WaPo Ombudsman Previously Apologized for Anti-Rubin Comments

Described self as ‘glib,’ ‘uninformed,’ and ‘amateurish’ in 2011

Patrick Pexton /
August 15, 2013

The former Washington Post ombudsman who called on the paper to fire conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin on Thursday wrote an obsequious apology to Rubin after making similar comments in 2011.

Patrick Pexton, who served as the Post’s ombud from March 2011 to March 2013, argued on Thursday that the paper should "dump [Rubin] like a dull tome on the Amazon Bargain Books page" in a Washington City Paper column offering unsolicited advice to the Post’s new owner Jeff Bezos.

Pexton had previously suggested that the Post had grounds to fire Rubin in an "off the record" email response to one of Rubin’s critics in November 2011, which was later published by ThinkProgress.

Pexton emailed an effusive apology to Rubin shortly after his 2011 comments went public, calling his remarks "glib," "uninformed," and "amateurish."

"I wanted to apologize for my glib, off-the-record remark to this reader who was exchanging e-mails with me about your retweet," wrote Pexton, according to a copy of the Nov. 11, 2011, email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "I was in the middle of several e-mail conversations at once and I reacted quickly, without thinking, and with uninformed speculation. It was a stupid and amateurish move, and I'm sorry for it."

The then-ombudsman had taken issue with one of Rubin’s retweets of an anti-terrorism column written by the late writer and pro-Israel activist Rachel Abrams. When a critic of Rubin’s emailed Pexton to ask if the conservative scribe would have been fired for retweeting an anti-Israel column, Pexton replied that "it’s quite possible."

Pexton said in his email apology to Rubin that he "still didn’t like" her retweet, but added that "I shouldn't have spoke like this and as I told most all of the readers in other conversations, I don't think it's the ombudsman's job to make personnel decisions."

"If I had a nickel for every reader who wrote to me demanding that so-and-so at the Post be fired, I'd be a millionaire already," Pexton concluded.

The conciliatory email is a sharp contrast to Pexton’s latest City Paper column.

"Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor—who I like, admire, and respect—fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin," Pexton wrote in his public advice to Bezos. "Not because she’s conservative, but because she’s just plain bad."

"She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get web hits," he added.

Rubin has penned the Post’s Right Turn blog since 2010, covering domestic politics and foreign policy from a conservative perspective. While her political views have irritated many on the left, she has also clashed with fellow conservatives over her support for immigration reform, gay rights, and other positions that diverge from conservative orthodoxy.

Pexton did not respond to request for comment. Rubin laughed when asked to weigh in.

Pexton left the Post earlier this year and currently writes for his own blog. His recent posts include his equation of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center with Soviet gulags, his insight that President Barack Obama "is unafraid of and comfortable around strong women," and his contention that the newly-elected Iranian president Hassan Rowhani is a moderate.

Published under: Media , Washington Post