I’ve been through these situations before where the story being put forward in public does not make sense and yet everyone seems eager to just move on. If you were around more than a decade ago when a congressman named Anthony Weiner claimed his Twitter account had been hacked you may know what I mean. If you missed that, his story fell apart but he still wound up running for mayor of NYC sometime later before the whole mess surfaced again and he wound up in prison.

I had the same queasy feeling a few years ago when Joy Reid claimed that hackers had added anti-gay commentary to her personal blog. The story never made any sense but many people seemed happy to just go with it. Instead of taking the L for lying and reportedly involving the FBI in her cover story, Reid eventually got a promotion at MSNBC.

And here we are again with Taylor Lorenz. Last week she published an article about the Heard-Depp trial which got stealth corrected and then corrected twice more publicly. I wound up spending way too much time on a Saturday updating a story about the various charges and counter-charges but the basic story is pretty simple.

  • The initial story claimed in a parenthetical that the Post (meaning Taylor) had reached out to two YouTubers mentioned in the story.
  • The parenthetical disappeared without explanation shortly after publication. Lorenz would later say it was added by an editor and she asked for its removal.
  • Around the same time, both YouTubers mentioned in the story said on Twitter that they were never contacted.
  • After the YouTubers complained, Taylor Lorenz attempted to contact both of them.
  • The Post added a correction at the bottom of the story which said rather vaguely “The story has also been amended to note The Post’s attempts to reach Alyte Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy for comment. Previous versions omitted or inaccurately described these attempts.”
  • Then a while later the correction was replaced with an Editor’s Note at the top of the story which claimed only one of the YouTubers had been contacted prior to publication.

The Editor’s Note is still there and reads (in part):

The first published version of this story stated incorrectly that Internet influencers Alyte Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy had been contacted for comment before publication. In fact, only Mazeika was asked, via Instagram. After the story was published, The Post continued to seek comment from Mazeika via social media and queried ThatUmbrellaGuy for the first time. During that process, The Post removed the incorrect statement from the story but did not note its removal, a violation of our corrections policy. The story has been updated to note that Mazeika declined to comment for this story and ThatUmbrellaGuy could not be reached for comment.

But here’s where things get weird. According to both Alyte Mazeika, the legal YouTuber who covered the entire Depp trial, and to Taylor Lorenz, the author of the story, that’s not true. In fact, Taylor Lorenz did contact Mazeika on Instagram but it was after publication. Her IG message even mentioned a previous contact on Twitter which also came after publication. Mazeika has said this on Twitter and at least twice in interviews including today on the YouTube show hosted by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti (full interview below).

“There was another correction after that saying we didn’t reach out to ThatUmbrellaGuy but we did reach out to Alyte Mazeika through Instagram,” she said. She continued, “That was actually the last place where she tried to reach out to me after she had reached out on Twitter privately after I had already called her out.” And we don’t have to take Mazeika’s word for this because she showed screenshots with timestamps to a Fox News reporter who agreed this was an accurate timeline.

For her part, Taylor Lorenz did a brief Twitter thread about this Saturday in which she blamed the initial parenthetical on an editor but didn’t contradict Mazeika at all. In fact, Lorenz wrote, “After the story went live, I reached out to both YouTubers mentioned in that sentence just to be extra sure there wasn’t some sort of commentary they wanted to add. Neither provided comment for the story and both continued to post about me.”

Lorenz made her entire Twitter account private yesterday for some reason but it’s back up today and she’s tweeting along as if nothing happened. And yet, the Editor’s Note which disagrees with what both people involved claim happened is still there and still wrong. How does that happen? How did an editor write that detailed note (above) about contacting Mazeika prior to publication without getting that story from Taylor Lorenz? I can’t explain it. It makes no sense to me that the Post is apparently sticking with a story backed up by no one. It feels as if there must be more to this story but no one is willing to say what it is. Is there an internal investigation they aren’t allowed to discuss? Is the editor being fired or disciplined? Something doesn’t add up.

I contacted the Washington Post‘s Chief Communications Officer asking politely if the Post had any reason to still believe Alyte Mazeika was contacted prior to publication as the Editor’s Note claims. That was nearly two hours ago and so far I haven’t heard anything in response. If I do hear back I’ll update this story. In the meantime, here’s Mazeika’s interview about all of this.

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