Washington Post issues two corrections after stealth-edit scrubbed false claim from Taylor Lorenz report

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The Washington Post issued two lengthy corrections to its report from its “internet culture” columnist Taylor Lorenz, which was previously stealth-edited. 

Lorenz wrote an article Thursday about how content creators were the real winners of the explosive Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation lawsuit that concluded this week due to larger followings and spikes in revenue during the six-week trial. 

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.”

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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. 

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz on MSNBC.

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz on MSNBC. (MSNBC)

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.”

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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 “correction” to “editor’s note” while maintaining the text of the errors.

Neither correction, however, addressed who was behind the stealth edit.  

When asked specifically 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. 

Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz.  ( (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images) | CNBC Television/YouTube/Screenshot)

On Thursday, both YouTubers lashed out at Lorenz’s report. 

“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 Post columnist. “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. 

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

ThatUmbrellaGuy similarly slammed 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.”

Fox News reached out to both ThatUmbrellaGuy and Mazeika for comment.

The Washington Post issued a lengthy correction to a report authored by Taylor Lorenz.

The Washington Post issued a lengthy correction to a report authored by Taylor Lorenz. (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

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In April, she doxxed the identity of popular Twitter personality Libs of Tik Tok just days after she decried the online harassment of women. 

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 found it “hilarious” that someone believed she could be harmed by the Drudge Report.

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