For Years, The Washington Post Tried to Interview a Cow
During the Taft administration, the paper covered the White House cow like a tabloid would a Kardashian.
In 1912, an unnamed Washington Post reporter asked Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s cow, if she was milked by a stranger without her consent, as had been reported. “It is true, Miss Wayne?” the reporter asked the 1,500-pound bovine.
And to each query, modest Pauline returned from her soft, brown eyes a glance bespeaking reproach and indignation, and a whisk of her tail, which is to say in bovine, with business hauteur: “He did not.”
Unaffected by her soft eyes, the reporter asked the question again. (A bit cruel, if you ask me, if she really was a victim.) “I wasn’t milked on the White House lawn by a strange man,” The Washington Post—the venerable institution that would later come to break the Watergate scandal and win 48 Pulitzers—quoted her, a farm animal, as saying.
The exclusive interview might have been a low point for The Washington Post. Either Pauline could speak English or The Post’s reporters inauspiciously discovered LSD. Or perhaps the paper committed a huge journalistic sin: fabricating quotes.
“I wasn’t milked on the White House lawn by a strange man.”
Between 1910 and 1912, The Post had something of an obsession with Pauline, covering her like Us Weekly would a Kardashian. A search of its archives reveals more than 20 stories mentioning Pauline between 1910 and 1912. In at least one instance, Pauline was referred to as the “provider-in-chief [of] the finest milk and butter.”