The Washington Post has issued two lengthy corrections to an article by its notorious “internet culture” reporter Taylor Lorenz.
The piece, which had already been secretly edited after it was published Thursday, detailed how content creators made out big in the sensational Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation lawsuit that ended last week.
Two YouTubers, “LegalBytes” host Alyte Mazeika and an anonymous user named ThatUmbrellaGuy, were singled out in the article.
Lorenz, citing Business Insider, claimed Mazeika “earned $5,000 in one week by pivoting the content on her YouTube channel to nonstop trial coverage and analysis.”
ThatUmbrellaGuy “earned up to $80,000 last month, according to an estimate by social analytics firm Social Blade,” Lorenz wrote, adding that neither YouTuber responded to requests for comment.
Mazeika and ThatUmbrellaGuy claimed Lorenz never reached out to them prior to publication of her story, Fox News reported.
Lorenz also made a second error, wrongly attributing a statement to Depp’s rep, Adam Waldman.
Although a note at the bottom of the article 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 deleted without any acknowledgment.
After Fox News published its story about the stealth-edit, the Washington 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 editor’s note posted at the top of Lorenz’s piece, though neither correction addressed who had edited the story after it was published.
When Fox News asked specifically whether Lorenz herself made the stealth edit, a Post spokesperson said, “That’s not something we’d discuss on the record.”
“I’m sure the right wing media and cable news world is spinning something up,” Lorenz quipped on Twitter, downplaying the controversy.
The YouTubers slammed Lorenz’s article.
“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 said. “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 too 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.
Lorenz appeared to acknowledge Mazeika’s public complaint, tweeting, “Thanks for replying!” and adding she “would love to incorporate your comments!”
ThatUmbrellaGuy also lashed out at the paper.
“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 apparently, 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 issued a 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.”
Lorenz has been involved in a number of controversies over her journalism ethics – including stories she’s done on Kellyanne Conway and her daughter; tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen; the would-be chief of the now-defunct “Disinformation Governance Board” Nina Jankowicz; and Matt Drudge.