On what would have been the 100th anniversary of this July 4th tradition, the New York Times reportedly forgot to print the Declaration of Independence in its newspaper this year.
After disgruntled readers voiced concern, the paper printed it on July 5.
In its Wednesday “Playbook,” Politico reported that the outlet forgot its “longstanding tradition” of putting the Declaration of Independence in its print edition every July 4th. A Times spokesperson blamed it on “human error.”
Politico’s report opened with a blurb on the history of this July 4th tradition, recounting how it came about in the late 19th century. “On July 4, 1897, Adolph Ochs, the new owner of The New York Times, ushered in an Independence Day tradition: The paper published the full text of the Declaration of Independence. The Times called the document the ‘original charter of the Nation.’”
Beginning in 1922, the paper started printing “facsimile of the original document,” and every year since, “devoted Times readers know that on July Fourth, they can flip over the A section of the paper and see a reprint of the Declaration on the last page,” Politico wrote.
But for the first time since 1922, this visual copy of the declaration was nowhere to be found in this year’s July 4th print edition.
Readers including former Trump administration staff member-turned-Trump critic Anthony Scaramucci noticed the missing document. On Monday afternoon, Scaramucci tweeted, “@nytimes where is the Declaration of Independence this year?”
Politico reported that after readers voiced their concern, the document showed up in the paper the next day. “And then, on Tuesday, July 5, without any explanation, there it was — a day late, but in the traditional place.”
A former Times employee communicated with people at the paper, wondering where the declaration was, and they assured him that the paper “had decided by the end of the holiday to print the Declaration on Tuesday.”
Many critics suggested that the July 4th omission was an “ideological decision to dispense with the tradition,” Politico noted, adding, “It’s not far-fetched: This year, NPR ended its 33-year run of reading the Declaration on air on the Fourth, and instead ran a segment that ‘examine[d] what equality means and has meant in this document.’”
New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha explained that Times employees simply forgot to put the Declaration of Independence into print this year.
She said, “We have a longstanding tradition of printing the Declaration of Independence in the July 4th print edition. Due to a human error, it wasn’t printed this July 4th so was included in the July 5th edition.”
Ha explained the tradition will resume as normal. “We have no plans to change the tradition going forward.”