Washington Post Issues Lengthy Editor’s Note on Covington Coverage

“It was dropped at 5:17 pm Friday.”

On the heels of a lengthy editor’s note issued by The Washington Post regarding the news outlet’s coverage of the Covington Catholic incident, reporters are suggesting the timing of The Post’s note might be a bit too convenient.

“A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict,” the note reads in part.

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Jon Levine, media editor for The Wrap, noted the time of the statement’s release, as well as The Post’s declining to inform readers of pending litigation by Nick Sandmann, the high school student at the center of the controversy. Levine also observed that the editor’s note did not initially appear on the news site’s homepage. At the time of this article’s publication, the note was not on the homepage.

The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway made explicit what Levine merely insinuated. “In a Friday night update in the midst of a massive lawsuit, Washington Post tries to quietly acknowledge, and downplay, its layers of false and defamatory reporting on the Covington High School boys who attended the March for Life,” she wrote in a tweet Friday evening shortly after the editor’s note was released.

The Post’s note, which walks back several claims the publication made in its initial reporting on the incident, will be seen as vindication by many conservatives who accused major media outlets of journalistic malpractice for their coverage of the videotaped encounter between liberal activist Nathan Phillips and a group of Covington Catholic high school teens.

Misleading footage of the standoff went viral in mid-January, and major news outlets helped perpetuate a false narrative that made Sandmann an instant poster boy for bigotry in Trump’s America.

Additional videos and accounts soon made it clear that Phillips initiated the standoff and later misrepresented what happened. Some journalists, commentators, and celebrities responded to updated evidence by amending their views, and in some cases even apologizing. Others doubled down.

Many conservatives have characterized the saga as a case of liberal bias run amok, and as evidence that liberal culture increasingly vilifies white Christian men.

Pluralist’s Andrew Tobin contributed to this report.

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