J. D. Heyes
April 17, 2013
The “Old Gray Lady,” as The New York Times is often called, has long been referred to as “the newspaper of record” in the United States. While these were terms of endearment once upon a time, increasingly they are being viewed as either disparaging or, in the case of the latter description, outright false.
A project by the Media Research Center known as Times Watch has been tracking and analyzing falsehoods, mis-characterizations, omissions and other journalistic fabrications at the paper for a decade. Here are some of the most egregious abuses of the Times‘ public trust over the past 10 years:
The dishonest deletion by columnist Maureen Dowd. The first major story broken by TimesWatch detailed an attempt at deception by columnist and former White House reporter Maureen Dowd. In her May 14, 2003 column, titled “Osama’s Offspring,” regarding President Bush’s pursuit of the Taliban in Afghanistan, “Dowd used an ellipsis to totally misrepresent a Bush statement from a May 5 speech in Arkansas to imply he said the Al Qaeda terrorist network is ‘not a problem anymore,’ changing Bush’s meaning to make him look naive about the war on terror,” the Times watchdog reported.
Here is what Dowd wrote: “That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. . . . They’re not a problem anymore.”
Here is what Bush actually said: “Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they’re not a problem anymore.”
The Jayson Blair plagiarism episode. Also in 2003, TimesWatch began covering what became a major case of plagiarism by an up-and-coming star Times reporter, Jayson Blair. Up-and-coming, that is, until TimesWatch helped expose his deceit:
In April 2003, a reporter for a San Antonio newspaper noticed a story in the New York Times was almost identical to one she had written the week before. An exhaustive internal investigation uncovered dozens of instances of plagiarism or deception on the work by that same reporter, Jayson Blair, guilty of stealing copy from other newspapers as his own, putting quotes in the mouths of people, and filing fraudulent datelines from his apartment in Brooklyn – even using the Times photo bank to create the illusion of verisimilitude.
To its credit, the paper did publish an exhaustive 7,200-plus page investigative report on May 11, 2003, detailing Blair’s “long trail of deception.” To its discredit, publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, who passed the buck: “The person who did this is Jayson Blair. Let’s not begin to demonize our executives — either the desk editors, or the executive editor or, dare I say, the publisher.”
Blair, among other things, blamed “depression” and “racism” for his decision to plagiarize.
Trashing the Duke LaCrosse team as a gang of rapists – incorrectly. Throwing aside a legal principle dating back to the founding of our country – that suspects are innocent until proven guilty – the “newspaper of record” slimed three Duke LaCrosse players as racist rapists long before they were eventually found to have been falsely accused. Per TimesWatch:
The paper notoriously slimed, in both news and columns, three innocent Duke lacrosse players, falsely accused in March 2006 by stripper Crystal Mangum of rape at a house party. The players were prosecuted by Michael Nifong, district attorney for Durham County in North Carolina. But Mangum’s tale was plagued by inconsistencies, and two of the three players had bulletproof alibis. The allegations were soon shown to be completely false, and Nifong was later disbarred for fraud and misconduct. … Yet throughout the ordeal liberal Times reporters and columnist Selena Roberts, threw out the presumption of innocence and routinely slimed the players, assuming them guilty of at the very least the sin of white privilege.
Regular mis-characterization of the Tea Party, while lauding Occupy Wall Street. “The Times was late to the Tea Party in 2009 and arrived with a surly attitude. But the paper’s mood brightened considerably in 2011, when the paper discovered that left-wingers had set up a squatters camp in downtown Manhattan known as Occupy Wall Street,” TimesWatch noted.
Indeed, the paper’s coverage of conservative-oriented protests against Obamacare and other progressive administration initiatives typically received far less favorable coverage than the Occupy Wall Street movement, which devolved into a gigantic flop house for loafers, malcontents and just about anyone else with an aversion to showering.
“Michael Kimmelman’s piece on Occupy Wall Street was accompanied by flattering historical photos, including one of the famous man in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But when the Times reached back for an analog in a previous story on the Tea Party it found…the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground,” TimesWatch noted.
Read the remaining “Top 10” examples here.
Sources for this article include:
This article was posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 4:38 am