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Post columnist Mike Wise suspended for fake Twitter report

By Andy Alexander

Popular Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise has been suspended for a month after knowingly sending a false tweet on Monday.

The action stems from a short scoop to his Twitter followers that said Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has been suspended for six games by the NFL after allegations of misconduct, will only have to sit out five games. “Roethlisberger will get five games, I’m told,” Wise tweeted.

That was big news for those who follow professional football, and it quickly spread on the Internet. But as Wise soon acknowledged, it was a hoax that was part of a misguided attempt to comment on the lowered standards of accuracy for information shared on social media.

Fabrication is a major journalistic transgression. He's lucky he wasn't fired.

Wise announced his suspension from The Post at the start of his Tuesday morning radio program on WJFK 106.7 FM. “I’m paying the price I should for careless, dumb behavior in the multi-platform media world,” he told listeners in a contrite program intro.

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

Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli declined to comment. “I’m not going to discuss anything personnel related,” he said.

Post Sports Editor Matthew Vita said, “Clearly, we consider what Mike did was poor judgment on his part.” He added: “He knows that what he did violates our core principles.”

Wise could not be reached for comment beyond his statement on WJFK.

After his initial tweet on Monday, Wise issued several others that suggested his Roethlisberger exclusive was spoof, not scoop. In one of his subsequent tweets, he said his source was a “casino employee in Lake Tahoe.”

After the tweets became known to his Post bosses on Monday, they quickly contacted Wise to seek an explanation. Brauchli settled on the 30-day suspension from The Post. It does not affect Wise’s broadcast work.

On Tuesday’s program, Wise apologized. “I could give you ten reasons why I did this and explain what went wrong in the execution,” he said. “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.’”

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

On Monday afternoon, after the fabrication became known, Vita sent a note to his staff reminding them of The Post’s rules on social media. They say that in anything transmitted via social media networks, like Twitter or Facebook, “we must protect our professional integrity.”

“We must be accurate in our reporting and transparent about our intentions,” the guidelines read.

But Wise wasn’t reporting. He was fabricating, which is the greatest sin in journalism.

Here’s the full transcript of what Wise said on Tuesday’s radio program:

Many of you tuned into this show yesterday and heard a bit in which I tried to showcase the absurdity of bad journalism. I could give you ten 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 to 40 minutes later. But the truth is that 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 my head.

I always say our worst moments should not define us. I just didn’t think I would be talking about myself today.

The bottom line: I’m paying the price I should for careless, dumb behavior in the multi-platform media world. Sadly, I always believed that things said in a stream of consciousness or typed on a whim for a shtick in a radio show, would somehow disappear in the ether and fly away in cyberspace. But everything I say and do on the air, on my Twitter, on TV, or at The Post, has some ephemeral qualities. The radio studio, my computer, everything is a big echo chamber. It’s self-contained and it’s 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 at The Post.

I don’t want any debate 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 that what you are telling them is the closest thing to the truth you can ascertain. And I didn’t do that yesterday. Again, I’m sorry. And if it’s OK with everyone out there, I’d really like to move on, reflect on this for a while, before any bits or jokes, and have a good show today.

By Andy Alexander  | August 31, 2010; 2:17 PM ET
 
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Comments

Wise should have been fired. Misleading the public with a deliberately falsified report used to be a firing offense when newspapers were the only source of news. That is because the only thing the public has to rely on in deciding whether a story is accurate is the sterling reputation of the writer. He ruined that with this silly Twitter message, and so ruined his career and the reputation of the WPO.

Posted by: edwardallen54 | August 31, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I think that point Wise was making was worthwhile and am not the least bit bothered by his actions. First, it isn't as if he was actually tweeting about real news - we are talking about the number of games that a football player rapist will have to sit out. Who cares other than Roethlisberger? And Big Ben knew it wasn't true. However, if you do look at how the media does overreact to rumors and reports unsubstantiated stories in the race to be first (keeping with the sports theme - remember a few weeks back when all other sports became irrelevant when Brett Favre decided to retire.... except that he had not?)

