Washington Post ombudsman says Wise is "lucky he wasn't fired"

Within 20 minutes after Mike Wise announced on his radio show (and we assume it wasn’t a hoax, but if it was it would have been a damn good one) that he had been suspended for a month by the Washington Post for intentionally and deliberately fabricating a report that he published via Twitter, we posted in this space an item containing our initially reaction to the development.

We said, among other things, “Frankly, Wise should be glad he wasn’t fired.”

Dan Levy of Press Coverage thought I was kidding.  So he asked me if I was kidding (a question that is now arguably required, since apparently the media never can be sure it’s not being punked by one of its own), and I explained my position to Levy.

Among other stuff, I said of Wise, “He intentionally and deliberately fabricated a report.  I can imagine no greater offense to his profession than that.”

For what it’s worth, the Washington Post ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, largely agrees with me:  “Fabrication is a major journalistic transgression,” Alexander writes regarding Wise.  “He’s lucky he wasn’t fired.”

Later, Alexander writes, “Wise wasn’t reporting.  He was fabricating, which is the greatest sin in journalism.”

So we said Wise should be glad he wasn’t fired, and his newspaper’s ombudsman said Wise is lucky he wasn’t fired.  And I said that I can imagine no greater offense to Wise’s profession than fabrication, and his newspaper’s ombudsman says that fabrication is the greatest sin in journalism.

The fact that the ombudsman and I are in lockstep on those issues possibly could be enough to get Wise to resign.

85 responses to “Washington Post ombudsman says Wise is "lucky he wasn't fired"

  1. wow Florio. You really, REALLY don’t like this guy. Out of nosiness and curiosity, what caused such enmity between you?

  2. He’s also in sports media which isn’t exactly life or death.
    Congrats, you win. Now quit with the sanctimonious crap and post something about football.

  3. dude….enough already…gheez!
    We get it…you got punk’d and you are still pissed about it a day later.
    Mike, I think that anyone who reads this site knows it’s for entertainment only.
    Right, you guys you know that…right…right!

  4. Wow, don’t get on Florio’s bad side. Hold a grudge much?? Just let it go, dude apologized, he didn’t beat up his girlfriend or anything…Mariotti.

  5. I don’t necessarily agree.
    What does PFT get for running with a story that is supposed to be corroborated by multiple sources? Isn’t this what an outfit like this one is supposed to do before running with a headline???
    I think what Wise did was the hardball approach to getting people to get their heads outta their asses and pay attention.
    Sometimes, one is forced to break a few eggs in order to get that omelette made. Just because he hurt a few feelings doesn’t mean he should be hung out to dry. Chastise him, but understand it.

  6. Fabricating things is a sin in journalism? When does half the staff of ESPN get canned?

  7. The Wise suspension will be reduced from 4 weeks to 3….I’m told. Just kidding. Sorry.
    I suppose I’ll be suspended from PFT for a month (please no, I’m joking!)

  8. In Wise’s defense, the concept of “reporting” on twitter is a whole new paradigm in media. The rules haven’t been established yet (or maybe they just were). If his followers were mostly his friends, and he never planned on using his twitter for professional reporting, he could pull any practical joke he wanted.
    What’s weird to me is, twitter doesn’t pay anyone, and the Washington Post doesn’t (I assume) pay him to tweet news. So this suspension is kind of weird grounds. If he hired a lawyer, he could possibly fight it. Is what he did a breach of journalistic integrity because his twitter is popular? If he did this on some dying craphole of a social networking site like MySpace or Friendster, then “no harm done”?

  9. ‘Later, Alexander writes, “Wise wasn’t reporting. He was fabricating, which is the greatest sin in journalism.”‘ So, by that logic, more than half of the writers at the WaPo should be fired… they love to make sh*t up all the time.

  10. He basically did what all of you “writers” do every day. He just admitted it. I dont understand your or anyone else’s outrage over this. Go kick a can.

