Do newspapers even need to print retractions anymore?
Honestly, it’s a serious question.
Nowadays most retractions only come out days, weeks, or even months after the original story—so seriously, what good does printing a retraction do?
The damage has been done….
The peoples’ opinions have been formed.
All a retraction does, effectively, is save the news outlet (maybe) from litigation for printing lies.
A retraction is nothing more than a CYA moment – and if you don’t think newspapers know that, you’re sorely mistaken.
Newspapers still HATE printing retractions, though.
Even though it’s the reporter who made the mistake, the fact of the matter is these kinds of errors reflect poorly upon the publication as a whole.
However, the only thing worse than looking incompetent is losing money in a court case.
So, printing a retraction, while painful, happens in order to avoid paying out expensive settlements.
The Power Of The Retraction
This happens with local publications all of the time…
But regional or local journalists are expected to make mistakes. Their sources aren’t as reliable as those from, say, the New York Times, so it makes sense.
However, when a major publication issues a retraction, you can bet there’s a reason.
That’s why so many people are paying attention to the Washington Post’s admission that they misquoted President Trump and his remarks to Georgia elections investigator Frances Watson.
WaPo was forced to admit their mistake when a rediscovered recording showed that they printed LIES, all based off information that their reporters received from their source.
The source was absolutely wrong, but the newspaper published the report claiming that Trump urged Watson to “find the fraud” and told her she would be “a national hero” if she did.
As it turns out, he never said that.
Trump did not tell the investigator to “find the fraud” or say she would be “a national hero” if she did it.
Instead, he simply urged her to scrutinize ballots in Georgia’s Fulton County, asserting she would find “dishonesty” there – and he also told her that what she was doing was “the most important job in the country right now.”
Here’s the full correction…
“ATLANTA — In a story January 9, 2021, about a phone call between then-President Donald Trump and a lead Georgia elections investigator, The Associated Press, based on information provided by a source, erroneously reported that Trump pressed the investigator to ‘find the fraud’ and said it would make the investigator a national hero. A recording of the call made public two months later revealed that Trump did not say either and instead said that if the investigator looked into Fulton County the investigator would ‘find things that are gonna be unbelievable.’ Trump also told the investigator: ‘When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.’”
All a far cry from WaPo’s original claim.
Normally, these things slip in under the radar, but for some reason, this retraction has gained a lot more attention than normal—and you can bet that it’s driving their higher-ups CRAZY!
Twitter Jumps On Board
Twitter users have laid into WaPo unmercifully—as well they should, because what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.
Journalist Mary Katharine Ham tweeted, “So, they made up quotes. What in the actual F.”
So, they made up quotes. What in the actual F https://t.co/OETISsq3tb
— Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) March 15, 2021
Journalist Kyle Becker tweeted out, “The ironic thing is that intelligent people knew this was made-up BS from the get-go.”
And user Glen Hilts tweeted, “Great. And, 90% of folks will never see the ‘correction’.”
And he’s right.
Not many people would generally see this “correction”—but we’re going to do our best to make sure this call gets out there.
And the worst thing you could do for the WaPo would be to share this article with all your friends on social media…
That would be terrible of you.
“Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted.” – Hesketh Pearson