House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats / Flickr nancy pelosi...
House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats / Flickr

So, so, so very typical. Here’s Wednesday’s New York Times on Nancy Pelosi winning her party’s nomination to be speaker of the House:

Democrats Nominate Pelosi to Be Speaker but With Significant Defections

WASHINGTON — Representative Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday handily won the Democratic nomination to be speaker when her party claims the House majority in the new Congress, but with 32 Democrats voting no, she was well short of the number she will need to reclaim the gavel in January.

In a secret-ballot vote that dramatized rifts among Democrats only weeks after midterm election victories handed them House control, Ms. Pelosi, who is the first woman to be speaker, won support from 203 Democrats. Beyond the 32 no votes, three ballots were blank.

To become speaker, she must win 218 votes in a House floor vote on Jan. 3, so the tally will touch off what promises to be an intensive period of arm-twisting and cajoling to reach her goal. It also gives some time for a serious challenger to emerge.

Three years ago, this was the Times’ take on Paul Ryan’s victory:

Republicans Nominate Paul Ryan as House Speaker

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Wednesday nominated Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin to be the 62nd speaker of the House, turning to the young chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to replace John A. Boehner of Ohio, who was driven into retirement by an angry uprising of conservative hard-liners.

Mr. Ryan, an architect of sweeping budget and tax reform proposals who gained national prominence as the Republican Party’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, won the overwhelming support of his colleagues in the nominating contest and is now set to be installed as speaker in a formal vote on the House floor on Thursday.

Republicans said the vote was 200 to 43 over Representative Daniel Webster of Florida, Mr. Ryan’s closest rival.

Although Mr. Ryan was short of the 218 votes needed to win Thursday’s floor vote, supporters said he would pick up backers now that he is the nominee. “Anything over 218 wins, I think we’ll be well above that,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

So even though Pelosi won more votes, and was opposed by fewer members of her caucus, she faced “significant defections”—right up there in the headline!—while Ryan won “overwhelming support.” And yet, here we are just three years later, with Ryan retreating from Congress in defeat while Pelosi is preparing to become the first person to return to the speakership since 1955. What could explain the difference in these takes, I wonder?


Following my initial tweet on the matter, the Times completely changed both the headline and introduction of its Pelosi article. The headline now reads:

Democrats Resoundingly Nominate Pelosi as Speaker, but Defections Signal Fight Ahead

The re-written lead paragraph also now says Pelosi “overwhelmingly won” the Democratic nod.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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