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Mike Wise's statement

Below is the statement Mike Wise used to start his radio show on Tuesday. Figure I should include it here, although others from The Post will also be weighing in on the topic.

And for the record, I honestly believe Mike Wise does things for our newspaper's sports section that very few people in the country could do. For example, I'd remind you about the Donald Brashear, Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson. Getting athletes to open up like that while also having the writing skills to do these stories justice is a pretty unique combination.

And he gets stuff like this all the time. Remember the quotes from The Post's story the day after Haynesworth lashed out, about how he was throwing up and dizzy when he got out of the hot tub and didn't just have a "headache?" Quotes Haynesworth gave to a single reporter in the parking lot long after the game? That was Wise, too. He has a knack for getting stuff like that, and I've witnessed it in person many, many times. Still, this was a big mistake, and he's obviously paying for it.

(In the process of attempting to point out that Wise has great value to our newspaper, I also said something stupid about another site, which I regret. Sorry to everyone. That was bad form.)

Here's Wise's statement:

Many of you tuned into the show yesterday and heard a bit in which I tried to showcase the absurdity of bad journalism. And I could give you 10 reasons why I did this and explain what went wrong in the execution, but none of it matters today.

I made a horrendous mistake, using my Twitter account, which identifies me as a Washington Post columnist, to come up with an unsourced sentence about the length of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension. I didn't put "kidding" in that sentence. I didn't put "Just joking."

I could even say I thought I corrected it within five minutes and didn't realize my Twitter server was busy 30-40 minutes later. But the truth is, if I waited one second to make my intentions and sourcing clear, I waited too long.

Integrity, being right before being first, is the only thing genuine journalists have left in this world. It pains me to say my own stupid, irresponsible experiment ironically has cost me a chunk of my own credibility today.

I'm sorry, especially to the good, smart people at the best place I've ever worked. Even those angry and livid, I know your heart is with the paper and its reputation. I will say you find out in times like these who cares about you beyond a blog post. I'll also say it would be wrong to judge the people calling for your head.

I always say our worst moments should not define us - I just didn't think I'd be talking about myself.

Bottom line, I am paying the price I should for careless, dumb behavior in the multi-platform media world. Sadly, I always believed that things said in stream of consciousness or typed on a whim for shtick on a radio-show would somehow disappear in the ether, fly away in cyberspace.

But everything I say and do on the air, on my Twitter, on TV or the Post, has ephemeral qualities. The radio studio, my computer, is a big echo-chamber - self contained and reviewable for scrutiny.

My bosses at The Post feel I need a month to think about the severity of my actions. I agree and will serve a one-month suspension beginning today.

I don't want any debate today over my actions and the punishment received. Please do that on your own. Just know that the most sacred thing in my business - the business of journalism not radio shtick - is getting readers to believe what you are telling them is the closest thing to the truth you could ascertain.

And I didn't do that yesterday. Again, I'm sorry.

And if it's okay with everyone out there, I'd really like to move on, reflect on this for a while and have a good show today.

(For more, see Deadspin, Andy Alexander, SB Nation DC, Press Coverage, and Pro Football Talk.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 31, 2010; 2:16 PM ET
Categories:  Media  
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good for Wise. this is an actual apology, unlike another certain member of the DC media that will remain nameless.

he made a mistake. he's accepted his punishment. let's move on.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | August 31, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Pirate journalism is to easy in this day and age. Pick and choose thoughts/facts from others and BAM! You got a post. Creation is hard, when everything has already been done or said. Not enough horses mouthes for everyone

Posted by: BurgwithaU | August 31, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Dude is a hack. ;)
No, but seriously.

Posted by: dpkennedy | August 31, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Glad he apologized. What he did was incredibly stupid. But I could have done without the half-assed pseudo justification preambles to each mea culpa. Just own up, don't mitigate.

Posted by: Langway4Eva | August 31, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Not a suspendable offense. My two cents. But a good lesson, nonetheless.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | August 31, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Dan - "...I also said something stupid about another site..."

Pretty ironic for an aggregator to rip on another aggregator. Yeah, yeah, you are not the same, not brothers, but certainly cousins.

Posted by: popopo | August 31, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I respect him for apologizing.

Perhaps Michael Wilbon could learn a thing or two from Wise when he talks about integrity and the need to apologize.

Posted by: kiley1 | August 31, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, I am not a habitu'e of the Twitter, so I am clueless. Rothensberger has been suspended and MW put out a false length of suspension without qualifying that it was a joke? If so, a big deal within WaPo, not so much in the outside world.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | August 31, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Lighten up - The dude's a journalist. BFD.

