Over the weekend, the New York Times published, then deleted, a tweet about sexual assault allegations raised against presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. A former Senate aide named Tara Reade accused Biden last month of sexually assaulting her when she worked for him in the 1990s.
The New York Times published a tweet, which read, “No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of our reporting, nor did any former Biden staff corroborate Reade’s allegation. We found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
The newspaper later deleted the tweet and apologized in a subsequent tweet. put up a differently worded tweet. The New York Times’ apology on Twitter read, “We’ve deleted a tweet in this thread that had some imprecise language that has been changed in the story.”
The New York Times did not add an editor’s note that explained any of the article’s changes and what the “imprecise language” was in the article. One of the edits changed the wording surrounding sexual misconduct allegations made against Biden. The original sentence mirrored the deleted tweet and said, “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.” The edited sentence read, “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.”
The newspaper did not explain the deleted tweet and stealth-edits in the article and the situation lacked transparency and clarity. The New York Times should add an editor’s note explaining why the specific edits were made and to explain why it was deemed “imprecise language.”