Washington Post removes opinion piece after inquiry about author’s identity

The Washington Post removed an opinion piece Saturday evening. I inquired about the author’s identity after I couldn’t find any evidence of him online.

The story, “D.C., you’re depressing,” was published online Friday. The author of the piece was listed as Jason Huntmann, who said he was a recent transplant from California.

In it, Huntmann described a negative recent experience on the city’s public transportation system Metro, using it as an illustration of all that is wrong with Washington, D.C., and its people.

“The capital of America the Beautiful is, in fact, ugly and uninspiring,” he wrote. “The city houses elected officials cheering the bright and shining American Dream, but the citizens who work around them appear to be enduring unspeakable oppression.”

Some people on Twitter, including Washington Post writer Dan Zak, suggested Huntmann’s critique was unfair.

After being unable to find any other information about Huntmann online, I emailed the Post this afternoon to confirm the veracity of the account — or to at least confirm the spelling of the author’s name.

The Post’s Letters and Local Opinions Editor, Michael Larabee, wrote the following in response:

“We also noticed the absence of a Web presence, so we asked the author to send a copy of his cell phone bill to verify his name—which he did. However, your question has prompted us to make further inquiries, which are pending.

“While we wait to learn more, we are taking the piece down from the site.”

The URL now leads to an editor’s note that says simply: “This article is no longer available.”

 

 

 

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  • danbloom

    But wait a minute, that must have been an inside job of staffers at
    the Post because there is NO WAY that an oped can be sent it, read,
    accepted if the editors do not call the writer by phone for voice
    contact. I worked at the Post in the 1970s and every oped had to be
    verified. This must have been an inside job, and the oped page interns
    or eds let it pass. WTF?

  • Hard Little Machine

    He proved who he is and yet WaPo decided he’s not famous enough to warrant their original decision to print him in the first place. This is what happens when your company is run by interns who job their job by trading sexual favors.

  • Steve Doig

    Huntmann also doesn’t show up in the Accurint database.

  • Eric Westby

    Perhaps it’s acceptable only if the publication’s editors are aware of it beforehand. That sounds like a solid policy to me.

    Daily newspapers may also be the least likely venue to find the use of a pseudonym appropriate; historically, they’ve required real names even for letters to the editor.

  • Tim Maughan

    So writing under a pseudonym is unnaceptable now?

  • steve849

    You can find more of the deleted piece here: http://imgur.com/a/zpDEt