Accuracy in Media

The New York Times was forced to issue a correction, change a headline and removed a lead photo after online backlash from the original story blaming U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, an appointee of President Trump, for purchasing expensive new curtains for the new residence of the ambassador to the United Nations. Yet the purchasing plans were approved under the Obama administration, and the Times said its original article created an “unfair impression” against Haley.

The New York Times story, authored by reporter Gardiner Harris, originally appeared with the headline, “Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701,” and the subsequently revised headline was changed to say, “State Department Spent $52,701 on Curtains for Residence of U.N. Envoy.'”

While Harris’ original story included this statement: “a spokesman for Ms. Haley emphasized that plans to buy the mechanized curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase,” the story’s misleading framing created an online backlash and outcry from readers who found the story’s focus to be misplaced.

A New York Times editor’s note atop the revised story stated that “An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials. The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.”

Ironically, the story still includes a quote from Brett Bruen, a White House official in the Obama administration: “How can you, on the one hand, tell diplomats that basic needs cannot be met and, on the other hand, spend more than $50,000 on a customized curtain system for the ambassador to the U.N.?”


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