In the world of media, you are sometimes going to publish something that is incorrect. People understand that. But to sneak back in and make corrections without noting the corrections, is appalling. You would think that of all the news outlets out there, the Washington Post would understand that the cover-up is worse than the crime:
On Thursday, June 6, the Washington Post published a bombshell of a story, alleging that nine giants of the tech industry had “knowingly participated” in a widespread program by the United States National Security Agency (NSA).
One day later, with no acknowledgment except for a change in the timestamp, the Post revised the story, backing down from sensational claims it made originally. But the damage was already done.
The primary author of the story, Barton Gellman, is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the Washington Post has a history in investigative journalism that goes back to Watergate and All the President’s Men. On a roster of journalistic failures, this one has to rank near the very top.
Ed Bott at ZDNet has done an admirable job of catching all the sneak edits and believes the Post published the original story prematurely, fearing they would get scooped. Fine. It happens. But own up to the corrections. Don’t arrogantly and immaturely try to pretend a mistake wasn’t made.
This is the second time in ten days a major news outlet has been caught refining a major story/editorial without being transparent about the corrections/clarification. Last week it was The New York Times.
This is nothing short of sneaky and dishonest — which is exactly what we have come to expect from an imperious mainstream media that looks down its nose at New Media.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC