Whereas the Huffington Post goes from merely opinioned, to fiction.

Dear Huffington Post –

I’m writing to report an editorial error, and an ethical and PR one as well. Frankly, I’m disappointed in you. An avid reader for a long time, I can no longer just enjoy and ruminate on your various columns, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing with others’ opinions as I see fit. Now, I must question the actual integrity of what I read here.

Why? One name: David Wood. Mr Wood posted an op-ed piece several weeks ago (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/defense-budget-cuts_n_2584099.html). Rather than rebut portions of his opinion on the subject matter (something which JohnQPublic [http://www.jqpublic-blog.com/?p=212] did more eloquently than I could), I’m more upset with the Post than the column’s author. Why again? Because Mr Wood either lied or was lazy in his writing, and the Post doesn’t seem to care.

Sadly, I think many people – including myself – agree with his overall premise: there’s a lot of waste in the military and defense budget. However, citing an Army Master Sergeant with 10 years in service or a General with 16 years in service – a gaffe not only instantly recognizable by almost any military member or veteran, but something easy verifiable through Google in less than 60 seconds – makes the entire piece untrustworthy. Did he effectively lie by making up numbers that sounded good for the article, or did he cite another source and was lazy to bother with fact-checking? Regardless, he screwed up and hasn’t cared enough to correct the record.

Where the Post comes in is its lack of interest on the matter. Do I want you to fire Mr Wood or no longer accept his submissions? No. Do I want the Post to impale itself on its own sword? No. There’s a big difference between fault and responsibility, and the Post was not at fault for these errors; they’re Mr Wood’s own. However, the Post was responsible for them, and I’d appreciate the Post set a new standard (or reboot an old one) by accepting that responsibility publicly.

Frankly, it’s something too few individuals, companies and organizations (not to mention the government) do any more. It’s always “I misspoke” or “I was taken out of context,” or “it’s the internet; if we ignore it, it’ll be off everyone’s radars in a week.” It’s amazing how much forgiveness you can receive and how much respect you can gain by simply saying “we screwed up; we missed something. We’re sorry and are making efforts to fix it and working to minimize the chance of it happening again,” hopefully through slightly more attention by editors and fact-checkers on the Post’s part. If a member of Congress were to actually step up and take responsibility for a screw-up (one they hadn’t already been dragged through the mud for, such an affair that became public), that person would get my vote no matter which party they were, just to reward a level of integrity you don’t see anymore.

Although I admit I’m not aware of your staff organization, I’ve always pictured the Post as a journalistic organization, with purview and scrutiny in its process, rather than just a free-wheeling revolving door for columnists to get their work out there. Unfortunately, I’ve started to question that vision after reading Mr Wood’s article with the glaring, obvious and easily-refutable factual errors.

Please Huffington Post, step up and prove me wrong.


About stoshk

Career military member, and for many years a registered Independent. I'm not a particularly type-A personality, and believe people can disagree on a topic while still being respectful of each other's opinion - everything doesn't have to be a "you're either with me or against me" philosophy. I DON'T believe everything is black or white, I DO believe most rules have exceptions, and most situations have to be judged on their own merit rather than following a blanket "party line." I DO believe that while elected officials do represent their districts and constituents, they also have an obligation to act for the greater good of the nation as a whole, and leadership should be by example, not a "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. I started this blog because I've reached a point where I feel many aspects of local, regional, national and global life are just plain disgusting me and I needed someplace to vent, and I've had enough positive feedback about the letters, notes and commentary on various subjects that I've posted to friends through email and/or social media that I thought this might be worth it - at least to me. Any and all comments, writings and postings in the blog are solely my opinion and absolutely do not represent the views of the U.S. Government and/or the Department of Defense.
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