Bloomberg Scooped Washington Post on Post’s Santorum Drop-Out Story

The Washington Post prematurely posted that Rick Santorum was dropping out of the race on its news wire and Bloomberg made the story viral while the Post was verifying its accuracy.

The Washington Post prematurely posted that Rick Santorum was dropping out of the race on its news wire and Bloomberg made the story viral while the Post was verifying its accuracy.

HuffPo’s Michael Calderone (“How Bloomberg Broke The Washington Post’s Rick Santorum Scoop“):

The political news cycle kicked into overdrive Tuesday afternoon when Bloomberg News staffers began tweeting that Rick Santorum was leaving the Republican race.

Bloomberg TV host Emily Chang tweeted the following: “Report: Santorum dropping out.” Soon Chang elaborated, adding in a second tweet that Santorum “will announce today that he is suspending his presidential campaign” and cited theWashington Post as her source. And Bloomberg news editor Sarah Rabil tweeted, “Breaking: Washington Post says Rick Santorum will suspend presidential campaign.”

The only problem was that there was neither a Post report available online nor a reporter from the Post breaking the news on Twitter.

On the contrary, Post political reporter Aaron Blake shot down the Bloomberg tweets. “Washington Post is NOT reporting that Santorum is dropping out,” Blake tweeted. “We have NOT reported this, despite tweets to the contrary.”

And yet the Twitterverse had already erupted, with political reporters frantically calling sources in hopes of confirming the report. But it wasn’t for another 20 minutes that the Post – now joined by several major news outlets — reported that Santorum would soon be suspending his campaign.

So what happened?

A Bloomberg spokesperson explained that the Washington Post story went out on the Post‘s syndication wire at 1:42 p.m. That service is available to Bloomberg terminal subscribers worldwide. The Bloomberg team that monitors top stories then highlighted it for subscribers and cited the Post as the source. Bloomberg staffers, seeing the big political news, tweeted it out.

[…]

A Post spokesperson responds: “The draft story was not intended to be published until we confirmed that Santorum was suspending his campaign. The draft was inadvertently sent to Bloomberg, with whom The Post has a partnership, through an automated feed. It was not published on our Web site until the news had been confirmed.”

In the grand scheme of things, a 20 minute head start on news that everyone would know isn’t that big a deal. This isn’t Matt Drudge breaking the Monica Lewinsky story because Newsweek was wringing its hands over whether to run it. Still, it’s odd that the Post doesn’t vet its news wire more carefully. Not only should they make sure that they’ve verified the news that they’re breaking but you’d think they’d post it on their own site before sending it out to their competitors.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Media, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.