Ed Driscoll

Washington Post Ombudsman Gives Up Any Pretense of Credibility

At the Tatler, Bryan Preston observes the shameless hackery of Patrick Pexton, the Washington Post’s ombudsman, who punts rather than dealing with the paper’s botched hit piece on Mitt Romney high school days this past week:

Pexton says the story holds up to scrutiny, despite the fact that the story directly quoted a dead man; it claimed things about him that, being dead, he is in no position to affirm or refute; it mischaracterized the opinion of one of its core witnesses; and the family of the dead man says the story is factually inaccurate.

Other than that, it holds right up.

Pexton also admits that the Post timed the story to help the president.

The other criticisms are that this story was published knowing that President Obama was going to announce his shift in favor of gay marriage. The allegation is that somehow The Post is working with the White House to time the story.

Do I think The Post took advantage of the timing? Yes. Vice President Biden had telegraphed the president’s position on gay marriage just days earlier. This story on Romney was in preparation for three weeks. It is part of a series of biographical stories on Romney being written by Horowitz and others and edited by The Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and associate editor, David Maraniss, who is known for his best- selling biographies of major U.S. political figures.

That’s a fallacious appeal to authority. Just because David Maraniss had a hand in it and a committee of liberals handed him a trophy does not make this story factual or fair. Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer too.

If I were an editor I might have sped it up a little, too, to take advantage of the national discussion on gay marriage. Does that mean Post editors are timing stories with the White House? I hope not, and I doubt that is the case.

As Bryan writes, “But he didn’t pick up the phone and ask them, so deep is his curiosity on the subject. Pitiful.”

Pexton’s line that “Does that mean Post editors are timing stories with the White House? I hope not, and I doubt that is the case” is even more of an eye-roller when you consider the Post’s deep involvement in the JournoList fiasco, not to mention an earlier report in MSM house organ Editor & Publisher that the Post was coordinating cover stories with the New York Times.

But hey, given the disastrous economic straits of the Obamaconomy, shaped by the man the Post admitted to championing in 2008, I’m sympathetic both to Pexton’s desire for job security, and for looking out for future employment. After all, having “Washington Post Ombudsman” on your resume won’t look anywhere near as impressive if it’s followed by “Washington Post Reporter: Baltimore Sewer Board Zoning Regulation Hearings,” which is where Pexton would likely be transferred, if not fired, if he actually lived up to his current job title.