WaPo “bully” hit piece on Mitt Romney unravels

Yesterday, the Washington Post published a rather unflattering story about Mitt Romney’s prep school days:

John Lauber, a soft-spoken new student one year behind Romney, was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality. Now he was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye, and Romney wasn’t having it.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” an incensed Romney told Matthew Friedemann, his close friend in the Stevens Hall dorm, according to Friedemann’s recollection.

… A few days later, Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school’s collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber’s hair. Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.

Left-wing blogs immediately picked up the story.  After all, anecdotal evidence that portrays any Republican as a bigoted, homophobic bully is simply too good to pass up.

Unfortunately, it seems the Washington Post needs better fact checkers:

The older sister of Mitt Romney’s former high school classmate said she has no knowledge of any bullying incident involving her brother and the GOP presidential candidate.

… When ABC News showed her the story, Christine Lauber’s eyes welled up with tears and she became agitated.

She also corrected the story, saying her brother was a boarder, not a day student.

She described her brother as a “very unusual person.”

“He didn’t care about running with the peer group,” Christine Lauber said. “What’s wrong with that?”

Betsy Lauber, one of John Lauber’s three sisters, spoke with ABC News Tuesday night regarding the accuracy of the story.

“The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family,” she said.

And there appears to be more about the story that isn’t adding up – so much that Brietbart.com caught the Washington Post quietly airbrushing its own story:

The original Washington Post piece stated the following:

“’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.” [emphasis added]

Yet in an interview with ABC News today, White disowned that characterization:

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.

White didn’t know about the incident until this year, but the Post reported that he had “long been bothered” by it. We demanded a correction.

So the Washington Post did what no reputable newspaper should ever do when caught falsifying testimony: it made a stealth correction to its own article. The article now reads:

“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.” [emphasis added]

The Post did not note that it had made any correction to the article.

In February 2008, the New York Times published an incendiary article on Republican front-runner John McCain, accusing McCain of numerous potential lobbying conflicts of interest and insinuating that McCain might have had a relationship with a female lobbyist that was – wink, wink – a little more than professional.   At that time, the National Inquirer had already published numerous articles about the adulterous affair between John Edwards and Rielle Hunter.  Yet the Times chose to go with a McCain hit piece, even though much of the sourcing for their McCain expose was based on hearsay and speculation.

Likewise, neither the Post, the Times, or any other major newsprint or broadcast media outlet has bothered to publish an in-depth, 5000 word expose on the high school and college years of Barack Obama, even though Obama himself (or his spokespeople) confessed to drug use, loathing other students, both black and white, due to feelings of cultural misplacement and inadequacy, an obsession with Marxist professors and students, and fictionalizing characters and events in his own autobiography.  We only learned of Obama’s impoverished half-brother, his aunt and uncle both residing illegally in the United States, and his failed community organizing efforts at Chicago’s Lincoln Gardens through the diligent work of the Boston Globe and the British press.  And no one has made a serious effort to obtain his high school, undergraduate, or graduate admissions records or transcripts.

But it is already clear that there will be no end to the trivial matters that the press will be digging up about Mitt Romney, or attempts to distract and polarize the electorate over social issues.  I agree completely with Mike McNally – any time the Democrats attempt to capitalize on a new social “war” or trivia from Romney’s past, the Romney campaign should respond by simply acknowledging that their candidate isn’t perfect and that there are a lot of issues that the American people disagree on, but the focus of this election should be on jobs and the economy, and that President Obama has failed miserably in both of those areas.

And if you still believe in the objectivity of the mainstream press, it’s time to wake up and acknowledge reality.

Dangers of the Ballot Initiative
Wizbang Weekend Caption Contest™