Checking facts to the fullest extent possible

Sometimes these posts write themselves (the new WaPo ombudsman via Wonk Room)

Basically, I was told that the Post has a multi-layer editing process and checks facts to the fullest extent possible. In this instance, George Will’s column was checked by people he personally employs, as well as two editors at the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates Will; our op-ed page editor; and two copy editors.

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32 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    Facts all come with points of view
    Facts dont do what I want them to
    Facts just twist the truth around
    Facts are living turned inside out

  2. 2
    Mr. Poppinfresh says:

    I am shocked, shocked that Fred Hiatt employs douchebags.

    Shocked.

  3. 3
    bayville says:

    My mom, dad and wife thought it was a cool column, thus it doesn’t need a correction.

  4. 4
    Balconesfault says:

    I can only think it steams poor George’s glasses that so many people have to review what he writes. It would be interesting to ask the Ombudsman – can you ever recall asking George to change something in his column due to factual error?

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Shorter Ombudsman: We were all in on it. Bwhahahaha.

  6. 6
    TenguPhule says:

    George Will’s column was checked by people he personally employs, as well as two editors at the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates Will

    So what, he’s like a CEO being reviewed by his own board of directors?

    Ponies for everyone!

  7. 7
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    If you want to see an excellent take down of the ombudsman check out hilzoy’s reaction to their shitty fact checking.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.c.....016968.php

  8. 8
    Mazacote Yorquest says:

    Eric Alterman has been banging on about this since 1992– the guy misquotes, misreads, and misleads as a matter of practice. But because he’s dour, bowtied, and an eloquent, humble chronicler of such events as Ted Williams teabagging Dom DiMaggio’s wife during spring training, people just assume he’s making honest mistakes.

    He has been saying the same global cooling stuff since the actual global cooling cover. He just has no clue about how times have changed, and how media coverage has changed.

    We’ll see who wins out, but I think the God of Broder will come down on Will’s side and that will be the end of the play.

  9. 9
    Mazacote Yorquest says:

    Eric Alterman has been banging on about this since 1992– the guy misquotes, misreads, and misleads as a matter of practice. But because he’s dour, bowtied, and an eloquent, humble chronicler of such events as Ted Williams teabagging Dom DiMaggio’s wife during spring training, people just assume he’s making honest mistakes.

    He has been saying the same global cooling stuff since the actual global cooling cover. He just has no clue about how times have changed, and how media coverage has changed.

    We’ll see who wins out, but I think the God of Broder will come down on Will’s side and that will be the end of the Boresteia.

  10. 10
    Joshua Norton says:

    George Will’s column was checked by people he personally employs, as well as two editors at the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates Will; our op-ed page editor; and two copy editors.

    And yet if we all told 100 lies a day, starting back at the founding of the Roman Empire, we still couldn’t come up with as many lies as these douches have told since Jan. 20th.

  11. 11
    Desargues says:

    Keep harassing them, Doug. Don’t stop doing what you do best — don’t worry, it doesn’t annoy your readers. What these popinjays in the op-ed pages don’t et realize is that people like you are the front wave of a tsunami that’s gonna wash over them, drowning all but the brightest and best at what they do. Newspapers won’t disappear — they can still report the news. But opinion writers are on their way out. When most of your readers are smarter than you, and can instantly check every little assertion you make, and spot every fallacy in your reasoning, you should see the writing on the wall.

    The democratization of news — gotta love it.

  12. 12
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Bowtie Boy has a habit of throwing tantrums when someone points out factual errors in his pontifications.
    Will probably threw another tantrum so, once again, no correction was published.

  13. 13
    Napoleon says:

    . . .humble chronicler of such events as Ted Williams teabagging Dom DiMaggio’s wife during spring training. . .

    I love this website!

  14. 14
    neil says:

    Oh, that’s a relief. Now we know that everyone working in the immediate vicinity of George Will is a global warming denying crank too. After all, water seeks its own level, why shouldn’t George?

  15. 15
    gil mann says:

    Lay off George Will, wouldja? He’s had a severe case of empty nest syndrome ever since Alf got his own apartment.

  16. 16

    It becomes more apparent with each take down of a pundit and "facts" they misuse, misstate or just plain make up that much of the blogosphere acts as jury and effectively forces these meat heads into a quasi peer review process. It only takes minutes for the lies, errors and omissions to race through the blogs.

