CNN, which just yesterday rolled out its new and positively hilarious slogan, “Facts First,” made headlines back in June when it retracted one of its own fallacious stories and then fired the three staffers who had perpetrated the mess.
That’s one way of skinning the cat. The Washington Post has come up with another way: Leave the bogus story in place and then publish a second, accurate account of the same story.
Exhibit A is an article by education writer that ran on Oct. 21 titled “DeVos rescinds 72 guidance documents outlining rights for disabled students.” Sounds pretty heartless, doesn’t it?
Here’s the lede:
The Education Department has rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate regulations it deems superfluous.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services wrote in a newsletter Friday that it had “a total of 72 guidance documents that have been rescinded due to being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective — 63 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 9 from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).” The documents, which fleshed out students’ rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act, were rescinded Oct. 2.
A spokeswoman for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did not respond to requests for comment.
Evidently, after the story went to press,“The Education Department phased out 72 policy documents for disabled students. Here’s why.”
Again, here’s the lede:
The Education Department said Monday its rollback of 72 special education policy guidance documents will have no effect on services provided to students with disabilities, whose advocates expressed alarm at the revisions.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services wrote in a newsletter Friday that “a total of 72 guidance documents … have been rescinded due to being outdated, unnecessary or ineffective,” part of the Trump administration’s effort to purge regulations it deems superfluous from the books. Monday, the department said many of the guidance documents were cut because they no longer reflect current regulations.
The question that arises is why the Post didn’t simply kill the original article once it had the facts. Was it out of due diligence? Was the Post emulating blogs, which often leave errors in place with a “strikethrough” to show readers they own their mistakes?
Or did the Post editors choose to leave the article intact so that a quote by Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), who derided the move as “the latest in a series of disturbing actions taken by the Trump Administration to undermine civil rights for vulnerable Americans,” would remain alive and searchable on the internet?
Perhaps an answer can be found indecision to publish accusatory tweets by two more Democratic members of Congress in the revision:
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) October 21, 2017
This Administration’s campaign against students with disabilities continues. We should be doing more, not less, to help them. https://t.co/g5flDmlpfO
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 23, 2017