Tuesday, December 23, 2008

French Fried! New York Times Publishes "Fake" Letter by Paris Mayor Condeming Caroline Kennedy's Senate Bid

The mainstream media have really gone downhill lately. Now, they are so desperate for web traffic that they sometimes rush stories without confirming sources or waiting for factual development. Many outlets often regurgitate the same drivel that appears on other sites. Well, at least they occasionally give us comedic relief. Today's New York Times does just that.

This morning, the paper published an op-ed purportedly written by Bertrand Delanoe, the mayor of Paris. The letter expresses an unusually harsh opinion regarding Caroline Kennedy's public bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat:

With all the respect and admiration I have for Ms. Kennedy’s late father, I find her bid in very poor taste, and, after reading “Kennedy, Touring Upstate, Gets Less and Less Low-Key” . . . in my opinion she has no qualification whatsoever to bid for Senator Clinton’s seat.

We French have been consistently admiring of the American Constitution, but it seems that recently both Republicans and Democrats are drifting away from a truly democratic model. The Kennedy era is long gone, and I guess that New York has plenty of more qualified candidates to fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton. Can we speak of American decline?
Ouch. Unfortunately, the letter is a fake. The paper has now printed a mea culpa (in English) and says it will review its process for verifying the authenticity of op-ed submissions:
This letter, like most Letters to the Editor these days, arrived by email. It is Times procedure to verify the authenticity of every letter. In this case, our staff sent an edited version of the letter to the sender of the email and did not hear back [Editor: Major clue that it was a fake.]. At that point, we should have contacted Mr. Delanoƫ's office to verify that he had, in fact, written to us. . . . [Editor: Duh.]

We did not do that. Without that verification, the letter should never have been printed.

We are reviewing our procedures for verifying letters to avoid such an incident in the future.
Although I continue to read the New York Times daily, moments like these erode my confidence in the periodical. During the Democratic primaries, the published a story that condemned Hillary Clinton for allegedly lying about a pregnant woman whose baby died due to complications from an illness that remained untreated because she lacked health insurance. Clinton's story was actually true. Apparently, the woman visited more than one hospital, and one of them denied her treatment, which led to the tragic results. And in 2004, the paper admitted that it published many stories which took highly favorable positions on the "need" to invade Iraq without doing appropriate research concerning the factual claims made by the authors.

Source: New York Times

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