wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share
Erik Wemple
On Twitter E-mail |  On Twitter Follow |  On Facebook Fan |  RSS RSS Feed
Posted at 04:39 PM ET, 03/28/2012

Politico rankles White House with ‘breaking’ alert


White House defends Verrilli!!!! (Haraz N. Ghanbari - Associated Press)
Politico breaks enough news that it needn’t manufacture it. Earlier today, the all-politics news outlet issued one of its trademark breaking-news alerts. Here it is:

POLITICO Breaking News
--------------
The White House is coming to the defense of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., whose performance before the Supreme Court Tuesday has been widely panned. “Mr. Verrilli is an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment and unquestionable integrity,” White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said Wednesday morning. “He ably and skillfully represented the United States before the Supreme Court yesterday, and we have every confidence that he will continue to do so.”

Every word of that statement is accurate. Dead on, in fact.

The context could use some work, however. Anyone reading this tidbit of “Breaking News,” after all, may well conclude that the White House was panicking about the shellacking that Verrilli has taken since his less-than-commanding performance yesterday at the high court. And so it decided to issue a statement. Get ahead of this story !

That’s not how this alert evolved.

John Harris, Politico’s editor in chief, sends word that reporter Jonathan Allen was doing some reporting for a Verrilli profile. So he asked the White House for comment. “When editors saw his profile, it seemed the statement of support for Verrilli was interesting and newsworthy, in the context of the criticism the solicitor general is receiving,” reports Harris. “These editors sent out a breaking news alert detailing the news in Allen’s profile.”

The White House is perturbed. “Politico mischaracterized our statement and incorrectly presented it as if the statement was in response to criticism,” White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says in a statement. “We have raised our concerns with Politico over their handling of this incident.”

A simple seven-word preface to the alert would have headed off the problem:

In response to an inquiry from Politico, the White House is coming to the defense of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.

Bold text added to eliminate misleading impression left by breaking-news alert.

By  |  04:39 PM ET, 03/28/2012

Tags:  white house, donald verrilli, politico, dan pfeiffer

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company