  11. Resign?
    I get that the guy hasn’t been too nice to your site, but a call for his head makes it seem like there’s some personal element to this story that has yet to be revealed.
    Given the damage this has caused to his reputation, I think it’ll be hard enough for this guy to continue work.
    Calling for the guillotine seems a bit excessive.
    After all, you’ve already won.
    Keep up the good work.

  12. OK Mike, so he trashed you, enough already. This dead horse need be beaten no further.

  13. Okay Mike. You are tooting your own horn a little too loudly on this. I think Wise realized he screwed up royally with this prank. Let it go; let him serve his suspension; and move on to issues of football. You’re starting to act like a “corporate lawyer” here.

  14. just let it die already florio. you are like a jilted girlfriend who cant get past the fact that you were played like a fiddle.
    yes, wise lied. he has been suspended. let it go and get back to….wait, what do you do again? oh yeah, you make up rumors and beat to death stories.
    carry on then.

  15. “The fact that the ombudsman and I are in lockstep on those issues possibly could be enough to get Wise to resign.”
    Yes, that is a powerful two people there. Maybe the fact he is suspended, means people are given another chance.
    Since you are not resigning, consider this the last time I visit your site.
    Good-bye. You are a person I never want to meet in real life.

  16. why do you feel the need to make this guy resign? yeah, he screwed up, and his bosses punished him for it. Twitter is a bunch of crap anyways. He is still a person who needs a job to support himself, or a family. What makes you the judge and jury? Florio, this makes YOU look bad. There is no reason for you to crusade against this guy. Please, got back to rumors and enough of your opinion already.

  17. “He intentionally and deliberately fabricated a report”
    You do that all the time. Albeit no one’s ever accused you of being a real journalist

  18. Who cares, he said he was suspended for five games. He probably heard that, wanted the scoop first, found out it was wrong and got scared. He didn’t report that Brett Favre died or something.

  19. With the way the WaPo has been hemorrhaging talent, no way they fire Wise. Call what he did a serious lapse in judgment, but the guy is talented, particularly at writing in-depth profiles and connecting on a personal level with DC-area athletes.

  20. Too bad he didn’t work for CBS (e.g. Dan Rather) where he could get a cushy, if temporary, gig on 60 Minutes (of crap)

  21. Just say the ombudsman thinks it was a major transgression and he’s likely he has a job.
    All this: x thought I was kidding so x asked me if I was kidding, y said a and I said a, and x said b and I said b, therefore I am special nonsense is just junk. Your writing isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. So instead of trying oh so hard to be witty, just aim for being brief. Brevity will improve your writing in every way.

  22. The issue here is that the Washington Post has credibility and integrity to uphold while sites like this can’t be taken too seriously. I like what this site offers but it is what it is…a blog. That’s the danger we face in wanting our news fast. We get it from Twitter (amazingly) and blogs like this. Just take what you read with a grain of salt and always look at the source.

  23. You seem completely obsessed with this story Mike. The guy is suspended and the situation is over. What is your problem? Did he also threaten your family?

  24. I can’t be the only one that feels it is open season on anyone famous. A person can concoct any story or allegation and the press, including pft runs with it. It doesn’t matter how it affects lives or reputations of others. I boycotted this site for weeks due to the coverage of the Roethlisberger story in March. Again let me remind you, it was an allegation- To ask for responsible reporting is asking too much, isn’t it?

  25. He should have been canned.
    His credibility is gone.
    What other fiction does he feel like doing?
    What he is saying is “my newspaper can’t keep up with my mad journalism skills”…. and he was B.S.ing on twitter?
    It’s one in the same.
    Drop this a-hole as a reliable source now.
    He has disrespected all media though his clowning around.

  26. Shut up Florio you are a tool. YAY you found out someone had pranked you, quit getting down on the guy and go about your business in your mommas’ basement. I’m pretty sure you already have more readers than Wise ever would, quit trying to rub salt in his wounds and let sleeping dogs lay. I’m pretty sure people weren’t calling for you to get fired, or quit doing your blog when your reported Terry Bradshaw was dead. Pot meet kettle…..

