I've worked for the Chicago Tribune (former contribution op-ed columnist) and I get no pleasure from pointing this out. The story in question is: "Did voter ID laws hurt election turnout? Look at Milwaukee"
The story suggests, implies, concludes (whatever) that, "Yes. The poor and minorities were hurt by the Wisconsin law that requires some form of identification to vote." The Los Angeles Times reporter, Jaweed Kaleem
, interviews folks who believe that the ID requirement "suppressed" turnout, and by implication gave the Wisconsin electoral vote to Republican Donald Trump.
No balance is given to the idea that perhaps the voter ID requirement did its job by keeping away from the polls those who were unqualified to vote. It's a common sense conclusion, but I gather from Kaleem's omission of this viewpoint that he doesn't consider the possibility of this happening was remotely possible.
But that's not the worst part of the story. Here he writes:
In a state that saw its lowest turnout in 20 years, nearly 3 million people voted in Milwaukee, roughly 41,000 fewer than in the last presidential election. [Emphasis added.]
The city of Milwaukee's estimated population in 2015 according to the Census Bureau was 594,833 people. The 2015 estimated population of Milwaukee County according to the Census Bureau was 957,735. There is absolutely no way that 3 million people could have voted in Milwaukee. Ever.
This story was produced by the Los Angeles Times but presumably edited by Chicago Tribune editors before it appeared on its website. Someone, even someone half asleep on the copy desk, should have noticed the error because, after all, Chicago's entire population is less than 3 million. You'd have to empty every graveyard in Chicago to record a turnout of similar proportions.
I don't have an explanation for this kind of monumental journalistic error. Some will attribute it to the left-wing bias of mainstream media. Just another example of politically motivated reporting. But I'm more inclined to blame the many staff cuts that are the hallmark off a struggling newspaper industry and a stressed-out, overworked staff.
In my more than three decades working for the Tribune, Sun-Times and Daily News, I've certainly committed my share of errors. The number of times that copy editors saved me deserved embarrassment I probably couldn't count. But Kaleem's is a doozy that should encourage tighter reading by editors in the future. And great skepticism by readers.
Related: The Chicago Tribune's correction is found here.
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