberals were up in arms when WaPo reported that both Democrats and Republicans received Abramoff's tainted money.
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.
The real killer to this whole thing? Abramoff's had lists sent to tribes telling them or directing them on what members of Congress were to receive specific amounts. WaPo even reported this back in 2004.
The fees and $2.9 million in federal political contributions Abramoff advised the tribes to make, two-thirds of it to Republicans, have led to battles in some tribes. Some tribe members question why their leaders approved such payments.
Abramoff also directed tribes to donate to several obscure foundations that appear to have no connection to Indian concerns, including a think tank in Rehoboth Beach, Del., set up by Scanlon.
The revelations led to Abramoff's ouster in March from Greenberg Traurig, the law firm where he led one of Washington's most successful lobbying groups. Greenberg Traurig said it acted after Abramoff "disclosed to the firm for the first time personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm."
And what did Liberal readers do in WaPo's comment area? Well, being extra nice was probably not quite the picture when it came to responding to WaPo's article and, assuming it was the case for Howell or Brady's motive, their weapons of mass deletion attempt. There are no definitive proofs since the ones in question (e.g. profanities) were deleted en masse, supposedly so. One commenter said:
Deleting comments changes nothing. Pay attention to your readers - we ultimately are the ones that keep The Post in business, and we would sincerely like to see our paper restored to its former glory.
And no wonder. WaPo had better take some lessons from the L.A. Times dropping share prices.
But wait! All is not lost. The remaining comments are not gone where Deborah Howell, Jim Brady and WaPo (as in "we" in Jim's letter) tried to blink them out of existence. Surprise, surprise, surprise! (Gomer style). They just went somewhere else where you have to dig to find them. You can now find those mass-deleted comments that are now cached in Yahoo search (January 17 th- 18th WaPo blog comments) while Democratic Underground has the January 19th comments archived here, and WaPo Lies have the January 15th - 16th comments archived. Those bots really do work fast. Deborah Howell simply didn't move fast enough. And funnier still, I don't really see any foul language post-WMDs. Just a lot of heavy criticisms lobbed in Howell's direction about the heavy deletion that would've been worthy to be left alone for posterity sake on the internet.
Now, forgive me since I didn't have the time to read all those hundreds of comments, literally so, but I've not found any profanities directed at Howell by using the find word search. Although a couple of "d" words were used for context purpose.
A lot of complaints were stemmed around about the weapons of mass deletion effort by Howell and/or Brady that went on and on and on for a few days. I counted 56 times the word "deleted" was mentioned, 15 times for "delete," and 22 times for the word "deleting." Most of them were about commenters' complaints of why their past comments were deleted. But as expected many went completely unhinged if you take the time to read the Yahoo cached comments (January 17 th- 18th WaPo blog comments archived) while Democratic Underground has the January 19th comments archived here, and WaPo Lies have the January 15th - 16th comments archived.
What's the deal Deborah Howell and/or Jim Brady? Why can't you just leave the comments up as a matter of record for your readers instead of trying to blink them out of existence? You can stop the comments by turning them off. Not by erasing them in the attempt to save face. Actually, you lost it now with the Yahoo cache now linked as well as other bloggers who have caputured WaPo's blog comments on various dates so we can see the fine examples of what happens when readers go unhinged. The Liberal ones, I mean.
UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! Thank you for stopping by. Pass this around. Deborah Howell, Jim Brady and WaPo will need to do some more explaining now.
UPDATE II: Welcome The Political Teen readers!