Post Quietly Edits Out Language in Romney Bullying Story
Update: Updated with comment from the Post
Update: The new version of the Romney story ran in today’s print edition. There’s still no correction or editor’s note on the online version of the story (9:30 a.m.). I’ve emailed Horowitz, Post national politics editor Steven Ginsberg, and Post spokesperson Kris Coratti for comment.
The Post won the morning and the entire rest of yesterday with reporter Jason Horowitz’s story on Mitt Romney forcibly cutting a classmate’s hair in high school. But bloggers on the right noticed a discrepancy between some of the language Horowitz used to describe one of Romney’s classmates and some follow-up reporting—and the Post seems to have edited the story’s language to back off on the claim, all without a correction or editor’s note.
The passage in question involves Stu White, a high school friend of Romney’s. While the article’s original text has been changed, a copy of the story in Maine’s Bangor Daily News has the paragraph in question (emphasis added):
“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”
In an ABC follow-up to the story, White tells reporters that he hasn’t “long been bothered” about it, because he just heard about it:
While the Post reports White as having “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident,” he told ABC News he was not present for the prank, in which Romney is said to have forcefully cut a student’s long hair and was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post.
As Dave Weigel points out, this doesn’t undercut the center of the Post’s story. White isn’t one of the sources saying that they witnessed Romney cut the student’s hair, Horowitz is just writing what White thought of the incident. Also notable: in the ABC article, White tells reporters that the Romney campaign is leaning on him.
But the difference between “long [being] bothered,” which to me suggests that he’s been troubled by it since high school, and hearing it about a few weeks before the Post ran this article is significant.
The Daily Caller and the Breitbart people got on the discrepancy. Then, sometime late Thursday, the Weekly Standard noticed that the Post had changed the White paragraph. Here’s the new White story (emphasis added):
“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been “disturbed” by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”
This edit conflicts again with ABC’s story because it creates a dispute over how White heard the story. Either way, it’s hard to square “long been disturbed” with “several weeks ago.”
As of this writing (1:30 am Friday), there’s no correction or editor’s note on the story.
Correction: Mixed up the National Review and the Weekly Standard