Posted by: effewe | August 31, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

How can readers trust Wise's reporting from now on?

Posted by: subwayguy | August 31, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

he's suspended, with pay and benes, for one month from the post. he continues his radio show. OMG, he's really suffering. of course, he is a star. a lowlier post employee would be fired for fabricating. the post would never ever fire a star--unless the star then wound up working at slate, owned by the post.

Posted by: Roxcy21 | August 31, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

QUICK! Fire the weatherman! He told me it is suppose to only 91 degrees today and it's 95!!! Come on! Are we seriously going to blast him for this? Anyone who follows sports knows Ben Roethlisberger is going to get a 4-6 game suspension. And really, we are going to get upset over twitter? Posting that on twitter didn't cause WWIII, it's not a "scandal" it was a joke gone bad. This is being blown way out of proportion. Whatever happened to "This may not represent the opinions of the newspaper"? And for the other journalists who used the tweet (that didn't have a link to an article or anything at all) as a basis to create an article, where was your professionalism to always check your sources? That is Journalism 101. No matter how comfortable you get in a career, you should never forget the basics.

Posted by: JonB11 | August 31, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

NEWS FLASH NEWS FLASH!

Wise is NOT a reporter. He is an opinionated columnist.

This is soooo stupid, it's hyrsterical....

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 31, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

So Howard Kurtz writes The Post's news story on this -- and also tweets that he personally thinks the suspension was "overly harsh."
If that's his perspective, fine. He should write about it in his media column, then leave news coverage of the event to a reporter.

The last sentence of his news story notes that "some in the Post newsroom" found it overly harsh -- but no one is quoted. Perhaps he could have quoted his own Tweet.

Posted by: NYCReader1 | August 31, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Whoa ! and WHOA !
This is indignation and self-degradation sounding like a contrived hoax itself over a silly item about a kids' game adults play and others get whacked about. If this wasn't the vaunted NFL and the fear it inflicts on man, child and pit bulls, the righteous and pontificating "media watchers" wouldn't have noticed or cared over the din of the cocktail revelers.
This is another clear case of over-reacting about something so trivial it would have gone unnoticed -- or cared about -- had Andrew Alexander and his righteous "service to the reader" not needed to justify his existence.
What's hilarious about Mike Wise's "confession, regrets, begging for redemption and appreciation to be spared his career," that it was far more trumped up and tongue-in-cheek than anything Mike wrote in jest...or knew enough from past experience covering these things to justify to having a little fun on something as innocuous as Twitter. On Twitter, mind you, not the lead column item in the Sunday Post. Please, let's not make it more than it is.

Posted by: bsniders | August 31, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Back in the day, guys beat themselves with sticks and ropes in hopes of transcending their sins. Now they "confess" to their public. Has the world made progress?

Posted by: Geezer4 | August 31, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I can't see how anything one does via an ADD-oriented medium as dumb as "twitter" means anything with respect to ones journalistic reputation. Put your iToys down and move on people.

Posted by: weetabixjihad | August 31, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I have a hard time determining when Howard Kurtz is a media critic and when he is media...

Posted by: d1carter | August 31, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

OK, shouldn't the EDITOR speak in clear sentences? “Clearly, we consider what Mike did was poor judgment on his part.” should be “Clearly, we consider what Mike did [to be] poor judgment on his part.” Explains why "affect" and "effect" get confused on the Web site front page.

Posted by: gbooksdc | August 31, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

What BS this is! It was a prank and not an attempt to falsify or mislead. Post management and the Ombud lose a lot of credibility over this one.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | August 31, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

It's good to see the tables turn on ignorant-Wise because he always, always, always talk down on people and run them to the dirt with his loud mouth.

I can't stand ignorant-Wise. Bald head BUM!!!

