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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Questions remain as Taylor Lorenz blames editor, ‘bad faith campaign’ over erroneous WaPo report

The Washington Post continues its silence as questions continue to swirl around an erroneous report written by its star journalist Taylor Lorenz.

On Thursday, the so-called “internet culture” columnist penned a piece about the content creators who benefited from the explosive Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial that concluded this week. In her original report, Lorenz had cited two YouTubers who allegedly profited from their coverage of the trial and the report stated they did not respond to requests for comment. The YouTubers blasted Lorenz, saying that she had never reached out to them before the story was published. 

Following the outcry from the pair of internet influencers, the erroneous statement was scrubbed from Lorenz’s report without any acknowledgment. On Friday, after Fox News reported on the stealth-editing that transpired, the Washington Post issued two corrections, the first admitting its characterization of Lorenz’s communications with the YouTubers was inaccurate and the second acknowledging it wrongly removed the false statement without an editor’s note.

However, also included in the second correction was the assertion that Lorenz had reached out to one of the YouTubers on Instagram prior to publication, something that the YouTuber said was false. 


After Fox News reported the latest dispute on Saturday, Lorenz attempted to set the record straight, citing “miscommunication” and blaming her editor all while suggesting any scrutiny of her reporting is a “bad faith campaign” against her and the Washington Post. 

“Last Thursday, an incorrect line was added to a story of mine before publishing due to a miscommunication with an editor. I did not write the line and was not aware it was inserted. I asked for it to be removed right after the story went live,” Lorenz began a lengthy Twitter thread on Saturday afternoon. “The line was a sentence saying that I reached out to 2 YouTubers for comment for my story. The inclusion of the YouTubers was only in passing, citing another outlet’s reporting.”

“After the story went live, I reached out to both YouTubers mentioned in that sentence just to be extra sure there wasn’t some sort of commentary they wanted to add,” Lorenz wrote, contradicting the Post’s second correction about her outreach via Instagram.

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz was quick to downplay the errors from her reporting that has since fueled a controversy.

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz was quick to downplay the errors from her reporting that has since fueled a controversy.

She went on to downplay the importance of the YouTubers in her story, tweeting, “Neither provided comment for the story and both continued to post about me. The mention of these two individuals was not remotely the focus of my story. It’s become a huge distraction. I spoke to over two dozen creators for my story about the trial, along with other experts who are quoted in the piece.”

“This should have been a small correction for a miscommunication, but it turned into a multi-day media cycle, intentionally aimed at discrediting the Washington Post and me,” Lorenz claimed. “We have a responsibility to recognize these bad faith campaigns for what they are and when these sorts of things do and do not warrant acknowledgment… Bad actors recognize the Washington Post’s earnest desire to hear and incorporate feedback, and they exploit that.”

Lorenz then added, “I know that the stuff I write about and go through is hugely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in media! I have great hope that all of us can learn from this experience.”


After a Democratic activist took a swipe at CNN for covering the unflattering episode plaguing the Post, Lorenz reacted, “It just shows how much more journalists at mainstream outlets need to learn about disinfo, extremism, and the new media landscape. Big name reporters should not still be falling for this stuff. This is why coverage of this area and ‘internet culture’ is so important.”

A spokesperson for the Washington Post sent Lorenz’s Twitter thread to Fox News in response to a previous inquiry, saying “This should largely answer your questions.” Except it did not. In fact, many questions remain unanswered. 

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz suggests the backlash she has been facing is an effort to "discredit" her and the paper.

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz suggests the backlash she has been facing is an effort to "discredit" her and the paper.
(Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

Not mentioned in Lorenz’s Twitter thread was the Post’s erroneous correction claiming she attempted to contact one of the YouTubers via Instagram prior to publication, which she contradicted in her Twitter thread when she admitted to reaching out to both YouTubers “after the story went live.” 


Other questions that remain include whether the individual who made the stealth edit has been reprimanded for violating the Post’s editorial policies, whether Lorenz was dishonest to her employer about her effort to reach one of the YouTubers and if there would be repercussions as a result. 

Fox News reached out to the Washington Post with these various inquiries. The Post declined to comment. 

When previously asked if Lorenz or an editor made the stealth edit, the spokesperson replied, “That’s not something we’d discuss on the record.” Lorenz did not respond to requests for comment.  

The Washington Post is facing intense scrutiny as Taylor Lorenz takes little to no ownership over her erroneous report. 

The Washington Post is facing intense scrutiny as Taylor Lorenz takes little to no ownership over her erroneous report. 
( (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images) | CNBC Television/YouTube/Screenshot)

On Thursday, following the stunning conclusion of Depp’s successful defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, Lorenz claimed the real winners were “content creators” who benefited from the courtroom frenzy with larger followings and spikes in revenue. 

“The trial offered a potential glimpse into our future media ecosystem, where content creators serve as the personalities breaking news to an increasing numbers of viewers — and, in turn, define the online narrative around major events. Those creators can also bring in major personal profits in the process,” Lorenz told readers. “In this new landscape, every big news event becomes an opportunity to amass followers, money and clout. And the Depp-Heard trial showed how the creator-driven news ecosystem can influence public opinion based on platform incentives.”

Her article cited two YouTube personalities, “LegalBytes” host Alyte Mazeika and an anonymous user named ThatUmbrellaGuy. 


