By Michael Baker
The Washington Post is running Patrick B. Pexton’s response to the Romney Campaign’s demands that the newspaper print a retraction of a recent article regarding Mitt Romney’s activities as the head of Bain Capital. The response suggests that the Campaign has some valid concerns, but that ultimately the Post’s article presented supportable facts. It’s is a fair and even-handed analysis of the Campaign’s dispute, and in being so, Pexton’s piece proves The Post to be in the wrong.
Pexton provides us with facts about Bain Capital’s activities that were not in the original Post story in order to show that the allegations contained in the earlier piece can be supported. But it’s the role of a legitimate news outlet to present the facts and to un-blur the lines when possible, not to shield itself by arguing the legitimacy of its own story in hindsight. In how many cases has the Post (or any major news provider, for that matter) presented such a story without later being challenged to provide clarification?
It seems unquestionable that we should hold newspapers to a higher standard than political campaigns. In this case, the Post seems to hope that we’ll forget that and allow the newspaper to go up against Romney on an even playing field. But that’s just not how it works. If it is, we might as well get our news from politicians.