Posted by: clifton3 | August 31, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

The Post takes this too seriously. Journalism is not a profession, with a code of conduct or ethics, such as law or medicine. It is a trade, like plumbing.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | August 31, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Google hits for "Washington Post" and

reputation - 6,820,000
integrity - 6,630,000
stupid - 8,280,000

Proves WaPo is associated more with stupidity than it is with integrity or reputation. (And if you replace "Washington Post" with "New York Times", stupid still beats integrity, but trails reputation 15,400,000 to 14,900,000.)

Posted by: gbooksdc | August 31, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

This is the same Washington Post that had to return a Pulitzer in disgrace about a phony 8 year old involved in the drug trade and usage.

Wise is a columnist, predominantly, and not a reporter. That's a huge world of difference. In its suspending him for a month, TWP tries, without success, to re-inflate the little that has been left of its Watergate journalist integrity since Nixon's days.

Let's be candid, TWP needs Mike Wise a helluva lot more than Mike Wise needs TWP. Boswell's best days are behind him. Wilbon has "bigger and better" commitments (and salaries to receive) from his other interests. Sally Jenkins is a total, out of touch with DC, joke. Tracy Whateverhername is going nowhere fast as a columnist and appears to be working on the cheap as her best qualification for the job, IMHO.

Mike Wise, since about three months after he came to town and continues now...to be THE sports columnist in DC, period...end of story.

Ok, he erred and made a mistake. Who hasn't? Reprimand him and let him do his job for a "first offense," rather than this "Star Chamber version of being called into the well." He's being a TWP sacrificial lamb here though in order for TWP to "attempt to prove" it still is relevant as a print source of news.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA - what a joke that is! Remember, TWP is how many months behind in printing corrections and retractions as it is. That Wise gets hammered when TWP should be suspending itself for a month until it catches up on corrections and retractions is, I believe, testament to the hypocrisy of the Post Corporation. The sound you hear is Katherine Graham spinning, on her head, in her grave over this "life sentance" for a "five buck crime."

Mike, quit! Tell the powers that be of TWP to kiss your tush and do full time radio combined with as many tv gigs (local and ESPN) as you can get. Kornheiser is within two years of hanging it up and whether he likes it or not, the day you came into town....you became the new sheriff of sports and old fashioned Style section commentary in DC, whether TWP has you write it or not.

You reach more people on radio and tv now than TWP only wishes it reached through subscribers.

Posted by: tcmits | August 31, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Wise was 100% right; PFT and other "news" organizations out there take the majority of their info and re-broadcast it without the slightest bit of editorial fact-checking. You want to suspend him for "fabrication"? Fine, it's your right. But remember: this is just sports. It's entertainment. It's not as if Mike was claiming he found proof of the moon landing being fake or had photos of Hoover in drag. He said a quarterback would be out five games, which falls in the four to eight range we already knew. I don't recall Cowlinshaw getting iced in Dallas for a month when saying Revis would be re-signed by the Jets by last Wednesday. Lighten up, WaPo.

Posted by: prototypenygma1 | August 31, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Will writes entire fact free columns that don't bother this "Ombudsman". Wise should be fired for making a point. Will deliberately deceives and Wise should be fired. Easy to see how your bread is buttered.

Posted by: vw52 | August 31, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

What if Big Ben actually DOES get 5 games now?

Does it mean Mike Wise is psychic?

Posted by: chombie13 | August 31, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse


>Will writes entire fact free columns that don't bother this "Ombudsman".

Will is a an editorial page writer. He writes concerning his opinions. If you have entire columns worth of fabricated facts, you should probably send them to the ombudsman. Or, you know, you can just hyperventilate about it on a Web page and see where that gets you.

That said, while it is a given that Mike Wise is a reporter, and should be reporting facts, I think he made a simple mistake here - one we are all apt to make from time to time. Given the tools that we have to broadcast our thoughts to the world, it is very easy, in an intemperate moment, to experience a lapse in judgment.

Is this really worthy of a one month suspension? I agree with Kurtz (who apparently slips in unattributed quotes, of himself, into articles - a time tested method of inserting personal opinion into articles without the appearance of doing so): this is a bit harsh.

