Getler: WW cover-up is worse than the crime

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Washington Week made an apparently innocent slip-of-the-tongue much worse by erasing it from the program’s transcript, writes PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler. On June 20, moderator Gwen Ifill clearly didn’t mean to imply that Al Gore was gay when she said he “came out of the closet” to endorse presidential hopeful Barack Obama. But after a blogger named Tony Peyser asked about the slip-up, a producer changed the transcript. (The original transcript is available here.) Peyser, naturally, noted this in his blog, which points up the stupidity of the decision to change it in the first place, Getler writes. “Now, altering a transcript to remove a controversial or embarrassing statement is a very bad and fundamental journalistic sin, and also professionally stupid because someone will always catch it,” he said. Washington Week has pledged not to change transcripts in the future.