On Sunday, the New York Times issued a surprise half-correction to the unverified claim, made in Matt Bai's July 18 story, that racial epithets were hurled at Democratic congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis during protests against Obama-care at the U.S. Capitol on March 20. Bai wrote:
The question of racism in the amorphous Tea Party movement is, of course, a serious one, since so much of the Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of its activists. There have been scattered reports around the country of racially charged rhetoric within the movement, most notably just before the vote on the new health care law last March, when Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, the legendary civil rights leader, was showered with hateful epithets outside the Capitol.
The portion in bold above has now been omitted from the online version of Bai's story. Here's the correction, in Sunday's edition:
The Political Times column last Sunday, about a generational divide over racial attitudes, erroneously linked one example of a racially charged statement to the Tea Party movement. While Tea Party supporters have been connected to a number of such statements, there is no evidence that epithets reportedly directed in March at Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, outside the Capitol, came from Tea Party members.
The Times's "correction" repeated the original vague and unsubstantiated charge of "scattered reports...of racially charged rhetoric," by claiming "Tea Party supporters have been connected to a number of such statements," just not the one in question. The Times should get specific and stop making vague allegations.
Scott Johnson at the Power Line blog demonstrated that the Times's new version of events has little to recommend it by:
After finding Tea Party protesters guilty of "a number of such charged statements," the Times holds that there is no evidence that Tea Party protesters made the statements on this occasion. In other words, the Times raises no question about the statements having been made at all. Yet this has been the point in contention all along, and there is no evidence supporting Rep. Lewis's contention about the "statements."