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Former Ombudsman’s Nonsensical Screed

The Washington Post’s former ombudsman, a fellow by the name of Patrick Pexton, wrote an “open letter” to the new owner of the Post, Jeff Bezos, with advice on personnel. Mr. Pexton goes after one individual in particular–my former COMMENTARY colleague Jennifer Rubin.

How to describe what Pexton wrote? How about intemperate and embarrassing for starters. If that judgment sounds harsh, allow me a moment to prove my case. Mr. Pexton claims that Rubin’s columns are “at best political pornography.” (One can only imagine what her less-than-best writings conjure up in Pexton’s imagination.) We’re told she “peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike.” (“Every” is quite a lot.) She is guilty of “treachery” against the Romney campaign. This isn’t an open letter; it’s an open screed. Mr. Pexton’s claims are so ludicrous, in fact–so filled with transparent rage–that they shatter his credibility.

As someone who worked on the Romney campaign, allow me to clear Rubin of the charge of treachery. Mr. Pexton has worked himself to such a lather that he apparently forgets that he once defended Rubin for statements that he now attacks her for having made. (See this piece by Slate’s David Weigel.) I also got a chuckle out of the fact that “Rubin was the No. 1 source of complaint mail about any single Post staffer while I was ombudsman,” as if that is supposed to mean anything at all. What it undoubtedly means is that a lot of liberals complained to Pexton because Rubin is a conservative.

We’re also told that among others, “Thinking conservatives didn’t like her.” Really now? I know a lot of thinking conservatives–perhaps more than even Pexton knows–and many of them like Rubin. And even some of us unthinking conservatives like her as well. Nor does it help Pexton’s argument that during his ombudsman days, he said of Rubin, “She has excellent sources in the House and Senate leadership, and lots of Republicans read her and trust her.” 

Jennifer Rubin has been, in fact, a wonderful addition to the Post. Her writing is intelligent and informed. She isn’t afraid to engage in intra-conservative debates. She’s opinionated and fearless, a fine writer and thinker, and well plugged in to the Hill.

I have no idea what is behind Mr. Pexton’s tantrum, and I’m not all that interested in finding out. I’m happy to judge him simply on what he wrote–and what he wrote is dyspeptic nonsense.



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