  27. ENOUGH DUDE. Stop trying to make stories out of things that you are obsessed about (see: your 85 Brett Favre stories in the last week).
    Florio – Nobody cares. I never even read one of this guys stories but I promise you I will read them all for now on just because if you are this obsessed with the dude…..he obviously made you look like a king size idiot for getting duped….it should be an entertaining read in the very least.
    Part of me can’t wait for him to come back in a month and make an ass of you again…..but the other part doesn’t feel like reading your lame, boring, bitter posts for the next two days afterwards trying to recover from it.
    Let it go dude…..let it go. Your trying to make yourself look better but instead are just making an idiot of yourself.

  28. I don’t see how a rumor aggregator like yourself has any room to be upset. You’ve been fed baseless rumors that you’ve reported before.
    Truth be told, you wouldn’t have had the professional success you have had without the hard work and efforts of actual journalists.
    Wise is being dealt with, but you act as if you’re entitled that the work of other journalists must meet your standard to build your website.
    I would think by this point you would have learned caveat emptor in all things regarding “I heard, I was told, Madame Jessica divined, etc.”
    Besides, you’re the one that’s built at least one career on hearsay.

  29. I’m with most of your commenters. You’re making yourself look like a small, petty man, Florio. Right or wrong, you come out of this looking like a douche.

  30. Florio says,
    “we posted in this space an item containing our initially reaction to the development.
    We said, among other things, “Frankly, Wise should be glad he wasn’t fired.” ”
    Frankly, Florio should be glad someone hasn’t smacked him up side of the head with Webster’s dictionary.
    He tweeted, you bit on it, he got suspended. Give it a rest.
    In other news, is Terry Bradshaw still dead Florio?

  31. Can we be done with this one, Florio? This is a personal vendetta for you and it no longer affects your readership…

  32. You’re understandably passionate about the subject, but with each post you are adding more publicity to Mike Wise which is at least partially his motivation in fabricating the report.

  33. Lay off Mike Wise alright! What a nerd you are Andrew Alexander. Getting all steamed up and taking it personal because you regurgitated his tweet in your material. Wise is a clown and he made a bad call (at worst). Get over it.. you really think we have high standards for media personalities?? Too funny! We pay attention but… we don’t pay that much attention. Just so you know
    warpath21 out

  34. “The fact that the ombudsman and I are in lockstep on those issues possibly could be enough to get Wise to resign.”
    Hahahaha, Florio…nobody cares what you think. The fact that you think you have some sort of clout or impact by running rumor mill website is humorous. You aren’t getting anyone fired. You fell for his folly, and while he was unprofessional and deserves to be canned, to even insinuate that you have power to remove him from his position is a farce.

  35. Wow Michelle (Florio), think skinned or what? Love it when lawyers get all moralistic and all that – especially at a sports gossip web site.
    Let it go dude – this vendetta makes you to be the bigger fool.

  36. Can we hope that NBC fires Florio for all the reports that he fabricates on this site? At least Wise had a purpose: setting a trap for Florio, who prints on this site anything he hears through the grapevine without bothering to get a second source for confirmation. You see, Florio never has worked as a real journalist, where confirmation of facts is required by the editor.

  37. He apparently doesn’t like you.
    You obviously don’t like him.
    But I hope your last line isn’t a signal that you plan a continuing series of posts trying to get him fired.
    He transgressed. He got punished. End of story.

  38. An ombudsman (conventional English plural: ombudsmen) is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing the broad scope of constituent interests.
    It’s all I got.

  39. Is falsifying a tweet really a professional offense?? I just don’t consider tweeting true journalism…

  40. i live in DC…Florio is 1000% right. Mike Wise should be fired! He is a joke. The only reason he is on the radio is because this city sucks the juices of anyone associated w/ the Washington Post. Wise is the least interesting writer and talk show host….he can put you to sleep in 2 minutes. Also, i question if he is really a “male”. I think he wears dresses & panties at home.
    if the Post had any true moral standing he would be fired.
    Pound him Florio…be the voice of reason!!!

