‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ incident in California State Senate election

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An election news report in the U.S. features an error hearkening back to the infamous 1948 “Dewey Defeats Truman” incident – reporting the wrong candidate won the California state election primary.

“A new story has now been posted, without a trace of the incorrect report or a correction.”

Candidate Joel Anderson, a member of the California State Assembly, won the Republican Party primary for the California State Senate 36th District being vacated by termed-out politician Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, on Tuesday. With 100 percent of the election precincts reporting, Anderson won over 45 percent of the total votes cast in the Republican primary.

However, The Valley News, a news publication based in Riverside, California, mistakenly reported that Anderson’s opponent, Jeff Stone, had won the Republican primary. The Valley News later deleted its own article and reposted a new one with the correct information about the election results, without posting a correction.

California political journalist Barry Jantz reported that the mistake was due to the publisher of The Valley News only having examined the election results for Riverside, and not the entire election district. The Republican primary won by Anderson encompasses an election district, which includes both Riverside County, and San Diego County.

Jantz noted, “A new story has now been posted, without a trace of the incorrect report or a correction.” He referred to the erroneous article subsequently deleted by the Valley Press as, “the story that was…and wasn’t…and now never existed”. The San Diego County publication, East County Magazine, commented on the incident, and characterized it as “an error reminiscent of the infamous ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ headline.”

Should The Valley News have printed a correction?
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“Dewey Defeats Truman” was an erroneous front-page headline by the newspaper Chicago Tribune published November 3, 1948, a day before U.S. President Harry Truman won the 1948 presidential election against New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

Anderson will be the Republican Party candidate in the November general election for California State Senate. His opponent will be Paul Clay, a Democrat and teacher based in Riverside County. The district primarily consists of registered Republicans.

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