Former Wash. Post Ombudsman: Fire Jennifer Rubin

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The change in ownership over at the Washington Post has generated a flood of free advice for new owner Jeff Bezos from all corners. Among those advice-givers, Patrick Pexton stands out as someone who not only worked for the Washington Post (he was the ombudsman until this past March) but also directly liaised with the Post's readership. In a column for the Washington City Paper, Pexton counsels Bezos to get rid of "the No. 1 source of complaint mail about any single Post staffer" that he received while serving as ombudsman: Jennifer Rubin.

The bill of particulars Pexton lays out against Rubin should be (for Media Matters readers, at least) familiar:

She doesn't travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. Her analysis of the conservative movement, which is a worthwhile and important beat that the Post should treat more seriously on its national pages, is shallow and predictable. Her columns, at best, are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward.

And she is often wrong, and rarely acknowledges it. She was oh-so-wrong about Mitt Romney, week after week writing embarrassing flattery about his 2012 campaign, calling almost every move he made brilliant, and guaranteeing that he would trounce Barack Obama. When he lost, the next day she savaged him and his campaign with treachery, saying he was the worst candidate with the worst staff, ever. She was wrong about the Norway shootings being acts of al-Qaida. She was wrong about Chuck Hagel being an anti-Semite. And does she apologize? Nope.

He's right that Rubin was aggressively, enthusiastically, and embarrassingly in the bag for Mitt Romney during the 2012 election, and that post-election blog post she wrote about Romney's "Perils of Pauline" campaign was a particularly galling bit of revisionist history.

Pexton makes a another point that is important and has to be repeated: Rubin is an embarrassment "not because she's conservative, but because she's just plain bad." She lies consistently about matters big and small, with no indication that she cares one way or the other about being found out. She frequently makes claims that a simple Google search would prove false. That's not a problem of ideology. It's a problem of basic competence and forthrightness that the Post is going to have to address sooner or later.

The paper is, of course, free to address it however they see fit. But for its own sake, sooner would be better.

UPDATE: Politico's Dylan Byers obtained an emailed response from Rubin to Pexton's column: "'hahahahahhahaha' - that's a direct quote"

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The Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin
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