In the end, the guy was having fun, in a non-professional environment, and now he gets to ride the bench for a month. Reading the post on a daily basis, which among us would say this is the most dire journalistic sin we see? I would grant that honor to Eugene Robinson, but hey, that's just me, you can pick your own.

Fact is, who cares what he says on Twitter? Who cares what he sings in the shower, or mutters under his breath while waiting on line at the local Subway. I don't necessarily like either his column or radio show (just a tip - I listen to sports radio to hear about sports, not to hear your inane thoughts on the Iraq war. We know you dislike Republicans, dude, but how about you save *that* for your Twitter account?), but geez, it was a joke. Ok, not a very good one, but come on.

Posted by: thebigtrey | August 31, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse


Correction, after reading the post from tcmits, Wise *is* predominantly a columnist. I wouldn't necessarily call him a reporter. Which brings up a question: would Kornheiser gotten the month long heave ho if he had done this? Not too sure about that.

Posted by: thebigtrey | August 31, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

What--you mean Twitter is supposed to be like REAL facts and stuff?

Posted by: capsfan77 | August 31, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Fire the ombudsman!!! It was a Twitter feed and not in the WP. Great real little boy. You can get bent out of shape when the WP Sports Section isn't a propaganda sheet for the Redskins like it has been since 1965 Maybe if the Sport Section did some real sports reporting and wasnt in the tank for the Deadskins, Les Boulez, The Nats and last but not least the choking dogs the Caps.

You know you criticize the owner and how the organization is run.
But why start now you didn't do it when Marshall owned the Skins.

Your are a fing joke. Crawl back in leftist hole son!

Posted by: sheepherder | August 31, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

this is ridiculous. #1, he did not fabricate a story - this was not an intent to pass on fiction as reporting. This was satirical, just like 90% of columns by columnists in the Wise/Kornheiser category. #2, context means everything. Clearly it was a joke. If he wrote a column that started the same way, with the same intent at proving the same point, it would be fine.

Posted by: jk1492 | August 31, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse


You pretend WaPo is a newspaper of credibiliy?

It's a Zionist propogandist rag, increasingly, with a roster of Israel fister columnists and a publisher that keeps her Grandfather's date with creating, promoting and furthering the terrorist state of Israel's future.

It will have been seen, is already seen, as a reason for the breakdown of America.

"The Jewish bankers of New York are doing fine, prospering as usual, we hear today. How is America's middle class?

The Washing Post should be named what it is. A zionist first propoganda rag.

Posted by: whistling | August 31, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Since the Washington Post has no credibility anyway,

why suspend some stupid sports writer for some stupid story?
Nothing else of interest?

Some back room supposition that pretending the Post is
pristine in sports will prove it
reliable in the real world?

Posted by: whistling | August 31, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

This is so stupid. Twitter is not media. The people who posted on their websites without fact checking should be fired.

Posted by: RLDRY | August 31, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse


HEY< ALEXANDER...

in a newspaper so full, so rancid with
Israeli propoganda,
you spend time on some stupid Twitter?

No better example of a really rotten newspaper with no value...minus value...and a really flakey, pointless ombudsman.
Nothing of importance to cover in the world?

Posted by: whistling | August 31, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post has pretty low standards so I'm not surprised he wasn't fired. But since it's about sports, something that has no importance whatsoever, I don't actually care.

Posted by: jjedif | August 31, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Bealls, my High School Auto Mechanics teacher used to say, "Life's like a cow pasture, you can't get through it without stepping in some poop." What happens when you step in a pile? You wipe it off and move on.

My guess is that Mike Wise's Tweet was only re-Tweeted because of his role as a re-spected Journalist. A better "experiment" would have been to have some schmuck like me tweet the information. Would anybody have re-Tweeted it? Highly doubtful.

Mike Wise posted from a Post account, violating both the Post's ethics policies and policies for electronic communications. The Post obviously has every right to fire Wise for his "moment of temporary insanity." That said, the lines between journalism and entertainment have been eroding for years. As both a news and an entertainment organization, the Post has contributed the blurring of the line between journalism and entertainment.

