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Bill Kristol Quietly Revises Column On 'Cone Of Silence'

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The New York Times' Kit Seelye is backing up NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who reported on Sunday the contention that John McCain may not have been in the "cone of silence" before Saturday's Saddleback Chuch forum. But even as Seelye advances the story for the Times news pages, over in the opinion section, backtracking has begun.

We speak, naturally, of Bill Kristol, who has "tweaked' the online version of his latest column. In the print version, we get these paragraphs:

NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported on "Meet the Press" that "the Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context. ... What they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama."

That's pretty astonishing, since there seems to be absolutely no basis for the charge. But the fact that Obama's people made this suggestion means they know McCain outperformed him.

Tom Tomorrow, however, is tipping the Times readership off to a change in the online edition:

NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported on "Meet the Press" that "the Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context. ... What they're putting out privately is that McCain ... may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama."

There's no evidence that McCain had any such advantage. But the fact that Obama's people made this suggestion means they know McCain outperformed him.

In other words, since Kristol now has to acknowledge that the "charge" that McCain was not in the "cone of silence" has legs, those details disappear so that Kristol can continue to paint the Obama camp as making baseless charges.

As Tomorrow points out, the only clue that readers get from the newspaper is "a small note in teensy tiny light grey type at the bottom of the page" that reads: "A version of this article appeared in print on August 18, 2008, on page A19 of the New York edition." Isn't it customary to note any substantive corrections to an article?