Sea World finally bowed to “public pressure” and announced that it would no longer have its orcas perform in shows, but if you still feel the need to see something black and white and deep in the tank, the New York Times is still widely available on newsstands everywhere. Careful readers forced the Times’ public editor to respond today to charges that the paper had made “stealth edits” to a relatively glowing piece on Sanders to tone down the idea he could actually win.

For Rolling Stone to criticize the New York Times’ journalistic integrity takes guts, but reporter Matt Taibbe spread the word Tuesday that a piece in the Times praising Sanders had undergone some unacknowledged changes, even including the headline, which changed from “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years Via Legislative Side Doors” to “Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories.”

Then, notes Taibbe, the Times yanked a complimentary quote by a Sanders policy adviser and quietly added two paragraphs:

But in his presidential campaign Mr. Sanders is trying to scale up those kinds of proposals as a national agenda, and there is little to draw from his small-ball legislative approach to suggest that he could succeed.

Mr. Sanders is suddenly promising not just a few stars here and there, but the moon and a good part of the sun, from free college tuition paid for with giant tax hikes to a huge increase in government health care, which has made even liberal Democrats skeptical.

With Sanders’ legislative accomplishments effectively downsized and the candidate relegated to the JV team, readers looked to public editor Margaret Sullivan for an explanation.

Were the changes “stealth editing”? The short answer? Yes.

Matt Purdy, a deputy executive editor at the Times, told Sullivan that “when senior editors read the piece after it was published online, they thought it needed more perspective about whether Mr. Sanders would be able to carry out his campaign agenda if he was elected president. I thought it should say more about his realistic chances” of doing that.

Nice timing there, considering the piece was run (and changed) on the day before elections in five states where some voters might still have been undecided. So, why didn’t the Times note that the piece had been updated? Because the changes were “about nuance and depth” and therefore didn’t require noting.

To her credit, Sullivan didn’t buy that any more than we do.