    What don’t kill’em, will only make’m stronger.

    Blogz iz gud.

  17. 17
    RSA says:

    Wow, these organizations should all look forward to having their budgets increased by the annual salaries of at least five fact checkers… It’s too bad, in this economy, that we have to insist on competence in job performance.

  18. 18
    Senyordave says:

    Why should Will bother fact-checking? It’s not like he is a journalist, any claim he might make to being a serious journalist should be discounted since he helped prepare Reagan for his debates.

  19. 19
    random asshole says:

    The Washington Post is aware of all fact-checking traditions.

  20. 20
    WyldPirate says:

    Well I’ll be damned. Who knew that George Will, his employees, editors and the highest echelons of WaPo management were functionally illiterate?

    OR perhaps they are simply liars…and propagandists.

  21. 21
    ppcli says:

    Why should Will bother fact-checking? It’s not like he is a journalist, any claim he might make to being a serious journalist should be discounted since he helped prepare Reagan for his debates.

    Not just that he helped Reagan prepare, but that he then went on TV to comment approvingly on Reagan’s debate performance without disclosing his pre-debate role. The sleaziest moment – I still remember watching this – was when he approvingly commented that Reagan had killed the "age issue" by making a lame and predictable joke that (it later turned out) Will himself had suggested. What a weasel.

  22. 22

    aka checked by a bunch of fucking stupid people.

  23. 23
    Martin says:

    There’s got to be some social benefit to having that kind of concentrated incompetence that we can exploit.

  24. 24
    JenJen says:

    That’s pretty much why I always use my Mom as a "professional reference" on job applications, too.

  25. 25
    chrome agnomen says:

    Will and his ilk are like black holes of teh stupid, from which no light can ever escape. any fact nearing this space-time continuum simply disappears forever. Fox news is one of the largest of these phenomena ever identified. so powerful is its pull, that even statements based loosely on fact vanish instantly. rumor, innuendo, lies, hypocrisy, and character assassinations seem to be impervious to its effect, though.

  26. 26
    bago says:

    There’s got to be some social benefit to having that kind of concentrated incompetence that we can exploit.

    There is. It’s called a paycheck from George Will.

  27. 27
    Walker says:

    Have you all read the comments at Big Media Matt’s blog? You have people who, despite others posting links to the contrary, are claiming that George Will is correct and that the blogosphere is lying about what the ACRC said.

    I am convinced that the entire thread is graduating ceremonies for DougJ’s school of spoofdom.

  28. 28
    Walker says:

    Have you all read the comments at Big Media Matt’s blog? You have people who, despite others posting links to the contrary, are claiming that George Will is correct and that the blogosphere is lying about what the ACRC said.

    I am convinced that the entire thread is graduating ceremonies for DougJ’s school of spoofdom.

  29. 29
    ricky says:

    George Will’s column was checked by people he personally employs, as well as two editors at the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates Will

    And how many people Does it take to change a light bulb at the Washington Post?

  30. 30

    Well, there’s fact-checking and then there’s fact-checking. I’m assuming that Will (or one of his employees) unearthed "the fact" during some rudimentary web search. Will and his 2 employees double-checked his column against "the fact" to make sure there were no transposed numbers, etc. Then the column and the back-up material on "the fact" were sent to WaPo, where the in-house fact-checkers verified that "the fact" and the Will-supplied back-up material on "the fact" agreed with each other. Voila — it is a fact. Along the way, nobody bothered to check any other sources, or to call the organization for confirmation of the data, or to find out if the data had been revised since its original publication (something that frequently happens), or even if more current data have become available.

  31. 31
    Batocchio says:

    Well, then, it was an honest mistake. Thank god George Will, like all conservatives, always writes in good faith and never bullshits.

    Fred Hiatt should hire Stephen Glass to raise the op-ed standards.

  32. 32
    bill says:

    " It only takes minutes for the lies, errors and omissions to race through the blogs."

    Too bad that didn’t happen back in 2004 when we came this close to seeing George Bush exposed as a draft-dodging mama’s boy who skipped out on his military service and had it all covered up by Poppy’s friends. Say what you will about Dan Rather, he was hung out to dry by the entire journalistic community–fucked, in no uncertain terms, by people you’d have thought were better than that.

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