New York Times Stealth Edits Obama’s Admission of Tone-Deaf Terror Response

The New York Times published and then removed an explanation for President Obama’s inability to grasp the national mood in the wake of the San Bernardino terror attack, even though it had been judged the highlight of the piece by CNN’s media reporter.

Thursday the NY Times published an account of an off-the-record meeting between reporters and President Obama at the White House. During the meeting, which was on the subject of the President’s response to ISIS, Obama admitted, “he was slow to respond to public fears” after terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

The original version of the Times story added this revealing explanation, “Mr. Obama indicated that he did not see enough cable television to fully appreciate the anxiety after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and made clear that he plans to step up his public arguments.” This admission of a disconnect between the President and the national mood was quickly highlighted on Twitter by CNN‘s media reporter Brian Stelter:

But hours later the paragraph explaining the President’s reason for being out-of-touch with the national mood was stealth edited out of the story, leaving readers who were even aware it had been there to guess why it was removed.

One possible explanation, that the Times misunderstood the President, seems very unlikely. A parallel account of the White House meeting published by the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius contains this paragraph [emphasis added]:

Obama seems to have realized that he was slow to respond to public fear after the jihadist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif . His low-decibel approach led the public to worry he wasn’t doing enough to keep the country safe. Obama, not a cable television fan, apparently didn’t realize the state of anxiety.

So assuming the paragraph was not in error, it’s not clear why the NY Times would edit out the one element of its story which was made a Quote of the Day by CNN‘s media reporter. The explanation offered by a spokesperson for the NY Times was that the paragraph in the online story was trimmed for space in the print edition. But Phil Kerpen of American Commitment noted the revised version was actually longer than the original.

Friday morning the author of the piece, Peter Baker, offed an explanation, albeit one which didn’t really explain why the most newsworthy paragraph was removed from his story:

A statement from the paper says the paragraph in question was “trimmed for space.” However, The Federalist’s Sean Davis responds:

The NYT excuse that it had to erase the mention of Obama’s remarks due to space constraints–even though its initial revision and deletion of those remarks actually added 50 words to the story–now looks even more absurd.


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