Most journalists came to work today thinking it’d be a nice, slow Friday before the holiday weekend. And then, out of nowhere, Sandra Day O’Connor retires, and your editor wants a story with a deadline of ten minutes ago. So you dig into the archives and slap something together. And somehow lines like these end up on the Web (in this case, FoxNews.com):
One of the court’s two swing votes, O’Connor often sides with more conservative justices as she did in the Bush v. Gore ruling in 2000. Although some lawyers and Republicans have said that ruling did not really decide the election, O’Connor does not mince words in a brief reference to the case in her book. [Italics ours.]
Interesting theory. Here on planet earth, though, Bush v. Gore did decide the election. Here’s how the Washington Post reported the decision on December 13, 2000, the day after it was issued: “A deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court last night overturned the Florida Supreme Court decision allowing continued manual recounts across the state and said there was no time to create a new standard for counting. The decision effectively ended the historic dispute over the presidential election and left Texas Gov. George W. Bush the winner over Vice President Gore.”
How soon we forget.
—T.L.Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.