After 48 hours, WaPo Corrects Pincus Column

Wow, a tough week for WaPo‘s Walter Pincus.

Roughly 48 hours after it was published, a column by Pincus on the involvement of WikiLeaks and Glenn Greenwald in the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden has been corrected.

On Wednesday morning, Greenwald, the Guardian columnist who broke the story involving Snowden and the NSA, wrote a column in response to a column by Pincus published Monday night. Pincus, through questions and innuendoes, accused Greenwald of working with WikiLeaks to coerce and aid Snowden in leaking the documents.

Greenwald pointed out factual errors and misrepresentations throughout. He also emailed Pincus to point out the same points and publicized the email.

Greenwald pointed out that at the time it was published Wednesday morning, the WaPo article stood untouched, with no corrections or editor’s notes added. This was 36 hours after the Pincus’ piece had published and 15 hours after Pincus emailed Greenwald back about the errors, Greenwald noted.

On Wednesday night, however, about 12 hours after Greenwald’s column was first published, a lengthy correction appeared above Pincus’ article with the factual errors pointed out by Greenwald fixed. The correction essentially stripped the grounds of Pincus’ argument, leaving his article a rambling of questions with no bearing.

Correction: A previous version of this Fine Print column incorrectly said that an article by journalist Glenn Greenwald was written for the WikiLeaks Press blog.The article, about filmmaker Laura Poitras and WikiLeaks being targeted by U.S. officials, was written for the online publication Salon and first appeared April 8, 2012. Its appearance on the WikiLeaks Press blog two days later was a reposting. This version has been corrected.

A previous version of the column also asserted that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, during a May 29 interview with Democracy Now, “previewed” the story that Greenwald wrote for the Guardian newspaper about the Obama administration’s involvement in the collection of Americans’ phone records. There is no evidence that Assange had advance knowledge of the story; the assertion was based on a previously published interview in which Assange discussed an earlier surveillance project involving the collection of phone records.The assertion has been taken out of this version.

The column also does not mention Snowden’s past work in the intelligence community. The lack of this context may have created the impression that Snowden’s work for Booz Allen Hamilton gave him his first access to classified surveillance programs.

Greenwald updated his column to show that WaPo had corrected Pincus’ article.

The Washington Post, roughly 48 hours after publication of the original article, just posted a lengthy, multi-point correction at the top of Pincus’ article:

[We won’t show you the correction again.]

That’s a thorough correction: better late than never.