Following a most disappointing roll out, The Politico may have attempted to use the old adage that any publicity, even bad publicity, is a good thing.
In an attempt to jump-start interest in their moribund publication, Ben Smith et al may have intentionally posted the incorrect announcement that Edwards was going to suspend his campaign. It makes me think that the "error" that Smith confessed to was in fact purposely wrong to create surprise and attract attention to the little noticed launch.
One of the defenses made by Smith supporters is that it was just a blog. But in fact Smith was well aware that his piece was being picked up by writers of all stripes - Drudge of course being one of the first. And if it was just a blog, why did Smith change the title of the piece AFTER it was posted, breaking a cardinal rule of bloggers. In a recent incarnation the headline reads "Edwards Campaign Goes On" only to be followed by the original first sentence which begins "John Edwards is suspending his campaign." In order to see this yourself, you must go here, the current link on The Politico has kept the new title, but has changed the body of the work to read only "ZDFHzgnh" (sic). Changing previous posts is as is a flagrant violation of blogging ethics 101.
No doubt the astute editors at The Politico have noticed that Rush Limbaugh has speculated that the Edwards campaign intentionally deceived Smith, even though Limbaugh offered no evidence whatsoever. (h/t Media Matters)
If Ben Smith and The Politico have any hope of ever being taken seriously, they must immediately address Mr. Limbaugh's assertions. To leave such accusations hanging out there can only cause more pain for Mr. and Mrs. Edwards who have already endured enough.
IPDATE: The WaPo's Kurtz quotes Politico editor Harris implying the "it's just a blog" defense as well. He notes that blogs "share information in real time" - but doesn't offer any excuse for the transformations that the post went through - in defiance of the "real time" standard.