  41. Easy, Florio. You aren’t a professional journalist. You aren’t even one of those things.

  42. Dude, I understand you’re a little bitter over the situation, but live and let live. Going after the guys job any further is a first class ticket on the karma train.

  43. The funniest part of this whole thing is that the whackjobs makes garbage up every day in the media.
    Too funny. So in other words, you can make up something, just fabricate it out of thin air, take a month vacation and come back to work. Cool. Where do I send my resume?
    Crap, in my business, you can’t lie or you get fired. Cool.

  44. Clearly Wise was wrong for fabricating a story, as he’s acknowledged. Calling for his resignation is over the top and comes across as petty and vindictive. Let’s not make this a competition between the bloggers and the traditional reporrters.

  45. I wrote it was potential grounds for termination in my comment on the original hoax story, which you didn’t run. I was initially miffed by the fact you didn’t, but I figured there could be something from a legal standpoint that would prevent you from openly questioning the validity of another person’s employment.
    I guess it was just cuz you didn’t want to publish my comment. You’re all but salivating with the idea of being behind the call for this guy’s head.

  46. Yes… I’m using the new “Haynesworth Air Quote” buttons on my keyboard…
    If a “reporter” is supposed to avoid “journalistic transgressions,” then what in the hell is a “reporter” doing “publishing” reports via “Twitter” or hosting a “Radio Show?” Isn’t doing both of these things causing a “journalist” to “deliberately fabricate” stories on a daily basis?
    I’m not down with this “new age journalism” crap where the only way a “reporter” can make a name for him/herself is to whore themselves out to all other forms of media. A person cannot be expected to be held to the standards of being a “journalist” when promoting his/her byline is more important than the story.
    A “journalist” should provide good, solid, accurate reporting and nothing else. Anything beyond this is a “major journalistic transgression.”

  47. Wise won’t resign…he sucks and won’t get picked up anywhere except for the Fargo Times

  48. Among other stuff, I said of Wise, “He intentionally and deliberately fabricated a report. I can imagine no greater offense to his profession than that.”
    Wise should have been wise & qualified his hoax statement by saying “Latest News and Rumors” beforehand. THEN, it’s “anything goes”!

  49. Mike Florio: standing for truth and integrity in journalism.
    Remember when Steve Smith wanted to fight you? LOL

  50. no hypocrisy here, huh?
    this used to be an interesting site before florio found his soapbox and started pimping it out at an espn level. can nbc broadcast a game without running an add saying ” please go check pft out, we’re really legit?”
    most of the crap on here has become opionions and inuendos anyway.
    florio, you’re a punk that’s been punked. this just hits you too close to home!

  51. Alright, here is the reason that Mike Wise is in trouble for this, and Mike Florio (nor any of the other dozen or so reporters that shared Wise’s tweet) is not. Mike Wise logged onto his Twitter, and completely made something up. Nobody told him anything about Roethlisberger. He just made something up. Florio and all the others that ran with it did so because a reporter with a previously good track record for giving information already reported it.
    Does everyone understand?
    Now, sure all reporters should get multiple sources on a news item before posting something. But in the world today, you are competing to scoop other reporters, and don’t always have time. So sometimes you have to go off of one source if you deem that source as being credible.
    Now, that being said, I would like to point out that none of these reports talking about Wise’s tweet were actual reports. Most of them were discussed in blogs. And if you pay attention, PFT is a site for news and RUMORS! Meaning that I could get on the phone with Florio and tell him that I heard from my cousin’s neighbor’s best friend’s brother who happens to live next door to Al Sharpton that he heard Barack Obama plans on buying an NFL team when his presidency is up and Florio could run with it as a “story” on here because…wait for it…it’s a RUMOR!
    Does everyone understand now?

