Do They Really 'Regret the Error?'

Erik Wemple at the WaPo noticed a curious thing: From the New York Times to Talking Points Memo and beyond, media outlets took a Sen. Mitch McConnell quote about one thing, and turned it into a quote about another thing — and that error just happened to help Democrats.


When the New York Times issues a correction, the New York Times issues a correction. The text attached to this Tuesday story by New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman is unequivocal. A mistake had occurred, it reported, in characterizing some quotes by Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Here’s how the Times correction reads:

Correction: April 9, 2014

An earlier version of this article misidentified the target of criticism by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, as the Senate prepared to vote on legislation meant to close the pay gap between men and women. When he referred to “the left’s latest bizarre obsession,” he was criticizing Democrats’ attacks on David H. and Charles G. Koch, conservative billionaires whose political organizations have spent more than $30 million on ads so far to help Republicans win control of the Senate. He was not referring to the pay-equity issue.

That’s just one sample of a flurry of corrective — and somewhat less corrective — steps taken by news organizations over this very issue. At 1:40 p.m. yesterday, Sahil Kapur of TPM published a piece on this very matter, one that prompted a lot of aggregation around the Internet. It carries this note at bottom, which leaves room for more interpretation than does the New York Times’s treatment:

Clarification: This article initially attributed McConnell’s remarks to Democrats’ push on pay equity. His office contends that they were in reference to Reid’s comments about the Koch brothers. Reid discussed both pay equity and the Kochs in the floor speech McConnell was referring to.


And on and on.

I’ve been doing this too long to believe the media on much of anything anymore. They keep making the same smeary “errors” over and over again, and only issue corrections when they have no other choice. They “regret the error” until they make an identical error at some point in the not too distant future.


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