Washington Post Re-Writes Lori Montgomery Lede; Paper May Actually Have Some Limits on its Deficit Campaigning
Earlier today, Mitchell Plitnick caught the Washington Post doing what it does so regularly: publishing extremely misleading (and in many cases outright false) articles about deficit issues. The Post had issued a breaking news alert headlined: "U.S. deficit to top $1 trillion for 4th year in a row." The article, by Lori Montgomery, began:
The federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday in a report that predicts a nearly $1.1 trillion gap between government spending and tax collections for 2012.Plitnick rightly pointed out that the lede was incredibly misleading, because the real news was what immediately followed it in the article:
That figure is the smallest – both in nominal terms and as a percentage of the economy – since the Great Recession began taking a heavy toll on the federal budget in 2009.But what's happened now is shocking: I noticed that the Post has actually updated the article to make it better. In the version up now, stamped for 12:10pm, the headline is "U.S. deficit to top $1 trillion, smallest since ’09." And the lede is now:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit would continue to fall, dropping sharply in 2013 and throughout the remainder of the decade if policymakers follow through with major changes in both tax policy and government spending now on the books.
The federal budget deficit will top $1 trillion for a fourth straight year, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday, but is likely to be the smallest since the Great Recession began taking a toll on the budget in 2009.After the last few years, I thought there was nothing the Washington Post wouldn't let Lori Montgomery write. Most major papers usually don't let reporters so openly campaign in the news pages, and even for the Post, Montgomery's advocacy in the past few years, undeterred by facts, has stood out.
May the re-write of today's lede be one very, very small step in the right direction for the Post.