Wise's hoax was done as an entertainer, but he was "clothed" as a journalist. The issue Mike Wise has raised is legitimately thought provoking, but he addressed the issue in exactly the wrong way, damaging both his own and the Post's credibility in the process.

Wise is a quality person, one of the genuine good guys in the business. How many eyeballs does Mike Wise bring to the paper and its website based on his role as a broadcaster and a great writer? After this boneheaded mistake, probably even more people will be following him. Maybe the Post could require Wise to do some community service, just like Gilbert Arenas, and maybe Mike Wise might come into my school and talk about the dangers of Tweeting. He might change a few lives in the process!

Posted by: dannykurland1 | August 31, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

You have a lot of gall Om-blogs-man. No one was reprimanded when the Post sold time to meet with the editor a year ago. Folks who live in glass newspaper houses shouldn't throw stones.

Posted by: mstov | August 31, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

The WaPo has no credibility. Your writers try to be the news instead of reporting the news. They are a bunch of celebrity wannabees.

Look at me! Listen to me! They should all become Paris Hilton.

Die in ignominious humiliation you Scribes of Satan.

Posted by: adamnescot1 | August 31, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

L'Shanah tovah, Whistling!

Posted by: ajlerner1 | August 31, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

There is no way they could fire anyone for something like this, a tiny fraction of the "salons" attempted sellout by the brass who remain not only employed but in charge.

Posted by: kls1 | August 31, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Mike Wise should be at the very least suspended. There have to be rules from preventing people from doing any old slanderous, lying, "setting up the people" , act, especially journalists. His adherence to ethics as a news media professional is paramount. If he isn't suspended, then the next guy can take it farther, and so forth. Suspending or firing him is necessary.
That said, I applaud him for the message he was sending. He may go down a martyr, and the punishment is necessary, but I think his intention was to show an even greater danger, which is a lack of accountability for news. As a newspaper man and journalist, I am sure he is troubled by the speed of which illegitimate and untrue statements get passed around as "indicated by sources". Lives are at stake, repurations are at stake, everyhing is at stake when we don't feel obliged to truthfulness and evidence. Maybe it was a stunt, but I think it was heartfelt.
So, I think Wise has to be punished. It's just what you have to do. But I thank him for making a point and raising awareness of an issue that has a long term and potentially dangerous impact on our society.

Posted by: DCinNY | August 31, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Gotta be frustrating for a real journalist to get scooped by Twitter posts. Only someone in MW's position could pull this off to prove the point that a Twitter post isn't necessarily vetted with the presumed rigor of a real newspaper.

Good idea, whether or not there was a better way to execute it is a valid debate.

Free Mike Wise!

Posted by: rdpinva | August 31, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

A Newspaper ombudsman reporting on a reporter who lied like no big deal. Have the standards sunk so low that lying in a newspaper is no big thing? I mean, we've seen how proofreaders are an endangered species in the "Digital Revolution," but truth shouldn't be. Dumbing down media doesn't elevate it. What should I believe that the Washington Post publishes? Sad. Bring back Kate Graham and Ben Bradlee.

Posted by: ChrisW1958 | August 31, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

When is Katharine Weymouth going to resign for trying to get corporate sponsors to pay for attendance at "salons" where they can talk to Post reporters and columnists?

When is the Post going to terminate the contracts of columnnists such as Michael Gerson and Marxc Thiessen, who invent facts every week?

When is the Post going to terminate the contract of George Will, and Charles Krauthammer, who every week pick and choose the half-truths they write?

When is the Pst going to call out the 535 Members of Congress and Senators who lie out their sphincters every single day?

If the Post is not ready to do those things, they have no *%&^(@# business disciplining Mike Wise.