Lorenz alleged that according to Business Insider, Mazeika “earned $5,000 in one week by pivoting the content on her YouTube channel to nonstop trial coverage and analysis.”

She also claimed that ThatUmbrellaGuy “earned up to $80,000 last month, according to an estimate by social analytics firm Social Blade.”

Included in the paragraph was a parenthetical statement reading, “Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy did not respond to requests for comment.”

But both Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy refuted the statement, saying Lorenz never reached out to them prior to publication of her story and also slammed the characterization of their coverage of the Depp-Heard trial and the money they allegedly earned. 

Lorenz also made an erroneous statement about Depp’s representative Adam Waldman, but while a note at the bottom of the report acknowledged her story was “updated to clarify comments made during Waldman’s testimony,” the claim that Lorenz had reached out to the YouTubers for comment was scrubbed without any acknowledgment of the change.  

After Fox News previously reached out for comment and published its story about the stealth-edit, the Post issued a correction at the bottom of Lorenz’s report.

“A previous version of this story inaccurately attributed to Adam Waldman a quote describing how he contacted some Internet influencers. That quote has been removed,” the Post wrote. “The story has also been amended to note The Post’s attempts to reach Alyte Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy for comment. Previous versions omitted or inaccurately described these attempts.”

The Post later followed with an even lengthier correction, this time at the top of Lorenz’s article that read, “The first published version of this story stated incorrectly that Internet influencers Alyte Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy had been contacted for comment before publication. In fact, only Mazeika was asked, via Instagram. After the story was published, The Post continued to seek comment from Mazeika via social media and queried ThatUmbrellaGuy for the first time. During that process, The Post removed the incorrect statement from the story but did not note its removal, a violation of our corrections policy. The story has been updated to note that Mazeika declined to comment for this story and ThatUmbrellaGuy could not be reached for comment. A previous version of this story also inaccurately attributed a quote to Adam Waldman, a lawyer for Johnny Depp. The quote described how he contacted some Internet influencers and has been removed.”


Late on Friday, the Post quietly changed the “correction” label to read “editor’s note” while maintaining the text of the errors.

However, the claim from The Post that Lorenz had contacted Mazeika on Instagram prior to publication is not true, according to the YouTuber.

Fox News obtained a screenshot of Lorenz’s direct message on Instagram to Mazeika with a time stamp showing the columnist reached out after her story was published. 

In fact, Lorenz began her message by saying, “Hi there! I tried reaching out to you on Twitter also,” meaning she had already tried contacting her on Twitter prior to Instagram – as time stamps seen by Fox News show, all were after publication.

Mazeika called out the falsehood on Twitter, telling The Post, “Please stop lying and take the L.”

In a statement to Fox News, Mazeika said the incident “appears to be a microcosmic example of bigger issues going on in mass media these days” which is “the reason why I was attracted to live-streaming every minute” of the Depp-Heard trial.

"LegalBytes" host Alyte Mazeika pushed back after the Washington Post claimed Lorenz 

"LegalBytes" host Alyte Mazeika pushed back after the Washington Post claimed Lorenz 

Fox News reached out to the Washington Post to ask whether Lorenz claimed to her editors she contacted Mazeika on Instagram prior to publishing without having actually shown her message and whether Lorenz will face repercussions if it is revealed she was dishonest to her employer. Fox News also asked why the correction was relabeled as an “editor’s note” despite the admission that The Post removed an “incorrect statement” without acknowledgment. 

A spokesperson for the Washington Post declined to comment. Fox News also reached out to Taylor Lorenz with multiple inquiries.

Lorenz has long been criticized for her journalism ethics. In 2020, she repeatedly publicized the 15-year-old daughter of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway for the teen’s outspoken TikTok posts and allegedly reached out directly to the minor without her parents’ permission. 

Conway recently torched Lorenz for obsessing over her daughter, referring to her as “Peter Pan.”

In 2021, Lorenz falsely accused business tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen of “using the r-slur,” which she admitted was an error.


In April, she doxxed the identity of popular Twitter personality Libs of TikTok just days after she decried the online harassment of women during an interview on cable television. 

Lorenz was ridiculed for her report in May alleging Nina Jankowicz, who was set to be the executive director of the Biden administration’s so-called “Disinformation Governance Board,” was the “victim” of “right-wing attacks” as the Department of Homeland Security was putting a pause on the initiative following weeks of backlash. 

She was also forced to walk back a claim she was being “relentlessly” harassed by a so-called “Drudge Report editor,” later claiming it was a “joke” and she found it “hilarious” that someone believed she could be harmed by the Drudge Report.

The Washington Post has been facing a turbulent news cycle in recent days. The paper was forced to issue an editor’s note after a jury found that Amber Heard’s 2018 op-ed, which was revealed it had been written by the ACLU, was defamatory towards Johnny Depp, fueling questions over whether the Post bares any responsibility for publishing the piece in the first place. 

There’s also been public warfare among Post staffers with reporter Felicia Sonmez calling out colleague Dave Weigel for retweeting a joke that mocked women, which resulted in him getting suspended. Sonmez also clashed with fellow reporter Jose A. Del Real, who criticized Sonmez’s public shaming of Weigel. 

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to joseph.wulfsohn@fox.com and on Twitter: @JosephWulfsohn.

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