New York Times corrections gone wild


The New York Times has been careening wildly in recent days with its corrections of false material it is caught publishing. Just the other day it created the concept of "figurative reference" (as opposed to "factual assertions") in its correction of Alessandra Stanley's libel of Geraldo Rivera:

The editors understood the "nudge" comment as the television critic's figurative reference to Mr. Rivera's flamboyant intervention. Mr. Rivera complained, but after reviewing a tape of his broadcast, The Times declined to publish a correction.

Numerous readers, however — now including Byron Calame, the newspaper's public editor, who also scrutinized the tape — read the comment as a factual assertion. The Times acknowledges that no nudge was visible on the broadcast.

(Note: The Times does not link to this correction any more, so you can read it here instead, preserved for future generations by the National Review Online.)

Having apparently now realized that it is admitting that the editors do not hold to the standard of actual fact when considering what to print, the Times has declined to assert this new editorial doctrine in correcting a thoroughly embarrassing error in a vicious attack on Judge Roberts, who is about to be confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States today. Readers are urged to save this correction before it, too, vanishes.

An article yesterday about Judge John G. Roberts Jr.'s views on libel law attributed a critique of a Supreme Court decision to him erroneously. Mr. Roberts did criticize the decision, New York Times v. Sullivan, in a 1985 memorandum. But a separate unsigned 30—page critique that was among the papers released from his years as a lawyer in the Reagan administration was not his; it was written by Bruce Fein, who was general counsel for the Federal Communications Commission in the Reagan administration. A corrective article appears today, here. (Go to Article)

What happened to "figurative references"? Wasn't Roberts figuratively responsible for Fein's assertions? After all, they are both evil conservatives, and that should tell Times readers everything they need to know. Or so the editors implicitly believe, based on their response to Stanley's falsehoods.

All I am asking for is some consistency in the telling of lies disguised as truth. That isn't too much to ask, is it?

Hat tip:

Thomas Lifson   9 28 05