WaPo ombud: Man, our Koch Bros hit piece was kind of unfair, huh?
posted at 4:30 pm on October 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
I can’t wait for Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton to read his paper’s hit job on Marco Rubio. For now, though, we’ll just have to entertain ourselves with Pexton’s admission that his paper’s hit job on the Koch Brothers was an embarrassment:
But I think The Post erred in republishing this story, or at least in the way it did. And when the Kochs complained to The Post after publication, The Post’s response wasn’t handled well.
Now, I couldn’t find any outright falsehoods in the story that would warrant corrections. Bloomberg, too, has published no corrections. But I think the story lacked context, was tendentious and was unfair in not reporting some of the exculpatory and contextual information Koch provided to Bloomberg. …
As Indiviglio and Rubin wrote, lots of companies have foreign subsidiaries that until recently did business with Iran, including GE, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar. Many multinational companies have been investigated and prosecuted for violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and been fined and prosecuted for violating clean water and clean air laws.
Are the Kochs worse, better or in the middle? We can’t tell from this story.
Post Business Editor Greg Schneider said he “was aware” before republication that “the piece had stirred up some reaction, but we look to highlight work that is provocative.”
I think newspapers should always be provocative. But they should also be fair and provide context.
Pexton credits our friends at Power Line for doing a “deep–dive legal rebuttal,” one aimed primarily at Bloomberg, the WaPo’s partner in this effort, whose response John Hinderaker utterly destroys in his final installment. Pexton says that Power Line has “ties” to the Kochs, which might be true but would be rather surprising to me, since John’s an incredibly successful attorney in Minnesota who hasn’t — as far as I know — done any work for the Kochs. Even if he had, though, it doesn’t make John’s arguments invalid, although Pexton seems petty enough to try to attack John’s credibility with this utterly unsubstantiated descriptor.
For the record, I’ve appeared at events (without compensation) sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit with significant funding from the Kochs, and I think that means I have more ties to the Kochs than John does.
While Pexton throws that little jab at Power Line, he never once mentions that one of the corporations that the WaPo neglected to include in the article as at least as complicit as the Kochs, GE, has indisputably deep ties — to the White House. Its CEO chairs one of Barack Obama’s advisory boards on economics and has been a contributor to his campaigns. One might have thought that between the Kochs and GE on the issue of doing business with Iran, the one that has ties to the President of the United States might have been the bigger story. Apparently, not at the Washington Post. What does that say about their biases? YMMV.
Still, Pexton admits that the piece was unfair, decontextualized, and unprofessional in not following up on the response from the Koch Brothers. That’s a start, anyway. I’ll keep an eye out for Pexton’s review of his paper’s hatchet job on Rubio, one so bad that the Miami Herald ended up doing Pexton’s job for him.