Regular readers will remember that I recently noted that the L.A. Times edited wire copy in a way that distorted the truth about Cindy Sheehan. The Times version of an AP story asserted that Bush “never” met with Sheehan:
Sheehan had vowed to stay in Crawford until Bush’s monthlong vacation ended or until she could question him about the war that claimed the life of her son Casey and nearly 1,900 other U.S. soldiers. She missed a week of the protest because her mother suffered a stroke.
Although two top administration officials talked to Sheehan the first day, the president never did — though he said that he sympathizes with her. He ended his vacation Wednesday to monitor federal aid to hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast.
It was inaccurate to say that Bush “never” met with Sheehan, because the president met with her in June 2004. As I noted in my previous post, the original version of the AP story had included a clarifying phrase (“during her Crawford stay”) that Times editors removed:
While two top Bush administration officials talked to Sheehan the first day, the president never did during her Crawford stay — although he said that he sympathizes with her.
That four-word phrase removed by Times editors appeared in every other version of the story I could find, in newspapers across the country.
I wrote Readers’ Representative Jamie Gold about this. After all, saying the president “never” met with Sheehan, when he actually did, sounded an awful lot like a factual misstatement to me. In my e-mail to Ms. Gold, I said: “I think a correction is warranted — unless you have a different definition of ‘never’ than I do.”
Gold never responded to my e-mail.
But make sure to click on “more” to read the rest of the story!
I received Gold’s reply yesterday. It reads in its entirety:
Thanks for the note. I’m not sure that the issue rests on the same premise you say it rests on — that is, the meaning of “never.” I think the context made it clear to readers that the reference was to the time Sheehan was in Crawford.
I understand you think that readers won’t get it, but we will just have to agree to disagree about whether that reference was wrong or misleading.
So, according to the L.A. Times, “never” means “not while Cindy Sheehan was in Crawford, Texas.” Just so we’re clear.
P.S. I trust I didn’t confuse you by saying “Gold never responded to my e-mail.” When I said “never,” I meant “never” in the L.A. Times sense — “not while Cindy Sheehan was in Crawford, Texas.” Gold didn’t respond until yesterday, by which time Sheehan had already left Crawford. Even before reading the extended entry, I’m sure you could tell from the context that I didn’t mean “never” in the sense of, you know, never.