The liberal paper has hammered the USSS for years, exposing some newsworthy incidents but also blowing others out of proportion.
Take the one that occurred Monday. “VP was in car accident; Secret Service first called it ‘mechanical failure,'” the headline blared.
“A motorcade taking Vice President Harris to work was in a one-car accident on a closed roadway in D.C. on Monday morning, an incident that concerned both the Secret Service director and the vice president and revived worries about the agency’s history of concealing its mistakes, according to two people familiar with the incident,” wrote Carol D. Leonnig.
Wow. A “one-car accident.” That sounds really bad. Let’s hear more.
“The Secret Service agent driving Harris in an SUV struck the curb of a downtown tunnel hard enough that the vehicle’s tire needed to be replaced,” Leonnig said.
So wait, a flat tire? Well, goodness, how badly was the vice president injured?
“The Vice President sustained no injuries and appreciates the quick response by her USSS detail to get her to the White House safely,” Harris spokesman Kirsten Allen said in an emailed statement to the Post.
What does the Secret Service say?
“During a protective movement Monday, a vehicle in a motorcade had a minor overcorrection and struck a curb,” Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the paper. “The protectee was transferred to a secondary vehicle, and the motorcade continued to its destination. There were no injuries to anyone.”
So why the “mechanical failure” reference? “Initial radio traffic indicated this was a mechanical failure, and that was communicated to agency leadership by personnel supporting the motorcade movement,” Guglielmi said, noting that Secret Service leaders were later briefed in conversation after Harris was delivered to the White House.
One Secret Service official familiar with the incident took issue with the breathless Post story. “Well, honestly, I wouldn’t characterize this as anything close to a ‘crash,'” the official told The Daily Wire. “And neither would anybody else in law enforcement.”
“Tiger Woods crashed. The driver hit a curb? Which probably did lead to some type of mechanical failure. S*** happens,” the official said.
Some publications hyped the story. The Daily Beast wrote Harris had been in a “one-vehicle car crash.” The Washington Examiner went further, posting a headline that read: “VEEP IMPACT: SUV carrying Harris crashes.” But CNN struck the right tone, saying in its story: “… Harris was involved in a minor car accident….”
The Secret Service official who spoke to The Daily Wire pointed out another story written by Leonnig that he said was wrong.
“The Obama administration is investigating allegations that two senior Secret Service agents, including a top member of the president’s protective detail, drove a government car into White House security barricades after drinking at a late-night party last week, an agency official said,” she wrote on March 11, 2015.
“The incident happened about 10:30 p.m. on the White House compound near 15th Street NW and Freedom Plaza, as D.C. police officers and Secret Service officers were trying to clear the scene because of an investigation of a suspicious package, according to the people familiar with the incident,” the story said.
“Witnesses reported that the car’s overhead flashing lights had been activated and both agents were showing their badges to get through the section of the grounds that had been closed off, according to people familiar with the incident.”
Way down in the story, the Post said: “The vehicle ran through security tape before hitting the barricades, which an agency official said had been set up temporarily during the investigation of the package.”
But the Secret Service official gave a different version. “The guy literally moved an orange construction barrel about 2 feet with the nose of his car,” the agent said.
Hmm. Very different story.
The Secret Service has had some missteps, but the “one-car accident” sure isn’t one of them.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.