Kurtz in the Post on March 30:
The controversy erupted March 18 when veteran correspondent Linda Douglass reported on “World News Tonight”: “ABC News has obtained talking points circulated among Republican senators, explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case.”
Two days later, a Post article by Mike Allen and Manuel Roig-Franzia said: “An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party’s base, or core, supporters.”
Neither report said Republicans had written the memo, although they may have left that impression, and they included no comment on the memo from party leaders. ABC’s Web site went further than Douglass’s on-air report with the headline: “GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo.”
Here are some quotes from the March 19, 10pm posting of the WaPo’s original version of the story:
Republican officials declared, in a memo that was supposed to be seen only by senators, that they believe the Schiavo case “is a great political issue” that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006…..
A one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party’s base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (news, bio, voting record) (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year.
“This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue,” said the memo, which was reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. “This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.”
The story by Mike Allen and Manuel Roig-Franzia, as originally published by the Washington Post on the web, did in fact claim that Republican officials and leaders were behind the memo. Why is the Post simply not owning up to its bad reporting and continuing to perpetuate a falsehood?