We haven’t said enough about Dan Froomkin’s dismissal from the Washington Post. What a stupid move by Fred Hiatt. Basically, I think the Post sucks. But, the one bright spot on the website was “White House Watch.” I have lots of posts that just started with the word “Froomkin.” That’s all it took for people to know it would be good. Dan got us through the dark days by writing the truth and calling out the lies. He didn’t get caught up in all the drama and stagecraft that is the White House press briefing room. He just called it as he saw it — even when other journalists were just playing right along with Bush and Cheney and the rest of them.
John and I got to know Dan over the years. He’s as engaging in person as he is online. Smart. Very smart and never bought into the DC BS. That’s probably why he can’t work at the Post anymore. The paper defines DC BS from Fred Hiatt to Sally Quinn to Dana Milbank and on and on…
Today, Dan wrote his last column at WashingtonPost.com. Here’s how it starts:
Today’s column is my last for The Washington Post. And the first thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you to all you readers, e-mailers, commenters, questioners, Facebook friends and Twitterers for spending your time with me and engaging with me over the years. And thank you for the recent outpouring of support. It was extraordinarily uplifting, and I’m deeply grateful. If I ever had any doubt, your words have further inspired me to continue doing accountability journalism. My plan is to take a few weeks off before embarking upon my next endeavor — but when I do, I hope you’ll join me.
It’s hard to summarize the past five and a half years. But I’ll try.
I started my column in January 2004, and one dominant theme quickly emerged: That George W. Bush was truly the proverbial emperor with no clothes. In the days and weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, the nation, including the media, vested him with abilities he didn’t have and credibility he didn’t deserve. As it happens, it was on the day of my very first column that we also got the first insider look at the Bush White House, via Ron Suskind’s book, The Price of Loyalty. In it, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill described a disengaged president “like a blind man in a room full of deaf people”, encircled by “a Praetorian guard,” intently looking for a way to overthrow Saddam Hussein long before 9/11. The ensuing five years and 1,088 columns really just fleshed out that portrait, describing a president who was oblivious, embubbled and untrustworthy.
When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney’s lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby’s lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.
When I think about the Bush years, I think about the lies, too. And, I think about how many “real” reporters sat in the briefing room while George Bush and his minions lied to their faces. Those reporters knew it and dutifully regurgitated the lies back to us. It was sickening. But, at least we had Froomkin.
So, I’ll link to Dan from wherever his next perch is. And, I know the Post’s loss will undoubtedly be some other entity’s gain.