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  • New York Times Ombudsman Investigating Errors in Rep. Issa Story

    The New York Times public editor is reviewing Rep. Darrell Issa’s request for a front-page retraction to a story with as many as 13 errors, according to Issa’s office. Meanwhile, the reporter and editor responsible for the story broke their silence after nearly a week of criticism from the California Republican.

    “Congressman Issa’s office forwarded us the request for retraction that was sent last evening to Times editors, so we will have to review it like we do any other complaint we receive,” Joseph Burgess, assistant to the Times’s public editor, told POLITICO. “Prior to that, we were looking into the correction requests made by Congressman Issa’s office.”

    The public editor, also commonly known as the ombudsman or readers’ representative, operates independently from the newsroom. At the Times, the public editor “responds to complaints and comments from the public and monitors the paper’s journalistic practices.”

    Issa’s communications director requested a front-page retraction to Monday’s story after identifying 13 errors in the 2,700-word article.

    POLITICO reported yesterday that Dean Baquet, the Times’ D.C. bureau chief, rebuffed the idea of a retraction.

    “I think if you look carefully at Mr. Issa’s complaints, and the story, you will see that there is nothing that gets to the heart of it,” Baquet told POLITICO. “Happy to consider any mistakes they point out, and we are looking at those. But I’m not seeing a need for any sort of retraction.”

    Baquet also dismissed criticism of reporter Eric Lichtblau’s opening paragraph, which said Issa’s office overlooked a golf course. Google Maps, as well as photos and video provide by Issa’s staff, tell a different story. Baquet said criticism of the description was overshadowing the larger point of the story.

    “I don’t think it implied — at least to my mind — that Issa’s office overlooked the golf course,” Baquet told POLITICO. “I think it is trying to give a sense that this is a building in a cool area. That’s the way I always read it. Otherwise it really would have said his office overlooked the golf course. That would have been even cooler to say.”

    Lichtblau also spoke to POLITICO, telling reporters Jake Sherman and Keach Hagey that he did visit the third floor of Issa’s office but acknowledged he did not see the Shadowridge Country Club from there. Only when he was at the golf course, located in a valley about a half-mile from the office, could he spot Issa’s building. He told POLITICO the golf course reference added “some color” to the story.

    Aside from the questionable reference to the golf course, there are even bigger problems with the story. In a statement Thursday, automaker Toyota contradicted Lichtblau’s claim that DEI Holdings, a company Issa founded, was a “major supplier” to the car manufacturer.

    There are also errors regarding the value of a medical complex Issa owns and the alleged profit made by the Issa Family Foundation. Those two, along the Toyota claim, support Lichtblau’s thesis that Issa is using his powerful perch in Congress for personal gain. His office, citing government documents, has uncovered problems with Lichtblau’s claims.

    The Times has corrected only one of the 13 errors cited by Issa’s communications director in yesterday’s letter. The full list of errors is available on Issa’s congressional website.

    NOTE: The Issa Family Foundation has donated to Heritage in the past.

    Posted in Featured, Ongoing Priorities, Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to New York Times Ombudsman Investigating Errors in Rep. Issa Story

    1. zff says:

      This Baquet guy is a joke. The whole "heart" of the story was that Issa was some corrupt, self serving evil rich guy. All the "evidence" used to support this "heart" was proven to be flat out wrong. So how Baquet can say Issa's criticisms don't "get" to the "heart" of the story is beyond me.

      But the real kicker is his asinine claim that he doesn't think the opening paragraph of the story "implies" Issas office overlooks a golf course. WHAT? Did he even read the story? The first paragraph clearly states, "Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building *overlooking a golf course* in the rugged foothills north of San Diego…" That's even more than an implication, that's a flat out declarative statement. And why did the reporter state that, hmmm? It was not to point out that the office is an a 'cool' area (whatever the heck that is supposed to mean, does the NYT now consider Wal-Mart Supercenters and Office Depots "cool" now?) but because he knew that in most peoples minds (rightly or wrongly) having an office overlooking a golf courses implies decadence and elitism. Putting the office building overlooking a golf course is much sexier and drives the story's discredited meme closer than home than describing the nearby church, park, Wal-Mart, rehab center, retaining walls construction business and other non-elitist places that would give a more complete and accurate picture of where Issa works.

      And the comment about the paragraph adding 'color', yeah in NYTWorld it's okay to distort and lie, just as long as it's "colorful."

    2. Fern Riddle says:

      The New York Times got what they were after. Everyone (everyone who still reads the Times anyway) has read the story of Issa's "dishonesty and hipocrisy" and they are now going to draw out any retractions a piece at a time, taking months and months and no-one will pay any attention because the original story will be the one remembered. Yep, they accomplished their goal, smear Issa.

    3. Lloyd Scallan says:

      This is the Obama supporting New York Times! When will HF recognize this rag will not report true facts
      when dealing with any Republican. Like so many attack pieces, they will 'invent" facts to meet their leftist agenda. It's doesn't make one bit of difference if the fact are true or not. This is the New York Times!

    4. Fedup says:

      Typical obama ass-kissing drivel from NYT.

    5. Steve S. says:

      I’m sure that the timing of this NYT article and the Boeing/NLRB request for documents is totally fortuitous. Why, our good friends at NYT wouldn’t think of getting involved in a smear campaign. After all, they are journalists, aren’t they? Certainly not political hacks with an axe to grind. And journalists are, after all, the alarm bells which ring whenever freedom and liberty are threatened, aren’t they? The very ones that present facts and multiple (sometimes opposing) points of view to avail the common (small c) man or woman the opportunity to decide for themselves what is right or true. Because they realize that the common man doesn’t need to be told what to think, right? The very cornerstone of freedom they are. Facts are paramount to them. Not.
      They have learned to speak as politicians do as well, hiding behind words with no content, while supporting character assassination based on innuendo and dubious “facts”.
      The addition of ‘color’ to this story is an accurate statement. Unfortunately, that color is a certain hue which afflicts us all.

    6. Robert Mac says:

      This is why the media has lost the respect of it's readers. Truthful journalism is a lost art. I guess it's not even taught anymore.

    7. Casey says:

      Since when does adding 'color' to a story count as fact? Where have all the real journalists gone? What ever happened to reporting objectively, allowing the reader to learn and reach their own conclusion? 'Adding color' is lying – no matter how many ways you try to spin it.

    8. snydrhrry says:

      I would not consider any story in the NYT as fact unless confirmed by other reliable sources. My sources indicate that the NYT has been on the wrong side of most of the issues, e.g. North Korea, and the cold war. If you take the opposite tack of an issue than the NYT, you will probably be right. and the nation will be more secure.

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