On Friday, the New York Times appended this correction to its front page article on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):
An article on Aug. 15 about Representative Darrell Issa’s business dealings, using erroneous information that Mr. Issa’s family foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service, referred incorrectly to his sale of an AIM mutual fund in 2008. A spokesman for the California Republican now says that the I.R.S. filing is “an incorrect document.” The spokesman, Frederick R. Hill, said that based on Mr. Issa’s private brokerage account records, which he made public with redactions, the purchase of the mutual fund resulted in a $125,000 loss, not a $357,000 gain.
And the article, using incorrect information from the San Diego county assessor’s office, misstated the purchase price for a medical office plaza Mr. Issa’s company bought in Vista, Calif., in 2008. It cost $16.3 million, the assessor’s office now says — not $10.3 million — because the assessor mistakenly omitted in public records a $6 million loan Mr. Issa’s company assumed in the acquisition. Therefore the value of the property remained essentially unchanged, and did not rise 60 percent after Mr. Issa secured federal funding to widen a road alongside the plaza.
While it is laudable that the Times corrected these two very serious errors, the first sentence of the article remains factually inaccurate, and the Times seems determined to avoid correcting that inaccuracy.
The story begins: “Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The congressman immediately and repeatedly denied that the office overlooks a golf course. Pictures and video provided to the Heritage Foundation by Issa’s staff offer detailed views of the office and from the building’s exterior. Both undercut the Times’s statement.
“None of the offices located within the Vista Corporate Center at 1800 Thibodo Road, including the office of Congressman Darrell Issa on the third floor, have a view of any golf course whatsoever,” the building’s owner stated. “Any reports to the contrary are in error.” Two local newspapers, the North County Times and the San Diego Union Tribune, have both written that Issa’s office does not, in fact, have a view of the golf course.
The apparent error in the Times’s story has led Issa’s office to question whether the Times has “a Jayson Blair/Rick Bragg problem.” A memo from the Congressman’s office stated, “The extent and nature of errors in the New York Times story, raise a central question: Did New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau fabricate some of his reporting?”
The Times’s Washington Bureau Chief Dean Baquet and Issa’s Communications Director Frederick Hill exchanged jabs in a pair of letters today. See Baquet’s defense of his paper’s reporting here, and Hill’s retort here (via Keach Hagey).