Did Washington Post Exaggerate Secret Service Barricade Incident?


CNN’s “Reliable Sources” examines the news media’s reports that Secret Service agents earlier this months crashed into a barricade near the White House and that they may have been drunk. Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post defends her paper’s “cautious” coverage of the incident, saying the paper quickly removed the word “crash” from the headline online when it was learned that the vehicle was moving very slowly. Leonnig says the Post can’t be held responsible if other media exaggerated the incident, which Secret Service director Joseph Clancy contended last week on Capitol Hill.

CNN also interviewed Marc Ambinder, who, based in part on the Post’s initial report, wrote an opinion piece for Politico with the headline, “Hi, I’m the Secret Service, and I’m an alcoholic.” CNN host Brian Stelter said that, “now, Ambinder is deeply regretting what he wrote. He says the story all appears greatly exaggerated.” Says Ambinder: “I have written, based on the Post reporting and based on my own reporting for years, that there’s an alcohol problem at Secret Service. I don’t certainly retract that. I think the headline I wrote was provocative. But what I feel really, really bad about is maligning these two individuals and then really having no way to go back and do anything about it.” The Post published its own Q&A about what is known, and isn’t, about the incident.

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