Report: Daily Caller Employees Were Embarrassed By Their EPA Story Debacle

Last month, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle published a story that was basically catnip for the anti-regulation crowd. Citing a court brief from the Environmental Protection Agency, Boyle wrote that the EPA was “asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement” new climate change regulations. Boyle also took to Twitter to broadcast how EPA administrator “LISA JACKSON wants an ARMY OF 230k BUREAUCRATS.”

Predictably, the story got picked up by Fox News, the office of Sen. James Inhofe, and the usual climate-change-denial suspects. Unfortunately for them, Boyle's story was 100% false. Boyle completely misread the court brief, which detailed how the EPA had avoided the scenario he described.

Boyle's misfire was widely ridiculed, but rather than admit fault and correct the error, the Daily Caller stuck to their guns. Executive editor David Martosko compounded the damage to the publication's credibility by issuing a snide comment to Politico and following that with a misleading editor's note on the Caller website.

Apparently outside observers weren't the only ones aghast at Daily Caller's complete lack of standards. According to a report this morning by FishbowlDC's Betsy Rothstein, “newsroom sources” at the Caller were dismayed by Martosko's defense of Boyle's “pointedly bogus” story and “feared their reputations would be sullied by the widespread negative attention”:

Martosko has undoubtedly been a controversial figure from the start. Newsroom sources say his profound defense of reporter Matthew Boyle and his recent EPA piece troubled reporters who believed the story was false and feared their reputations would be sullied by the widespread negative attention the ordeal received in publications such as Politico and parts of the right-wing media. They couldn't conceive why their editor was defending a story many considered pointedly bogus.

I suppose it's slightly reassuring that at least some people at the Caller are capable of acknowledging facts and reality -- too bad their executive editor doesn't seem to be one of them.

UPDATE (11/18): Politico reports that the EPA debacle “has raised larger questions” about the “rigor” of Daily Caller's reporting:

Five months after Martosko's hiring, that spur-of-the-moment decision is looking less inspired. Martosko's background and approach to the job - particularly his decision to run, and then double down on, an erroneous report that the Environmental Protection Agency was proposing to hire 230,000 new employees - has embarrassed some Daily Caller staffers and contributed to their departures. And it has raised larger questions about whether Carlson is serious about his promise of a publication that may approach stories with a conservative point of view, but is dedicated to reporting them out with the same rigor as the New York Times.

The EPA story was published in September and ended up as a Drudge-linked and Fox-fueled viral hit cited by members of Congress.


[A]s the Daily Caller took round after round of fire in the left-leaning blogosphere over the story and Martosko defiantly stood by the story in a subsequent editor's note, some staffers cringed.

“People were just really embarrassed, and a lot of us were upset with how it was being handled,” one former staffer told POLITICO.