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Miscellany

Suspended Washington Post Columnist Mike Wise Talks to Media Shows, Digs Deeper

With plenty of time to think over his Ben Roethlisberger twitter stunt, Mike Wise made the rounds on a couple of major media shows – NPR’s On The Media and CNN’s Reliable Sourcesthis weekend. His explanations, however, seem inconsistent with the broadcast of the radio show where the whole thing started.

Wise apologized profusely but simultaneously deflects some blame onto the web sites that would re-publish a tweet without vetting or sourcing. Many newspaper sites linked to the report, including the Baltimore Sun and Miami Herald, but Wise targeted his venom specifically for NBC’s ProFootbalTalk.com and the site’s editor, Mike Florio on On The Media:

“I don’t dislike Mike Florio. I dislike the idea of Mike Florio. I dislike the idea of someone hiding behind the idea that ‘I don’t have classical journalism training, so my job is to put news out there irrespective of whether it’s wrong or not.’”

On both shows this weekend, Wise provided an account of what happened when @MikeWiseguy falsely tweeted about Roethlisberger getting suspended five games. Basically, it went something like this: As part of a segment on his radio show, he meant to follow up the Roethlisberger tweet with a correction a couple minutes after. It never went through,however, and he forgot to double check until 40 minutes later because he got distracted by “multiplatforming” as a radio host.

By that time, several outlets had published it and this is where his account differs quite a bit from the actual real-time radio segment, which you can listen to on the station’s web site.

On the show, he and his co-host giddily recapped what they’ve done. They mocked Mike Florio for citing the tweet in a ProFootballTalk post. The fratboy-ish enthusiasm at having “caught” another media member is audibly nauseating, even more so when he tries to tell Sources host Howard Kurtz that he never meant the stunt to be deceitful. He even calls that kind of reporting “cruddy journalism.”

Later in the radio segment, they giggle and discuss how to follow up the first tweet with more misleading tweets. “Let’s have a little discussion on how to play this,” he said on his show. “Should I milk this a little bit and show people that I actually do know that he’s gonna get five games on Friday?”

But then Wise’s conscience interrupts and he wonders out loud, “The Post might get angry though. I think The Post runs the account so they might … alright, then maybe I’ll back off again.”

The revelation must have been what Wise recalled when he told Kurtz the following: “It wasn’t until after the radio show that I in fact realized, you know what? I just made something up, and it was on a Twitter account that happened to have my ‘Washington Post’ I.D. on it.”

But not only did he realize on-air that his tweets were ethically questionable, he kept doing it. In fact, he tweeted five more fake posts.

It’s only natural for Wise to do damage control after discrediting his name and that of The Post. But when it flies in the face of what actually happened – publicly available thanks to wonders of the internet – the cover up almost says more about his credibility than the original transgression. He is indeed lucky to still have his job at The Post.

Perhaps accidentally, Wise makes a poignant comment on On The Media that sums up this controversy well: “The bottom line is that was a Washington Post twitter account. Had I not had a job at the Washington Post, and the radio show was it, no one would say anything.”

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