Glenn Greenwald. (AP Photo)
UPDATE #2 Pincus and the Post finally correct the article–with three, count 'em, key admissions, in three length grafs. Humbling, or one would hope.
UPDATE #1: Walter Pincus responds, a bit, to Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple. He “badly phrased” something, etc. Love Wemple’s comment: “Upon first reading the Pincus column, the Erik Wemple Blog noted its skeptical tone and figured that Pincus was sticking up for his killer sources in the national security community. Bah, responds Pincus. ‘I didn’t talk to anybody,’ he said.” Still no corrections.
The most shameful part of the Walter Pincus/Glenn Greenwald episode is not that the venerable Pincus would write a shoddy column—he’s done it before, especially when he turns to punditry, along with producing much valuable reporting over the many decades that I’ve been reading him—but that his paper, The Washington Post would not correct any of the errors, thirty-seven hours later (and counting).
At one time, opinion pieces were governed by different standards, at least in terms of corrections, but that’s no longer true at most media outlets. So there’s no excuse for Pincus and the Post not to act.
I wasn’t going to write about this, because early yesterday Greenwald posted a lengthy letter to Pincus outlining his complaints about the column, describing both factual errors and alleged journalistic malpractice in raising unfair “innuendo” and “guilt-by-association.” The letter received wide linkage, including at my own blog, so that seemed to cover it.
But now more than a day has passed since the letter was sent, and as far as I can see, not a word has been changed in the Pincus piece—not even the most humorous error, with Pincus (apparently far from web-savvy) not understanding that the WikiLeaks blog had simply picked up a piece Greenwald had written for Salon, he didn’t pen it for them (which was supposed to be the damning point). Dan Froomkin, the former popular Washington Post blogger, weighed in on Twitter today, calling on the paper and Pincus to apologize to Greenwald. Jay Rosen called whole episode “a strange, strange, adventure” and “stupefying.”