A Politico story, “Land Mines Ahead For Hillary”, erroneously reported that former Senator Hillary Clinton voted against a 2007 resolution “labeling Iran’s Revoluntionary Guard a ‘terrorist’ organization.” President Obama said he would’ve voted against it, so the article incorrectly showed them on the same side of a foreign policy vote. In truth, she voted for it – and was therefore not in agreement with President Obama on the issue.
The paragraph where the correction was made now reads, “Still, there’s some room for potential problems. One area is Iran: Clinton voted for a 2007 resolution that labeled the country’s Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist” organization; Obama skipped the vote but later said he would have voted no, fearing the resolution could be misused as a pretext for the Bush administration to attack the Tehran regime.” So she disagreed with the President, but Politico initially got it wrong. This leads me to wonder what is going on with Politico’s fact-checking?
There are several reasons, in my view, that this correction should have been more prominent:
1. The error is significant. They are talking about the way Senator Clinton voted on a foreign policy issue, in an article about the roadblocks she might face in being confirmed as Secretary of State. Foreign policy is central to her new role, and readers should know the correct way she voted, as well as her views in comparison with President Obama’s views. This is basic fact-checking.
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2. The significance of the error, in my view, means the correction should be prominently placed. Not buried at the end of the article, as in this case.
3. The time-stamp on the story on Politico’s website shows it was first posted at 4:31 AM EST and updated at 11:57 AM EST. It took more than 7 hours to post the correction. Politco stories are read across the country – it is now essentially a wire service going out to more than 100 subscribing media outlets – so corrections need to be made immediately (and errors just shouldn’t be made at all).
(Case in point. I first noted the correction in the article reposted on CarolinaLive.com, the website for News Channel 15 in South Carolina– one of the Network members– not on Politico itself. In Politico’s case any mistakes are immediiately propagated 100 times the moment an article is sent out to all their media outlet members).
I contacted Politico to ask about their fact-checking policies, but have yet to hear back.