In an editorial in the New York Times Saturday, Margaret Sullivan compared Clinton stories to a luggage carousel where the bags are never collected and hence perpetually pile up. One might say the same for the way the NYT handled its response to the reprehensible, damaging, and unfounded story of July 23.
on the front page, the original header delivered a false report.
Despite its relatively rapid revision, the original became "the shot heard 'round the world"
as myriad other publications picked up the header and the story and ran
with it. There was a simple solution, but one which the NYT
unfortunately did not employ: issue an equally prominent apology to the
unjustly treated Hillary Clinton and place it on the front page.
Instead, the NYT
chose to roll out a series of subtle revisions like so many suitcases
"barreling down the chute," as in Sullivan's simile, which sat on the
carousel uncollected because the first story - the erroneous one - was the story. Many never looked for anything further.
It is not unreasonable to suggest that the fault in The Tortured Tale of Hillary Clinton and The Times, as Sullivan entitled the latest NYT
effort in offsetting this saga of journalistic malpractice, lies not
with any "Clinton baggage" that tumbles down the chute, but rather in
the way the NYT packed and labeled subsequent freight.
The series of subtle and obscure revisions more like a grad student's tweaking of a paper for a course than a major publication's mea culpa
for mishandling what it set forth as a major story, was as effective as
throwing a bucketful of water on a burning hi-rise. Bags sitting on the
carousel. The corrections were even more concealed than the revisions,
and as for the blog post, there is almost no form of publication with less gravitas compared to the front page of the New York Times
than a blog post - including this one. It is a fine way to vent, but
is a far cry from a prominent public retraction which is what this
particular transgression by the NYT cried out for.
So, after eight days of ineffective walk back, wordsmithing, and whispering off the front page, we now get this editorial amounting to little more than an elaboration of the original blog post, another Greek apologia, and far from the resounding apology Hillary Clinton deserves.
the correct response for a past injury with a promise of vigilance and
fair play in the future does nothing to repair the damage done in the
first place. It's sort like promising to stop beating your wife.
herself says that choruses of voices have registered their complaints.
Is this controversy in the past simply because the New York Times
has declared it so, or is there more to be expected? Is fairness in
the future enough, or should there be reparation for the recent past?