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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Read this article: it explains how the free flow of information on the Internet could be squelched out by the end of the decade. This is serious. Take a few minutes and give this a read. Then think about how to make your voice heard.

I haven't watched every new development in the firestorm over Post ombudsman Deborah Howell and her remarks about whether Jack Abramoff gave political money to Democrats. But just to recap: She made some sloppy and inaccurate remarks, which dovetailed, accidentally or not, with Republican spin. Then, instead of just correcting herself, she hedged, claimed it was a distinction without a difference and then tried to hide behind claims that it was simply a matter of poor phrasing.

It's hard to be surprised, given the first episode with Howell last month.

But the whole blow-up has created this subdiscussion about whether honorable press types like Howell and others are being mauled and knocked around and generally abused by cyber-ruffians who have been on her case over the last few days.

This stuff isn't always pretty. But, really, thank God those folks are on her tail because shoddy reporting isn't pretty either.

So much of the imbalance and shallowness of press coverage today stems from a simple fact: reporters know they'll catch hell from the right if they say or write anything that can even remotely be construed as representing 'liberal bias'. (Often even that's not required.) Indeed, when you actually watch -- from the inside -- how mainstream newsrooms work, it is really not too much to say that they operate on two guiding principles: reporting the facts and avoiding impressions of 'liberal bias'.

On the left or center-left, until very recently, there's simply never been an organized chorus of people ready to take the Howells of the press biz to task and mau-mau them when they get a key fact wrong. Without that, the world of political news was like an NBA game where one side played the refs hard and had roaring seats of fans while the other never made a peep. With that sort of structural imbalance, shoddy scorekeeping and cowed, and eventually compliant, refs are inevitable.

This is evening the balance, creating a better press.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Iranian nuclear program but were afraid to ask?

Iran and its nuclear program are going to be a big issue this year. So it makes sense to know something about it. Clearly, the Iranians are engaged in a major nuclear research program. Is it for weapons? If it is, how close are they to producing them?

(Contrary to the impression you'd get from reading a number of your more antic columnists, the US intelligence community believes that the Iranians are roughly a decade away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. Charles Krauthammer says it's just a matter of months. You decide who to believe.)

So next week, from Monday through Thursday, we're going to have two arms control experts, Paul Kerr of the Arms Control Association and Dr. Jeffrey Lewis of Armscontrolwonk.com. They'll be blogging about the technical capacity of the Iranian nuclear effort, what it's for, whether it's any near to produce a nuclear weapon and other related topics.

They also want to answer your questions. So we've set up a thread over at TPMCafe where you can pose questions for them to answer next week.

Just a question.

Back in 1988, then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) launched his jihad against House Speaker Jim Wright over his infamous book deal -- an arrangement which, while by no means kosher, seems almost quaint by today's standards.

Wright was eventually forced to resign the speakership in May of 1989.

Did Gingrich base his crusade on pushing for tighter rules on book deals?

Can we learn something from this?

More fishy money coming in to Jack Abramoff.

This time it's $1.4 million from an oddly named outfit in Hong Kong called "Rose Garden Holdings." Only there don't seem to be any records in Hong Kong that such a company does or has ever existed.

That may be why, as the Hong Kong Standard reports, DOJ investigators recently showed up in Hong Kong to look into the company and whatever funny money business Abramoff was conducting over there.

Check out the article. It even references some of the Abramoff emails we've published here on TPM.

Ney won't go quietly?

TPM Reader NN sent us a link to this article in the Cincinnati Enquirer about Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett and the sounds he's starting to make that Rep. Ney should step down because of the ethical cloud surrounding him.

Says Ney: "I would say if he asked me to step down that he'd better look in the mirror because glass houses break easily."

Says cheese, indeed.

Washingtonian is reporting that there are at least five photographs of President Bush and Jack Abramoff hanging out spending quality time. Not grainy, weirdly cropped photos that look like something out of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy book, but real photos of the two friends back in the good old days.

Washingtonian adds: "Sources say the photographs are being kept safe. Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins."

Rep. John Boehner wins ... the race for most ex-staffers racking in the bucks on K Street. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

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