Didja hear? There's a rumor that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. No really, I read it in the Washington Post....
Unfortunately, Bill Hamilton, the Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor in charge of politics, is standing by his paper's front-page smear of Obama.
His excuse (via Politico.com)?: "We didn't say it was a false rumor. To me, a rumor is not true."
Now, I don't know how you get to be Assistant Managing Editor of one of the nation's newspapers of record without a basic command of the English language. But to belabor the obvious, the definition of rumor is not untrue information, it's: "A piece of unverified information of uncertain origin."
That's the thing about rumors: Some are true and some aren't. Rumors that Kevin Garnett was headed to Boston this summer? All too true. Rumors he was getting traded to Golden State? Tragically false.
Hamilton's excuse that it would have somehow been redundant to call a rumor "false" is hackery, and he knows it. And the same word applies to the story he edited.
The job of any newspaper worth its pulp is to verify information. But far from debunking demonstrably false rumors about Obama, Hamilton and the Post sloppily propagated them.
That's the truth. Hamilton and his paper need to acknowledge that, stop clinging to their story, and issue an apology and a correction.