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By thisistwitchy  •  March 31, 2005 06:41 AM

Regarding the fishy Schiavo talking points memo, Washington Post reporter Mike Allen told Howard Kurtz that “we simply reported that the sheet of paper was distributed to Republican senators.”

If you look at the version of the article by Allen and Manuel Roig-Franzia that appeared in the Post on March 20, that is true. However, if you look at versions of the same article published in other newspapers on the same day, it is not true.

I already mentioned this article published by the Seattle Times, which states (in an article carrying a Post byline):

The one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, called the debate over Schiavo legislation “a great political issue” that would appeal to the party’s base…

Now consider this version of the article in the Oakland Tribune, bylined to Allen and Roig-Franzia of the Post:

A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, called the debate over Schiavo legislation “a great political issue” that would appeal to the party’s base…

And this passage, which ran in the Contra Costa Times under a Post byline:

A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, called the debate over Schiavo legislation “a great political issue” that would appeal to the party’s base…

And here’s the article in Yahoo! News, once again bylined to Allen and Roig-Franzia:

A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party’s base…

Are we supposed to believe that a renegade Seattle Times copy editor inserted the phrase “by party leaders” on his or her own? Are we supposed to believe that copy editors at the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times and Yahoo! News inserted the exact same phrase on their own?

A much more plausible explanation is that the version of the Allen/Roig-Franzia article published in the Post differed from the version the Post sent out to other newspapers on its wire service. If the version of the article that went out on the wire stated that the Schiavo memo was distributed by GOP party leaders, the Post should acknowledge the error rather than blame “secondhand accounts.”

Finally, check out Donna Smith’s Reuters article, which the Post published on March 20:

A memo distributed to Republican senators by party leaders called the case a “great political issue” and a “tough issue for Democrats,” The Washington Post said.

A separate Reuters article authored by Randall Mikkelsen, also published in the Post, stated:

A memo distributed to Republican senators by party leaders called the case a “great political issue” and a “tough issue for Democrats,” the Washington Post said in its Sunday edition.

If the Post never reported that the memo was distributed by party leaders, as Allen now asserts, the Reuters stories are in error. Isn’t the Post, which carried the stories, obligated to run a correction?

(Big hat tip to Tom Maguire.)

Contacts:
– Michael Getler, ombudsman, (202) 334-7582, getlerm@washpost.com
– Howard Kurtz, media critic, (202) 334-7420, kurtzh@washpost.com
– Mike Allen, White House reporter, (202) 334-6000, allenm@washpost.com

Update: Reader Patricia Topolski writes:

I went back through the paper bin and found what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about the supposed GOP/Schiavo talking point memo on 3/20/2005, page A9:

“A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders… “

The story (Congress moves to Keep Schiavo alive) was attributed to Mike Allen and Manuel Roig-Franza of the Washington Post, with contributions by the Associated Press.

Update II: Mickey Kaus is also on the case. The. Heat. Is. On.

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