Worth reprinting…

While the Washington Post newsroom staff is being cut by 10 percent Washingtonpost.com is technically a separate operation from the print edition. “The dot com is widely viewed as the area of future growth, while the paper is struggling to keep making a profit in the face of declining circulation and growing competition for advertisers,” says Post reporter Tom Edsall.

As evidenced by the popularity of “TV’s bastard child,” Reality TV, we are apparently thirsty for a clearer vision of reality, driven to news blogs and talk radio where anyone can ask a question and feel like they are getting closer to an unedited candid response.

One Kos blogger writes, “The girls in my office used to hop on the computer and read celebrity news. Now they spend their time on CNN talking to me about the latest atrocity.” Washington Post dot com realizes this…

Don’t want to miss out on the latest buzz in politics? Start each day at wonk central: The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m (Eastern Time). as a member of The Washington Post’s team of White House and Congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post’s coverage of political news. The Politics Hour is hosted by the following:

John F. Harris, National Political Editor
Dan Balz, Chief Political Reporter
Tom Edsall, National Political Reporter
Dana Milbank, National Political Reporter/Washington Sketch Columnist
Jim VandeHei, White House Reporter
Peter Baker, White House Reporter
Michael Fletcher, White House Reporter
Charles Babington, Congressional Reporter
Shailagh Murray, Congressional Reporter
Chris Cillizza, washingtonpost.com Political Columnist/blogger

The Post’s dot com just set off a firestorm by hiring Ben Domenech, one of the founders of RedState.org, a leading right-wing political weblog, to write the Post’s “Red America” blog. Another Cowardly Lion, Domenech’s blog doesn’t allow comments to be posted, and opens with an attack on leading left-wing political blogs such as DailyKos.com. But, thanks to Ben’s latest whining I just learned How to spot a baby conservative – Ken Kleiner’s Toronto Star warning, “Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints?”

Some reporters at the Post say Domenech is there to balance out “the rabid” Dana Milbank… If you have strong views about Red America you can e-mail them to Jim Brady at executive.editor@washingtonpost.com.

Worth reprinting…
On Monday the Washington Post’s Congressional reporter Shailagh Murray answered questions from readers during the Post Politics Hour. Selected questions from the chat and a link to the full transcript are included below:

Philadelphia, Pa,: The Philadelphia Inquirer provided a sensible discussion into the question of impeaching President Bush in yesterday’s newspaper. It seems to me that outside the Beltway the issue of censoring and impeaching the President is being treated without national panic, but within the Beltway it is a radioactive subject that no one outside Conyers or Feingold will approach. My question: Is this something on which the public may be ahead of Congress?

Shailagh Murray: Thank you for this thoughtful question.

Remember a while back, when the public was starting to go negative on the war, but no one in Washington believed it, and it was considered radical to even suggest we’d ever leave the place?

I am reminded of that moment as I see all these folks squirm over the censure idea. Contrary to what you might expect of people who are willing to run for office, politicians are generally risk adverse, and don’t like being first on anything controversial.

Charlottesville, Va.: Do you have any information on how much correspondence and telephone lobbying is going on from constituents to their Senators regarding the Feingold resolution? I support the resolution and called both of my senators (who are Republican, so just to let them know…), but am under the impression that there is a huge groundswell among Democrats for their party to stand in solidarity with Feingold on this issue. I’m aware of the polls, but believe that people who support Feingold are quite passionate. What is your impression?

Shailagh Murray: I will start by saying this: I wrote a story about Feingold last week that resulted in the angriest, most passionate e-mail blizzard I have ever experienced. Clearly, this is an issue where blurry polls mask deeply held convictions on both sides, but particularly on the Left, where folks truly believe Bush is a war criminal.

That’s a minority view. However, as Feingold points out, and I think he may be on to something, there has been a complacency in Washington since Sept. 11 that has extended with the Iraq war. Congress barely scrutinizes anything these days. Lawmakers in both parties are wary of undermining Bush when there are troops on the ground.

Talking to folks on the Hill, it is clear that the Feingold effort has touched a nerve in both parties. With Republicans, it exposes their great political weakness — that they don’t challenge Bush on anything. And Democrats are being pressed by their own base to stand up against Bush on this issue, to show they have backbone, and on the principle that in this instance Bush may in fact have violated the law.

Mclean, Va.: Is Russ Feingold of Russellmania the only senator who actually takes a look at what is going on and then acts as their conscience dictates? Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Barack Obama–none of these guys will even said Boo, unless it is a politically calculated, cameras on, Boo! that might somehow serve to keep them in Congress. This is why people believe the Democrats are the party of no ideas. The Republicans may be the party of bad ideas, and it is time for someone to stand up. Like it or not, Feingold did. What do you say about the lack of concrete ideas coming from the Democratic leadership?

Shailagh Murray: To be fair to Democrats, neither party has an interesting and fresh slate of ideas. The difference is that Democrats have been scampering around trying to assemble one for months, all very publicly, in their usual navel-gazing, disorganized way. Feingold is taking a different angle — that people aren’t looking for brilliant ideas these days, but for backbone and leadership. He, and a lot of others in both parties, believe that’s what voters will be looking for in November.

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