- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

The sad passing of Deborah Orin-Eilbeck is a tremendous loss for political journalism. Mrs. Orin-Eilbeck, Washington bureau chief for the New York Post since 1988, was a journalist first and a conservative second. Her reporting reflected an unwavering commitment to the truth, never the spin. She had the extraordinary ability to ask the right questions at any press conference, and her intellect and tenacity were always readily apparent. Mrs. Orin-Eilbeck, 59, died of cancer Sunday.

“Debbie combined a hard-hitting professional style and a wonderfully straightforward personal style in a way that made her alternately hated by many of the people she covered, respected by many of the people who worked next to her in the White House press room, and beloved by her colleagues at the New York Post,” wrote John Podhoretz, a columnist at the New York Post.

So strong was the respect for Mrs. Orin-Eilbeck’s integrity that her sickness drew sympathy from both sides of the political aisle — the White House and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were both well-wishers.

Mrs. Orin-Eilbeck’s integrity was coupled with a clear respect for her readers. “Make sure you tell your readers the very first thing that you’d tell your own best beloved or colleagues if you were calling home to chew over the news of the day,” she said during an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review in 2004.

Mrs. Orin-Eilbeck’s attitude toward her work is equally noteworthy. Gregg Birnbaum, political editor at the New York Post, shared the following story: In 1996, Mr. Birnbaum, then a reporter at the Post, was traveling on his first presidential race. “I was on the Clinton campaign plane,” he recounted. “I hadn’t traveled nationally before with the White House press and the national political reporters. I remember after a couple of days talking to Debbie and telling her that on the campaign in a short period of time I had encountered more than my share of pompous, self-important and ego-oversized journalists.”

“Of course, she knew exactly what I was talking about, having been working alongside the D.C. press corps on a daily basis for years. The advice she gave me I will always remember: Take your work seriously, but not yourself. That’s how Debbie viewed her work in D.C. and herself.” Mrs. Orin-Eilbeck was an extraordinary political journalist; her work was evidence of her strong commitment to the truth and her impressive ability to find it out.

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