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YouTuber says WaPo correction on Taylor Lorenz story claiming contact on Instagram before publication is false

The Washington Post attempted to clean up a mess made by Taylor Lorenz this week, publishing a lengthy correction on a report she had written. But it now appears the correction needs a correction. 

Lorenz, The Post’s star “internet culture” columnist, landed herself in hot water for claiming in her story on Thursday about content creators who thrived during the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial that she had reached out for comment to two YouTubers, “LegalBytes” host Alyte Mazeika and an anonymous user named ThatUmbrellaGuy. Both Mazeika and ThatUmbreallaGuy called out Lorenz on Twitter, claiming she never attempted to seek comment from them prior to publishing. 

After Lorenz was blasted by the YouTubers, The Post stealth-edited the erroneous claim from Lorenz’s report, though it remains unclear whether she herself removed the claim or an editor. 

Following Fox News’ first reporting on the dustup on Friday, The Post issued a correction at the bottom of its report, stating, “A previous version of this story inaccurately attributed to [Depp representative] Adam Waldman a quote describing how he contacted some Internet influencers. That quote has been removed.” The Post continued, “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.”

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Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz falsely claimed she had reached out to YouTubers in her story published on Thursday.

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz falsely claimed she had reached out to YouTubers in her story published on Thursday.
(MSNBC)

Then on Friday evening, The Post issued a second, lengthier correction, which was later relabeled an “editor’s note,” at the top of Lorenz’s story. 

“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,” The Post wrote. “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.”The Post added, “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.”

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

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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 on claims Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz contacted her prior to the publishing of her story. 

"LegalBytes" host Alyte Mazeika pushed back on claims Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz contacted her prior to the publishing of her story. 
("LegalBytes")

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. 

The Washington Post did not respond to Fox News’ inquiries in time for publication. Fox News also reached out to Lorenz for comment. 

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.”

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

Actors Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard in the courtroom for closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, May 27, 2022.  (AP Photos/Steve Helber, Pool)

Actors Johnny Depp, left, and Amber Heard in the courtroom for closing arguments at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, May 27, 2022.  (AP Photos/Steve Helber, Pool)

Both Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy refuted the statement, saying Lorenz never reached out to them prior to publication of her story. 

“Um. This says I didn’t respond to requests to comment? I know I’ve gotten a lot of emails over the past two months, but I’ve just double checked for your name, @TaylorLorenz, and I see no email from you,” Mazeika called out the Washington Post columnist early Friday. “Also, I didn’t suddenly pivot. I started covering this before trial began.”

Mazeika accused Lorenz of mischaracterizing Business Insider’s coverage of her, which she also thought was “unfair.” She later provided an update claiming Lorenz reached out to her for comment “after the piece was already published and I had to call it out.”

“This is so dumb,” Mazeika wrote. 

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Lorenz appeared to publicly acknowledge Mazeika’s complaint, tweeting, “Thanks for replying!” and that she “would love to incorporate your comments!”

ThatUmbrellaGuy similarly called out The Post’s article following its publication on Thursday. 

“The Washington Post LIED and DID NOT contact me before including me in their story on Johnny Depp, despite reporting they did so,” the YouTuber tweeted, sharing time stamps of his tweet calling out the article and Lorenz’s email to him sent minutes later.

He later continued, “The Washington Post also FLAGRANTLY misrepresented my earnings report and needs to correct it. Social Blade says I made between $4.9k and $79.1k. They ADDED TO the highest estimate, overreporting for dramatic effect.”

ThatUmbrellaGuy declined to comment directly to Fox News but issued a public statement following Fox News’ first report, tweeting in-part, “Taylor Lorenz wrote an obvious smear piece conflating Depp support with financial gain. She flagrantly ignored the fact I’ve covered this case for [a] year while mischaracterizing what Adam Waldman said during the Depp trial. She got the factual items about their relationship wrong as well. Crazier, she lied about contacting me in The Washington Post and tried covering this up AFTER I called it out publicly.”

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After the YouTubers called out Lorenz for not contacting them, the erroneous claim was scrubbed from the report without an editor’s note sometime late Thursday or early Friday. There was only acknowledgement of the error about Waldman, Depp’s representative, at the bottom of the report saying Lorenz’s report was “updated to clarify comments made during Waldman’s testimony.” The Washington Post later published a correction Friday admitting the YouTubers were never contacted and then followed with a lengthier correction falsely claiming Lorenz messaged Mazeika prior to publication while admitting it removed the incorrect statement without acknowledgment. 

When Fox News previously asked the Washington Post whether Lorenz herself or an editor made the stealth edit, a spokesperson for the Post replied, “That’s not something we’d discuss on the record.”

Lorenz was quick to dismiss the uproar on social media, tweeting, “I’m sure the right wing media and cable news world is spinning something up.”

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz has a lengthy history of controversies both in her reporting and on social media. 

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz has a lengthy history of controversies both in her reporting and on social media. 
( (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images) | CNBC Television/YouTube/Screenshot)

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 Tik Tok just days after she decried the online harassment of women. 

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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.

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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