Pod people: Juan Williams, First Amendment

Can’t get enough commentary on Juan Williams’ firing from NPR? Love to talk about tea party Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell? Want to hear a GetReligionista commend the New York Times? Then check out our latest podcast here. Guided by the soothing voice and insightful questions of Todd Wilken, we discuss all these and more on Crossroads.

One thing I mentioned in the podcast that I hadn’t realized when I wrote the initial post on O’Donnell is how bad the original — and more widely distributed — Associated Press account of her debate with Chris Coons was.

From Patterico’s Pontifications, here’s the original story lede:

WILMINGTON, Del. — Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

And after that got everyone going, they changed the lede to this:

WILMINGTON, Del. — Republican Christine O’Donnell challenged her Democratic rival Tuesday to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state, drawing swift criticism from her opponent, laughter from her law school audience and a quick defense from prominent conservatives.

That’s an improvement. In fact, the entire story — including three out of every four words — was changed and improved.

But the damage was already done. I wonder if changes that substantive should be better identified. Maybe you don’t need a full retraction of the story but a notice that it bears almost no resemblance to the earlier version would be helpful.

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