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July 18, 2005

NYT Does Damage Control On "Production Error" Gaffe

The Times attempts to explain, lamely, why an editor inserted anti-Bush language ("Imagine my surprise" at being called up for action in Iraq) into a reserve officer's piece about recruitment.

They are somewhat successful in explaining that this was an inadvertant error-- they had suggested new language, the writer said "No way" to the changes, and they accidentally ran the wrong version of the piece.

But they say they suggested this language -- calling it ordinary editorial back-and-forth between editor and writer -- to make the piece "stronger."

Stronger? In what manner? True enough, the "surprise" language added an emotional element the original editorial had not had... but that's sort of damning. The writer didn't express negative emotion about being recalled for duty; the editor "helpfully" suggested that maybe he ought to.

The new language made the piece stronger, no doubt-- more strongly anti-Bush. Which was, I would suggest, the whole point of the exercise, and a failing the New York Times not only fails to refute, but simply ignores.

The mainstream media has long done just this-- as they are, or, rather, were, the gatekeepers of information, they previously had the power to simply make embarassing issues go away by embaroging them.

Well, the New York Times won't admit its reasons for "suggesting" that language to the writer; but there are legions in the Shadow Media who will do that distasteful service for them.

One small victory: until the constant critique from the Shadow Media, the Times never would have run even such a half-true/half-mendacious explanation about its error.

At least that's some progress.

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posted by Ace at 03:13 PM

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