Sunday, August 09, 2020

A Lawyer’s Perspective: Why the Washington Post’s Errors Matter

Latest in a String of Errors

The most recent error by the Washington Post is a doozy. Slamming President Trump once again, the Wa Po used its print media status irresponsibly. I am breaking down the reasons why and how the paper can and should, but likely won't set a better example. Unfortunately, the Washington Post's mistake is not a solitary case. The Bezos owned newspaper shifted considerably left over the last several years. As a result, its editorial standards shrank. This especially is the case when it comes to Donald Trump. The use of the press' influence to destroy the President is astonishing. Rarely has such a large media giant used its power of the press so carelessly. When factoring this error in with those of the last several years, a daring pattern emerges. And it comes with considerable cost. Not to the paper itself. Unfortunately, speculation and left wing agitprop sells. The paper increased profitability in the Bezos era. This isn't a compliment. It's a sign that their model actually profits by using such misleading claims. And it is also a sign that the media giant won't change its ways as long as there is profit to be had. It is terribly disappointing.

About the Author

Michael Ehline is the head attorney of the Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys APLC. His firm leads Southern California in both personal injury and civil rights cases. His experience with media is considerable fr a legal expert. By understanding how media in all forms works, Ehline built an understanding of libel law and press responsibility. These are even larger in cases of malpractice such as the Washington Post regularly engages in. He writes this column as both a critique and a chance to educate other media outlets. For more info, keep reading his legal blog here. Also reach Michael at

Misrepresentation of President Trump

Unfortunately, the Post's most recent mistake is just one of a series it committed in the recent past. The Post's influence in the DC Beltway makes such errors particularly reckless. Take the recent case in which the Post had to issue a correction for an erroneous report on the President. We can find the Washington Post story, including the correction here. The Post attempted a classic move by the political left over the last four years. The Post "dunked" on the President's re election efforts. Unfortunately, their efforts were misplaced. And erroneous. However, this is not a one time occasion as seen below. The Post originally reported that Twitter penalized President Trump's personal account. However, that was not the case. The Post was swift in their condemnation of the President, as it has gained a reputation for during his term in office.
Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday took extraordinary action against President Trump for spreading coronavirus misinformation after his official and campaign accounts broke their rules, respectively.
President Trump highlighted the fact that children are resistant to the coronavirus. However, the paper and Twitter took exception to this characterization. Twitter penalized the President's campaign account for the claim. Below is a copy of the correction:
Correction: Twitter penalized Team Trump, the president’s campaign account. An earlier version of this article said that Twitter penalized President Trump’s account.
Quite the turnaround. Unfortunately, it's the rule, not the exception.

Recent Errors by the Post

Of course this one error is not alone. The Washington Post led the liberal media charge against Nick Sandmann. The Covington high school student gained national attention for smiling at a man at the Lincoln Memorial. The Post smeared the young man, who did not threaten anyone. In fact,t here is little evidence of any error he made at all. However, the 16 year old became a national figure through no action or desire of his own. The Washington Post (along with CNN and other outlets) made him so. Without his conent. As a result, Sandmann settled in his $250 million lawsuit against the paper. But the Sandmann story was just one of the many that the paper committed since Bezos took over. What about the case of the story that required an amazing 15 corrections! The story was a freelance piece that fit into the Wa Po's narrative. It included info on black families struggling to keep their land in the South. The article included errors from spelling mistakes to important characterizations of statistics and basic facts about the article's subjects. It also underlined the lack of follow through from the paper. And the process in which the paper deicdes to print such articles without proper review.
“The correction is certainly thorough with regard to the article’s content. What it doesn’t answer, however, is any questions about the process this article went through and whether it was representative of how the ‘Post’ handles contributions from freelancers whose training and propensity with regard to accuracy can be difficult to judge,” Beaujon wrote before listing a series of queries about the paper’s process.

Other Errors Abound

Or what about the story claiming that the Trump Admin deliberately held travel visas from people from Latin America? This story was not only incorrect, it also precipitated a huge rush of other media outlets following the Wa Po. Each one wanted in on the bash Trump train. Not only was the article misleading, it turned out that the policy the Post criticized was an Obama era one. In fact, the number of passports denied peaked in 2015 under Trump's predecessor. No matter, I guess. Rack up the number of errors made by companies like the Washington Post and you'll see a disturbing habit. Whether it was the Covington kids. Or smears against Brett Kavanaugh. Or claiming Russian collusion. They all go one way. As the Washington Post motto goes-- "democracy dies in darkness." The Post should take a page from their own publication.

Works Cited

Geek Wire: Washington Post profitable and growing for two years under Jeff Bezos’ ownership Ehline Law site: Legal bog: The Western Journal: Washington Post Forced To Issue Correction After Botched Trump Report Causes Confusion: The Washington Post: Facebook, Twitter penalize Trump for posts containing coronavirus misinformation: The New York Post: Washington Post settles $250M suit with Covington teen Nick Sandmann: FoxNews: Washington Post 'embarrassed' over gaffe-filled story needing 15 corrections: Investor's Business Daily: Washington Post Caught Red Handed Peddling Anti-Trump Fake News :

No comments:

Post a Comment