Posted on | May 11, 2012 | 27 Comments
The implosion of the Washington Post‘s “BullyGate” story — a rapidly rising item on Memeorandum today — has sparked questions about the sourcing of reporter Jason Horowitz’s article:
A key element of the Washington Post’s 5,000-word account of Mitt Romney’s alleged high-school bullying is based on a second-hand account of a conversation with a dead man.
In response to my earlier post about the journalistic standards of the Washington Post account, a news editor with more than a decade of supervisory experience in D.C. sent me the following questions that he, as an editor, would ask the reporter (language warning):
Jason Horowitz talked to the sisters (we know this because his story cites them as the source of “Lauber dead” fact). Did Horowitz ask them whether Lauber ever mentioned the incident? If so, what did they say? Was it the same as what they’re telling ABC now? If it’s the same, why did Horowitz privilege one chance meeting with a now-semi-stranger at an airport over what those closest to Lauber said?
If the family said to Horowitz something different from what they’re now telling ABC about the effect on Lauber, why wasn’t THAT in the story
And if Horowitz DIDN’T ask the Lauber family about the effect of this incident on him … why the fuckety-fuck not!!?!?
Two of the three scenarios I’ve outlined are discipline cases in any story; on a 5,000-word A1 feature on a presidential nominee, it’s firing.
The Washington Post owes its readers some answers to such questions.
UPDATE: It doesn’t take an experienced editor to spot the common-sense problems with the Washington Post story:
- Pirate’s Cove: Family Of Romney Prank Target Not Real Happy With Washington Post
- The Rio Norte Line: Confirmation – The Washington Post Has No Shame
- Andrew J. Patrick: Mitt Romney’s Bully Story Comes Apart Like Cheap Taffy
Horowitz has some explaining to do, and so do his editors. Did he fabricate any part of the story and implant it with Mitt’s school friends? Did he work on the timing of the story’s release with anyone in the Obama campaign?
- May 11: No ‘BullyGate’ Pulitzer for WaPo? UPDATE: Using a Second-Hand Source for a Dead Man’s Words? WTF?
- May 10: Probably Just a Coincidence