A misleading story published by Time magazine in 2014 was updated on Wednesday morning after it had resurfaced the day before and was circulated to attack House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The headline was changed from “Paul Ryan Says Free School Lunches Give Kids ‘An Empty Soul'” to “Paul Ryan Criticises Liberal Government Programs at CPAC.” The opening paragraph of the story was also changed, and Ryan’s full remarks were added to provide context.
“The story has been updated to add a fuller quote and context to Ryan’s remarks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference,” an editor’s note said.
A spokesperson for Time did not immediately reply when asked if the publication regretted the error.
Before the edits were made, the 2014 story stripped context from a quote Ryan delivered while speaking two years ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
It was not clear why the story resurfaced on Tuesday. Social-media users employed the story as a vehicle to characterise Ryan as a “monster” who had no sympathy for the less fortunate.
The story was circulated as many in the media have focused on the prevalence of “fake news” and how it could have swayed some individuals to vote for President-elect Donald Trump.
Some conservatives have countered that narrative by arguing much of the news reported by the “mainstream media” during the campaign was inaccurate or, as they characterise it, “fake.”
Becket Adams, a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner, wrote on Twitter that taking Ryan out of context and recirculating a “badly botched” story only gave ammunition to conservatives already sceptical of traditional media outlets.
If you want to stop fake news from influencing voters who’ve stopped relying on media brand names, work to restore trust. Think first.
— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) December 6, 2016
“Dear media: If you want to combat the rise of fake news, the surest and most effective way to do this would be to reestablish your own credibility,” Adams added in a column.
This was not the first time the years-old Time story had resurfaced. In April 2015, a Time politics editor noted that it had also made the rounds on social media well after its initial publishing.
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