NY Times editorial board: Multiple corrections don't 'undercut or weaken' our argument

Earlier today Allahpundit noted the NY Times had made a correction to its editorial which claimed an obvious connection between Sarah Palin’s Facebook Map and the Tucson shooting. Incredibly, despite the addition of a second correction, the Times tells CNN their argument hasn’t been undercut or even weakened.

In a statement provided to CNN by a spokesperson, James Bennet, the Times’ editorial page editor, thanked CNN for calling the error to their attention. Of the larger issue with the editorial, he said, “While it’s always agonizing to get something wrong we appreciate it when our readers call us out like this. We made an error of fact in the editorial, and we’ve corrected it. But that error doesn’t undercut or weaken the argument of the piece.”

First, even the statement given to CNN is incorrect as there are now two distinct errors that have been corrected. From CNN:

On Thursday afternoon, after CNN sent a question to a spokesperson for the newspaper, the Times quietly revised another line of its editorial. Initially, even after the editorial was first corrected, it said Palin’s map “targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords … under stylized cross hairs.”

The map circulated by Palin’s super PAC never put the faces of Giffords or the other Democrats whose districts were targeted under crosshairs, but put the districts themselves under crosshairs.

The paper has now corrected the story to say the map, “showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.” Also, an addendum was belatedly added to the original correction.

If you break this editorial down, the Times was making two points. One, this shooting (like Tucson) shows American politics has become vicious and 2) we need more gun control. I suppose the gun control argument is unaffected by the corrections, but the other argument has definitely been altered. Here’s how.

The original version of the editorial used the example of the Tucson shooting to claim what happened in Alexandria was part of a “familiar pattern” [emphasis added]:

Not all the details are known yet about what happened in Virginia, but a sickeningly familiar pattern is emerging in the assault: The sniper, James Hodgkinson, who was killed by Capitol Police officers, was surely deranged, and his derangement had found its fuel in politics. Mr. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and campaign volunteer virulently opposed to President Trump. He posted many anti-Trump messages on social media, including one in March that said “Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner…

Having corrected their errors, the line about this being a “sickeningly familiar pattern” no longer makes any sense. There were only two data points in this pattern, Alexandria and Tucson. Now that Tucson does not fit the pattern (it never did but now the Times admits it) we’re left with is a “pattern” with only one data point: James Hodgkinson.

I believe the reason the Times editorial board introduced the subject of Tucson (as they misunderstood it) was to soften the blow for their progressive readers. If the Times was going to admit that a left-wing nut shot a congressman after mainlining Rachel Maddow, they wanted to at least spread the blame a bit. So in their published draft, the connection of Tucson to the right was a sure thing while the connection of Alexandria to the left was still a bit vague. Maybe, the editorial seemed to be saying, the left is now as bad as the right was six years ago.

Only, as the Times now admits, that’s not at all how it happened. There is no familiar pattern here and thus no way to spread the blame to more familiar political targets.