On Friday, the Voice of OC published an article about an e-mail the reporter had not even seen, breathlessly describing it as “politically explosive.”

Last night the Voice published a follow-up story — this time after actually reading the e-mail (or as it turns out, e-mails) in question and being educated on the actual context and meaning. The description of the e-mail was downgraded to merely “questionable.” Sort of like the U.S. Weather Service downgrading a meteorological event from “hurricane” to “gusty winds.”

Personally, I think the “questionable” appellation is an overstatement. OCTA CEO-designate Darrell Johnson provided very reasonable explanations in the Voice article, and they come down to semantics and jargon and the occasional in-exactitude that is an inevitable aspect of human endeavors. Furthermore, no one has been able to point to any evidence of any wrong-doing or unethical conduct (the wishful thinking of ankle-biters does not count as proof).

For me and many others, the most shocking thing about this episode has been the heedlessness and haste with which this story has been reported and allegations carelessly tossed about, needlessly and recklessly damaging the reputations of two individuals of integrity.  Isn’t investigative reporting supposed to be about nailing down facts, and crossing Ts and dotting Is?