The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large

Late last night I fell asleep reading the Failing New York Times on my iPad here in Alexandria, Virginia. To my surprise, though a time warp and other inexplicable phenomena, I awoke in a spare bedroom in the former Trump White House. I say “former” for a reason. The time was the mid-2020s. And the […]

George Roper, my good friend from high school, is dead now. When alive, he was often as right-wing as they come—complete with a passionate anti-Obama blog. And yet George and I avoided hand-to-hand combat. Up to his death several years ago, we followed each other on Facebook. He even talked up my novel. Similarly my […]

A century from now, historians may well turn to the Trump Time Capsule series. The Atlantic’s James Fallows has told “what we knew, when we knew it, about the man who was trying to become president.” The series holds Republican politicians and others accountable to future generations. Donald Trump’s detractors regard him as a potential tyrant […]

Ohio National Guardmen killed Bill Schroeder, an ex-Eagle Scout, 46 years ago today, at Kent State University. As a reporter for The Lorain Journal, his hometown daily, I covered the death of this ROTC cadet. Do you realize what America was like back then? People actually phoned up our factory-town newspaper and praised the guardsmen […]

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Imagine you’re with the Secret Service. A young Ohioan calls up and says he’ll be joining the Nazi Party. “I wanted you to know.” Wait—the story gets even better. The Ohio man already has been within shooting range of presidential candidates. J. Ross Baughman isn’t a real Nazi, however. Instead he is a photojournalist for […]

Searching for Wooden Watermelons is a sweet indie flick about a bright 20-something in Beaumont, Texas, who is puzzling out her future. Hundreds of Watermelons-style films exist. Call ‘em Small Town Smart and Unhappy. And yet I couldn’t take my eyes off Watermelons when I watched it on the Vanguard channel by way of the […]

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Jack Shafer, the Reuters columnist, wrote last year that Graham family should spin off the Washington Post newspaper from the company of the same name. As the buyer he suggested Michael Bloomberg. “Not so crazy an idea,” I said on the Solomon Scandals site and in the Georgetown Dish. Now the spin-off will become a […]

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How could I have written a newspaper novel like The Solomon Scandals without a chain-smoking editor? Kamikaze levels of tobacco and booze use helped certify newsroom denizens as manly risk-takers several decades ago, the time period of Scandals. Women were part of the scene by the 1970s, but they tended not to partake with such […]

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Alexis de Tocqueville helped demystify the America of the 19th century even though he was a visitor rather than a local. In fact, the extra detachment may have helped. Similarly, James Fallows’s writings will provide future readers with shrewd insights into the China of the aughts and beyond. In China Airborne, the latest Fallows book, […]

The New York Times, whether on global warming, the newest iPad or corruption in Mongolia, outdoes the Washington Post all too often. Underfunded for a hyper-competitive Internet era, the Post newsroom stints on local reporting, too. WaPo’s numbers could be much better. Future Grahams and others may not show the patience of Donald and kin. And the current […]

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What counts more for Web-era writers of news or opinion? Coming up with snappy, credible, well-researched articles? Or improving dialogues with readers, in the best tradition of the Internet’s interactivity? Short of cloning themselves or pulling off a Philip K. Dick android act, writers for many of the most popular news sites lack enough time for […]

While this site exists partly to plug The Solomon Scandals novel about old-time newspapering, it’s also an experiment in online technology. iPad owners can see a snazzy magazine-style look from the Onswipe add-on for WordPress (described in detail in an independent blog post by my friend Nate Hoffelder). If you don’t own an iPad, click […]

Cal Thomas, the conservative columnist, isn’t ready yet to call our war in Afghanistan a scandal despite raising some excellent questions in his column of May 30. But I am. Even casting aside morality and asking, “Is this war even good by selfish standards?”, Afghanistan flunks the test, as shown by China’s access to the country’s […]

Tax dollars at work, GSA style Angry taxpayers are buzzing over the organizational “culture” at the General Services Administration, the federal procurement agency. I don’t mean Chaucer, Mozart or Van Gogh. Enjoy this spoof video for a GSA conference—rudely picked up by ABC News and others. Hey, you helped pay for it. GSA was supposed […]

The presses still roll at thousands of newspapers throughout the world, but for how long? And meanwhile this video from the Internet Archive, via the Atlantic site, reminds us of the days when news stories were “locked up” in the most physical way—in lead columns. The Solomon Scandals takes place around 1980, and back then, […]

The Solomon Scandals site has just ditched an older, more cluttered look in favor of a sleek new one. You’ll almost immediately find out what’s on the home page, through a mix of text and images. OK, Washington Post. Time for you to follow with your own radical redesign? You’ve just appointed a chief experience […]

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Twitter has been abuzz with talk about The Price of Typos. Here’s the angle in the essay that most intrigues me:  the possible differences in the particular literary gifts of good and rotten spellers. On the New York Times site, Virginia Heffernan says: “A writer with a mind that doesn’t register how words are spelled […]

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Standard & Poor’s is right about the US. political process, even if the financial downgrade was crap. The process is kaput, Reason One for the budget debacle. Broken, too, are the mainstream news organizations  whose brainlessness and wimpiness helped the Tea Party outFox the somewhat less insane. Here’s my general rule about the Fourth Estate […]

The Solomon Scandals is fiction—a mix of suspense, tragedy and satire—but more than a little history lurks within in it. A high-rise collapsed in Northern Virginia, and a Senator really did hold a secret and illegal investment in a CIA-occupied building a few miles away. Characters and events are composites or imaginary. But Scandals still […]

Terrorists must love the Quarter Pentagon, aka BRAC-133, just off I-395 here in Alexandria, Virginia. We’re talking about 6,400 defense workers destined for an unsecured location, perfect for a drive-by missile shooting—and let’s not forget, either, the idiocy of the Army Corps of Engineer in bragging about its high-profile target. The geniuses even managed to […]

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Pete Hamill is out with Tabloid City, a New York newspaper novel commanding its share of pixels, column inches and decibels. If the rest of Tabloid City is like the first parts, I could never have written his book, just as The Solomon Scandals would have been impossible for him—we see life,  newspapers and fiction […]

Actually, any woman would have been too sexy in this case. In line with its no-females-in-photos rule, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper zapped Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton from a photograph of Obama Administration officials watching the bin Laden raid. More details here, here, here and here. Wow, a Jewish Taliban—or maybe a second one! I […]

Note: This is an expanded version of my talk to the Washington Biography Group on Monday at Washington International School. By David H. Rothman Founder of TeleRead, Co-Founder of LibraryCity, and author of The Solomon Scandals SEEING the windmill blades turn—in Al Gore’s multimedia book Are we wasting our time talking about books and the […]

Felice Cohen is happy here. I’m not sure if I’d be, although I envy her ability as an organizer and wish her luck with her new book on her grandfather who survived the Holocaust. Actually, in The Solomon Scandals, a maverick bureaucrat lives in a space smaller than Ms. Cohen’s. Meanwhile, might Ms. Cohen want […]