Regular readers will recall that I recently wrote the L.A. Times to complain about an editorial which made the following false statement:
[C]ontrary to what Bush said in a previous State of the Union speech, we now know the threat posed by Hussein was not imminent.
In a letter to the “Readers’ Representative,” I noted that Bush had in fact argued in his 2003 State of the Union address that the threat posed by Iraq was not imminent:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
The “Readers’ Representative” now writes me to tell me that there will be no correction — because the mistake is “not correctable”:
Re your note on the Feb. 3 editorial: Though editors do take the complaint seriously, it is not correctable. As editors put it, there are few articles or editorials that couldn’t have found a better or perfect word to express a point, and this may be such a case. But the editorial did not quote the president.
You clearly disagree with their interpretation of what was expressed in the 2003 State of the Union speech, so perhaps your point could be made in a letter to the editor. Those editors won’t print letters that claim factual errors but they do consider airing viewpoints that differ with what’s printed on those pages.
As I read this, the position of the editors is that, as long as you don’t directly quote someone, you can claim that they said the exact opposite of what they actually said, and no correction is necessary. Just write it off to bad wording, the impossibility of issuing a correction, or a different interpretation . . . take your pick of these various inconsistent and unconvincing excuses. The bottom line is that they’re deliberately choosing to let this particular misrepresentation stand.
And they wonder why people don’t trust them.
P.S. I had better luck with my complaint about the paper’s slander of James Dobson.