The Times (and its paragraphs) they are a changin’

The New York Times took heat this week for tinkering with an online story about Bernie Sanders several hours after it was posted, turning a favorable report that the candidate eagerly passed along to his supporters into a far more muted review of his legislative success as a lawmaker. Was it another example of a pro-Hillary slant at the Times, or was it just drive-by editing?

The original story was headlined “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors.” The revamped story, complete with the elimination of one paragraph and the addition of two new paragraphs, came with the more muted headline: “Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories.”

A post on Medium documented the changes and concluded the story was evidence that the Times “isn’t feeling the bern.” Erik Wemple at the Washington Post also documented the changes, talked to Times editors, and wondered why the changes weren’t made before the story was posted.

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone weighed in, pointing out that he had written nearly 11 years ago virtually the same story, calling Sanders “the amendment king.” He then scrutinized the changes to the original story made by the Times editors and pulled no punches. “This stuff could have been written by the Clinton campaign,” he writes.

Margaret Sullivan, the Times’s public editor, dutifully quotes editors as saying the changes had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton and were made solely to give the story “nuance and depth.” Sullivan wasn’t buying it. She felt the changes were so substantive that the Times should have notified readers that the story had been altered, and she said “the ‘context’ added here looked a lot like plain-old opinion to this reader, and quite a few others.”

Jack Shafer, writing in Politico, doubts the Times editors are trying to sabotage Sanders’s campaign. He suggests they are just doing what they do best — drive-by editing. “Editors are by nature meddlesome beasts, often improving articles, sometimes making them worse, but always diddling with copy. And I write that as a former editor who diddled excessively!” he writes.

Shafer tells a joke that sums up a reporter’s view of a paper’s top editors. “A journalist was crawling through the desert, dying of thirst, and came upon a puddle of water; just before he started to drink it, his editors commenced peeing in it. ‘What are you doing?’ the journalist asked. The editors replied: ‘Making it better.’”

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Attorney General Maura Healey orchestrates celebrity support for transgender anti-discrimination legislation, bringing aboard Caitlyn Jenner, Abby Wambach, and Patrice Bergeron. (Masslive)

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg lauds the return of Senate bills to Senate control. (CommonWealth)

In the wake of a secret trip to Georgia, Gov. Charlie Baker says he will disclose all out-of-state travel. (State House News)

A Herald editorial decries the fact that an NAACP leader is chairing the ballot campaign to defeat an increase in the charter school cap, which would give added school choices to more minority families. A Globe editorial pours cold water on an idea being floated in the Senate to put charter school funding under its own line item in the state budget.

 MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s campaign committee has missed the filing deadline with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance and has not responded to two letters from the agency to comply. (Herald News)

Marty Walsh, a White House regular. (Boston Globe)

Provincetown selectmen have proposed a measure requiring developers to pay an inclusionary housing fee on new projects that would go into an affordable housing fund. (Cape Cod Times)

Adrian Walker says it’s too bad there’s no room for veterans for peace in Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said comments by a Missouri congressman who called on banks to “neuter” her were “sexist and offensive.” (Boston Globe) For all her speaking truth to power reputation, Warren was more in dodge-and-weave mode in an interview that tried to pin her down on some questions about the Democratic presidential contest. (Boston Herald)

US Rep. Seth Moulton is joining President Obama’s trip to Cuba. (Salem News)

ELECTIONS

Scot Lehigh has some fun with Charlie Baker’s endless ways of dodging the matter of who he supports for president. (Boston Globe)

The state Republican Party under Baker has been exploiting every trick there is to pull in huge amounts of campaign cash, with donations of as much as $43,400 allowed from individuals through a complex scheme that includes splitting donations between state and federal accounts. (Boston Globe)

Tom Keane isn’t a Donald Trump supporter, but he says the candidate’s pragmatism and fondness for deal-making could make for a “relatively effective, and also middle-of-the-road, president.” (WBUR) House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was ‘unacceptable” for Trump to say there would be rioting if he is not selected as the GOP standard-bearer. (Time)

In the strange bedfellows file, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who joked that Sen. Ted Cruz was so disliked by colleagues that if someone killed him and was tried by the Senate he’d be acquitted, is raising money for Cruz’s campaign as the only hope to defeat Trump. (U.S. News & World Report)

Springfield City Councilor Thomas Ashe plans to run for Hampden County Sheriff, a post currently held by Michael Ashe (no relation). (Masslive)

Pension calculator alert: It could be a smackdown of hack has-beens, as former Boston city councilors Steve Murphy and Charles Yancey, both sent packing by voters last fall, consider a race for the obscure, but secure, post of Suffolk County register of deeds. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A former Harvard graduate student has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the university cheated him out of $10 million in royalties from work he did there that was then commercialized. (Boston Globe)

Adam LaRoche, a first baseman who had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 2009, has triggered a national conversation about children and careers by walking away from a $13 million contract after a Chicago White Sox official told him to scale back on the time his teenage son spends in the team’s locker room. (Los Angeles Times)

Shirley Leung tries to broker peace between Boston startup guy Greg Selkoe, whose streetwear company Karmaloop went under, and the Florida lender that says Selkoe owes them $5 million. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Former Bridgewater State University president Dana Mohler-Faria, under fire for his eye-popping retirement package, will give up his $100,000 annual consulting contract with the school. (The Enterprise)

Chad d’Entremont, of the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, says it is time to include social-emotion measures in student assessments. (CommonWealth)

State officials respond to “aggressive and abusive treatment” of students at the Eagleton School in Great Barrington by announcing plans to close the institution down. (Berkshire Eagle)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled in Steward Health Care’s favor in a suit brought by Southcoast Hospital Group seeking to block Steward’s St. Anne Hospital in Fall River from opening cardiac catheterization lab. (Herald News)

John McDonough says Donald Trump’s health care plan is “financially and morally bankrupt.” (CommonWealth)

 TRANSPORTATION

The New York Times frames the T’s decision to end late night service as part of the ongoing debate of Boston’s conflicting view of itself between small town-big city.

 ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Entergy says it will fight a proposed state bill requiring it to pay a $25 million annual assessment into a decommissioning fund for its Pilgrim nuclear power plant, saying the fund conflicts with federal law. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

An inmate is found dead at the Middlesex Jail and House of Correction in Billerica, the second in a week. (The Sun)

Gov. Charlie Baker visited the Billerica facility yesterday to tour a special unit that has been opened for inmates who served in the military. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team sends out a survey. (CommonWealth)

The US Justice Department files an antitrust suit to block the parent company of the Los Angeles Times from acquiring the Orange County Register.