Michael Getler is the ombudsman of the Washington Post. In today’s column he turns to the story of the “GOP talking points memo” that we have written about at length on several occasions: “Getting blogged down in the news.” Getler seems to me remarkably complacent about the Post’s misreporting of the original story in each of its variations. Here’s his conclusion:
As matters evolved, follow-up stories by Mike Allen on April 7 and 8 reported that the legal counsel to freshman Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted that he was the author of the memo and that Martinez’s office says it is investigating whether this aide distributed it to other Senate offices. So the memo was not a fake and did have a Republican origin. The degree of distribution has yet to be resolved, as does the issue of the original description in the news service and early printed edition version that it was distributed “by party leaders.”
The degree of distribution has yet to be resolved? The finely worded story that appeared in the Post’s final March 20 edition reported that the memo had been “distribued only to Republican senators.” We know now that the memo was not prepared by party leaders, contrary to the version of the story transmitted by the Post to its wire service on March 19, and that it was distributed by Republican Senator Mel Martinez to Democratic Senator Tom Harkin; we do not know of a single Republican senator to whom the memo was distributed.
Getler takes no account of the fact that if the memo had been described by the Post in a manner consistent with the known facts, it would hardly have merited a news story. I should think that at this late date both that the Post’s ombudsman would be able to get the story straight and that he would have more to say about the quality of the Post’s reporting on this important story. Or would that blog him down? (Thanks to Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics.)
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin provides a closer reading of Getler’s column here.