Jack Mirkinson just reported that the NY Times' Public Editor Criticizes Paper Over Tweaks To Chris Christie Story, which we should report and note here just as quickly as we noted the barrage of breaking negative stories about Governor Chris Christie, over the last month.
The New York Times' public editor sided with critics of the paper who thought that an editor's note should have been attached after changes were made to a crucial story about Chris Christie on Friday.
Margaret Sullivan wrote on Monday that the changes the Times made to its story about accusations against Christie made by one of his former political allies were significant enough to have warranted comment. The paper altered the lede of its story, which initially said that Christie's accuser "had the evidence to prove" that the governor knew about the infamous lane closings on the George Washington Bridge when he said he hadn't known, to say that "evidence exists" that Christie knew.
Although, this error may appear to be small, and was corrected withing 20 minutes, by not including a correction updated notice the NYT provided the Christie campaign the ammunition to divert public and media attention away from the more substantive allegations.
The NYT metro editor's first response was that no note was attached because it was one of only "dozens" of changes made to the story, and that online stories are constantly evolving. This explanation raises more questions than it answers.
By Monday, though, the editor, Wendell Jamieson, had changed his tune, as he told Sullivan:
“I don’t believe there’s a correctible error in that initial lead,” he said. “But should there have been an editor’s note? Perhaps. I regret not suggesting that.”
For her part, Sullivan said that the change should have been addressed:
My take: This change was more than a nuance. Acknowledging that could have taken the form of a straightforward correction. The change also could have been explained in an editor’s note or could even have been acknowledged in a sentence in the body of the article.
The cause of justice is not served by error or sloppiness in reporting so I believe the New York Times deserves credit for making this correction withing 20 minutes, and I agree with the public editor, Margaret Sullivan, that the changes to the story should have been noted in a "change update" notice as we routinely do here at Daily Kos.
On Friday, I did notice here that one of our top rec'd stories continued to report the first false story for a whole day after the correction and I incorrectly presumed it was sloppiness on the part of our author here, rather than the fact that our author reported and linked to the original story which was apparently changed without his, or her, knowledge. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to "create waves," but I had a sad feeling about our collective integrity. If the NYT had included an correction update, I may not have incorrectly assumed our author here at Daily Kos was the one who was sloppy, rather than the New York Times.
Additionally, let's notice that this sloppiness has become one of today's leading headlines and former NY Mayor Rudy Guiliani was just making hay out of on CNN, when one of the bigger lede's of the weekend should be the incredible incompetence shown by Christie's campaign in the rambling and weird attack memo on David Wildstein's high school years, and other trivialities that are well covered in a Salon article. Is it not poignantly ironic, (or should I say ironically poignant?,) that Christie's strategy to demonstrate he is not a bully who abuses power, is to bully and abuse his accuser's character all the way back to what a high school social studies teacher observed? And, criticizing Wildstein for blogging long ago under a pseudonym (I think it was Wally Edge, or something like that.)
Perhaps, I should take may own advice to heart and finally admit that my real name is not actually Basset Hound, and I'm not a real hounddog, but that should be in a different post.