On Thursday, the New York Times published an article on a vote in the Senate that was headlined: “Senate Lets States Defund Clinics That Perform Abortions.” The article, by Jennifer Steinhauer, bitterly described how a measure under the Congressional Review Act passed the Senate, with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence. A reader pointed out that a correction in yesterday’s Times admitted that the reporter (and any editor who may have read the piece prior to publication) lack a high-school level knowledge of the Constitution:
Correction: March 30, 2017
An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances in which the vice president of the United States can cast a vote in the Senate. He can vote only to break a tie, not to vote on significant policy measures that are short 60 votes.
The original version of the article reveals multiple levels of ignorance. Apart from not knowing the Vice President’s constitutional role in the Senate, did the reporter really believe that the Constitution includes a reference to “significant policy measures” on which the Vice President can vote? And she apparently thought that the Senate’s current filibuster rule is embedded in the Constitution.
This is reminiscent of the occasion when the Times bungled the process for amending the Constitution, and then couldn’t even get it right in its subsequent correction.
But that’s not all! The Times also grossly mischaracterizes the Congressional Review Act, the statute under which yesterday’s vote took place:
The measure fell under a somewhat obscure and, until recently, rarely used Congressional Review Act that allows a new Congress to undo actions of the old Congress during the first few months of the year.
Again, the Times’s ignorance is appalling. The Congressional Review Act has nothing to do with “undo[ing] actions of the old Congress.” (A current Congress can always undo the actions of any past Congress, if it has the votes and the president’s signature.) Rather, the CRA provides a procedure whereby Congress can disapprove and nullify regulatory rules issued by federal agencies. It is incredible that the Times employs a reporter who writes for its “Politics” section and does not know this.
The reporter’s error is all the more egregious, since her own article quotes Senator Joni Ernst, who correctly stated the nature of the vote:
“It should be the right of our states to allocate sub-grants under the Title X program in the way that best fits the needs of the people living there,” she said. “Unfortunately, like many other rules issued during the Obama administration, this rule attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states.”
This second error has not yet been corrected by the Times. No wonder, as President Trump likes to say, the New York Times is a failing newspaper!