Seems like many of the headlines about Geraldine Ferraro’s death have noted that she was the first female Vice-Presidential candidate. See here, and here for examples. Fortunately, major papers of record like the New York Times and LA Times do not make this claim….since it isn’t true!
Ferraro was the first female Vice-Presidential candidate for a major party. Indeed, Ferraro wasn’t even the first female Vice-Presidential candidate to receive an electoral vote. That is because Tonie Nathan, the Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential candidate in 1972, received one electoral vote when an unfaithful elector cast his electoral votes for the LP ticket instead of Nixon-Agnew in 1972.
Here is an old note by David Boaz that tells the basic story:
“Nathan was a radio/television producer in Eugene, Oregon, when she attended the first presidential nominating convention of the Libertarian Party in 1972. She was selected to run for vice president with presidential candidate John Hospers, chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Southern California. Although the ticket received only 3,671 official votes, Virginia elector Roger L. MacBride chose to vote for Hospers and Nathan rather than Nixon and Agnew.”
Fortunately, the texts of those articles with the mistaken headlines make the correct assertion that Ferraro was the first major party female VP candidate (the NY Daily News does worse, it has the error in the text of a blurb on Ferraro). This highlights one of the problems with headline writers – they fudge on accuracy for a good sounding phrase. But accuracy should be privileged and the better MSM pieces I sampled properly avoided the inaccurate headline. Kudos to them. And for those of you who don’t know much about the writing business, never blame the author of a piece for the headline. It is almost always written by a newspaper editor rather than the author of the piece — sometimes much to the chagrin of op-ed writers like me!