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Author Topic: New York Post gets it wrong
grackle
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http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/26839.htm

July 6, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE

John Kerry has chosen Rep. Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri, to be his running mate, The Post has learned.

Gephardt, 63, a 28-year veteran of the House of Representatives, could be named by the presumptive Democratic nominee as the party's vice-presidential candidate as soon as today.
snip


*cough*

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OTL
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Wha-? The New York Post got a story wrong? That fine bastion of journalism? Well, there goes my faith in the Almighty... [Smile]

(Okay, so I'm not a big NYP fan. Could ya tell?) [Smile]

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Pogue Ma-humbug
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The story has been removed. But I wonder if someone deliberately fed the reporter the wrong information.

Pogue

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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Drudge still has this story up.

Here's The Smoking Gun on the Post.

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Class Bravo
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quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Mahone, reading at the table:
But I wonder if someone deliberately fed the reporter the wrong information.

Because I'm sure if the New York Post got it wrong, that must be what happened...
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CatoSH
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quote:
Originally posted by Class Bravo:
quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Mahone, reading at the table:
But I wonder if someone deliberately fed the reporter the wrong information.

Because I'm sure if the New York Post got it wrong, that must be what happened...
What are the alternatives? Just making something up off the top of his head? Being fed incorrect information but not maliciously? Jumping the gun on the basis of inaccurate reports that were only suggesting Gephardt as a running mate? Seems as likely a thing to wonder about as any other cause of inaccurate information appearing in print.

Seriously -- what are the usual methods by which respectable (I'm assuming the NYP is a respectable newspaper and not a tabloid) papers get things wrong?

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reflex
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quote:
Originally posted by CatoSH:
Seriously -- what are the usual methods by which respectable (I'm assuming the NYP is a respectable newspaper and not a tabloid) papers get things wrong?

You're assuming wrong...The NY Post is anything but a respectable newspaper. Examples of poor journalism include referring to *alleged* criminals as monsters, using insults in headlines, and posting editorials on the front page...Oh yeah, and they use cliches like you wouldn't believe.

As a baseball fan (and a fan of the NY Mets), I can recall the back page of the Post saying that Tom Glavine had signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, calling the Mets the, "Glav-nots!"
A couple hours later, Tom Glavine signed with the Mets.

ETA: Didn't mean for that to sound snarky. I just loathe the NY Post. [Wink]

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Simetrical
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I don't know if I'd go so far as to call the New York Post a tabloid, exactly, but it's not what I would term "respectable." However, I'm not very familiar with it, so don't take my view too seriously.
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OTL
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How respectable a paper is the NYPost? Hmmm...

"Headless Body Found in Topless Bar."

This was an actual front-page headline for the Post. (Granted, this was back in the '80s, but things haven't really improved any.)

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Class Bravo
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quote:
Originally posted by CatoSH:
(I'm assuming the NYP is a respectable newspaper and not a tabloid)

There's your problem. The New York Post is not known to be a professional and reputable publication. Not quite up there with Weekly World News, but probably less tasteful in many areas.

Here is an interesting article someone wrote about a cigarette ban in New York and different newspapers' coverage of it. Among those mentioned is NYP. My favorite part:

quote:

Ignoring their terrific sports section, this paper is the most pitiful and ridiculous rag that's ever been printed. To line your birdcage with it is to disrespect bird shit. I remember rather ashamedly the day I opened The Post to an article about a man upstate who walked into a McDonalds and opened fire, killing two and wounding three more. The headline? "McMassacre."


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CatoSH
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Aha. I see my assumption was wrong. Is it a bit like this?
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Class Bravo
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Not quite. It's not quite like a "Who's Dating Whom" / "Shocking Celebrity Sex Triangle Secrets!" tabloid-type paper.

It's more like "This candidate for city council sucks. Why? Just because. Not only does he suck, but he doubly sucks! Ha!"

They somewhat cover real-life things, but their way of going about it tends to be juvenile and unprofessional (hence the "McMassacre" headline in my above post).