It's not like he's a cop, teacher or doctor.

Posted by: Scoonie97 | August 31, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

At least he was making a point and admitted it was a hoax. Peter Vescey's reporting on the Arenas story was horrible and I'm convinced he made half of that stuff up, but we never heard anything else about it

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | August 31, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Mike Wise exposed PFT's Florio by exposing himself. And somehow Dan Steinberg finds a way to insert himself in this debacle, so that he too can become important and then later apologize. Wow. So it is all even. Florio, Wise, Steinberg, LaCanfora they are all the same.
Why just suspend Miek Wise. Why not send Dan back to his cheese isle for at least a week.

Posted by: KarK | August 31, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I know this has been said before, but the irony deserves some emphasis: Roethlesberger probably raped someone. Wise tweets about it. Both get the same suspension. Seems severe for Wise, and lenient for Ben.

Posted by: frylock | August 31, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Dude is a more than decent sports columnist. I've enjoyed his writing over the years.

He never belonged on radio or television at all, and the increased exposure has really been affecting his ego...this, in turn, has been negatively impacting many peoples' perceptions of him. It's not worth it, guy. America already has enough big-headed sportswriters trying to make a bigger name for themselves without, you know, actually writing something.

Just stick to what you do best, Wise. If being a columnist wasn't enough for you, why ever pursue it in the first place?

Posted by: JohnnyBlades | August 31, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Stupid is as stupid does. Wise is a buffoon who always feels the need to be the funniest guy in the room, the village idiot. His show and comcast appearances are dreadful. One month with no him around is not enough. So what if every now and then he gets a scoop or actually writes something worth reading; sometimes even a blind squirrel stumbles on a nut.....

Posted by: buddy120 | August 31, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

To the absolutely clueless morons who continue to refer to Wise as a "hack," please stop. You are embarrassing only yourselves. Wise is quite possibly the furthest thing in journalism from a "hack."

Dude has gotten numerous national awards for his writing. Do yourself a favor and read the Wise columns that Steinberg linked to.

Posted by: Barno1 | August 31, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Gee whiz, that's like three times in five days that I've agreed with something Barno posts. The Earth is off its axis, I swear.

I also swear, if everyone had their way, the Post offices would be barren of writers, tumbleweeds wheeling between desks. And yet people would still click on blog links, hoping to read something, somewhere, written by whom, I don't know.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | August 31, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

If the Washington Post Sports Department has any integrity remaining, they need to bid Mr. Wise goodbye. What he did is inexcusable. And his radio partners should also bid him adieu. It's sad, what was once an excellent sports section now features several columnists who either don't live in D.C. or are more concerned with their radio and TV careers. And a sports editor who'd be hard pressed to explain how they pick what stories to cover and features to report.

Posted by: lgrimes299 | August 31, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Mike Wise survived this very real brush with death, so I think he'll survive this mini-controversy:

Posted by: Barno1 | August 31, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse


I never read that piece. that's a great one, one which tells one all one needs to know about Mike's excellent writing skills. I happen to like his reporting too...

Posted by: terptek | August 31, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

dan, you were dead on regarding Pro Football Talk. They are one of the poster childs for irresponsible sports reporting, even though they do get a number of lead stories right. The point is they are just a feeder, and as such, Pro Football Talk should Shut The Footballs Up...

Posted by: terptek | August 31, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Wise should be fired. His radio show is a blatant conflict of interest to begin with. He has irreparably damaged his credibility.

Posted by: poguesmahone | August 31, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"Dude has gotten numerous national awards for his writing."

As I recall, Janet Cooke got a big award for her writing too. But like Wise, she wasn't writing the truth. And thus the award became moot, didn't it?

Posted by: nunof1 | August 31, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I hope this is an unpaid suspension and Mr. Wise isn't using any vacation time to pad his wallet. Otherwise, with his radio show keeping him employed, what lesson has he really learned.



Posted by: jayrockers | August 31, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Steinberg,I'm starting to get what it is exactly that you do. You're like a rewind button, but with smart commentary. I figured it was Wise who got Haynesworth to open up about the true nature of his injuries. Wise's parking lot journalism helped fans develop a more nuanced view of the Haynesworth situation -- only, nobody at the time attributed the reporting to Wise. I figured out it was Wise's reporting by the joint by-line.

How totally ironic it is that Wise was ensnared by the same abusive practice he was trying to highlight: "Ha, ha, gotcha, sucker!" A great word popped into my mind, schadenfreude, which is defined as taking delight in the pain of others. Perhaps, schadenfreude is the reason why Wise has found himself in therapy; many of us in town probably need to join him for needed reminders.

