Note: AFP has since apparently amended its original story to remove the word "plagiarism."
When Washington Post journalist Elizabeth Flock wrote a post last year falsely accusing Mitt Romney of using a Ku Klux Klan slogan in his campaign speech, she was not fired or disciplined.
But when Flock stole from the work of another mainstream organization and did not properly attribute, she abruptly “resigned” from the Washington Post conveniently and coincidentally before another editor’s note went up on her post that described it as having “serious factual errors” and “a significant ethical lapse.”
Flock told AFP that “she resigned on Friday before the Post published a second editor's note about her work and that she was not pressured to quit.” A Washington Post spokesman said they would not comment on personnel matters.
Flock is the latest member of the mainstream media caught plagiarizing, which should be treated with the same shame that doping is in professional sports but is not.
But the more disturbing question is why she was not fired or disciplined for fabricating a piece about Republicans that showed extreme negligence at best or complete dishonesty and hackery at worst.
In December 2011, Flock wrote a story wherein she tried everything she could to frame Republicans as racist by falsely writing that Romney stated he wanted to “Keep America American." Romney really said “Keep America America,” but those were not the words that Flock wanted to hear. She used the misquote to tie Romney to the Ku Klux Klan, which had used the “Keep America American” slogan in the past.
If Flock had worked for an obscure publication, her article may have been overlooked. But because she wrote it for the Washington Post, numerous other outlets took the story as fact and ran with it.
MSNBC was the guiltiest of all the networks.
After airing multiple segments based on Flock’s falsities, MSNBC anchors Thomas Roberts and Chris Matthews had to apologize, with Matthews saying that, “It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this, and it showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign.”
All of this prompted the Washington Post to write an editor’s note at the top of Flock’s article.
“This posting contains multiple, serious factual errors that undermine its premise,” an editor’s note said then. “Mitt Romney is not using ‘Keep America American,’ which was once a KKK slogan, as a catchphrase in stump speeches, as the posting and headline stated. In a YouTube video that the posting said showed Romney using the phrase, Romney actually used a different phrase, ‘Keep America America.’”
The editor’s note also stated that the video that the article labelled a “Mitt Romney 2012 Campaign Ad” was not a campaign ad and conceded, “the Post should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication.”
The Washington Post also apologized, writing, “we apologize that the posting began by saying ‘someone didn’t do his research' when, in fact, we had not done ours.”
Last weekend, the Washington Post offered a similar apology to Discovery News for a different article, also "written" by Flock: “An earlier version of this report made inappropriate, extensive use of an original report by Discovery News and also failed to credit that news organization as the primary source for the blog post. This was a significant ethical lapse and not in keeping with our journalistic standards. We apologize to Discovery News.”
Unlike what the Washington Post brass did after it had to apologize to a Republican for a gross distortion, the newspaper seems to have all but fired Flock after it was forced to apologize to a peer mainstream media organization, further proving the low level of esteem mainstream organizations like the Post hold conservatives and Republicans.
For the Washington Post, a reporter cannot be caught plagiarizing from mainstream organizations in their fraternity but can go undisciplined when they engage in nearly libelous conduct against Republicans.