Posted on | May 11, 2012 | 37 Comments
Three recent headlines in the URGENT BREAKING SCANDAL:
A question emerges in reading
the Washington Post piece …
— Daily Caller
Of course, this URGENT BREAKING SCANDAL involves incidents that allegedly happened nearly half a century ago, so those sneaky Republicans have a had a long time to cover it up.
Certainly the latter-day Woodwards and Bernsteins at the Washington Post will have their work cut out for them.
UPDATE: When I say they “have their work cut out for them,” I mean they’re already trying to change their story as it falls apart.
The changes have been noted by so-called “bloggers” like Brian Cates:
UPDATE II: Dana Loesch wonders why the Washington Post didn’t alert its readers to the changes in its 5,000-word investigative report. Probably because of budget constraints:
The Washington Post Co. reported its first-quarter earnings on Friday, and the news coming out of the newspaper division was mostly grim. The unit lost $22.6 million in the quarter, with revenue down 8% and revenue from print advertising specifically falling 17%. . . .
[T]he paper has lost top talent lately, including James Grimaldi, who took a buyout and is heading to The Wall Street Journal. With his departure, the Post will have lost all three reporters who won its 2006 Pulitzer for their coverage of the Jack Abramoff scandal. The paper also shut out of the 2012 Pulitzers and weathered a blogger embarrassment that revealed its BlogPost operation to be a mini sweatshop.
The Washington Post can afford to assign a reporter to do a 5,000-word investigative report on a Republican’s high-school activities, but they can’t afford to let their readers know that they’re “making sh!t up” again. Because credibility is kinda expensive . . .
UPDATE III: Reading Ben Shapiro’s examination of the Washington Post story, my brain exploded when this part sunk in:
Sometime in the mid-1990s, David Seed noticed a familiar face at the end of a bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
“Hey, you’re John Lauber,” Seed recalled saying at the start of a brief conversation. Seed, also among those who witnessed the Romney-led incident, had gone on to a career as a teacher and principal. Now he had something to get off his chest.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t do more to help in the situation,” he said.
Lauber paused, then responded, “It was horrible.” He went on to explain how frightened he was during the incident, and acknowledged to Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”
Lauber died in 2004, according to his three sisters.
FIRING OFFENSE, period.
By God, you can’t do that in journalism: You cannot base a key element of a story — in this case, the claim that Romney’s bullying left Lauber emoitonally traumatized for life — on a quote from the deceased “victim” attributed to him based on an (alleged) private conversation. Lauber isn’t around to verify or dispute the accuracy of Seed’s account, and therefore it is unethical to include the “quotes” that Seed attributes to Lauber.
When Jason Horowitz is fired — and it should be a matter of when he’s fired, not if he’s fired — this “Dead Man’s Quote” trick will be noted among the worst of his wrongdoings.
UPDATE IV: Just got off the phone with an experienced Washington news editor who agrees that the “Dead Man’s Quote” trick would be a firing offense in any reputable news organization. Permit me to explain exactly what’s wrong with this trick.
Our standards of journalism, including libel law, have accumulated in common-law fashion in accordance with our Constitution. The First Amendment is not a license for defamation. When journalism becomes a weapon to make accusations against private citizens, the Sixth Amendment’s “Confrontation Clause” must be considered.
That is to say, one cannot use claims of private knowledge by anonymous sources to accuse people of criminal wrongdoing, because the person accused is thereby deprived of the traditional right to face his accusers. It is one thing when anonymous sources are used to describe routine political shenanigans (“sources close to the campaign said”), but another thing entirely when what is being alleged could be construed as potentially libelous. In such a case, if the accused person wants to take you to court, and your anonymous source is not willing to come forward and vouch for the truth of his statements, you are screwed, blued and tattooed.
What Horowitz has done is something even worse: He has claimed to know the exact words spoken by John Lauber — a dead man Horowitz never interviewed — in a private conversation, based entirely on the word of David Seed. The substance of that alleged conversation is crucial to the accusation made by the Washington Post story that Romney’s alleged bullying had a lifelong negative impact on Lauber’s life.
Yet John Lauber is rather conspicuously unavailable for comment on the allegation, unless perhaps the editors of the Washington Post are willing to enlist a psychic to conduct a seance.