The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

No ‘BullyGate’ Pulitzer for WaPo?
UPDATE: Using a Second-Hand Source for a Dead Man’s Words? WTF?

Posted on | May 11, 2012 | 37 Comments

Three recent headlines in the URGENT BREAKING SCANDAL:

Source for WaPo’s Romney hit piece:
Actually, I wasn’t present during the prank

Hot Air

Sister of Alleged Romney Target Has
‘No Knowledge’ of Any Bullying Incident

ABC News

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:

Washington Post Caught
Making Sh!t Up Again

Of course, there are no so-called “bloggers” on the Pulitzer Prize committee, which is composed entirely of respected professional journalists like Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Dan Rather . . .

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.


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.





37 Responses to “No ‘BullyGate’ Pulitzer for WaPo?
UPDATE: Using a Second-Hand Source for a Dead Man’s Words? WTF?”

  1. Family Of Romney Prank Target Not Real Happy With Washington Post » Pirate's Cove
    May 11th, 2012 @ 9:30 am

    […] RS McCain wonders about the WaPo’s chance for a Pulitzer with “Bullygate”. Patterico points out all the problems with the story. And, as the Talk Of The Times finds in Obama’s own book, Obama bullied a girl. Actually, according to today’s doctrine, looks like assaulted the girl. […]

  2. Don Surber
    May 11th, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    Janet Cooke was the source.

  3. Fredo
    May 11th, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    And, of course the victim, Lauber, is no longer alive?  And of course, Mitt, the Barber’, apologized anyway.  lol.

  4. It’s the Obama Economy, Stupid! | Daily Pundit
    May 11th, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    […] the Obama Economy, Stupid! Posted on May 11, 2012 7:20 am by Bill Quick No ‘BullyGate’ Pulitzer for WaPo? : The Other McCain Three recent headlines in the URGENT BREAKING […]

  5. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    May 11th, 2012 @ 10:27 am
  6. AllPatriotsMedia » The TK Quick Six – Friday, May 11th 2012
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    […] – The Washington Post Gets Called Out For Romney Hit Piece By Everyone – via […]

  7. PhillyCon
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:22 am

    As the Politico piece notes, this was a gift to the Romney campaign.   Not only does it endanger Obama in those crucial swing states with blue collar Dems, but it also moves the Santorum-type voter into Romney’s corner … its looking more like 04 than 08 for now.

    Romney needs these unforced errors.  Carville was onto something when he noted the Dems’ hubris … broken clocks.

  8. Lisa Graas
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:28 am

    My cousin’s friend’s dead sister said once that you need to hit my tip jar.

  9. Cardinal ACK!
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:30 am

    The family claims no knowledge of this. How could that be? A punitive haircut is meant to be seen, right? What, did the kid go around in a Mike Nesmith hat for three months? I call composite…. of a few John Hughes movies.

  10. Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » Answer: When you want to avoid talking Obama’s record or the economy at any cost » Datechguy's Blog
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    […] The story crashes and burns further: What Horowitz has done is something even worse: He has claimed to know the exact words spoken by […]

  11. Garym
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:51 am
  12. The American Spectator : The Spectacle Blog : Washington Post Quotes the Dead to Defame Romney
    May 11th, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    […] Horowitz gets fired for this (and one experienced news editor I spoke to today said this would be considered a firing offense in his newsroom), the epitaph on his career might […]

  13. Confirmation – The Washington Post Has No Shame | The Rio Norte Line
    May 11th, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

    […] to be common sense problems with the Post article. Well, they are also journalistic issues as well. Stacy McCain, a real journalist, has this: Just got off the phone with an experienced Washington news editor who agrees that the “Dead […]

  14. physicsnut
    May 11th, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

     Heck – TheNation is still digging up dirt on Richard Nixon – had a hit piece on Nixon  about Helen Gahagan Douglas. Those guys never forget a trick.
      like i say – they hate nixon because he exposed what was the KGB was up to in America, and that FDR and Truman swept it under the rug.
       So naturally they want us to drop dead. They want us to commit suicide. IF that fails, they want to kill us, or have somebody else kill us. And then they want to take our stuff.  What is so difficult to understand ?

  15. Mitt Romney’s Bully Story Comes Apart Like Cheap Taffy « Andrew J. Patrick
    May 11th, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

    […] is all over the place, but Other McCain has the best aggregation. And being an old newsman, he jumps all over the Dead Man’s Quote trick like a lion on a […]

  16. ‘BullyGate’: What Did Jason Horowitz Know, and When Did He Know It? : The Other McCain
    May 11th, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

    […] 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 […]

  17. Charles
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    I don’t see how the statement, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.” is libellous. It may insinuate something libellous but that actually comes from the staements of David Seed.

    The statement itself does not actually tell us about how John Lauber felt about the incident those many years later. Scared at the time, yes. Whether he viewed it negatively or nostalgically is not actually communicated.

    The thing about hazing is that the worse you get it, the bigger the honor of having survived it. Being bullied is always wrong but being hazed is a badge of honor.

    The guy who stood by while it happened and did nothing, he may be haunted for life, because he was put to a moral test and failed it. If the ethos of prep school life, he should have come to the aid of his friend and classmate, but didn’t. That’s a hard cross to bear.

  18. Pablo
    May 11th, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    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.”

    I call bullshit. Can you imagine any 47ish, grown man saying that about having his hair forcibly cut 30 years prior? Gang raped, yes. Being very publicly pantsed, maybe. Haircut, no freakin’ way.

  19. Dai Alanye
    May 11th, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    Unlike the rest of you wussies ;~} I enjoyed hearing about Romney the Barbarian. A few more instances of his acting like a genuine human and I might yet vote for him.

    Clipping a hippie is no big deal in my book — not like shaving an Amishman (worse yet, an Amish woman, because of where you have to shave her — in the buggy, of course.)