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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It is owned by Rupert Murdoch. His style of "journalism" is universal (-ly poor).

--------------------
"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Zorro
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quote:
[QUOTE]
Ignoring their terrific sports section, this paper is the most pitiful and ridiculous rag that's ever been printed. To line your birdcage with it is to disrespect bird shit.

Hubby buys it most Sundays, just for the sports section. Other than that, what everyone else said- it's garbage. My high school newspaper was a more serious example of journalism than the NYP.

Karin

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Don Gato
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quote:
Originally posted by Simetrical:
I don't know if I'd go so far as to call the New York Post a tabloid, exactly, but it's not what I would term "respectable." However, I'm not very familiar with it, so don't take my view too seriously.

It depends on what your definition of "tabloid" is. Technically speaking, the word refers to the size of the paper ("a newspaper that is about half the page size of an ordinary newspaper and that contains news in condensed form and much photographic matter"). It is the opposite of a broadsheet (New York Times, Financial Times, etc).

However, given the type of material that usually runs in tabloid papers, the word also connotes a certain degree of sensationalism. But even that definition has two meanings. Some people use it to refer to publications such as The Weekly World News, which print outrageously false stories about space aliens and such, or The Star/National Enquirer, which prints slightly less outrageously false stories about celebrity gossip.

In big cities, however, tabloids are semi-respectable papers that nonetheless hype stories as much as humanly possible, especially by using catchy, large-type headlines (because they generate most of their sales through newstands rather than subscriptions). In New York, for example, there's the Post, Daily News and Newsday.

Getting back to the OP, I've been wondering something: There's an unwritten rule in journalism that you never burn anonymous sources. But given that the Post's source on this story was either spectacularly wrong or deliberately deceitful, and thoroughly humiliated the Post, why in the world would they bother protecting this person? Pogue? Any professional insights? Have you ever burned a source?

Don Gato

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Pogue Ma-humbug
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quote:
Originally posted by Class Bravo:
quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Mahone, reading at the table:
But I wonder if someone deliberately fed the reporter the wrong information.

Because I'm sure if the New York Post got it wrong, that must be what happened...
Well, yes. They got something very big very wrong, and on the day the official announcement was made directly contradicting it. It's very suspicious that a newspaper that leans to the right was so obviously wrong -- and so all alone -- about the Democratic veep nominee.

quote:
Originally posted by Don Gato:
Getting back to the OP, I've been wondering something: There's an unwritten rule in journalism that you never burn anonymous sources. But given that the Post's source on this story was either spectacularly wrong or deliberately deceitful, and thoroughly humiliated the Post, why in the world would they bother protecting this person? Pogue? Any professional insights? Have you ever burned a source?
Don Gato

I never have burned a source, but then again, I rarely write stories based on anonymous sources. Most of my sources speak for the record, or my information is in court or police records.

In this case, I have to wonder what happened. Let's just say I doubt it was an honest error. And I am confident the anonymous source will be named -- if he or she hasn't been already.

Pogue

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Oy vey iz mir
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quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
How respectable a paper is the NYPost? Hmmm...

"Headless Body Found in Topless Bar."

This was an actual front-page headline for the Post. (Granted, this was back in the '80s, but things haven't really improved any.)

This reminds me of a joke from when one of the Characters got hired at The New York Post in The Critic. I think it went something like this:

"Here at the post, we pride ourselves on hip, sensational news stories. Therefore, the following words must be inserted into every headline -'Nude', 'Headless', 'Sewage'. So, if an article was about the Mayor deciding to raise subway fares, the headline should be edited to read 'Nude mayor finds headless body in Subway sewage.'"
"But... what about the fares?"
"You're fired."

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Fitz
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Also even if the source is wrong you don't want to create the impression that you go around burning sources or sources may stop talking to you.
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Don Gato
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quote:
Originally posted by Fitz:
Also even if the source is wrong you don't want to create the impression that you go around burning sources or sources may stop talking to you.

