How many times have we been told that the legacy media is superior to the blogosphere because of the media’s layers of fact-checkers and editors? This week MSNBC and the Washington Post got burned for lifting a story from a leftist blog without making any effort to verify it.
The story was from Americablog (no link; I’m not going to reward their lies with traffic) in which they claimed that Mitt Romney was using an old KKK slogan in his stump speeches. He wasn’t: Romney’s line was “keep America America” (a conservative sentiment), while the KKK’s line was “keep America American”. This is quite clear from their own video.
This level of journalistic malpractice was too much even for the New York Times which ran a short story on the incident:
Don’t just repeat it. Report it.
That’s the lesson this week for MSNBC and for The Washington Post, both of which apologized for repeating a liberal blog’s claim that Mitt Romney had uttered a phrase on the campaign stump that was used in the past by the Ku Klux Klan. . .
MSNBC apparently did not contact the Romney campaign for comment before it briefly reported on Wednesday morning that “you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the K.K.K. group.” The anchor credited AMERICAblog; the graphic on the screen read, “Romney’s KKK Slogan?” . . . When executives at MSNBC and NBC News saw that, they were disturbed that the blog’s observation was reported as fact, without any added reporting. . .
The Washington Post also issued an apology on Thursday for factual mistakes in its blog post about the phrase. The correction stated that it “should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication.”
Indeed they should have. Now I really don’t expect any better from MSNBC, but I am disappointed by the Washington Post. They were a liberal but responsible paper not so long ago; now they’re being called on the carpet by the New York Times. It’s sad to see that they’ve fallen so far, so fast.
It goes without saying, of course, that they could only make this mistake in one direction. If they ever picked up a story from the conservative blogosphere (a fanciful prospect in its own right), you can be sure that they would verify every detail before running it.
POSTSCRIPT: The liars at Americablog are somehow still sticking with their story, despite it being clearly a lie. This should be a lesson to anyone who would contemplate cribbing from them again.