    In Anglo-Saxon days, giving an unwanted haircut was an extremely serious crime, but that was because short hair was one way they distinguished theows (slaves) not because of any transvestite inference. The penalty under king Alfred for restraining and cutting a freeman’s hair was a fine of sixty shillings, more or less equivalent to two years wages for a skilled laborer, or about $100,000 in today’s chicken-feed.

  20. ThePaganTemple
    May 11th, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

     Wrong. He said he didn’t remember the incident, but that he had done stupid things as a kid and if he had ever did anything to hurt or offend anyone he apologized. He never apologized specifically for that. Hell, who hasn’t done something as a teen they probably in retrospect feel they should apologize for?

  21. ThePaganTemple
    May 11th, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

     The story didn’t bother me either, the thing that pisses me off is the extent WaPo and other Obama toadies will go to, even using the name of a long standing newspaper of repute to report what turns out to have been a damn lie just to try to gain political points. A god damn newspaper, mind you, going out of their way to prove, as if there wasn’t enough evidence already, that they are just one more organ of the mainstream media in the tank for Obama and the Democrats. And pushing libel to aid in his cause.

    But yeah, if the story had been true, I couldn’t care less. In fact, if the guy was still alive I’d be fine with it if Romney had laughed a big hearty laugh and said “yeah I did that to the little faggot, what’s he going to do about it, cry? I’m coming for your lunch money, queer boy.”

  22. Hard Times in WaPoVille: ‘BullyGate’ Timing Questioned on ‘Morning Joe’ : The Other McCain
    May 11th, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

    […] PREVIOUSLY:May 11: ‘BullyGate’: What Did Jason Horowitz Know, and When Did He Know It?May 11: No ‘BullyGate’ Pulitzer for WaPo? UPDATE: Using a Second-Hand Source for a Dead Man’s Words? W…May 10: Probably Just a Coincidencev Category: Ace of Spades, American Power, Election 2012, […]

  23. Adjoran
    May 11th, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    I don’t know about a firing offense for Horowitz – I’d be inclined to fire the editor who let it through.  He’s the one who is supposed to catch such things and prevent them from seeing print.

    The story isn’t credible.  We are asked to believe that a guy recognizes another guy from high school days thirty years later in an airport bar, and their conversation gets into an embarrassing incident from school days?  That Seed just happens to remember this encounter when approached by Horowitz?

    I smell a barrel of rats.

  24. Media Malpractice At It’s Most Odious | Extrano's Alley, a gun blog
    May 11th, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    […] Now a variety of sources have hit back, including Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain, who says there will be no bullygate pulitzer for WaPo. […]

  25. Bob Belvedere
    May 11th, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    I heard it was Mike Barnicle.

  26. Reginald
    May 11th, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

    So the story from its that its a bad thing when a different publication runs an explosive claim which turns out to be completely false. 

    Maybe WaPo didn’t know you need the name Brietbart or O’Keefe attached to your nonsense to enjoy the continued admiration of blogs despite your claims being shown to be complete BS misrepresentation.
    Something that’s been so repeatedly proven it’s basically a math equation at this point.

  27. MSNBC Host Loses It When Reporter Won’t Play Along With ‘Get Mitt’ Meme : The Other McCain
    May 11th, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

    […] Joe’May 11: ‘BullyGate’: What Did Jason Horowitz Know, and When Did He Know It?May 11: No ‘BullyGate’ Pulitzer for WaPo? UPDATE: Using a Second-Hand Source for a Dead Man’s Words? W…May 10: Probably Just a Coincidencevgoogle_ad_client = "pub-9749646473075980"; /* 300×250, created […]

  28. JSG1982
    May 11th, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

    I completely agree. Using hearsay testimony of a dead man about an incident that allegedly happened nearly half a century ago sounds like something Scott Templeton would have done in the fifth season of The Wire. It should result in the firing of both the reporter and at least one editor, but I doubt it will. A story like this doesn’t get printed without at least some higher ups signing off on it. This is pretty disgraceful, though it’s not surprising.

  29. SDN
    May 11th, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

     Well, Reginald, first the claim has to be shown to be complete BS…. like your claim against either Brietbart or O’Keefe.

  30. What is the difference between Swiss Cheese and the Washington Post 5,000 word hit piece on Mitt Romney? « The Daley Gator
    May 11th, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

    […] more holes in the Post piece! Stacy McCain has LOTS more. Some GREAT aggregating going on at The Other McCain Three recent headlines in the URGENT BREAKING […]

  31. Yes, We Do Need To See Obama’s Transcripts « Blog de KingShamus
    May 12th, 2012 @ 9:03 am

    […] that Robert Stacy McCain has spotted the flaws, baseless insinuations,White House/media coordination and outright lies in the WaPo story.  The […]

  32. northierthanthou
    May 13th, 2012 @ 3:58 am

     Lol, well said.

  33. northierthanthou
    May 13th, 2012 @ 3:59 am

     “Hearsay testimony”

    The wording reveals the confusion here.

  34. So WAPO dredges up «
    May 14th, 2012 @ 9:07 am

    […] this was just despicable. Most reporters would be fired for using a “dead man’s quote,” and for good reason. The “witness” is not even alive to confirm or deny the […]

  35. Under the Fedora: Coming out, Journalism, and Robert Spencer
    May 16th, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    […] type of reporting directly contradicts the common law origins of our journalistic standards, but what is that beside the cause of re-electing […]

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    May 16th, 2012 @ 11:16 am

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  37. Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » Why the Breitbart “Born in Kenya” story matters » Datechguy's Blog
    May 18th, 2012 @ 5:28 am

    […] Apparently not as easy to find as second-hand sources for quotes from dead people about Mitt Romney […]