The Washington Post was condemned late Tuesday for lying about not disseminating personal information about the woman who runs Libs of TikTok.
The Post ignited controversy earlier in the day after publishing an exposé about Libs of TikTok, a popular Twitter account that amplifies woke and progressive teachers on TikTok. The story unmasked the identity of the woman who anonymously operated the account.
Critics of the story described it as unnecessary, because it does not pursue the question of why Libs of TikTok has become so popular, and accused the reporter behind the story, Taylor Lorenz, of engaging in unethical practices, including harassment of the creator’s family, in pursuit of her story.
What did the Post lie about?
Cameron Barr, the newspaper’s senior managing editor, released a statement that not only defended Lorenz and the story, but claimed the story did not disclose personal details about the Libs of TikTok creator.
The statement said:
Taylor Lorenz is an accomplished and diligent journalist whose reporting methods comport entirely with The Washington Post’s professional standards. [Libs of TikTok creator], in her management of the Libs of TikTok Twitter account and in media interviews, has had significant impact on public discourse and her identity had become public knowledge on social media. We did not publish or link to any details about her personal life.
The last sentence of the statement is completely untrue.
In fact, the story linked to the creator’s real estate license, which included personal details such as the full name of the creator, her address, a phone number, and her employer’s name.
Only after the existence of the link generated significant attention on social media did the Post remove it. The newspaper, however, stealth-edited the story and did not inform readers via an editor’s note what changes had been made.
An archived version of the story, which saved the version initially posted online, confirms the link existed and was removed.
Image source: Wayback Machine screenshot
The Post’s denial led to further backlash against the paper. The newspaper itself was described as “unethical trash,” Barr was called a “f***ing liar,” and other critics wondered what else the Post might lie about if Barr would dishonestly deny what everyone can easily access.
How did the Post respond?
When pressed about the dishonest denial, the Post deferred to the fact that information the paper linked was already available online.
“We linked to publicly available professional information,” a newspaper spokesperson said.
When asked why the information was scrubbed from the story after publication, the spokesperson explained, “Ultimately, we deemed it unnecessary.”
It is not clear how the real estate license of the Libs of TikTok creator was relevant or, if it was relevant enough to be included in the initial publication of the story, what suddenly made the information irrelevant for inclusion.