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New York Times Changes Obama Editorial For 'Clarity's Sake'

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The New York Times' blistering editorial about privacy fears during the Obama years got significant pick-up when published late afternoon Thursday, prior to running in Friday's print edition.

The Times editorial board is often on the same page as the administration when it comes to policy, so the tough criticism was noteworthy. And one particularly harsh line stood out: "The administration has now lost all credibility."

But on Thursday evening, the most discussed line was tweaked to add the words "on this issue."

Andy Rosenthal, the Times editorial page editor, explained the change in a statement.

"The change was for clarity's sake," Rosenthal said. "It was clear from the context of the editorial that the issue of credibility related to this subject and the final edit of the piece strengthened that point."

Update: Times public editor Margaret Sullivan weighed in Friday morning, writing that "there's no question that the sentence, as edited, has a significantly different meaning."

"But I don't believe that the editorial board's original intention was to say that the administration no longer has any credibility on any issue," she continued. "Nor do I believe that the board was frightened out of its convictions by reaction from the outside."

Sullivan wrote that it "was was fine to clarify, but there is a legitimate concern about transparency" and the Times editors could have noted that the original piece had been updated to reflect the change.

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