The New York Times informed Wordle players it had changed Monday’s word, which was originally “fetus,” explaining that it was too closely associated with the recent leak of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court on abortion.
Politico published a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion last week signaling it could overturn the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade. The leak has set off a firestorm among pro-choice protesters, some of whom have demonstrated outside the Supreme Court and have been encouraged to picket outside the conservative justices’ homes. Other activists planned protests outside of Catholic churches on Sunday.
“Some users may see an outdated answer that seems closely connected to a major recent news event. This is entirely unintentional and a coincidence,” wrote New York Times Games editorial director Everdeen Mason in a statement early Monday morning, which was tweeted about by The Times’ Twitter account.
“At New York Times Games, we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want Wordle to remain distinct from the news,” he added.
Because of the challenge of the current Wordle technology, Mason said it can be difficult to change words that have already been loaded into the game. When they discovered last week that the word “fetus” would be featured on Monday, they “switched it for as many solvers as possible.” The popular online game involves guessing a different five-letter word each day.
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, May 2, 2022 in Washington following reports of a leaked draft opinion by the court overturning Roe v. Wade.
(AP Photo/Anna Johnson)
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The Times note cleared up some confusion for players who said they had received different answers in the same household, but the explanation was not completely satisfactory. Some who got the original word agreed it was too politically charged.
“Before I hit enter, I was like ‘Nah, did they really go there?’” Jake Batsell, O’Neil Chair in Business Journalism and Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, said of the word “fetus.”
“Yiiiikes. I had the previous version this morning and I was a bit thrown off,” Adrianna Michaels, Morning Meteorologist at Dayton 24/7 Now, tweeted.
Wordle game displayed on a phone screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on February 6, 2022. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Others thought the Times’ edit was a bit dramatic and wondered if the editors spend every day vetting all the five-letter words that might appear in the news.
Corey Hutchins, a journalism instructor at Colorado College, accused the Times in a tweet of using “engagement bait” to reel in readers.
The debate over the leaked opinion continues into a second week. Several media personalities, activists and lawmakers have sounded the alarm on what the leaked draft opinion will mean for women’s futures in America.
“Women will occupy a different place in American society,” ABC’s senior national correspondent Terry Moran said, adding that there would be two different “regimes” in the country, and “two Americas.”
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 19: Pro-life activists try to block the sign of a pro-choice activist during the 2018 March for Life January 19, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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“Doctors will be so afraid that there will be investigations into these procedures,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said on “Meet the Press.”
“They’ll be so concerned that these cases will be investigated, it will have a chilling effect and you won’t have basic medical health care that is required for women not to have extreme health problems or even die. Doctors simply are not going to perform those procedures anymore because they don’t want to go to prison for it,” she later said.
Fox News’ Hanna Panreck contributed to this report.
Cortney O’Brien is an Editor at Fox News. Twitter: @obrienc2