Posted by Lex, on October 20, 2010
Courtesy of occasional reader Craig, the WaPo has decided to be fairer to Ms. O’Donnell. Yesterday’s link, cited in this post, had the Delaware candidate quoted thusly:
Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.
The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O’Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.
Today – under the same URL and dateline – the quote now reads:
Republican Christine O’Donnell challenged her Democratic rival Tuesday to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state, drawing swift criticism from her opponent, laughter from her law school audience and a quick defense from prominent conservatives.
“Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked while Democrat Chris Coons, an attorney, sat a few feet away.
Coons responded that O’Donnell’s question “reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. … The First Amendment establishes a separation.”
She interrupted to say, “The First Amendment does? … So you’re telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase ‘separation of church and state,’ is in the First Amendment?”
The article now entirely omits Ms. O’Donnell’s questioning of Mr. Coons what the other four protections are that were written into the First Amendment. Probably because the editors didn’t like where that particular line of inquiry led.
So, good. People make mistakes, and one way to be fair is to correct the written record after the story has gotten out of the box. Yet another way would be to issue a correction for having mis-represented Ms. O’Donnell’s quoted speech. One of those things that’s supposed to happen in the legacy media when those “layers of fact checkers end editors” that distinguish real newspapers from mere bloggers aren’t quite up to the task.
Ace has choice words for this sort of thing.