April 24, 2006

Correction Times

Fans of The New York Times have noted that its correction pages routinely take ownership of all kinds of mistakes in the paper’s reporting, no matter how nugatory. If a reporter, say, misspelled the name of some poor sap from Dubuque, the second page of the Times’ A Section will see fit to mention it.

Critics note, however, that the Gray Lady has a tendency to correct minor errors whilst ignoring larger matters. For instance, the Times staff has yet to report on whether its discussion of the NSA wiretapping program amounted to a breaking of the Espionage Act. Whereas the Paper of Record went on record as demanding punishment for the Valerie Plame leak, it didn’t take such a stance regarding its NSA counterpart. Curious, is it not?

If the Gray Lady won’t mention a matter such as this, one might justifiably wonder what sorts of things it does discuss in its correction sections. The Sunday, April 23 number of the Times offers proof that its staff does not routinely let large gaffes go unnoticed.

Don’t believe us? Well, just take in the following correction regarding an article on a new book of humorous quotations from Hillary Clinton:

The article also noted that on the cover of the quotation book—“‘I’ve Always Been a Yankees Fan’: Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words”—Mrs. Clinton is shown wearing a Cubs cap. But because of an editing error, this explanation was omitted: “As early as 1994, Mrs. Clinton was on record explaining that growing up in the Midwest, she had both her hometown favorite, the Cubs, who are in the National League, and also an American League favorite, the Yankees.

A heck of a correction, eh? Who says that the Times focuses on trifling errors at the expense of weightier issues? Not us, not us.

Frankly, we think it’s delightful that the supposed “omission” of an entire exculpatory sentence is chocked up to an “editing error.” What kind of “editing error” was this? Cutting that sentence because it’s stupid and unnecessary to the story as a whole? Or failing to write the sentence until some Hillary Clinton lackeys called in and complained?

Personally, we’re happy to have the opportunity to find out so much about Senator Clinton’s sports enthusiasms. Yet, undoubtedly due to more “editing errors,” we’re still left in the dark about a few other important matters: What does Senator Clinton think about the San Diego Padres? How much does she like inter-league play? Does she believe that “the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” is a stupid name?

We won’t sleep at night until the Times offers another correction and fills us in.

Posted at April 24, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack