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Top Washington Post Editor Forced Off Twitter After Urging More Spending on Health Care

A few weeks ago Washington Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti rued in this tweet via his Twitter account: "We can incur all sorts of federal deficits for wars and what not. But we have to promise not to increase it by $1 for healthcare reform? Sad." Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander cited the tweet in a Friday night blog post about how the newspaper has issued new guidelines, on the use of social network sites, which state "nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment." That forced Narisetti to close his Twitter account. Alexander recounted:

Narisetti said today he now realizes that his tweets, although intended for a private audience of about 90 friends and associates, were unwise. They were "personal" observations, he said. "But I also realize that...seeing that the managing editor of The Post is weighing in on this, it's a clear perception problem."

On his defunct Twitter page, as captured by Google, Narisetti declared, as if he'd buy this contention from any politician (say, Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and his 1989 college thesis over which the Post has obsessed): "My tweets have nothing to do with my day job."Narisetti initially wasn't so willing to drop Twitter:

Earlier this week Peter Perl, the editor who oversees newsroom personnel, alerted Narisetti that questions about his tweets had been raised within The Post's staff. That prompted Narisetti to discuss the issue with Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. Prior to that meeting, Narisetti tweeted again: "For flagbearers of free speech, some newsroom execs have the weirdest double standards when it comes to censoring personal views."

Today, Narisetti noted that this tweet was "before Marcus and I chatted" and was "me thinking aloud on the feedback of whoever had flagged it to Peter." He stressed that it wasn't directed at Brauchli and that he fully supports the new guidelines.

So much for speaking truth to power! More like sucking up to the boss. (Narisetti and Brauchli both worked at the Wall Street Journal.)

Alexander provided this description of Narisetti's role at the newspaper in the position he assumed in January of this year: "As one of two managing editors, he's responsible for The Post's features content and oversees its Web site. But he also sits in on news meetings and occasionally gets involved in 'hard' news."

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center