NPR defends getting a story right

NPR is getting some criticism for getting a story right.

Welcome to the world of campaign coverage.

The network declared Hillary Clinton a winner in Iowa, even before other news organizations did. That brought out the Bernie Sanders supporters, NPR’s ombudsman says in her latest column. Clinton had not yet “won” the caucus vote because the Democrats in charge of it had not yet declared her the winner.

A pro-Clinton conspiracy? No, Elizabeth Jensen writes. Knowledge.

I asked the newsroom for an explanation of why it reported the results the way it did.

Lead political editor Domenico Montanaro emailed:

“The state party released results at 3:30 in the morning or thereabouts. Those results showed that Hillary Clinton had accrued more delegates than Bernie Sanders by a whisker. There was still some vote out, the party said, but not enough to give Sanders the win — even if he won all of the remaining vote. Because of the way the process works in the Democratic Iowa caucuses, there is no mechanism for a recount. You can’t recount people who voted with their feet and not on paper. So, at that point, I advised editors here that Clinton had won, ‘according to results released by the Iowa Democratic Party.’ We stressed it was a very, very narrow win and the closest race in history.”

Senior Washington Editor Beth Donovan added, “Our Political Editor Domenico Montanaro and Deputy Political Editor Arnie Seipel were reporting through the night and into the morning, and they are extremely well versed on state party rules. When they heard from the Iowa Democratic Party, they understood what it meant and advised the network accordingly. They were transparent about their information and analysis. We are grateful for their expertise.” Montanaro reported more on the complexities of the Iowa process on Tuesday’s All Things Considered.

“I do think more caution was called for,” Jensen says, however.