The Campaign Spot

Accuse, Then Refuse to Answer Any Further Questions?

Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander, writing about his paper’s coverage of the infamous “spitting incident” right before the health-care vote:

Cleaver was hit with spit, but whether it was deliberate is very much in question. The video suggests he was unintentionally sprayed by the screaming protester. The distinction is significant because it fundamentally changes widespread media characterizations of what occurred. The Post and other news organizations left the impression of a despicable, premeditated assault. With videos of the incident so prevalent on liberal and conservative Web sites, and with the question being so widely raised in the blogosphere and on cable channels, The Post was remiss in not providing clarity by quickly dissecting what happened. (Cleaver’s office did not return repeated calls seeking comment for this column.)

In fact, none of the members of Congress who accused the crowd of such terrible acts was willing to talk to the Post’s ombudsman:

Carson later told the Associated Press the protesters had chanted the N-word “15 times.” Breitbart told me the “phantom 15 words” is “beyond absurd.”

Through spokesman Justin Ohlemiller, Carson stands by his assertion. The spokeswoman for Lewis, Brenda Jones, insists he and his chief of staff heard repeated uses of the N-word. They are declining interviews, she said, because they don’t want to “fan the flames of destructive language.”

Answering questions of the Post’s ombudsman would constitute “fanning the flames of destructive language”? Making the accusation itself wasn’t “fanning any flames”?

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