The New York Times quietly issued a major correction to an editorial attacking the electoral college in December, admitting it has in fact defended the electoral college at a time when it was politically expedient for Democrats.
The paper ran the editorial calling for an end to the electoral college in December, when Democrats were harping on the fact that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in the popular vote, and calling for reforms to make the system more “fair.” Obviously seeking to avoid the editorial position as politically motivated, the editorial emphasized what turned out to be a false claim that the paper has opposed the electoral college system for 80 years.
The piece links back to two other editorials criticizing the electoral college as evidence the board has opposed the system ever since Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat Republican Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. That position has remained constant regardless of the political outcome, the board wrote, noting an editorial on the system in 2012 that states it “needs to be abolished.”
But the next day, the NYTimes ran a correction that went almost entirely unnoticed, stating the paper had in fact supported the electoral college when President George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election. “It failed to note an exception: in 2000, the board defended the college after the election of George W. Bush,” the correction reads, totally undermining the idea that its new opposition to the electoral college is not motivated by a distaste for Trump.
The corrected editorial glosses over the 2000 position against Bush, opting to rephrase the paper’s support for an overhaul of the system rather than concede that point in the editorial. The paragraph in question now reads: “This page opposed the Electoral College in 1936, and in more recent years as well. In 2004, President George W. Bush won the popular vote by more than three million, but he could have lost the Electoral College with a switch of fewer than 60,000 votes in Ohio.”
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