But if a source is either clueless or malicious, why would you want them talking to you? Let's face it, whether or not their identity is revealed, whoever leaked this "scoop" will never be trusted by any Post reporter ever again.

Also, would that be such a bad thing if leakers became more reluctant? People leak for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's because they want to provide important information to the public, in which case the leak is very valuable to the reporter. But other times, leakers are looking to settle personal scores, or trying to exaggerate their own importance (witness the "DC insider" who told Matt Drudge that Hillary was a lock for VP). Sometimes the leak is officially sanctioned as a way to advance the boss' agenda. (And often, it's a combination of some or all of those reasons).

But if a leaker ONLY has self-interested motives, and does nothing to enhance the value of the story (or, as in this case, actually damages the reputation of the paper that prints it), I see no reason for the journalist to protect her identity. In fact, maybe if some of the "bad" leakers were outed, it would create a strong deterrent value. This would make it more likely that we'd get only "good" leakers, and also that newspapers would use fewer anonymous sources overall. Yes, access is important for journalism, but so is credibility, and the current perception is that too many reporters allow themselves to be spun by their sources. There's been a slight movement as of late against overusing anonymous sources, but my sense is they've become the journalistic equivalent of crack -- reporters couldn't stop using them even if they wanted to.

Don Gato

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snopes
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The way I figure it, the Post had a 50-50 shot at getting it correct (the choice was between Edwards and Gephardt) and not much to lose by guessing: if they were right, they'd get a bunch of publicity for scooping everyone else; if they were wrong, they'd get a bunch of publicity for being wrong. Since nobody regards the Post as having any journalistic standards in the first place, what could they lose? Certainly not sales -- I bet this was one of their best-selling issues.

- snopes

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Joe Bentley
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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
The way I figure it, the Post had a 50-50 shot at getting it correct (the choice was between Edwards and Gephardt) and not much to lose by guessing: if they were right, they'd get a bunch of publicity for scooping everyone else; if they were wrong, they'd get a bunch of publicity for being wrong. Since nobody regards the Post as having any journalistic standards in the first place, what could they lose? Certainly not sales -- I bet this was one of their best-selling issues.

I've noticed the Grudge Report kind of operates under the same principle.

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Pogue Ma-humbug
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Democrats already are selling T-shirts.

See, this is why I think it was a set-up. The Dems want to destroy any credibility The Post -- who surely will endorse and slant its news toward Republicans -- may have on this race.

Pogue

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Let's drink to the causes in your life:
Your family, your friends, the union, your wife.

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OTL
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quote:
Originally posted by Don Gato:
quote:
Originally posted by Fitz:
Also even if the source is wrong you don't want to create the impression that you go around burning sources or sources may stop talking to you.

But if a source is either clueless or malicious, why would you want them talking to you? Let's face it, whether or not their identity is revealed, whoever leaked this "scoop" will never be trusted by any Post reporter ever again.
I think the point is that you don't want to burn your source, because other sources (legitimate ones) won't talk to you, either.

Random Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Time! I almost wonder if this wasn't the old "find a leak by feeding different people different information and seeing what gets reported" trick. Maybe the source didn't feed the Post the wrong information intentionally, but someone else intentionally fed it to the source originally (and the source believed it to be true). Just a thought. (The Post is still a lousy paper, though.)

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OTL
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Mahone, reading at the table:
Democrats already are selling T-shirts.

Now that just seems childish. I'm all for a good Post-bashing, but that's a bit much.

quote:
See, this is why I think it was a set-up. The Dems want to destroy any credibility The Post -- who surely will endorse and slant its news toward Republicans -- may have on this race.
Possibly, although it seems an awful lot of effort to go through to destroy the Post's credibility. It's not like they really had much to begin with. Still, the way this election's going, I wouldn't put anything past either side. (I find myself caring less and less who wins, as long as this debacle ends soon.)

