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Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition)

The clown show that is the Washington Post continues, with Deborah Howell saying that Fred Hiatt and the Washington Post editorial board are entitled to make up their own facts:

[I]t's important to understand that I have no purview over the editorial policy of The Post. The editorial board makes policy, and it is not my job to second-guess it. But this case provides an excellent opportunity to point out to readers how reporters and editorial writers can see things quite differently. Editorials and news stories have different purposes. News stories are to inform; editorials are to influence...

The Daily Kos is amazed, and quotes the New York Times's ombudsman in response:

Opinions expressed on the editorial and Op-Ed pages of The New York Times aren't part of the public editor's mandate. But the facts are. And so are corrections of any misstatements...

UPDATE: Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher is even more disgusted with Hiatt and Howell:

'Post' Ombud Joins Battle Over Libby Leak: Howell in her column claimed that the Post editorial was merely trying to "support that leak as necessary to show that the president had reason to believe that Iraq was seeking uranium." This is patently false, for a mountain of evidence (as the Post itself has reported) now shows that the president had little or no reason to believe that Iraq was seeking uranium.

The ombud also shrugs that "we know a lot more now about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than we knew them." Well, she may know a lot more than she did then, but the president and his henchmen saw the writing on the wall themselves back in June and July 2003. It's telling that Howell makes no mention of the latest revelation this past week--also from the Post--about the top-level report debunking the "mobile biological labs," submitted in May 2003 and ignored by administration officials for many months.

Instead, Howell explains that reporters and editorial writers often simply "see things quite differently." They "depend on different sources." True enough, but what if editorials are poorly sourced, factually incorrect or as misleading as certain leaks from officials? What if the editors don't even care? Hiatt made a damning admission to Howell--even if he'd read the Gellman-Linzer piece before the editorial was written it probably wouldn't have changed a thing...