Joan Walsh Blasts Washington Post on Twitter for Not Crediting Salon Reporting

The Washington Post may be ignoring Salon’s stories on the Arlington Cemetery mismanagement saga, but they will have a hard time ignoring Joan Walsh who launched a Twitter attack last night to air her grievances over WaPo’s alleged snub.

In a series of tweets, Salon’s editor-in-chief accused the Washington Post of “bad journalism” and “disrespecting readers” for failing to acknowledge Salon’s year-long reporting on mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery in its stories on the growing scandal.

Walsh’s dispute with WaPo revolves around a year-long investigation by Salon’s Mark Benjamin into oversight at Arlington Cemetery, including deceased military members buried in the wrong graves.  Benjamin filed his first story for Salon almost a year before the paper began reporting on the story of mismarked graves in June.

In an email to Mediaite, Walsh said “I am blown away by their pretending it’s their story more than once.”

The Twitter offensive appears to have been set off by the Washington Post’s taking credit for prompting a report submitted to the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight that outlines a whistleblower’s five-year effort to expose problems at the cemetery.  The report, however, was prompted by Salon’s investigation, Walsh contends.

Salon’s investigation was credited in a memo released by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who chairs the subcommittee. Yet, there was no mention of the Salon work in the Washington Post stories.

It appears Twitter isn’t the only place where Walsh is taking her grievances with the paper.  In a comment on the paper’s “breaking news blog,” Walsh confirmed that used the screen name  “jwalsh2” to complain:

I find it astonishing that the Post would report on this Senate hearing and imply it’s the Post’s reporting that led to it. Salon’s year-long investigation led to the Army probe, and is driving the Congressional push for more oversight. In particular, Mark Benjamin broke the story of the tragic neglect of the Section 27, where free blacks and Civil War vets are buried, documenting the missing graves and headstones. It was shameful that earlier reporting wasn’t even mentioned as the Post “revealed” troubles in Sec. 27 (Salon’s general role in uncovering Arlington troubles was acknowledged, once, late in the piece.) Maybe Andrew Alexander should look into the Post’s habit of taking credit for stories Salon broke.

Walsh told Mediaite that it was the stories that hit the WaPo website Tuesday night that really put her on the defensive about how the paper was not acknowledging Salon’s work. She said WaPo’s “story tonight really disrespects their readers, because they mention Army higher-ups that the Senate subcommittee suggests should have known, but they quote a supervisor blaming understaffing. In fact, this morning Salon laid out the story of one of the people they mention, Cynthia Tornblom, and how she was warned about the contracting and management problems — and how she actively shut down those warnings. Also, the Post story says problems were documented in 2005; we show they were documented in 2003.”

This is not the first time Walsh has accused the paper of taking credit for stories broken by Salon.  In 2007, Walsh told Salon readers that the investigation into conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that won Dana Priest and Anne Hull a Pulitzer Prize for the Washington Post was originated by Benjamin two years earlier in Salon.

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