It’s not unusual for publications to report on themselves, though ordinarily they do so because they are already in the news. Proactive reporting creates significant concerns about conflicts of interest: If the Post shapes the narrative of a new story about itself, it may do so in a way that is designed to protect the paper’s interests. When politicians do this, reporters cynically refer to it as “getting out ahead of the story” — the idea being that new information has more impact on public perception than a clarification or correction or addition to already public information.

And if the supposed journalistic purpose of the article was to interrogate the actions of employees of the Post, it failed in a few ways.

The only Post employee the article demonstrates to have even had knowledge of the blackface costume is Toles. Milbank’s attendance and costume — Brett Kavanaugh with beer helmet — are noted in the article, but he’s not quoted, nor does the article say he was asked any questions, including whether he saw Schafer’s costume or objected to it. (Milbank tells New York he never saw anyone in blackface.) No other Post employees — in fact, no other “media figures” at all — are named in the article, though Coratti confirms there were additional Post employees in attendance. Who were they? Were they any more “involved in this incident” than Milbank was? Did they tell Schafer blackface is wrong? Who can say — Coratti said that by “involved,” she meant only that the employees attended the party, and no further details were reported in the Post.

Another problem with the theory that the Post saw the story as a necessary accounting of the behavior of its employees and other media figures is how the paper handled the story after publication.