There's been an uproar in the liberal blogging community over the hire of Ben Domenech by The Washington Post for a new blog, Red America. Several sites have posted laundry lists of troublesome comments by Domenech. Some good detective work by bloggers has also revealed that Domenech has left comments on his original blog, Red State, under the pseudonym "Augustine" (he's a fan of St. Augustine). Domenech used "Augustine" to make comments more extreme than he'd care to have associated with his own name. How extreme? Well, Domenech just owned up to calling Coretta Scott King a communist and apologized. He calls it hyperbole - okay - but that's really just the most blatant example.
Score one for the liberal bloggers. I haven't exhaustively pored over all of Domenech's writings, but I do know he's fiercely pro-life, against gay marriage, and opposed to free speech if it involves criticizing the president during wartime. The blog Your Logo Here broke much of the material on Domenech, most notably the Augustine pseudonym. Crooks and Liars provides some good links on Domenech: Americablog here, Brad DeLong here, Dragonfire here, and two other compilation posts with more links here and here. Not surprisingly, Firedoglake has several posts up about him as well, and TBogg revists him as well here.
Oh, and by the way, while Domenech insults the reading skills of his critics in the same post as his Coretta Scott King apology, for a little context, you can
hear directly from Freakonomics co-author Steve Dubner here, or from the other co-author, Steve Levitt, here.
The Post already has at least four conservative voices I can think of, two of whom are nationally prominent, George Will and Charles Krauthammer. I'll always welcome an intelligent, intellectually honest voice, regardless of of the political leanings of the person. But Domenech is far, far right, and more to the point, an idiot. I love the Post overall and read it almost every day, but I'm happy they're getting heat over this. Who made this hire? While Jim Brady (editor of the website) and Deborah Howell (new, problematic ombudswoman) protest it wasn't the case, this move almost certainly was made because they (and presumably others at the Post) wanted to appease some rather rabid right-wing critics. Accurately reporting what the Bush administration and congress is doing is apparently "biased," because we all know if anything negative is written about Republicans, it can't possibly be true.
When the news tries to be "fair and balanced," it doesn't mean they should give equal time to reality and fantasy.
UPDATE: Wow! Talk about grassroots in action! While I was writing this post, Domenech has resigned over plagiarism! Read Jim Brady's explanation here. It's a whole omelette of egg on the face for Brady, and kudos to the bloggers...