You Can’t Always Trust The Paper

When it comes to paper ballots, trust comes from:

  • An easy to understand ballot
  • A private ballot
  • A strong chain of custody
  • Transparent counting of the ballots, or sufficient transparent audits – followed by appropriate action

When it comes to media we need all the facts, correct facts, and many usually reliable sources of news. We can’t rely on even the New York Times to get simple facts straight. Bradblog summarizes the story as reperted in detail at Smirking Chimp <read>.

“In 2001 painstaking postmortems of the Florida count, one by The New York Times and another by a consortium of newspapers, concluded that Mr. Bush would have come out slightly ahead, even if all the votes counted throughout the state had been retallied.
— Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, May 23, 2008 in a review of the HBO television movie, Recount

That’s not true.

The New York Times did not do its own recount. It did participate in a consortium. Here’s what they actually said:

If all the ballots had been reviewed under any of seven single standards, and combined with the results of an examination of overvotes, Mr. Gore would have won, by a very narrow margin.
— Ford Fessenden And John M. Broder, New York Times, November 12, 2001

Why did Ms. Stanley make such an important and fundamental error?

It is not a trivial matter. It is a common piece of misinformation. Many, many people believe it. Now a few more do, as a result of Ms. Stanley’s review.

It is not a trivial matter. Because that misinformation was created by one of the most bizarre, and still completely unexplained, journalistic events in modern times.

Here’s what happened.

Hard to fathom the New York Times being exposed by a Chimp – worth remembering this the cautionary tale.

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