City Desk

Post Tries To Avoid Drama With Romney Story, Gets Drama Anyway

From the annals of bad decision making that will eventually come back and bite you in the ass: On Thursday, the Washington Post decided not to run its Mitt-Romney-the-bully story in the print edition of the paper because it was also running a story about President Barack Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage on A1, plus an analysis piece, and a positive editorial.

Huffington Post's Michael Calderone reported that editors were concerned about "the perception among some" (presumably Romney supporters) who might think Jason Horowitz's 5,500 word Romney story was juxtaposed with the Obama stories in order to ... make Romney look bad, I guess.

Instead, editor Steven Ginsberg opted to run Horowitz's story online yesterday, and then published it in the print edition today.

Which totally worked!

And by "worked," I mean, "gave print subscribers a day old story on Friday" and "didn't mollify anyone at all."

Of course conservative blogs immediately jumped on the Romney story, attempting to discredit it. Dave Weigel notes that they're grasping at straws, nitpicking about one source in the story who said he didn't witness an incident where Romney held down a classmate and cut off his hair—except that source wasn't one of the four named witnesses who gave Horowitz that account. Weigel includes additional "confounding" follow-ups from reporters who are trying to catch up.

The point being: The Post had a fairly airtight story here—and they appear to be pretty far ahead of the pack with it. Yet fears about "perception" from conservatives led to this weird decision to only sorta run the piece. (Ginsberg didn't immediately respond to Washington City Paper's questions.)

The Post either should have published the story in the print edition and online yesterday, giving the people who read the paper the old-fashioned way access—or they should have held both the online and print versions until today.

Come on, Posties. It's not your first time at the rodeo. Perhaps it's time to stop worrying about what partisan types will say and just do your job.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License

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  • Nate

    Is this really relevant? If they are going to dig that deeply into one's background, both should get the same treatment.

  • George52

    It's just good journalism - I read it yesterday online, my wife read it this morning in print, the old fashioned way. I see no problems in the way they rolled it out - because, fundamentally, it was just good journalism. It's good to live in a town that still values good reporting, whether people read it online or in print, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

  • Jes sayin’


    It's relevant as hell, Natey Boy.

    This guy is running for President, and his primary opponents all pointed out that he's been a liberal, a moderate, and a conservative, and he changes his positions as often as some people change shampoo.

    People are still learning about Romney and trying to figure out who he really is and what he's really all about. Reporting like the Post's tell us a whole lot more than his attack ads will.

  • noodlez



  • Reader

    The broader question is that if the Post publishes important stories on-line a day before they appear in print, why should anyone spend as much as a dollar a day (more on Sundays) to buy the print edition? Instead of the on-line Post functioning as an electronic version of the paper, the paper has become a print-out of the free on-line version. How can this be an effective business model?

  • VoiceofBinky

    Ads man, ads. Perhaps it was a cunning experiment to see if controversy sells ads, which brings more click$.