Accuracy in Media

Thursday afternoon The New York Times sent shockwaves throughout the political media landscape with a scathing editorial about President Obama. They said that his Administration had “lost all credibility” after it was revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency had used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant “to compel Verizon’s business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system.”

new-york-times-headquartersThis was quite a reversal for the Times, which “enthusiastically” endorsed Obama for reelection last year and has until recently been generally reluctant to criticize the President, even in the face of mounting scandals.

The reaction to the editorial was swift, and apparently unexpected. The website Gawker reports that by Thursday evening, the editorial was changed to soften the criticism:

This evening, after a full day of news outlets sharing the Times editorial, and after the Guardian dropped yet another bombshell about governmental spying, the website NewsDiffs (and others) are reporting that theTimes editorial board appears to have quietly crept into its now famous rebuke and, for reasons undeclared, updated the claim that the administration is no longer credible. The sentence now reads, “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue,” referring to “transparency and accountability,” which is quite a different statement altogether. The paper also seems to have added sentences referencing the new Guardian article.

While it isn’t uncommon for newspapers to adjust online articles to reflect new information, or to tweak them before appearing in print, this doesn’t appear to be the case in this instance.

The Times was right the first time and should have stuck by their words, rather than kowtowing to an administration whose growing list of scandals is giving transparency a bad name.





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