Accuracy in Media

Politico blogger Anne Schroeder Mullins forgot that she, too, is a woman yesterday when she decided to promote a vulgar, hate-filled rant about rape fantasies with conservative women by a guy named Guy Cimbalo.

Playboy published the piece but scrubbed its Web site of the evidence a few hours later after harsh criticism across the political spectrum, especially from conservative bloggers. Now Politico has pulled a Playboy by letting Mullins replace her original post with a quasi-apology:

The Playboy article linked to on this blog listed 10 conservative women “they love to hate” adding their reasons why. The blog included the link but only used the names of the women listed. But the Playboy article also included an offensive section that was not included in the blog, but has caused outrage in some readers who believe the blog agrees with all of Playboy stances. This is not true. So the blog has now taken down the link and greatly apologies [sic]. No ill will was meant.

Good on Politico for pulling the link to the original article, but bad on the publication for letting this episode happen in the first place — and for letting Mullins spin the retraction in a way that continues to soft-pedal the truth and casts aspersions on readers.

Mullins lost credibility when she characterized the Playboy piece as being about conservative women that liberals “hate to love.” The quotes implied, in a factually incorrect and journalistically inexcusable way, that the article had used that relatively unobjectionable phrase. As Ann Althouse noted at Instapundit, “Uh, that’s not what they said.”

The fact that Guy Cimbalo’s words were too vile for Mullins to repeat should have been a red flag to her to steer clear of the article altogether. But she clearly didn’t learn her lesson because her apology continues to downplay the substance of the article.

“Included an offensive section”? Really? Just one section? The article consisted of 10 different pages, one for each conservative woman that Guy Cimbalo chose to slander and demean, and all of them were saturated with X-rated offenses. (See for yourself if you must; The Activist Conservative has screenshots of the pages that Playboy pulled.)

On top of that, Mullins opted for the textbook Washington apology — blame the audience. She didn’t say those classic words “If anyone was offended, I apologize,” but the same meaning is in her words “No ill will was meant.”

Worse, Mullins suggested that people were outraged only because they think she agrees with Playboy. Some critics did voice that concern, but the bigger issue was the fact that Mullins thought it was journalistically ethical and morally acceptable to promote, under false pretenses, a woman-hating, sexually violent screed.

That’s what earned her the dishonorable title of “Moron of the Day” from conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, one of the women targeted in the piece. Mullins’ reaction to the rightful outrage isn’t likely to move her off that list today, either.

Update: I altered the fifth paragraph slightly after looking at the screenshots and realizing that Playboy did use the phrase “hate to love” in the headline, but the article was laced with the f-bomb instead of “love.”

Update II: This episode hurts Politico’s hope to be seen as an objective observer of all things Congress because the Playboy piece also attacked a conservative congresswoman, Rep. Michele Bachmann. No one would blame the Minnesota Republican if she were reluctant to grant interviews to Politico ever again.

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.