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Ben Smith Gets Spanked for Letting the Washington Post 'Skate’ on the Alito Flag Non-Controversy


Here's some progressive infighting, which is always entertaining. The last time we checked in on former Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith was in the spring of 2023, when he was still defending publishing the entire Steele dossier. The Hillary Clinton campaign had shopped the fake dossier story to any number of reporters, all of whom passed seeing as there was no way to verify any of it. Smith bravely stepped up and published the entire hoax.


Smith is now editor-in-chief of Semafor, and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis accused Smith and Semafor of "letting it slide" that the Washington Post had "buried" Justice Samuel Alito's "Appeal to Heaven flag" controversy.

"… maybe there wouldn't have been a Dobbs."

Dobbs was a good thing.

"Reporting is in shorter supply. If you like, you can see it as a servirle to the denunciators, who need fresh material."

For what it's worth, the Washington Post had sent out a reporter to Alito's home in January 2021 after getting a hot tip from a TDS-infected neighbor that Alito was flying the American flag upside down, and the Post passed on the story, concluding it was a non-story that had more to do with a neighborly dispute involving Alito's wife.

Then the New York Times last week "broke the news" about Alito's flag, and it became the media talking point of the week, leading Democrats to call for a meeting with Alito.


Smith reached out to the Post to see why they'd passed and apparently let them skate:

The decision was a matter of “consensus,” said Cameron Barr, the former senior managing editor, who said he takes responsibility for the decision not to run the story. The Post’s then-editor-in-chief, Martin Baron, told Semafor that he had been unaware of the story at the time.

“I agreed with [Supreme Court reporter] Bob Barnes and others that we should not do a single-slice story about the flag, because it seemed like the story was about Martha-Ann Alito and not her husband,” recalled Barr of the deliberations.

Instead, Barr said, he suggested a story on the bitter neighborhood dispute that Alito told them had prompted his wife to raise the flag. They would use the flag itself, he thought, as a detail in the story. But that story never took shape.

If journalists were doing their job correctly, Jarvis thinks we wouldn't have the Supreme Court we have now.

Trust us, there's no "demand" for reporters to post their opinions on anything on social media.


We see denunciation all the time in the mainstream press, whenever they do a "Republicans pounce" story or write a lie right into a headline, as The Hill just did with its distortion of Harrison Butker's commencement speech.

How is it that so many journalists don't know what journalism is? From journalism professors like Jarvis, most likely.


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