July 24, 2009

Fact Checking? At the New York Times? Shirley, You Jest.

alessandrastanley.jpgError slut Alessandra Stanley is at it again at the New York Times with An Appraisal - Cronkite’s Signature Mix of Authority and Approachability. Now there are corrections and corrections, but by any order of magnitude this is a whopper.

Correction: July 22, 2009 -- An appraisal on Saturday about Walter Cronkite’s career included a number of errors. In some copies, it misstated the date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and referred incorrectly to Mr. Cronkite’s coverage of D-Day. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, not April 30. Mr. Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane; he did not storm the beaches. In addition, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, not July 26. “The CBS Evening News” overtook “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” on NBC in the ratings during the 1967-68 television season, not after Chet Huntley retired in 1970. A communications satellite used to relay correspondents’ reports from around the world was Telstar, not Telestar. Howard K. Smith was not one of the CBS correspondents Mr. Cronkite would turn to for reports from the field after he became anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in 1962; he left CBS before Mr. Cronkite was the anchor. Because of an editing error, the appraisal also misstated the name of the news agency for which Mr. Cronkite was Moscow bureau chief after World War II. At that time it was United Press, not United Press International.
I'll give her a pass on the "editing error" of UP vs. UPI since that's laid off on some functionaries at the times that are laughably referred to as "editors." The rest of the roster, however, is just down to the kind of sloppy drivel that Stanley has become infamous for. I'd call for a special Dumbth Award with oakleaf cluster for getting the date of the moon landing wrong 3 (Three!) days before the 40th anniversary of same, but it is all too typical of this Timesian's bumbling career of error.

Craig Silverman @ CJR sums up her recent career score in Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong with

Stanley has been responsible for nine corrections so far this year. By my count in Nexis, she had fourteen corrections in 2008, twelve in 2007, and fifteen in 2006. Averaging just over a correction a month is not something to be proud of. But that’s still better than before she attracted so much attention. Stanley had twenty-three corrections in 2005, the year everyone noticed her predilection for error, and twenty-six in 2004. Perhaps the decline in corrections between 2005 and 2006 was in part due to the attention focused on her.
But it goes beyond that when we reflect that the correction itself references an "editing error." With an error rate such as Stanley's you have to ask if there was any editing oversight at all on the story? Slim to none would be my guess.

This also raises into high relief the "fact based reality" of a lot of Times stories. After all, it cannot have been news to the newspaper that Walter Cronkite was, for many years now, on the way out. It cannot have escaped the people responsible for obituaries at the Times that they'd best keep their files up-to-date and factually bulletproof. Are these files kept in a New York Times fact lock-box so that scribblers such as Stanley can't access them? Is Wikipedia blocked at the Times much as Twitter is blocked at the White House? Or has the culture of lies, misdirection, "unnamed sources" that have no names, Obamallatio ™, and obfuscation set in so deeply at the New York Times that they just don't give a damn any longer?

I suspect it is the latter. Maureen Dowd avoids it all by just pulling her pungent quotes from "unnamed sources" out of her email or her ass. Maybe Stanley should do the same. The lingering question about her continued employment turns the crude question "Who do I have to blow around here to get a job" on its head to become, "Who does Stanley have to not blow at the New York Times to get fired?"

Posted by Vanderleun at July 24, 2009 2:13 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I saw the CBS news item discussing the NYT correction--Katie Couric's smile at the end her piece, (apparently her and Stanley have some history), was the sort reserved for when you stick in the shiv and then twist it a bit.

One usually doesn't get to see that sort of thing.

Posted by: Eric Blair at July 25, 2009 11:22 AM