Anyone who would dive into a frozen canal to save his dog is someone who I would be honored to call a friend. If the editors of the Post can't forgive Wise for his temporary insanity, and worse, if Wise can't forgive himself, something is very wrong with this world. What's the Lord's Prayer? Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...

This kind of thing was bound to happen as the boundaries between "journalism" and entertainment have become less defined. Yesterday, I posted something on my blog that I had the second sense enough to take down before anyone noticed it ... but nobody follows my blog, Wise has how many followers?

Twitter is incredibly dangerous and powerful because it is so immediate. Have you ever sent an email that you later regretted? Twitter is a thousand times more dangerous. Mike Wise needs to use his time off developing a book about the dangers of twitter -- it could be a best seller. Didn't Ocho Cinco get heavily fined recently for twittering during a game. Only a week ago, Brandon Banks twittered Devin Thomas sleeping in a meeting, which in all likelihood, led to Thomas not playing receiver last game.

Mr. Steinberg, you're doing a great job as a replay analyst. You are doing the thoughtful kind of analysis that used to be standard in journalism. I don't know if you have to run your posts by an editor, but even if you don't, you seem to know intuitively how to pause for reflection. Sometimes having a rewind button isn't such a bad thing.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | August 31, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Only a bunch of losers would complain about what is posted on twitter.

Haha, you clowns actually follow twitter, facebook, and all those other pathetic social networking sites.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | August 31, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Great. Now I half agree with Poopy. End times, muther*#$%ers, end times.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | August 31, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Hail to the Redskins!

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 31, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I guess its possible that Wise *may* have overstepped the bounds a bit with making up a fake suspension length, but a month-long suspension? Seriously, I find it hilarious. Wise more or less TOLD EVERYONE up front on his radio show that he was going to do this as part of his little social experiment...and then he does it and WaPo gets their panties in a bunch. Bravo, WaPo, bravo; I'm sure that Wise is the ONLY reporter on your staff to have done such a thing.


Posted by: RCBJr | August 31, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

At least Mike apologized truthfully instead of some fabrication created by an attorney...We all make mistakes, one pays the price and moves on....

Posted by: mofares | August 31, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

It's actually a very interesting experiment. I wonder how you could pull it off ethically. Stanford?

Still, that five minutes of misdirection gets picked up by nbcsports and msnbc (I guess that's just one source?) proves the point. I generally am not a Wise fan, but I hope this is a one-month and done, no mark on the permanent record sort of "vacation".

Posted by: WorstSeat | August 31, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who defends Mike Wise -- or slams the Washington Post -- for this incident, or its consequences for Mike, is just flat wrong.

I am sure that there was discussion among The Post's editors to take even more severe actions against their reporter -- up to and including termination. Any journalist with ethical standards understands that what Wise did was just that serious.

Nothing -- NOTHING -- else matters more to a journalist, or the company that employs him or her, than their credibility. A reporter can have the ability to get stories no one else can find. They can have the instincts to understand a situation and know when a story is there. They can have the writing ability to bring any story to life for the reader. But if the reader can't be 100% sure what they are reading is the facts -- as the writer knows them to be -- then everything else is worthless.

As far as I am concerned, Mike Wise is lucky to have a job tonight. He and his fans better understand that this was his one screw-up. From this day forward, if Wise so much as tweets that is it partly cloudy on a sunny day, his future as a newspaper columnist is over.

And that is exactly the way it should be.

Kevin Olson
Manassas, VA

Posted by: noslok | August 31, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

And from this day forward, those who actually take Twitter seriously, need to turn the computer off and go out and have an actual life.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | August 31, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, dude, stop. You're scaring me.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | August 31, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what David Simon thinks about this. Does he have a twitter?

Posted by: Wonsapnatm | August 31, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

There is however, now this:

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 1, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I have and will continue to read Wise's articals and trust I an getting the truth. The guy made a mistake. He owned up to it and is taking the punishment like a man. Keep your chin up Mike.

Posted by: dvseawolf | September 1, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I know Mike personally and he is a very gracious person. He critiqued my stories for me during, and after college while I was attempting to become a sports writer and did it with no complaint. He made a mistake and was man enough to admit it. Being a columnist is very satisfying to him, JohnnyBlades. If you were in the media business you would understand that getting on TV and radio is part of the gig once you get to a certain level, which Mike is at.

Posted by: jcreech1 | September 1, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

What a preposterous overreaction by the morning paper. the man made a mistake. the newspaper wants to play in the social media sandbox - Twitter, the Blogistan, as well as an ocean of reader comments from idiots. Then they pose for holy pictures when something goes wrong.



Posted by: bikobiko | September 1, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

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