Writing Monday for National Review, Ponnuru recounted a frustrating recent experience he had with a WaPo editor.
After he was asked to contribute to the newspaper's Outlook section several weeks ago, Ponnuru submitted a few paragraphs on reclaiming "the proper name" of Presidents' Day to commemorate George Washington's birthday.
The editing process, he said, left the short piece with a pesky error.
The article went through several rounds of editing. Between the last time I saw the article and its publication, however, it was changed. My original version read in relevant part: “Getting rid of President’s Day would not be difficult. All we would have to do is start calling the third Monday of February by its proper name under federal law: Washington’s Birthday. That’s the practice state governments and advertisers ought to follow.” The version the Post ended up running struck the third sentence and replaced the second with ”All we would have to do is designate the third Monday of February to mark George Washington’s Birthday.” The new language is misleading, since the federal government has already made that designation, and anyone who knew the truth of the matter would think I did not know it.
Ponnuru wrote Monday that after receiving several emails pointing out the error, he reached out to an unnamed editor at WaPo to lodge a complaint. The editor, he said, told him the updated language was actually more accurate.
Still, Ponnuru said he was willing to let it go until the WaPo actually ran two letters to the editor late last week criticizing him for the error.
Here's an excerpt from one:
Obviously Ponnuru did not check Title 5, Section 6103, of the United States Code before he made his suggestion. There has never been a federal holiday called “Presidents’ Day.” The holiday was first designated “Washington’s Birthday” in 1894. It still is. Back then, everybody knew which Washington was being celebrated. Today I’m not so sure.
Ponnuru's criticism has apparently been heard. Kristine Coratti, a spokeswoman for WaPo, told TPM in an email on Monday that the newspaper plans to issue a correction.
Ponnuru tweeted Monday that an editor from the Outlook section reached out to apologize.
An editor at @PostOutlook apologized and said a correction will run. Apology accepted.— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) May 12, 2014