False-Equivalence Watch: Nice Work by the Times and Post!

Today a majority of the Senate voted in favor of the "Buffett Rule," but the 51-45 "Yes" vote was not enough to overcome the Republicans' threatened filibuster.

Here is how the NYT, to its credit, reported and billed the story:

The narrative explained just what was going on, emphasis added:
WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a move to open debate on the so-called Buffett Rule, ensuring that a measure pressed for months by President Obama and Senate Democrats to ensure that the superrich pay a tax rate of at least 30 percent will not come to a decisive vote.

But the fierce debate preceding the 51-45 vote -- the Democrats were nine votes short of the 60 they needed -- set off a week of political wrangling over taxes that both parties insist they are already winning.

A reader writes:

You and I both know that three months ago that would have read "'Buffet Rule' Defeated in Senate" or even (in our fondest dreams, though seldom in actuality) "Senate GOP Defeats 'Buffet Rule".

This seems an improvement.

If you want a reminder of the path the NYT did not take, all you have to do is check out this lamentable Forbes.com report of the same development. The story is fine. But this flatly wrong headline???


"Fails" in the Senate? Unt-goddam-uh. It won majority support but was blocked in the Senate. The NYT has shown how easy it is to put it just that way. And the Washington Post too, with the "rejects consideration" terminology:


Thanks, Times and Post! We are clearer now about what is actually happening. (Forbes headline-writer, time for a little self-reflection.)
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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