You mean Cantor lost? Change that headline!

washtimescantor

That’s the headline that appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the Washington Times, hours before House Majority Leader Eric Cantor failed to stave off a challenge from upstart Dave Brat in the Republican primary for Virginia’s seventh district. “Cantor likely to stave off tea party’s Brat in Va. primary.” Here’s the story’s lead sentence:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor heads into the Virginia Republican primary Tuesday as a heavy favorite to survive a tea party challenge in a race that has become dominated by immigration.

The story had a different presentation online, according to the Internet Wayback machine. As of around 9 a.m. on primary day, it bore this headline:

Cantor takes middle ground on immigration, hit by Republicans and Democrats

Also according to the Internet Wayback machine, the headline had changed by Tuesday evening, after news broke that Cantor had lost his primary race:

Once a rising star on the right, Eric Cantor now in jeopardy of being caught in middle

Magic!

Should we belabor the Washington Times’ pre-primary optimism regarding Cantor? Or its apparent insistence on re-framing its predictions in light of actual results? Nah: Among the strains of today’s coverage is that folks didn’t see this coming, including Cantor himself. If Brat’s 11-point victory had been expected, it wouldn’t be dominating the airwaves today. Politico pointed to a report in The Post previewing the contest that included this line: “The question in this race is how large Cantor’s margin of victory will be.” Peter Roff at U.S. News & World Report wrote a piece with this subhed: “Eric Cantor’s margin of victory Tuesday could have national GOP repercussions.” It included this sentence: “The question isn’t whether House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will win renomination but by how much.”

Try -11 points.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.
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Erik Wemple | June 11