The Chicago Sun-Times has altered the story by Michael Sneed mentioned in the previous post. Now there is an “explanation” about earlier suspicions pointing toward a Chinese suspect, rather than a Korean:

The initial investigation had led law enforcement authorities to a preliminary suspect who was a Chinese national, accompanied by details and a description. The man was placed on the suspect list before fingerprints could be verified. The list in turn was distributed to law enforcement officials via a national network in place to check on possible terrorism in the United States

I have no idea whether that paragraph will still be in the story the next time you, or I, or anybody else, clicks on it. This one link has, over the last 24 hours, connected to the following very different versions of reality, with no mention, in any of them, that the track record of the story was in effect being erased:

1) The original story that “identified” the killer as a Chinese student and caused near-panic in China;

2) A revised story, naming the killer as the Korean Cho Seung-Hui, and saying nothing at all about the previous Chinese claim (that is the version that prevailed several hours ago, when I wrote the previous item);

3) The current version, with its “explanation.” Of course the explanation does not mention that the Sun-Times and its columnist, uniquely among U.S. journalistic institutions, went public with information about the “preliminary suspect” as fact.

Conceivably some real explanation or mea culpa might have appeared in yet another version of the story that I didn’t happen to catch before it was changed.

Amending information in real time is a virtue of the web. Covering up one’s tracks is not. Wasn’t this pretty much what Orwell had in mind with the concept of the “memory hole“?

Bonus update: From a gun-enthusiast site, here is what appears to be the text of the original Sun-Times story, which seems to have been vaporized from the newspaper’s site.

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