If our culture allowed diseased newspapers to be quarantined, I’d have the New York Post kenneled right now.
I express that sentiment after reading the Post‘s Boston Marathon bombing coverage, in which it erroneously reported that 12 were dead, mistakenly stated that a Saudi national was “a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing” and, this morning identified two Boston Marathon bystanders in a Page One photo as “Bag Men.”
Of course, every news outlet botches a breaking news story from time to time, and many have erred in their Boston reporting, as BuzzFeed, Chart Girl, Poynter, Salon and others have tabulated. But what distinguishes the New York Post from other stumbling outlets is the cavalier manner about its errors. When other outlets make monumental mistakes, they may take their time printing corrections. They may avoid acknowledging their errors if they can get away with it. Or if they acknowledge their errors promptly — as CNN’s John King did this week — they may blame “confusion” or “misinformation” rather than accept the blame directly. But by and large, the press takes its lumps.
The Post, in contrast, appears not to care whether it gets a memorable story right or wrong. It only hopes to produce a memorable story, damn the truth value.
This afternoon, Col Allan, Post editor-in-chief, demonstrated his paper’s approach to news with a statement to Salon about the controversial “Bag Men” cover story. Putting the “m” in mendacious, Allan said: