The New York Times had to retract what appeared to be a great gotcha. The paper of record reported that attendees at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Nashville had to remove the firing pins in their guns as a condition of entering the gathering. Alas, that turned out not just to be wrong, but spectacularly so.
A damning assertion of hypocrisy — except that it wasn't even close to true. The only guns with firing pins removed were the display guns on the convention floor. In fact, several gun bloggers tweeted a photo of themselves carrying fully functional firearmsfrom the press room, forcing The Times into an embarrassing — though still incomplete — correction. It was especially embarrassing because a simple check of the NRA website or The Tennessean would have revealed the truth. But The Times' editors saw a chance to score a cheap shot and got carried away in their excitement. (MSNBC got burned, too.)
Glenn Reynolds, the University of Tennessee Law School professor who runs Instapundit, argues that the Times needs more diversity in its newsroom. As with other recent major mistakes in the mainstream media (Rolling Stone's story about gang rape at University of Virginia and a bizarre Bloomberg bit about Nancy Reagan endorsing Hillary Clinton for president), Reynolds writes that major newsrooms aren't just filled with groupthink but with people who share the same worldview.
There are a lot of those lately, it seems, and they have a couple of things in common. The first is that they are a product of ignorance stemming from a lack of newsroom diversity. Anyone with any knowledge of guns, or the NRA, would have doubted the claim that firing pins were removed from people's carry guns. But such familiarity is apparently unwelcome at The Times. Rolling Stone's lurid gang-rape story read like bad fiction (which it was) but fed prejudices about fraternities and "white privilege" in a campus "rape culture." And the notion that Reagan might endorse Clinton was believable only to people who didn't know much about Reagan but had high hopes for Clinton.
The other thing these stories have in common is that they all served Democratic Party talking points, whether based on anti-gun thinking, "war on women" sloganeering, or pro-Hillary sentiment. For whom journalists are rooting, of course, is no mystery to most news media consumers, but it's telling that the errors so often point in the same direction. (As columnist Kurt Schlichter tweeted, the corrections to news stories never seem to make conservatives look worse than the original.) That's a diversity problem, too, of course: When everyone in the newsroom shares the same political leaning, groupthink and outright propagandizing get a lot easier.