Posted by: angelos_peter | August 31, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

the bigger concern is that the paper isn't making enough money, you can't afford to suspend people or bad mouth each other.

he made a tiny mistake

Posted by: dcfilmindustryexaminer | August 31, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Reading the comments raises the point that the ombudsman SHOULD have raised but did not: this is caused by Wise double-dipping, writing for the Post AND trying to be an entertaining radio host. He tweeted as a radio host. If WaPo had some stones and insisted their reporters and writers only work for them (like the NYT), you wouldn't have had this. But the mere fact of working for two masters compromises the individual's integrity and credibility as a journalist. Kurtz works for CNN, how can you take his WaPo coverage of CNN seriously? Wilbon works for ESPN, which describes itself as a marketing PARTNER for the NBA -- how can he be considered independent when he works for WaPo? But WaPo happily went along with the double dippers because they thought it added prestige to the paper, which means they sacrificed journalistic integrity in the name of sales -- pretty much what Wise did, which makes suspending him for not putting ethics and standards first pretty hypocritical.

Well, WaPo's integrity card got pulled after the salon scandal anyway (smart move kicking the matter to Kurtz, who is already corrupt; after that, the whole matter was buried); the only people who really think WaPo still has standards, gee, I don't know (I'm pretty sure Brauchli et al. are too smart to believe the pablum they're uttering).

Posted by: gbooksdc | August 31, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

if wise had stayed in his columnist role and just said i think big ben will serve 5 games, he would have been fine. when he atributed the 5 games to a fabricated source then he was acting as a reporter who betrayed his profession. i hope the suspension is without pay/benefits, etc. instead of just an unpaid vacation tribute to his guild membership. that would certainly fit the norm in the land of employment for life non accountable public employees who infest the capital area.

Posted by: george32 | August 31, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

If we were dealing with "hard news" and matters affecting the real welfare of innocent people, maybe such a suspension would be warranted. A reprimand and an apology is all that was needed. It was his stated intent from almost the minute it was released was to "test" how the public snaps up just about anything from anywhere and regurgitates it as "news". About the only harm here might have been to bookies in gambling houses nationwide handling the NFL and Steelers' betting lines - oops, I mean to Big Business and the Mob. Wise is lucky they haven't shot him ...

Posted by: bunga1 | August 31, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The whole anti-fabrication ethos is a hold-over from the dead tree days. Seriously, fabrication is an offense that implies fabrication of news stories that are distributed in print or via electronic broadcast means.

If you put an erroneous fact in a story that is distributed directly to three-quarters of a million people in print or multi-millions of people in a news broadcast, then that is an offense of major proportions.

Most people on Twitter, even the journalists whose work appears on sites that hemmorage red ink, only have a few thousand followers at best.

What if he said that same very thing at cocktail party? Twitter is closer to a cocktail party than it is to the front page of Sunday New York Times.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 31, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, I thinks the Post doth protest too much. When a once-respected newspaper instructs its professional reporters and columnists to start tweeting, and they in turn start instructing their readers to "follow me on Twitter"... this is what happens.

This is the same paper that now relies on unpaid amateurs, its readers, for a major chunk of both its photojournalism and local events coverage, and apparently has a gang of ESL students copy-editing the web version. There's a 100% likelihood the Post will find some way to get unpaid amateurs to fill Wise's column space for as long as he's gone, and probably longer. Think this is the first or last time the Post has had its chain yanked? Please. Don't be ridiculous.

So the question of where, exactly, the Post draws the line at this point is legitimate. No question, they brought this on themselves, and long ago flushed their professional culture in a foolish desperation to be fashionable.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | August 31, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

If lying is the basic transgression here then Alexander, too, must go. He the writer who penned "Popular Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise .."

Wise is popular? Versus who?

Also, for all of you who get off screaming about the partiality of the Post .. why the H do you keep reading it then? Do you like hitting your heads against a wall? Oh .. I see. Hit away then. Weird.

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

On second thought, the Post blew it. This was their chance to finally say, "remember in 2003 when our editorial board said invading Iraq was a good idea? It was all just a really funny joke! Can't believe you fell for it!"

Oh well, maybe NEXT time, which is inevitable as long as WP draws on amateurs to play at keeping its readers informed.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | August 31, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

good idea, poor poor execution by Wise. He is right on about rumors being treated as fact in the new media world. But he shouldn't have used his name or the Post's. There is some built in credibility with his name and the Post, and so if others took him at his word and believed his false rumor it demonstrates nothing and damages credibility. He didn't think this thing thru very well.

