Retract or Resign: A Message to the DP

The Statesman considers the Daily Pennsylvanian‘s recent mistake – using the poor audio of a recording of Marco Rubio to misquote his statements and damage both the Rubio and Cruz campaigns – the height of journalistic irresponsibility. Given that The DP continues to rationalize their claim that Marco Rubio referred to the Bible as a book without many answers, we doubt that our campus newspaper is capable of portraying the ongoing national election in an honest and productive manner.

First, a general review of The DP’s ongoing primary coverage indicates that the newspaper and its politics blog are more interested in chasing and creating controversy in the Republican field than reporting the facts on the ground.  The DP recently issued a report that intentionally selected the most bizarre Cruz supporters in order to generalize their eccentricities to his campaign.  They composed a clearly partisan write-up on “the church of Donald Trump.” And on the very day of their notorious misquoting of Rubio, they also bragged about an attempt to secure an interview with Marco Rubio by essentially harassing his staff at a hotel.

Caught up in the excitement of spending large amounts of resources to send staffers to the primary states, the DP has embarked on a mission to create sensational events whether or not they actually occurred.

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The DP’s subtitled video resulted in the firing of a Cruz staffer who had circulated its misinformation.

Strong journalistic integrity requires that a newspaper writes or produces only what it can verify, even if the editorial board or upper leadership agrees by consensus to a certain interpretation. The world’s major media outlets acknowledge this fact, and this partially explains why the DP is now alone among all national news sources in standing by a version of events that does not fully admit a case of faulty reasoning. Instead, the Penn community is given a series of timelines and written excuses that are supposed to explain why it was reasonable to publish an absurd interpretation of an indistinct audio as though this interpretation were factual.

The DP editorial board’s irresponsibility has resulted in the forced resignation of Ted Cruz’s communications director and has conceivably harmed the Rubio campaign.  While both of these outcomes may be welcomed by the left-leaning DP board, they should not have been achieved by the sensationalist and dishonest methods that The DP used. The Statesman calls upon the Daily Pennsylvanian to retract the disinformation in their video and disavow their attempts at blame-shifting and obfuscation.

Furthermore, if the Daily Pennsylvanian’s leadership is unwilling to retract any and all affiliated statements, the editorial board should resign. Nothing is more damaging to the integrity of a newspaper than the failure of its leaders to own up to mistakes that result in critical damage to other individuals and our nation as a whole.

We collectively call on the DP to formally apologize for its mistakes, or, if it is unable to do so, acknowledge a lack of responsibility in its upper management and take action to appoint new leaders who possess a better understanding of their journalistic commitments.

~ The Statesman Board

UPDATE: Several hours after the statement of the board above, TheDP president posted an apology.  We would like to express our approval of TheDP’s choice to take responsibility for their inaccurate reporting and their expressed desire to prevent such avoidable errors in their future work.

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