Accuracy in Media

ferguson riots

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has “reconsidered” her blog post from last August, in which she criticized the Times for using anonymous sources to seemingly defend Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Sullivan, who criticized a Times story from August 20th that she said suffered from “dubious equivalency” and  anonymous sourcing, is now acknowledging that she might have misjudged the most important element of the story:

In the heat of a very hot news moment last summer, I criticized a Times story about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Giving implicit credence to the named sources who described Michael Brown as having his hands up as he was fired on by Officer Darren Wilson, I criticized the use of unnamed sources who offered opposing information: They said that the officer had reason to fear Mr. Brown. I even went so far as to call those unnamed sources ‘ghosts’ because readers had so little ability to evaluate their identity and credibility.

Now that the Justice Department has cleared Mr. Wilson in an 86-page report that included the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, it’s obvious to me that it was important to get that side of the story into the paper.

While Sullivan’s mea culpa isn’t on the scale of The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, who courageously admitted last week that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative was built on a lie, it is similar in the respect that we now have another liberal admit that they were too quick to defend Brown amid conflicting reports and before all the evidence was in, and too quick to blame the police for what the Times saw as another case of police brutality against a defenseless black teenager.

While the admissions by Sullivan and Capehart are a step in the right direction, it is of little comfort to the businesses that were looted and burned in the aftermath of the Brown shooting, thanks in large part to the irresponsible reporting by the liberal media.

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