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New Media Discovery: WaPo Misidentifies Three As McCain Donors, Apologizes for Mistake

Amanda Carpenter has an interesting little blurb over at Townhall.com where she reports on Townhall’s catching the Washington Post misidentifying three donors as McCain contributors when, in reality, these donors did not donate to the McCain campaign at all. It seems some due diligence was dropped at the Washington Post, for sure. Good thing the new media was there to correct the story!

In his story headlined “Bundler Collects from Unlikely Sources,” the Post’s Matthew Mosk thought he had a way to insinuate that McCain was taking campaign donations from some “unlikely” Muslims. Mosk detailed what he thought was the campaign donations from three people, Ibrahim Marabeh, and Nadia and Shawn Abdalla, each with Muslim sounding names, that he claimed donated to the McCain campaign through a campaign “bundler” named Harry Sargeant III — a bundler being a campaign supporter that goes out and gathers many donations from friends and associates for his candidate of choice.

Mosk apparently thought that Harry Sargeant III was suspicious because he owns an oil-trading company and the three others apparently seemed suspicious merely because of the sound of their names. But at her Townhall blog, Carpenter discovered in short order than none of the four donors in the Washington Post story donated to the McCain campaign at all.

Mosk also tried to shoehorn into the story the tale of disgraced Clinton “bundler” Norman Hsu, who was “indicted in part on charges of circumventing legal giving limits by routing contributions though ‘straw donors,'” even though there are no allegations of likewise illegalities with Mr. Sargeant’s campaign donations. As if merely mentioning Hsu was enough to tar Sergeant as “unlikely” regardless of the lack of connection or similarities between the two.

As soon as the Post piece came out Carpenter wondered where the Post got its evidence of the donations.

Since this information is not easily found, the WaPo should have explained where it came from in their story. Or it could be, this is just simply not true. And if that’s the case they should apologize to the McCain campaign and promptly post a correction online and in tomorrow’s paper.

And only hours after the Townhall piece, the Post suddenly appended a correction to the Mosk story.

An earlier version of this story about campaign donations that Florida businessman Harry Sargeant III raised for Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton incorrectly identified three individuals as being among the donors Sargeant solicited on behalf of McCain. Those donors — Rite Aid manager Ibrahim Marabeh, and lounge owners Nadia and Shawn Abdalla — wrote checks to Giuliani and Clinton, not McCain. Also, the first name of Faisal Abdullah, a McCain donor, was misspelled in some versions of the story.

The power of the new media shows itself again.

But consider this: Carpenter just used a publicly available resource to track campaign donations to see that Mosk’s claims were suspect. Was this so hard for Mosk and the editors of the Post to do? We all make mistakes, of course, but what does this say of the editorial work at the Post?

(Photo credit: Maryland Public Television)

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