In a way, this reminds me of a similar ham-handed episode from this summer involving a Post decision to pull online content without initially telling its readers: the sudden disappearance of a Dana Milbank/Chris Cillizza online video suggesting Hillary Clinton ought to quaff “Mad Bitch” beer. At the time, CJR’s Greg Marx wrote that:
In the absence of some extraordinary circumstance, simply removing material from your site is the wrong thing to do. If you feel that material you’ve published crossed some line of tone or taste, and that it went so far that you cannot in good conscience keep it up on your site, the responsible thing to do is to own up to the mistake publicly, not to make the item in question disappear.
That’s a good standard. And, it’s important to note, one that makes the truth of Turque’s accusations a bit beside the point. If the papers editors think his post crossed the line, they should say why—not only publicly, but on their own site.
Erik Wemple’s follow-up reporting adds a little nuance to Turque’s charges, as well as some explanation about the paper’s reasoning behind the decision to pull portions of the post. That’s a start.
But readers shouldn’t have to go Googling to get it.