The amiable CNN commentator Mark Shields tossed his two cents into the ante this week, encouraging Democrats not to lose faith because, after all, "Since the beginning of the Civil War and the election of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln -- with the exception of the sainted Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- only two Democratic presidents have won a majority of the nation's popular vote, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and Jimmy Carter in 1976."
He summarizes, "Elected Democratic presidents Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton all failed to win a majority of the popular vote. "
Well, that might be an encouraging thought -- even if it didn't make the Electoral College seem even more ridiculous than it is -- except that it is wholly untrue. In fact, four Presidents have been elected despite losing the popular vote, and Shields only got one of them right. They are, in chronological order, John Quincy Adams (who was before Lincoln so he wouldn't have been in the list anyway), Rutherford B. Hayes, Cleveland, and George W. Bush.
How did such a blatant error find its way into print? Is anyone at all home at CNN.com? Did Shields do even the most basic fact-checking Google search?