January 30, 2005

Quick, change that headline!

Earlier today, I commented on the somewhat positive NYT headlines here, including one that said "Amid Attacks, a Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets." That article was picked up by Memeorandum, which collects blog commentary on it: a lot of prominent bloggers have observed that even the NYT is acknowledging the great success. Then, I clicked on the link for the article and the headline is now:
Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24

The text remains the same:
After a slow start, voters turned out in very large numbers in Baghdad today, packing polling places and creating a party atmosphere in the streets as Iraqis here and nationwide turned out to cast ballots in the country's first free elections in 50 years.

Really, that is one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen the New York Times do.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers. I checked the Times headline again, and it's changed once again, not to return us to the "party atmosphere," but to emphasize the number who have died: "Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Reportedly Kill Several Dozen."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gabe Rivera of Memeorandum emails:
Glad my site (memeorandum) could be of this unique service. I should add that the older versions WILL persist on my site, for better or for worse, by design.

FYI, here is the headline progression for this piece that my site picked up throughout the day. You might have missed the initial version, which was even more upbeat than the one you cited (the second).

09:24 High Turnout in Baghdad Points to Early Success
10:24 Amid Attacks, a Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets
18:26 Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24
20:50 Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Reportedly Kill Several Dozen

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Blasting me as a "wingnut" for this post, Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly delivers an irrelevant lecture about how newspaper websites work. He fails to see the point, which is awfully clear in my post, that the changing headlines were for the very same article. (Thanks to The Unpopulist for pointing me to Drum's post.) There are 54 comments on Drum's post at the moment, and, though I haven't read them all, most of them seem to be from people who are just accepting Drum's mistaken point about my post. There is at least one commenter in there who keeps trying to point out the mistake, but the passion for denouncing the optimism of imagined crazy right wing bloggers is so strong that it overwhelms the interest in the facts. And the irony is that Drum's main point is that those who are taking an optimistic view don't respect the truth. It would be bad if I were disrespecting the truth out of optimism, of course. But Drum is disrespecting the truth out of an aversion to optimism, which is really quite sad.

If you go over there, you might want to leave a comment in my defense. And if you're into that, leave a comment for me over here too. I'm surprised at the way some lefty blogs seem to think they are making a good point by quoting something and saying the person who wrote it is stupid or crazy, even as they are plainly misreading the very thing they quote.

STILL MORE: I discuss the fallout from this post here. And this is a related post too.

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