Washington Post's 'bizarre,' 'comical' profile of Anna Paulina Luna littered with errors
Freshman Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., said Friday that the Washington Post's profile of her contained several mischaracterizations and factual errors, and said its suggestion that she only embraced her Hispanic heritage in order to run for office shows how far the mainstream press will go to attack conservatives.
"As I've said before, and as the Washington Post has clearly showcased, anyone who is a conservative minority is a threat to Leftist control," Luna told Fox News Digital. "They can try to discredit me, but unfortunately for them the facts completely blow their story out of the water."
The Post story, based on interviews with relatives and former friends, calls into question aspects of Luna's biography and falsely reported that she once registered as a Democrat, she said. Luna added that the Post's story bears a striking resemblance to claims that the New York Times began reporting on earlier this year, but never published.
The Washington Post article states: "Luna’s sharp turn to the right, her account of an isolated and impoverished childhood, and her embrace of her Hispanic heritage have come as a surprise to some friends and family who knew her before her ascent to the U.S. House this year."
The Post reported that Luna "registered to vote as a Democrat in Washington state" in 2017, though there is no place on the state's voter registration form that asks for party identification. The Post corrected that claim in the story after Fox News Digital requested comment, and noted in the updated story that the claim was "based on an erroneous voter registration database."
Otherwise, the Post defended its story.
"We have corrected one piece of factual information that was based on a database error. This deeply reported story about Rep. Luna’s biography includes ample perspectives from people who have known her throughout her life," Washington Post's vice president of communications Shani George said.
In another instance, the Post story appears to question details about Luna's childhood. The story reported that Luna has claimed her biological father was in and out of jail, which led to a chaotic upbringing, but also stressed that the paper could find no evidence that Luna's father, George Mayerhofer, was ever incarcerated.
However, Luna's office easily provided Fox News Digital with Lexis-Nexis reports that show Mayerhofer did spend time behind bars.
A court filing for a drug felony charged against Mayerhofer shows he was arrested and went through court proceedings in custody, and was brought back into custody for violating probation agreements. The court records show his case was dismissed.
"Rep. Luna’s dad was literally in and out of jail, was homeless at one point, and on food stamps. As a child, Rep. Luna was uprooted from different homes repeatedly and went through six different schools in high school," Luna's communications director Edie Heipel told Fox.
The Post went into detail about Luna's family history, including reporting that her paternal grandfather fought in World War II for the German army before he immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s, and raised questions about Luna changing her surname before her time in politics.
"Absolutely no conservative outlet would stand a chance if they dared say someone wasn’t 'Hispanic enough,' yet this is the main narrative WAPO is trying to spin," Heipel said of the Post story's emphasis on race.
"Because Anna is a conservative, somehow WAPO believes that the fact both sides of her family descend from Mexican immigrants isn’t valid," Heipel added. "This article has very racist undertones and the Washington Post knowingly left out facts from multiple sources that refuted their lie and narrative."
Much of the Post's story involved Luna’s time at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri, where she was stationed for several years as an airfield management specialist. Luna has spoken about a break-in at her apartment, which she shared with another servicemember, Brittany Brooks, and the trauma it caused.
Luna has said that her landlord broke in around 4 a.m. at one point, a detail that Brooks told the Post she could not recall. The Post reported that Brooks "is the only person named in the police report" made about the alleged burglary in July 2010. However, a police report obtained by Fox News includes mention of both Brooks and Luna (then going by her birth surname, Mayerhofer).
Brooks described Luna as "liberal" at the time and said she supported then-President Barack Obama, the Post reported. Friends of Luna who were also stationed at Whiteman AFB at the time told Fox News Digital that politics wasn't a major topic of discussion for the group, and did not see in Luna a "sharp turn to the right."
"The way she was back then is the same way she is now," said Lamar Carson, who worked with Luna at Whiteman from the time she was stationed there in 2009 to when he left in 2011.
"We never got in a lot of political conversations. As I told the Washington Post, we support and defend the Constitution of the United States, that's our job back then and even now. It wasn't something we got into," Carson added.
Though the Post interviewed Carson, it did not name him in the story.
Martina Michelle, another companion of Luna and Carson's while they were at Whiteman AFB, told Fox that politics wasn't a major topic of discussion. But Michelle did recall Brooks, and said that her experience displayed that "she was not the most trustworthy or honest person, and she's continued to fabricate things."
"She has had this weird, I don't know — obsession or vendetta against Anna, because she's always bringing her up on Facebook, or Instagram, trying to cause issues," Michelle said. Brooks did not return Fox News Digital's request for comment.
Michelle said the Post's story, which she described as "crap," seemed to be preparing a false narrative.
Emails shared with Fox show that the New York Times asked Luna's office strikingly similar questions to the Post's story, going over similar details about her family history and her time at Whiteman AFB.
The Times has not published the story, and did not return Fox News Digital's request for comment.
Luna's office, Washington Post reported, declined to answer questions about the story. The Post reported that it had received an email from Heipel "calling the questions 'bizarre' and stating 'our office will not be responding to you any further.'"
Heipel's full response, according to an email of the exchange shared with Fox, called attention to the fact that the New York Times had asked similar questions. "These bizarre questions seem nearly identical to the same bizarre questions the New York Times sent us last week — which we already answered. Our office will not be responding to you any further, but we do ask you to cite your sources in whatever you publish," Heipel wrote.
To Luna's office, the Times' declining to run the story is further evidence of the weakness of the claims.
"We find it interesting that the Post decided to source its claims from distant relatives who have also made very anti-gay and conspiracy comments on their social media and do not associate with Rep. Luna or her family," Heipel said.
Published to Fox News.