Sometimes it is hard for a newspaper to say “We made an error,” but it was finally said Nov. 14 when the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa., apologized for calling President Abraham Lincoln’s majestic Gettysburg Address “silly” and suggesting that it deserved “a veil of oblivion” when the event was originally reported in 1863.
“Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, to tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives,” was how the editorial staff phrased it.
The editorial questioned whether the earlier editorial writer may have been influenced by partisanship or strong drink.
“In the fullness of time, we have come to a different conclusion,” the editorial continued. “No mere utterance, then or now, could do justice to the soaring heights of language Mr. Lincoln reached that day. By today’s words alone, we can exalt, we cannot hallow, we cannot venerate this sacred text, for a grateful nation long ago came to view those words with reverence, without guidance from this chagrined member of the mainstream media.”
The newspaper concluded, “The Patriot-News regrets the error.”