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The Times Does History (Again)

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America’s reporters and editors think that you should be guided by them because they’re smarter or more knowledgeable than you are. Daily experience, though, contradicts that claim. From today’s New York Times corrections section:

A report in the City Room column on Tuesday about politicians who have served as both United States senator from New York and secretary of state misidentified the president who was in office when Alaska was purchased from Russia and misstated several dates in the careers of two of the politicians, William L. Marcy and William H. Seward, both former governors of New York. Andrew Johnson — not Abraham Lincoln — was president when Alaska was purchased in 1867. Marcy left the governor’s office in 1838, not 1839; Seward succeeded him in 1839, not 1838; and Seward took office as senator in 1849, not 1850.

Apparently at least one Times reporter and editor–assuming the paper can still afford editors–wasn’t aware that Lincoln didn’t survive to see the end of the war. They didn’t get the word, evidently, about John Wilkes Booth. It would be interesting to hear the Times’s account of reconstruction, too. It’s scary to think that the people who try to tell us what we should think about the news lack a basic understanding of American history.

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