  52. Wise has a radio show too. The whole thing was broadcasted on WJFK and anyone that listened knew it was a joke.
    Since when is Twitter a factual news source?
    Florio, you post numerous ramblings about things that are RUMORS! You don’t even have a high horse to get off of!
    Wise, an actual journalist, was trying to prove a point that you will post anything without checking facts like a real reporter or journalist would do. His point was proven.
    Wise can be holyer than thou about ethical reporting and never considered that Tweeting something would jeopardize his writing gig. On the suspension, Florio and the Post need to get a life.

  53. @Florio,
    “And I said that I can imagine no greater offense to Wise’s profession than fabrication”….
    Given that “PFT” has become “Just Making Stuff Up”, when are you and Gregg resigning?
    Undisclosed sources close to the situation say you are quitting by Wednesday or Saturday.

  54. The fact that the ombudsman and I are in lockstep on those issues possibly could be enough to get Wise to resign.
    Forget Wise, that should be enough to get the ombudsman to resign!

  55. Yes FinFan we all get it now.
    Thank You Captain Obvious. You’re a pro of laying out what everyone already knows. Now go apply for a job with NBC, you’d fit right in.
    The heart of the matter here isn’t whether Florio is running a rumor site, the crux of it is the over the top hissy fit Florio is having in this latest, laughable, holier than thou mode.
    He’s blown it so many times in the past with sloppy work or reporting something “he thinks” as actual substantive news that whether he uses the weak copout of “Rumor Mill” or files it under a straight “NEWS” column is irrelevant. He’s got no room to be judging anyone else or acting like he’s hasn’t screwed up without acknowledging it in the past. It’d be one thing if he actually had come clean on his own screw ups (Terry Bradshaw doesn’t count there was no way he could avoid coming clean there), but he routinely makes wild statements with the implication of factual support but has nothing to say when his “reports” just wind up on the mounting heap of bullshit he’s built up over the years.
    Wise blew it sure, but not only is it amazingly arrogant of Florio to think he’s got the juice to make Wise feel enough pressure to resign, but it’s downright comical coming from a guy who lives off of the rumors and journalistic work done by the very same people he relies on gets all pissy over if they don’t put it in highlights that a story broke here first.

  56. @OranjelloJones:
    After reading so many of the comments on this post and the several other posts involving this same story, I felt I had to state the obvious. There were far too many people that just didn’t seem to get it. Obviously, you get it…maybe. But if you would look at other blogs and rumor sites that ran with what Wise said, you would see that they are all pissed off too.
    None of these people get pissed when they have sources that feed them information that ends up being wrong. But Florio (and the rest of em) have every right in the world to be pissed at Wise because he didn’t get bad information from a source…he just flat out made something up.

  57. holy shit florio shut the hell up. you are absolutely killing this. did you not see the name of this is pro FOOTBALL talk, not pro hey this is something i can get click through numbers on. you are a hack ass piece of shit.

  58. if i were the ombudsman, i would be worried that you think you are in lockstep with him.

  59. PFT is a news and rumour aggregation site. Mike Florio is NOT a journalist. (Neither is Mike Wise anymore.)
    Florio still doesn’t understand the tragedy of reporting Terry Bradshaw dead. Florio won’t understand that until someone calls him asking for a comment about his son’s death.
    The means of reporting news has changed but the method of gathering that news has not changed. Legitimate news operations need to hide all their content behind paid subscription walls. If that happens, Florio (who likely makes 300-400 K for this website) will have to pay to subscribe to the work of the reporters he feeds off of.
    Mike Wise had a good idea but a bad method. If every newspaper hid their content behind paid subscription walls, sites like this would have to pay to buy content. That is the way it should be. If reporters want to tweet, they can tweet url links to content behind paid subscription walls.
    NBC is the biggest patsy in all of this. They pay Florio to aggregate so-called news but refuse to take ownership of the false reports emanating from this site.
    Here’s a challenge to NBC and Florio: For one week, just post news and rumours generated by the PFT staff without any reliance on reporting by newspapers, TV, other bloggers, Twitter, yada, yada, yada.
    How many stories will be generated?

  60. I’m thinking that when he finds out that the omsbudsman and you are in total agreement, the shame might cause the omsbudsman to resign.

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