Despite the Politico's correction of its claim that Democrats were "Zero for 40" on legislation "limiting President Bush's war policy" -- though the Politico did not acknowledge that it had made a mistake in the corrected article -- several in the media, including the Politico's own Mike Allen, Matt Drudge, and ABC's The Note, highlighted the false statistic without noting that it is inaccurate.
As Tim Grieve reported at Salon.com's War Room blog (subscription required), a November 13 Politico article by executive editor Jim VandeHei and editor-in-chief John Harris, originally titled "Democrats Zero for 40 on Iraq," falsely reported that "since taking the majority [in Congress in November 2006], Democrats have forced 40 votes on bills limiting President Bush's war policy. Not a single one has passed both chambers, even though both are run by Democrats." In fact, as Grieve noted, "It's a depressing number" and "it's also wrong. In April, the House and the Senate both approved a bill that tied additional funding for the war to a timetable for ending it. The president vetoed it." According to Grieve, after he sent an "email to VandeHei this morning pointing out the error," VandeHei "responded with a message saying that he 'agreed' and that the story has been 'updated' " The headline to the story now reads, "Democrats Stalled on Iraq," and the article now notes that Democrats successfully passed legislation that President Bush vetoed. However, as Grieve also noted, despite the correction to the article, an item in the November 13 Playbook by the Politico's own Mike Allen "still features the false 'zero for 40' statistic" and promotes it as a "never-before-reported, debate-changing figure." In addition, ABCNews.com's political newsletter The Note, NBC News' First Read blog, and the Drudge Report all continue to highlight the original assertion, without noting that it is false.
Additionally, despite Politico's update to the article, Grieve noted that "[t]here is no acknowledgement" in the article "that the original story was wrong or that it has been corrected." As of this post, the Politico article still contained no notation indicating that it had been updated or corrected. From Grieve's item at Salon's War Room:
We're usually right at the front of the line when it comes to criticizing the Democratically controlled Congress for failing to do more to stop the war in Iraq, but the Politico's Jim VandeHei and John Harris jump ahead of us this morning: Adding up the math, they say that, "since taking the majority, Democrats have forced 40 votes on bills limiting President Bush's war policy. Not a single one has passed both chambers, even though both are run by Democrats."
It's a depressing number, one the Politico's Mike Allen is promoting as a "never-before-reported, debate-changing figure." Unless we're missing something, it's also wrong. In April, the House and the Senate both approved a bill that tied additional funding for the war to a timetable for ending it. The president vetoed it.
Update: We sent an email to VandeHei this morning pointing out the error, and he just responded with a message saying that he "agreed" and that the story has been "updated." In the new version, the headline that read "Democrats Zero for 40 on Iraq" has been replaced by one that says "Democrats Stalled on Iraq," and the Politico now acknowledges that the Democrats have succeeded in getting one bill through both houses of Congress. There is no acknowledgment, however, that the original story was wrong or that it has been corrected, and Allen's Politico column still features the false "zero for 40" statistic.
As Grieve noted, even though VandeHei and Harris' original article has been updated to remove the false assertion regarding Iraq war legislation, Allen is still citing the "ZERO FOR 40" claim. From Allen's November 13 Playbook:
Politico top dogs Jim VandeHei and John Harris have a never-before-reported, debate-changing figure in their lead story in Politico: Congressional Democrats have gone ZERO FOR 40 in their efforts to stop the war. Meantime, support has been RISING for the war and falling for Democrats, even among diehard Democrats.
NBC News' First Read includes a November 13 post highlighting the Politico article. Under the headline "Iraq/Iran: Zero for 40. Ouch," the post reads:
The Politico's VandeHei and Harris have a pretty interesting statistic: "As the congressional session lurches toward a close, Democrats are confronting some demoralizing arithmetic on Iraq. The numbers tell a story of political and substantive paralysis more starkly than most members are willing to acknowledge publicly, or perhaps even to themselves. Since taking the majority, they have forced 40 votes on bills limiting President Bush's war policy. Not a single one has passed both chambers, even though both are run by Democrats."
ABCNews.com's November 13 The Note also highlights the Politico's inaccurate statistic without noting that it has been corrected:
Politico's pooh-bahs have counted up the votes, and it's 0-for-40 for the Democrats in their attempts to force an end to the Iraq war.
"Indeed, the only war legislation passed during this Congress has been to give the president exactly what he wants, and exactly what he has had for the past five years: more money, with no limitations," Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris write.
Any wonder this is going on?
The Drudge Report also links to the Politico article under the headline "Congressional Dems Go Zero for 40 (!) On Stopping Iraq War ..."