January 04, 2004

Top 10 Lowlights of The New York Times in 2003

My "favorites" from the list:

2) The Jayson Blair Affair

"Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception" blared the front page of the May 11 New York Times, introducing a 14,000-word mea maxima culpa of the paper’s chain of failures in the well-known case of fabricator Jayson Blair. Unearthed remarks by then-Executive Editor Howell Raines didn't exactly inspire confidence in his leadership: "This campaign has made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse," Raines told the National Association of Black Journalists in 2001 about the hiring of the young black reporter Blair.

(...)

4) Maureen Dowd's Dishonest Deletion

Columnist Maureen Dowd purposely mangled a quote from President Bush to make him look naive about the dangers posed by Al Qaeda. In her May 14 "Osama’s Offspring," Dowd writes: "Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that Al Qaeda was spent. ‘Al Qaeda is on the run,’ President Bush said last week. ‘That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated...They're not a problem anymore.’"

Dowd used ellipse...to hide the truth. Here's what Bush actually said in Arkansas May 5: "Al Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly, but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore. And we'll stay on the hunt. To make sure America is a secure country, the Al Qaeda terrorists have got to understand it doesn't matter how long it's going to take, they will be brought to justice."

Notice the third sentence of Bush’s speech: It’s clear Bush was only talking about the top Al Qaeda operatives that "are either jailed or dead" as being "not a problem anymore"--not the group itself. Dowd dishonestly deleted that sentence and the first three words of the next in order to make Bush "say" Al Qaeda was no longer a threat.