No, The New York Times didn't call Indian elections ‘greatest show on earth’

By: Rajini KG
May 7 2024

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No, The New York Times didn't call Indian elections ‘greatest show on earth’

A screenshot of the viral post in the New York Times report was shared online. (Source: X/LinkedIn/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The text has been copied from a user comment posted under a 2009 article by the daily.

Claim ID adec874a

What is the claim?

Kiran Bedi, a former police officer and former Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, on May 5, 2024, shared a post on her official X (formerly Twitter) account. She claimed that the message was an article by The New York Times on the general elections in India. 

“An article from New York Times. While many insiders deplore, here is a view from the outside,” Bedi wrote, adding the purported article under this line. She tagged The New York Times and the Election Commission of India in the post.

A part of the rest of the text says, “THE INDIAN ELECTIONS - NEW YORK TIMES. It is truly the greatest show on Earth, an ode to a diverse & democratic ethos, where 700  million + of humanity vote, providing their  small part in directing their ancient civilization into the future. It is no less impressive when done in a neighborhood which includes de-stabilizing & violent Pakistan, China, and Burma (sic).” It goes on to praise the diversity of India and how it is an “inspiration” to see the nation gearing up for the general elections. The write up was credited to “V Mitchell, New York, NY” at the end. 

This post was also shared on other social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp. Archives of such posts can be found here and here

A screenshot of the viral claim shared online. (Source: X/LinkedIn/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the claim is false. The New York Times never published such an article.

What we found

We found that some users under Kiran Bedi’s post had commented that this write up was from 2009 and it was not an official article by The New York Times. We then conducted a keyword search using some of the text in Bedi’s post to find its origin. This led us to a comment posted by a reader on a 2009 article (archive here) published by the daily.

The article "As Elections Near, Tightrope Awaits in India" was authored by Somini Sengupta and published on April 14, 2009, ahead of the general elections held in India from April 16, 2009, to May 13, 2009. There were seven comments under this article and one of them was by V Mitchell, the same name that can be seen at the end of Kiran Bedi’s post. The contents of this comment and the now-viral post are identical.

The New York Times article (L); Comment posted by the user V Mitchell (R).
(Source: The New York Times/Screenshot)

This shows that a comment under an article by The New York Times has been misattributed to the daily. In an email response to Logically Facts, Managing Director for External Communications Nicole Taylor confirmed that no such text or article was published by the news outlet. 

The verdict

A user comment posted under a 2009 New York Times article has been shared as an article published by the news organization praising India’s diversity amid the general elections. 

(Update: The story has been updated to add the comment from The New York Times.)

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before