Is the New York Times deliberately doctoring quotes to benefit the left? (Again, that is.)
The paper’s corrections section contains this correction:
An article yesterday about state and city investigations of a loan made by a Bronx social service agency to the liberal radio network Air America quoted incorrectly from comments made on the air by Al Franken, the host of an Air America program. Referring to Evan M. Cohen, a former official of the network whom Mr. Franken accused of having engineered the loan, from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, Mr. Franken said: “I don’t know why they did it, and I don’t know where the money went. I don’t know if it was used for operations, which I imagine it was. I think he was robbing Peter to pay Paul.” (He did not say: “I don’t know why he did it. I don’t know where the money went. I don’t know if it was used for operations. I think he was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.”)
Note the differences. The word “robbing” was changed by the paper to “borrowing,” and Franken’s agreement with the idea that the money was used for operations (“which I imagine it was”) was removed entirely. These changes reinforced the impression that only those crazy right-wing bloggers had suggested that the money might have been stolen to pay for the network’s operations. As the article said:
Nonetheless, word of the investigations ignited a firestorm of criticism on the Internet, especially among conservative-leaning blogs that have essentially accused the network of robbing from the poor to pay its bills.
In fact, Franken himself admitted that he believed that had occurred — but that fact was edited out of existence through the doctored Franken quote.
So how did this happen? Here’s where it gets interesting.
The original article attributed the inaccurate quote to a “transcript of the broadcast made by the Department of Investigation.” This led me to believe that the Times‘s mistake had simply resulted from a lazy reliance on a sloppy transcript. But a spokeswoman for the Department has told Michelle Malkin that no such transcript exists:
According to Emily Gest, a spokeswoman for the New York City Dept. of Investigation, the “transcript” of Al Franken’s remarks cited by the New York Times in this article apparently does not exist. “There is no official transcript,” Gest informed me. “You should expect to see a correction in the Times.”
Where did the quote come from? Is there an “unofficial” transcript that the spokeswoman forgot to tell Malkin about? Or did the reporter listen to the tape himself? If the latter, then we have a real scandal here, because anybody who listens to the audio can clearly hear that the Times quote is flatly wrong.
I don’t think this issue should die with this correction. I want to know how this “mistake” happened. I don’t know that the paper is deliberately trying to mislead its readers. But in light of the spokeswoman’s statement, the New York Times owes its readers an explanation of why the quote was incorrect in ways that benefit the leftist view of this scandal.
Michelle Malkin has the e-mail addresses of people you should write about this:
Anyone who still cares can write a letter of complaint to reporter Alan Feuer (firstname.lastname@example.org), spokeswoman Catherine Mathis (email@example.com), spokesman Toby Usnik (firstname.lastname@example.org), and ombudsman Byron Calame (email@example.com).
You bet I still care. I have written the reporter and the ombudsman to inquire where this quote came from. So should you.