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OTL
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quote:
Originally posted by Sister Pink:
This reminds me of a joke from when one of the Characters got hired at The New York Post in The Critic. I think it went something like this:

"Here at the post, we pride ourselves on hip, sensational news stories. Therefore, the following words must be inserted into every headline -'Nude', 'Headless', 'Sewage'. So, if an article was about the Mayor deciding to raise subway fares, the headline should be edited to read 'Nude mayor finds headless body in Subway sewage.'"
"But... what about the fares?"
"You're fired."

Yeah, I remember that. I also remember Tim Kazurinsky on Saturday Night Live, disappointed that the Post used a simple "Andropov Dies" headline, coming up with his own Post-style headlines for the story: "Better Bury Yuri in a Hurry", "Flu: 1, Yuri: Zip", and "Lenin's Got a New Roommate". (Maybe I wouldn't enjoy these so much if the Post didn't make itself such an easy target. Ah, well.)

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Don Gato
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quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
I think the point is that you don't want to burn your source, because other sources (legitimate ones) won't talk to you, either.



But my point was that it might help keep leakers honest if they thought that "bad" leaks might come back to bite them in the ass. What I don't understand is why reporters are so subservient toward leakers, as if there were no way to differentiate between good leakers and bad ones. The relationship is not one-way; the reason the leaker is calling the reporter is precisely because they think it will help serve their needs. I'm just saying reporters shouldn't be afraid to assert that power.

quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
The way I figure it, the Post had a 50-50 shot at getting it correct (the choice was between Edwards and Gephardt) and not much to lose by guessing: if they were right, they'd get a bunch of publicity for scooping everyone else; if they were wrong, they'd get a bunch of publicity for being wrong. Since nobody regards the Post as having any journalistic standards in the first place, what could they lose? Certainly not sales -- I bet this was one of their best-selling issues.

- snopes

Sorry snopes, but your equation doesn't add up. The truth is, the Post had a LOT to lose, and very little to gain. What they had to lose was their most valuable resource: their credibility. Yeah, I know, "What credibility?" But as I said in my previous post, there are different shades of tabloid, and the Post doesn't want to risk falling any lower.

As for what they had to gain, scoops are pretty much inside baseball. The public doesn't know or care who was first to report a story; only other reporters do.

Don Gato

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Ghost on Toast
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Actually, Angelrdr, I do have to take exception to you saying: "It is owned by Rupert Murdoch. His style of "journalism" is universal (-ly poor)."

I'm a journalist in the UK and feel that this is a bit of a sweeping statement.

I mean News Corporation, which he is MD and major shareholder of, owns The Sun and the NOTW in the UK.

Most people would say they are scandal rags but from a professional point of view their journalists are very good - the scoops they break are amazing sometimes. Sure, it's hardly high-brow but it's written for the man in the street and does 'exactly what it says on the tin' - and doesn't claim to be anything else.

Also, News Corp owns The Times and The Sunday Times - hardly a universally poor style of journalism.

Sure, he's a jerk but you can't say his papers are poor.

For a start as MD I doubt he has anything to do with the journalism of his newspapers. Editorial policy would be set by the bosses of each individually newspaper - I doubt if he has much input at all.

As for the NYP - any newspaper which prints a review of 'Passion of the Christ' on it's FRONT PAGE cannot be taken seriously. That newspaper is a freakin' joke.

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OTL
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quote:
Originally posted by Don Gato:
quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
I think the point is that you don't want to burn your source, because other sources (legitimate ones) won't talk to you, either.

But my point was that it might help keep leakers honest if they thought that "bad" leaks might come back to bite them in the ass. What I don't understand is why reporters are so subservient toward leakers, as if there were no way to differentiate between good leakers and bad ones. The relationship is not one-way; the reason the leaker is calling the reporter is precisely because they think it will help serve their needs. I'm just saying reporters shouldn't be afraid to assert that power.
I can see your point; however, I think it relies on two things:
1) The leaking of the bad information would have had to have been deliberate on the part of the source. If a source gives you bad information that they believed to have been true, you don't really want to burn them, do you? (The next source may be wary of giving you information in case it, too, turns out to be false, no matter how reliable they think it is.) And determining how/why a source gave you bad information isn't always going to be easy. (Unless the reporter contacts the source, and the source starts saying "Fooled you! Chump!" and the like.)