Posted by: cabraman | September 1, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Yawn. Mike Wise? Washington Post? Who are they? Both are headed down the track to irrelevancy at breakneck speed. Who cares what he tweets? Who really cares what he writes in the paper? Who cares about anything written in the sports section, or for that matter most of the paper? Who's listening to his snooze fest of a radio show? Maybe this will move Wise's career closer to being put out of it's misery a bit sooner. Lastly, its sure not like this is the smoking gun indecent that calls into question the ethics of the Post, that ship has sailed a long long time ago. I didn't read Wise much before and will not be reading him much when he returns in 60 days. Cough cough...........

Posted by: Standardman76 | September 1, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Mr. O,

Just wondering, would your post have gotten this many responses if Wise wasn't so popular? Seems like another tail wagging-the-dog moment to me. Maybe President Obama needed to distract people so they wouldn't focus on the problems of real people trying to survive in this crappy economy. We are in an election cycle ... just sayin'!

Here's another thought about how to properly punish Mike Wise for his naughtiness: let him wear a tunic and wander around DC holding a search lantern; don't let him come back to work until he finds an honest journalist or politician -- he may be awhile.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | September 1, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Why is Kurtz involved in reporting on the Post's internal problems at all? This is just a reminder of the embarrassing "reporting" he did when the Katharine Weymouth salons scandal broke and he wrote about it without apparently digging for the truth at all, preferring to parrot Weymouth and Brauchli's company line instead of telling the whole story, warts and all. To maintain even a semblance of objectivity and integrity, the Post should hire outside stringers whenever they have to report on internal matters of a controversial nature. Kurtz is a company man and a columnist whose bread is buttered by the Post. There's an obvious conflict of interest here.

Posted by: whatmeregister | September 1, 2010 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Come on now folks, the Post is a business, they screw up but demanding saint-like adherence to lofty pure goals is just naive. Check out any other newspaper in the country, they're just money-first, very limited in anything like public introspection, and you REALLY won't find an ombudsman at almost any of them.
(That said, management needs to hear that they can really blow the deal, that is, lose their readers in a second if they try to fool the public with a biased product, i.e. Newsweek.)

Posted by: kls1 | September 1, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Total overreaction. Absolutely ridiculous by the Post. Shows how out of touch they are with the modern media landscape. "Holier than though" is the phrase that comes to mind too. Maybe Wise didn't think through clearly how best to make a clever commentary on the silly nature of the so-called Twitterverse, but this isn't a case of life or death. It's a joke by a sportswriter.

(Side note: I don't read Wise anymore than anyone else, so I'm not biased for or against him.)

Posted by: standingrocks | September 1, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Wise should have been fired. The Post is looking pretty bad, right about now......

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 1, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

If I might suggest one critique of your handling of this incident that does not delve into the sticky issues associated with personnel matters:

Why was the article about this resolution in the STYLE section today? I'll admit it, I read the paper every day except the Style section, which I usually don't read. Shouldn't this information have been in Sports, or at the very least in your column in the Front section?

I almost feel like you were hiding it from Mike Wise normal readers, for those of us who don't follow the chaotic world of Twitter, and still read the paper version as the primary information source.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 1, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

No more "from a reliable source."

Posted by: JOHN20878 | September 1, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Too bad we don't have this kind of quick response when it comes to liberal political falsehoods that make it into the WaPo all the time.

Posted by: jhughart | September 1, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I just can't get over the irony of the Washington Post suddenly becoming concerned with journalistic integrity. Is this April 1st or something?

Eugene Robinson still writes for you, doesn't he? And you're suspending a sportwriter??? Too funny.

Posted by: Des_ | September 2, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

A President who conspires to falsify intelligence to start a war is rewarded by reelection. A sportswriter is punished for tweeting about a drunken lout. Teabagging nation.

Posted by: MichaelOConnor | September 7, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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