The Lincoln Memorial was vandalized last night — or was it?

The CBS headline is blunt — “Lincoln Memorial vandalized“:

Green paint was splattered overnight on parts of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., U.S. Park police say.

They say a patrol officer found green plant splashed on the floor near the famous statue of President Lincoln, and some on the base of the statue, at around 1:20 a.m. local time.

The memorial, on the National Mall, will be closed until the U.S. Park Service can clean it up.

NBC changes a few of the details, but still reaches the same conclusion — “Lincoln Memorial vandalized“:

The Lincoln Memorial will be closed until further notice after green paint was discovered on the monument Friday morning.

A visitor found the paint splattered on the statue and on the floor around it just before 1:30 a.m. and reported it to police. No words or symbols were written on the statue, News4’s Megan McGrath reported.

The U.S. Park Police say the monument will reopen once the National Park Service cleans the statue. There’s no estimate on when that work will be done, but maintenance crews are expected to arrive Friday morning.

Some people have predictably overreacted:

Clubbing seals is horrendous. Assassinating the President is horrendous. Enslaving another human being is horrendous. This is just paint.

But while it’s tempting to pin the crime on a marauding band of Germanic barbarians or the University of Idaho football team, I’m not so sure vandals were responsible. There’s another possibility that seems not to have been considered, and might just put Mr. Klapper’s outrage to rest — perhaps the Lincoln Memorial turning green is simply natural processes at work:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Or maybe the explanation is supernatural: a voodoo curse on a penny. Either way, it’s important to gather all the facts, and it’s a shame that these otherwise-respectable media companies jumped to conclusions before the end of the NPS investigation.

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