Weisman and Babbington of The Washington Post Saturday morning September 30:
Rep. Foley Quits In Page Scandal - washingtonpost.com: House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert. It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy...
Weisman and Babbington Friday night September 29:
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it." It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy...
Boehner's scramble to get back on message sounds much more credible when Boehner's claim that Hastert told him "we're taking care of it" is removed. Had Weisman and Babbington left that "we're taking care of it" in, the story would be less friendly to Majority Leader Boehner. And the story would be much less friendly to Majority Leader Boehner had Weisman and Babbington added in the third story Boehner was telling last night--the one he was telling to Roll Call:
Boehner strongly denied media reports late Friday night that he had informed Hastert of the allegations, saying "That is not true."
Not "I don't remember." Instead: "That is not true."
You cannot read Roll Call and both versions of the Post story without concluding that Boehner was lying to somebody last night: three different stories in quick succession defeats all credulity.
You cannot read the Post this morning without concluding that Weisman and Babbington are unseemly eager to keep their readers from learning that Boehner was lying to somebody last night.
UPDATE I: Although Boehner has now tried to pull back his admission that he told Hastert, and that Hastert said "we are taking care of it," Representative Tom Reynolds says that he himself informed Speaker Hastert: "I told the Speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me."
UPDATE II: "Richard Cranium" has a somewhat cryptic message from Babbington and Weisman, or Babbington, or Weisman. They stand by their story. All versions of it:
The All Spin Zone / Response to WaPo Boehner Statement Inquiry: As I noted in my previous post, there is a link for emailing the reporters on the Washington Post story. So I took the opportunity to email them. Here's the almost immediate reply I received (edited only to remove responder's name and contact information, and to spamproof ASZ's email address):
Re: Message via washingtonpost.com: Changed paragraph
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 2006 13:05:10 -0400
Thanks for writing. We stand by all versions of the story, which changed edition-by-edition as the evening progressed and more reporting was done. That's all I can tell you. thx. xxxxx
From: Richard (allspinzone(at)yahoo(dot)com)
Date: 09/30/2006 01:00PM
Subject: Message via washingtonpost.com: Changed paragraph
Richard sent the following message:
Why did the paragraph regarding Leader Boehner's comments change, with no reference to the original quote to Boehner from Hastert?
Did Boehner originally tell you "Hastert assured him 'we're taking care of it.'" or not? If he did, then the original statement (from an editorial and journalistic ethics perspective) must remain in the article.
A simple yes or no answer to my core question will suffice. Thanks in advance for your reply.
The reporters who wrote the story stand by their original reporting.
I'm Richard Cranium, and I approved this message at 13:30:20.