Arkin is an inveterate national security reporter, academic, consultant and author of books on the military. And last week he was miffed. He'd seen an NBC News story about U.S. soldiers in Iraq angry and bewildered by anti-war sentiments at home, which they took personally. One of the interviewees went so far as to assert you can't support the troops unless you also support the war. The gist of Arkin's post was, "Well, excuuuuuuse America for not being politely silent about a catastrophe in progress so your feelings wouldn't be hurt."
He was doing fine, until he called the soldiers "mercenaries," which may be technically accurate but was also gratuitous and mean. He also invoked Haditha and Abu Ghraib in a way that seemed to tar all of our troops, and that was beyond the pale.
Enter Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, who wrote her column Sunday about the incident. The gist of her analysis was pretty sound, too, the upshot being that blogs are very dangerous because they're unedited or lightly edited and not subject to the scrutiny of the paper edition.
But I think I've buried the lede, because the lede is Howell's lede:
The fact that The Post and washingtonpost.com are interlocking yet separate is lost on most readers, who do not care that the two are miles apart physically and under different management.
Maybe the physical separation and different middle management is indeed lost on the readers. But the real news is lost on Howell, and maybe the Post as a whole:
The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com are one and the same. One is on paper, one is online, but they are simply different platforms of the same news organization.
She says the "online column rubs off on the newspaper."
No, there is no such thing as The (This Isn't Actually The) Washington Post. The online column is part of the newspaper. Period.