NBC News' scathing rebuke of President Donald Trump's lack of a "Christmastime" visit to troops was taken to task by The Washington Post's Erik Wemple on Thursday.
And it led to changes, but ones that still come up short, according to the media critic in an evolving op-ed.
After reporting "Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime," only to realize President Trump was on a secret trip to Iraq and Germany last Christmas night, NBC News reacted to Thursday midday criticism from Wemple by updating its headline retroactively later this afternoon to: "Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops on or before Christmas."
"Better, not best," Wemple responded to the change, after previously admonishing: "Correct the piece, NBC News, or prepare to stand legitimately accused of propagating fake news."
Wemple's critique did affect change, as he reported a new version of the story including the following editor's note:
"On Wednesday, NBC News compiled a list of every Christmastime visit to active troops by a president since 2001. That list, as detailed in the article below, showed that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama visited troops on or before Christmas every year since 2003, and President Donald Trump did so in 2017. As of the end of Christmas Day 2018, Trump had not visited troops during the holiday season, and had announced no plans to do so. The article was correct, but on Dec. 26, the situation changed. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, made an unannounced visit to troops in Iraq. As a result, the thrust of this article is no longer correct, even if it was at the time. In the interest of transparency, we are keeping the article on NBCNews.com so that the record will reflect the situation on the day the article was published, and are directing readers to the article about Trump's Iraq visit here. We are also altering one line in the article, as well as the headline, to be more specific and to note that Trump was the first president since 2002 who didn't visit military personnel on or before Christmas, rather than at Christmastime."
Wemple had lamented NBC News had stuck to a strict literal definition of "Christmastime" before changing to the on or before Christmas phraseology.
"The story appears to rest on a lawyerly definition of 'Christmastime,'" the Post's Wemple wrote. "Some succor for this approach comes from Merriam-Webster, which defines the word as 'the time of year when people get ready for and celebrate Christmas: Christmas day and the days and weeks before it.'"
"Meh," Wemple wrote.
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