The Washington Post Still Hates and Does Not “Get” The Internet (Or Themselves)


Washington Post reporter Mike Wise was just suspended for a month because he Tweeted out a “fake scoop” about — ironically — the suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

And this looks like or resembles a joke how, exactly? It doesn’t, which is why you clear it up, right? Wise didn’t do that. Instead, via NBC Sports, this happened:

Four tweets later, Wise said he “[c]an’t reveal [his] sources.” Then, more than an hour after posting the initial tweet, Wise said his source was a “casino employee in Lake Tahoe.”

Other reporters picked it up, because Mike Wise is a supposedly credible, reputable sports reporter who people trust, not a satirist who they look to for quasi-“jokes.” So why would he do this?

During his show on 106.7 the Fan in D.C., Wise admitted that he fabricated the report in order to prove that “anybody will print anything.” Think about that for a second. To prove that “anybody will print anything,” a guy who supposedly is a journalist made something up and published it for general consumption.

There can only be three possible explanations here:

  • Either Mike Wise got a bad scoop, is an idiot, and fucked himself over by trying to cover it up as an “experiment” in journalism, which is the dumbest lie in recent memory, ever, or
  • Mike Wise sincerely tried to conduct a self-righteous “experiment” in journalism and is an idiot, or
  • Mike Wise doesn’t know what’s funny and what doesn’t even remotely resemble a joke, and is a complete idiot.

Yet still, Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz thinks it’s a “bit harsh.”

What? The Washington Post isn’t exactly known for their sense of humor, in either making or taking jokes. Their standard for offending humor is exceptionally capricious when not incredibly low:

  • There was that time Dave Weigel joked in a private, off-the-record email that Matt Drudge should set himself on fire — which he basically should — and then was essentially forced to resign because of it, among other emails as funny and true as that, made him look like less of a conservative and more like someone with nuanced political views. Whoops.
  • Then there was that time Dana Milbank called Sec. of State Hillary Clinton a “mad bitch.” Punishment? None.
  • Then there was that time that Michael Tunison — a reporter for the Postwas fired for posting to a sports blog, Kissing Suzy Kolber that he was “totally fucking hammered.” For the record, he didn’t identify himself as a Post reporter, wasn’t writing about sports for the Post, and wasn’t lying. And yet, was fired.

So, The Washington Post standards work like this, for the record:

“Reporters” lying on Twitter as a representative of their publication and calling Hillary Clinton a “bitch” as a representative of their publication don’t get fired.

Bloggers who write things in private emails and on personal blogs who get “outed” by hack gossip bloggers do get fired.

Let’s not forget the recent instance of the Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi’s transparently insecure and embarrassingly spiteful take on Washington D.C. hyperlocal news venture, the first sentence of which was: — odd name, but let’s move on — is a new all-local news Web site that seems to be the answer to a question that no one has really been asking: Do media-saturated Washington and its environs need yet another source of information about Washington and its environs?

And that time a bunch of Washington Post reporters rang up The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg only to (anonymously!) gossip and whine about how the Blogger Internet People don’t “get it” in the wake of Dave Weigel’s resignation, with one noting that their bloggers don’t have the “proper amount of toilet-training.”

This is the same paper that thinks Public Enemy called 9/11 a joke and got caught red-handed trying to make money by having their reporters cozy up to lobbyists in off-the-record salons (with no repercussions towards executive editor Marcus Brauchli, who barely apologized for the incident.

It’s all too bad: this obviously isn’t reflective of every single person at the Post, who employs many great reporters and bloggers alike. What this is, however? More evidence towards the widely-held notion that the Washington Post is facing one of the worst identity and culture crises in the history of contemporary American journalism, one filled with doubt, insecurity, and hate towards that which they don’t understand, when they’re not busy pulling the rug out from under themselves because they can’t tell the difference between the sky and the ground when it comes to ethics. [Side-Note: Having a castrated, toothless ombudsman like Andrew Alexander — who will, if he choses to write about this, inevitably get this wrong — doesn’t help.]

Also, they are not, nor have they ever been, or will ever be anything remotely resembling funny, whether they’re the ones making or being the joke. Ever.