2) The circumstances of the feeding of the bad information would also have to be made well-known. Sure, the source knowingly fed you bad information and made you a laughingstock, so you burned him for it. But if the next source only sees "reporter burns source", not "reporter burns source who deliberately humiliated reporter", they'd probably be reluctant to talk to that reporter (even if the reporter would never burn a legitimate source).

Generally speaking, I don't see much advantage for them to burn their sources, except in the most extreme cases. I would think the risk to the reporter would outweigh the risk to the source. But maybe that's just me. *Shrug*

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-T-Rex, Dinosaur Comics

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Don Gato
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quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
I can see your point; however, I think it relies on two things:
1) The leaking of the bad information would have had to have been deliberate on the part of the source. If a source gives you bad information that they believed to have been true, you don't really want to burn them, do you? (The next source may be wary of giving you information in case it, too, turns out to be false, no matter how reliable they think it is.) And determining how/why a source gave you bad information isn't always going to be easy. (Unless the reporter contacts the source, and the source starts saying "Fooled you! Chump!" and the like.)

2) The circumstances of the feeding of the bad information would also have to be made well-known. Sure, the source knowingly fed you bad information and made you a laughingstock, so you burned him for it. But if the next source only sees "reporter burns source", not "reporter burns source who deliberately humiliated reporter", they'd probably be reluctant to talk to that reporter (even if the reporter would never burn a legitimate source).

Generally speaking, I don't see much advantage for them to burn their sources, except in the most extreme cases. I would think the risk to the reporter would outweigh the risk to the source. But maybe that's just me. *Shrug*

Two responses:

1) Why do you assume that both reporters and leakers would be so doctrinaire/stupid? A reporter can presumably tell the difference between an honest mistake and a malicious one. And future leakers will presumably be able to distinguish between a reporter who burned a source who played him and one who just did it for kicks.

2) You're logic seems to be that changing the status quo could be damaging, which is obviously true. But the status quo has its drawbacks, too. Beyond extreme cases where a paper like the Post is humiliated, the overuse of anonymous sources has a corrosive effect on journalistic credibility. (To cite a personal example, whenever Bob Woodward comes out with a new book, I no longer think of it in terms of what news it contains. I think of it in terms of who was most successfully able to advance their agenda by leaking to him.) I'm just saying that reporters need to restore some balance to the equation in order to keep sources honest.

Don Gato

P.S. The New York Times (registration required) is now reporting that the source was Rupert Murdoch himself. Of course, it doesn't say how he got that info. I'd also like to point out that this article is a good example of how anonymous sourcing should be done. The information provided by the leaker is relevant and newsworthy, and the reporters clearly spell out the reason the source had to remain anonymous.

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Level 47
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Maybe the Post just wanted to go one up on the Tampa Tribune, which, after the hometown Lightning had won the Stanley Cup, published an editorial saying the Lightning had lost. [Big Grin]
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Lulu the Black Mage
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Nah, they wanna beat the all-time king of false starts.

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DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN!!

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Don Gato
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quote:
Originally posted by Level 47:
Maybe the Post just wanted to go one up on the Tampa Tribune, which, after the hometown Lightning had won the Stanley Cup, published an editorial saying the Lightning had lost. [Big Grin]

Actually, the Post did the exact same thing last year when the Yankees beat the Red Sox in the playoff. However, that's a different sort of mistake, and far more understandable. In those situations, papers regularly prepare two different editorials ahead of time, and then run with the appropriate one. In both cases, an administrative screw-up led to the paper running the wrong editorial.

With the Gephardt story, however, the paper went out on a line and was spectacularly wrong. It's not like they had two articles prepared, one for if Kerry picked Edwards and one for if he picked Gephardt. They said it was Gephardt, period.

Don Gato

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