Sunday, October 02, 2005

Let the Squirming Begin

It's always fun to see a New York Times hack squirm. Today the squirmer was editorial page editor Gail Collins, and the squirming involved the failure to correct the numerous errors committed by Times editorial writers and columnists.

Gail, bless her heart, used to be a breezy and very funny Daily News columnist before she turned bureaucrat and hard-left polemicist, and she uses humor skillfully to blow smoke over her page's arrogance, refusal to correct blatant factual errors and general credibility failings.

So let's start with the good stuff-- the really funny stuff. The Times editorial page has inaugurated a corrections column. Not.

Apparently a column entitled "corrections" is out of the question, so she is going to shove serious errors under the title "For the Record," which is supposed to be used for minor stuff, like getting an address wrong or omitting a middle name. Sure enough, we get a "For the Record" column today correcting the very serious error made by Times columnists saying that Michael Brown, the former FEMA director, was a college friend or college roommate of Joe Allbaugh.

As I pointed out in an item way back in April (the Empty Suit "public editor" Barney Calame poached this item last week), the Times has a longstanding policy of shoving serious errors into the "for the record" column. Seems that same policy is now coming to the editorial page.

Gail is at her funniest as she tries to sugarcoat Paul Krugman's titanic battle to keep from correcting his erroneous descriptions of the 2000 presidential recount, and her own failure to enforce Times policy requiring a correction:

Paul appended another correction to the Web version of his column, but asked if he could refrain from revisiting the subject yet again in print.

I agreed, feeling we had reached the point of cruelty to readers. But I was wrong. The correction should have run in the same newspaper where the original error and all its little offspring had appeared.

Wasn't that nice of them? In other words, you were wrong if you thought they didn't want to correct in print Krugman's boner because they were arrogant and unwilling to admit error. No, they felt that readers would be subjected to serious, willful physical or mental harm (that is the legal definition of cruelty) if they saw the Times admit a mistake!

I am now rethinking yet again my assumptions about the Times and now its editorial page.

In a previous item I noted that the Times was overcome by stupidity by failing to correct blatant errors. These range from minor goofs to misquoting the Middle East "road map" -- which the Times has yet to correct.

Having read Gail's column, I now see that I was wrong. It's not so much that Times editors are stupid, but that they sincerely believe that Times readers are morons.

UPDATE: A reader points to yet another Krugman boner (see this item in Powerline) that requires correcting. Let's see if this massive goof is corrected by the accuracy-anorexic columnist, or instead winds up shoveled into a "for the record" non-correction.

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Be sure to check out this recent post: CNBC broadcasts UN-produced fake-news show.


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