As Joe Uchill wrote for CJR a year ago, the “standard blogging practice” for making revisions to content involves “noting how and when a post is updated.” A major newspaper like the Post needs to at least meet, if not exceed, that standard. A newspaper would not—could not—respond to a column that went out with an ill-considered line by recalling every print copy. The fact that it can do so, if imperfectly, when the material is on the Web does not mean that it should.
Better, of course, not to cross that line in the first place. To that end, another word to the Post: Everything on your site bears your name and reflects on you as an institution. If you want to allow two of your big-name political writers to spend a summer day pretending that they host a late-late-night cable comedy show, that’s your choice— but if you’re not already doing so, you might want to make sure an editor takes a look at what they come up with before it goes out to the whole world. If you are already doing so, you might want to suggest that those editors start paying closer attention. And finally, given the details of this specific case, you might want to remind all employees of these principles for the Post laid out by Eugene Meyer. One of them seems apposite now, even if it sounds a bit old-fashioned: “As a disseminator of news, the paper shall observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.”