The Washington Post Responds To Criticism of Fast And Furious Coverage


If you want to get in touch with The Washington Post, email them. The people on the phone are incredibly rude, but then again, when you ask them why their coverage of Operation Fast and Furious is subpar, you can’t blame them for being a little defensive, right? Yes, you can, because they’re still part of the dinosaur media that hides behind the façade of “objectivity,” and as long as they create that standard for themselves, they should be non-partisan in their news coverage.

Right after I called The New York Times, I called The Washington Post and was treated extremely rudely. The first individual I spoke with actually asked me, “‘Fast and Furious’ the movie?” Really? I would call The Washington Post about their lack of coverage for a 2009 sequel to a drag racing movie? Trying not to laugh, I explained the difference between that and OPERATION Fast and Furious. I was transferred to the national desk, and when I brought up Operation Fast and Furious, the man on the other end talked extremely quickly and asked if I wanted to be transferred to the ombudsman. I said no, but before I could explain why, he said “thank you” and hung up on me.

Oh, I don’t think so!

I sent a bitter email to the executive editor, both managing editors, and deputy managing editor at 10:33AM CDT on Tuesday.

Hi Washington Post,

First off, I just called and was treated rudely. I was transferred to the National desk and I simply asked why there was a lack of coverage for Operation Fast & Furious and the man I talked to talked extremely fast giving me a lame excuse & said he could transfer me to the ombudsman. I said no, but before I could explain why he said thank you and hung up on me. Do you do that to all your readers who call out your journalistic integrity?

I still demand to know why you guys barely touch Fast & Furious and when you do it’s buried. A big story like this should be front and center on the first page just like you had when Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez was in a scandal in 2007 involving the firing of US attorneys.

I’m not the only one who has noticed this.

1) Ms. Horowitz spins her stories to defend Mr. Holder.

2) A story like this shouldn’t have to be searched for. YOU should have it on YOUR FRONT page. It should be easy access.

3) You don’t break the story as soon as it’s released.

THAT is why I didn’t want to be transferred to the ombudsman. Plus I’ve been asking him on Twitter (I seem to receive answers quicker that way) and haven’t received one tweet.

Please explain to me and your other readers why you are burying this story. Have you forgotten Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by a gun from this operation.

Please call and email me.

Mary Chastain

I received a response from Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor, at 1:00PM CDT on Tuesday.

Dear Ms. Chastain,

I’m very sorry if you were treated rudely when you called. We value your loyalty and appreciate that you have taken the time to let us know your thoughts. That said, we have done extensive reporting on the Fast and Furious program, and published a piece by Ms. Horowitz that was one of the best descriptions I have seen of how this program went off the rails. We remain interested in the facts, and in official responsibility, but we won’t write what we don’t know. We don’t know what Mr. Holder’s responsibility is beyond what he has said, but we are examining his role. Many thanks,

Marcus Brauchli

That is not good enough for me, especially if Mr. Brauchli is talking about Sari Horwitz’s article, which basically says since President Bush ran a similar operation (Operation Wide Receiver), it’s therefore okay for President Obama to run a similar operation. I originally was going to compare it to their coverage of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but instead I’ll compare it to the rock on Rick Perry’s vacation home. Tonight I replied to Mr. Brauchli this email:

Dear Mr. Brauchi:

First off, I am so sorry I wasn’t able to respond right away. I had to pick up my toddler & baby from school and the whole night was frantic! My apologies.

Are you describing the piece Ms. Horwitz wrote about Operation Wide Receiver? I’m actually extremely critical of that piece because it had a partisan view and basically said to me that since President Bush ran a similar operation it’s okay for President Obama to do the same.

I do give you props for at least publishing articles on it, but again, could Ms. Horwitz not add a partisan view to her articles? Plus this scandal is a big story and we shouldn’t have to search for it.

Actually, what really disappointed me was how you guys gave so much more attention to a ROCK on Rick Perry’s farm. How was THAT more important than Fast & Furious, which is directly linked to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry? Plus Mr. Perry’s family covered the rock because they found it offensive. But again how is a ROCK more important than an obvious very corrupt & illegal operation in the Department of Justice?

A rock. A rock received more attention than Fast & Furious. How can that be explained? The rock story was on the front page of your webpage and politics section. Yet I had to search for Fast & Furious. Something is extremely wrong with that picture.

Mary Chastain

Why is a story about a rock on the land of a vacation home important, especially since Mr. Perry’s family covered up the racial slur because they found it offensive (in 1984, no less)? On Monday, October 3rd, The Washington Post published this article, headlined “Rick Perry hunting camp controversy: what you need to know.” This was a round-up article; that day and the previous day the Post published 10 articles covering the rock.

10 articles dedicated to the Rick Perry rock nontroversy. TEN ARTICLES.

I searched “Eric Holder” “Fast and Furious” with search dates 12/1/2010 to 10/12/2011. It came up with just 33 articles. Just 33 articles in about 9 months about Operation Fast and Furious but they published 10 articles within a span of a day about a stupid rock at a vacation home.

I hope Mr. Brauchli and the ombudsman have a really great answer for me. I will update the readers here at Big Journalism as soon as they send it.


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