OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
It’s always been interesting to me that the media seems to forget that the internet exists and that people can look up things that were published or said in the past. But apparently they’re catching on and their answer is to simply rewrite history. Something was published in the past that doesn’t fit the narrative now? That’s ok, just go back and rewrite it. Just a quick edit to remove the offending statements.
Super integritous, right?
Need some examples? Well I have two just from today.
The Washington Post got caught rewriting a story that included an unfavorable story about now Vice President Kamala Harris. The original article was a profile of Harris and her relationship with her sister, Maya Harris. It included a story that described how Harris “burst into laughter” at the description of a prisoner begging for water.
“It’s a treat that a prisoner gets when they ask for, ‘A morsel of food please,’” Harris told Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, who described the then-presidential candidate as “shoving her hands forward as if clutching a metal plate, her voice now trembling like an old British man locked in a Dickensian jail cell.”
“‘And water! I just want wahtahhh….’” Harris continued. “Your standards really go out the f—ing window.”
“Terris noted, ‘Kamala burst into laughter.'”
They posted the revised profile on January 11th, in which they entirely excluded the anecdote that may have shed an unfavorable light on the newly inaugurated Vice President. Such edits usually go mostly unnoticed, like the time The New York Times quietly scrubbed a bunch of CCP propaganda from its site. But this time, the libertarian magazine Reason caught the move and The Washington Post was obligated to restore the original article and simply link to the newly edited profile rather than automatically redirecting to the new article.
Newsweek also got caught editing an article from 2015 in order to support an extremely critical article written by Salon on Sen. Tom Cotton. The liberal outlet scrutinized Cotton’s military service, specifically challenging his reported claim that he “volunteered to be an Army Ranger.” Salon said that he was falsely claiming to be a Ranger, making him a liar.
In fact, Senator Cotton did graduate from Ranger School and was awarded the Ranger tab, which he wore proudly on his uniform during his time in the service. He has never claimed to have served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, stating only that he “volunteered to be an Army Ranger,” which is entirely accurate regardless of whether he was ever assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment. He served with the 101st Airborne Division and saw combat in Iraq. Senator Cotton made a statement on Fox’s “Special Report” saying,
“I graduated from the Ranger School. I wore the Ranger tab in combat with the 101st Airborne in Iraq. This is not about my military record. This is about my politics.”
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“Ranger Regiment legends like Gen. Scotty Miller or Gen. Craig Nixon have used the term to describe both alumni of the Ranger Regiment and graduates of the Ranger School, as did the secretary of the Army, as did most of my buddies in the Army … as did most of the liberal media, until a conservative veteran was using the term that way,”
Here’s where the selective editing scandal comes into play. In an attempt to smear Senator Cotton, Salon apparently forgot that it is fairly commonplace for media outlets and pretty much everyone to refer to Ranger School graduates as “Army Rangers,” according to an article published by the National Review.
Enter Newsweek, who wrote a glowing article in 2015 about “the first time in the Army Ranger School’s 64-year history, two women have completed the intense training program and will become Rangers,” even while acknowledging that “the 75th Ranger Regiment does not allow female Rangers.” But this kind of language didn’t fit the smearing narrative in the Salon article, so Newsweek figured they’d just have Salon’s back and cover for them by editing the article. According to the National Review article,
“Newsweek responded by editing its 2015 story to conform to Salon’s new smear of Cotton. The 2015 Newsweek story no longer says the two women ‘will become rangers’ — the edited version says they ‘will be allowed to wear the coveted Ranger tab on their uniforms.’ (The original Newsweek story can be viewed here.)”
This is staggering. @Newsweek went back and rewrote a 2015 story that had described grads of Ranger School as “Rangers” – to match its present-day story accusing @TomCottonAR, who graduate the school, of not being a Ranger.
I knew it was bad but didnt know it was this bad. pic.twitter.com/ZZrkNF27SU
— Eugene Kontorovich (@EVKontorovich) January 26, 2021
Don’t worry, they added a little statement at the bottom of the article stating, “This article has been changed to note that completion of the course allows one to wear the Ranger tab, but does not make on a Ranger.”
I imagine we’ll be seeing quite a bit of this in the next four years. Well, maybe we won’t be seeing it because they’ll try to do it very quietly, but it will certainly be happening.