Washington Post claims careful insertion of affiliate links into news stories happened by accident

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on August 18, 2014

From The News Desk

Last week, I reported that the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post had started putting "Buy it now" links in its news stories. In a follow up piece, I discussed the mixed reaction to the change -- with many journalists crying foul but plenty of regular readers welcoming it.

Today the Post has told Mashable -- Mashable! -- that the whole thing is just a big technical hiccup...

"What happened was, with the recent introduction of our new article format, the button functionality at first was not supported but was able to be added back in the last few days," Kris Coratti, director of communications for The Post, told Mashable in a statement. "The button was inadvertently incorporated into the text of stories rather than on the side, which is why people thought it was new. As we work to resume our previous years-long practice, we have removed the button from stories."
You see! The post has always had links to Amazon next to its stories but carefully inserting those buttons in the text, right next to the items being mentioned, was just some kind of unexplained glitch. Because that's the kind of thing that can happen with the slip of a finger, and be deployed across one of the world's biggest news sites without anyone there noticing.

I'm not sure what's more ridiculous: The stinky explanation, the fact that the Post used Mashable for damage limitation, the fact that Mashable didn't even credit or link to our original story, or the fact that, as Mashable itself even notes, as of this morning the damn links are still there.

Something rotten is happening at the newspaper that brought you Watergate.