Once a proud bastion in journalism, WaPo turned into the equivalent of a show for clowns.
It's the paper based upon the foundations left by Woodward and Bernstein, as well as The Watergate Scandal and the Pentagon Papers. Names such as Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham sit in Washington, D.C.. Films have been shot centered around Washington Post newsrooms.
However, today's newspaper is more of a comedy with three cameras recorded in front of an audience in a live studio. While it was once considered to be the newspaper of record in the capital city, it has since become increasingly the source of mockery. What was previously thought of as the epitome of journalism is now an example of media amusement.
It's the place where Jennifer Rubin pens pieces that are embarrassing for anyone with the capacity to be ashamed. This is where Glenn Kessler plies his trade as a fact-checker. Max Boot rewrites the same column every week, decrying Trump and the Republicans. The newspaper of today is like visiting a house which hasn't updated the pictures on the mantel since the 1980s. A space filled with pictures of achievements from the past, decorated with the trophies of school that have been in existence for a long time.
As comical and sour as the world has been this week, it was particularly difficult for the Washington Post. The week began badly in a desperate attempt to shift blame for the nation's dire economic situation off of the President. In a series of snarky pieces and accented by sub-Schoolhouse Rock style animation it was almost as if you could feel them rubbing viewers on the back as the primary message was “Don't blame Joe.”
After that, the situation became darkly funny. First, the jury returned a verdict on the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial-of-the-sedentary, and it proved to be a blight for the Post. The central issue in it all was an opinion article Heard wrote for the Post and the jury was to be in favor of Depp in relation to no less than three instances of defamation.
The paper was then compelled to include a lengthy Editor's Note at the opening of the column. It affirmed that the allegations she was found to be responsible for came from the column. The whole premise of this was that Heard committed to donating thousands of dollars to the ACLU and the ACLU had written the column by a ghostwriter that led to Depp declaring a defamation lawsuit. It's a significant development for a major newspaper to declare that it published the article that was deemed to be libelous by the court.
In the same period, there was a shooting in the Tulsa hospital and the reporting in the Post varied from the humorous to the defamatory. One former patient, upset by the lingering pain, was able to seek out his doctor and shot him dead, along with other patients in the hospital prior to taking over his life. The Post framed the entire incident around race and cited the notorious Tulsa race riots, which the governor described as hate crimes. It was not mentioned in the article that the gunman's race was black. As I explained in my most recent “The Lie-Able Sources” podcast, the gun narrative was written in advance and the details needed to be changed once they realized that there were unfavorable details.
Then, on Friday, more ridiculous drama was aired. The first was hysterical laughter as author Dave Weigel did the unthinkable tweeting of a snarky joke. The seemingly harmless action was ridiculed by a colleague, Felicia Sonmez. She not only found ways to be upset by something totally unrelated to her and her family, she also used social media to denounce Weigel as a social tyrant.
The newspaper was actually forced to take action, with Weigel being forced to apologize, and nobody in the Post was old enough to recognize the absurdity of the incident due to a joke Weigel never made.
Then came the most humiliating part of the masthead. It came due to the perpetual source of humiliation, Taylor Lorenz. In her latest piece she covered videos that saw growth in traffic and increased revenue through the posting of videos from the trial of Depp and Heard. The recurrent and fabulist Lorenz was exposed for having claimed that she had contact with a variety of account owners, however, they had not had been contacted. The journalist also misrepresented information regarding these accounts in her story that led to more disgrace for the newspaper.
Then the Post edited the article in stealth to fix the errors and, after being contacted by Fox News on the matter, a formal correction was made. In a stunning manner, an additional and longer correction was required the following night. Many aspects of the story needed to be altered; three individuals who Lorenz claimed she spoke with were never contacted, while the details behind several claims required correction. It was a disaster of a piece and the Post appears to be content to report for this reporter, who has an unproven track record of issues.
These would be astonishing issues for a media outlet to encounter over the period of time. To watch all of this play out in just a few days is head-spinning. The worst part is the fact that it's an old paper that used to sit in the midst of news organizations. However the Washington Post is displaying a degree of internal disarray one would expect from a tabloid newspaper.