The Washington Post's treatment of two different cases of journalistic malpractice make clear how the paper's editors view slandering Republicans. It's not a fireable offense. But plagiarism is.
Here are the basics: Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Flock wrote a web post last year falsely accusing Mitt Romney of using a Ku Klux Klan slogan in his campaign speech. This was not a case of a mistake -- it was clear from the get-go that Romney did not use the KKK slogan, as the video of the speech incontrovertibly showed -- but Flock wrote a web article saying he did. It was a lie, intended to paint Romney as a racist. In doing so, she violated about half a dozen of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics.
The Washington Post's reaction? It posted a correction, apologized to Romney and fired Flock.
No, wait, that last part didn't happen.
Instead, the paper's editors allowed Elizabeth Flock, self-exposed liar and race-baiter, to continue to write for the Washington Post.
But no longer. Because Flock did something that, to the Washington Post, is worse than slandering a presidential candidate with a naked lie. She pilfered a few paragraphs from another writer at another news organization. She was caught, and suddenly she no longer works at the Post, which called her plagiarism "a significant ethical laps and not in keeping with our journalistic standards."
Plagiarism violates only one tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics, not half a dozen.
So now we know the rules of the game as far as journalistic standards and professional ethics at the Washington Post:
Slander a Republican presidential candidate with inflammatory, racialist lies, and you get to keep your job.
But steal from another news organization and you're gone.
Dishonesty when it comes to slandering Republicans gets only a mild rebuke from the Washington Post's editors. But dishonesty involving theft of the work of other members of the mainstream media - colleagues - oh, no. The Washington Post can't tolerate that at all.
A Washington Post writer whose blog posts triggered editor's notes for "serious factual errors" and what was described as a "significant ethical lapse" has resigned from the newspaper. Elizabeth Flock, 26, told AFP that she resigned on Friday before the Post published a second editor's note about her work and that she was not pressured to quit. In December, an editor's note was posted above a blog post by Flock titled 'Mitt Romney is using a KKK (Ku Klux Klan) slogan in his speeches.'"This posting contains multiple, serious factual errors that undermine its premise," the editor's note read. "Mitt Romney is not using 'Keep America American,' which was once a KKK slogan, as a catchphrase in stump speeches, as the posting and headline stated," it said. "Romney actually used a different phrase, 'Keep America America.'"The most recent editor's note stated that a Flock blog post had made "inappropriate, extensive use of an original report by Discovery News and also failed to credit that news organization as the primary source for the blog post. "This was a significant ethical lapse and not in keeping with our journalistic standards," the editor's note said. "We apologize to Discovery News."