But the unruly public refuses to go along with your expert judgment of the story's unimportance. Brash bloggers turn on the high beams. Before you know it, Drudge links to it under the headline "ObamaCare Explodes Deficit." (You hate it when they call it "ObamaCare." It's "derisive.") Next thing you know, conservative and liberal bloggers are abuzz with citations to your story and arguments about how the budget impact should be calculated.
The wise old heads at your publicity-shy news desk all recognize a familiar futile attempt by the unwashed masses to determine truth and falsehood. With their superior sophistication, the new desk professionals grasp that
The truth is that every complex law change, every annual federal budget, is a risk. They’re all based on assumptions and forecasts that may or may not come true. And when they don’t, Congress and the president have to adjust.Just because someone points out that a vast budget impact, which was widely reported and heavily relied on in the process of getting the law passed, was transparently based on double-counting (the Medicare "doc fix"), and is off by the better part of a trillion dollars, doesn't mean it's news. It's just all part of the inevitable world of forecasts and assumptions that may not come true. Happens all the time. Nothing to see here. Move along.
But it's too late. The Washington Post's ombudsman sadly acknowledges that the paper gets a "frisson of pleasure" from the attention that a hot story attracts -- but they're above all that. They're more interested, apparently, in pushing their favorite agenda. So they really wish people would let them give unfavorable stories a quick, decent burial below the fold on page A3 after running for an eye-blink.
Something's really got to be done about making the new media shut up.