Sunday, October 02, 2005
You could've fooled me: New York Times editorial page editor Gail Collins publishes a letter from the editor in today's paper restating her committment to running corrections when errors are made on the editorial page.
We correct all errors, from heart-stoppingly egregious to sublimely insignificant, because we believe that The Times should take its reputation for accuracy seriously. It's also an important discipline. We want to cultivate the reflex that automatically fixes any inaccuracy, without whining. But mistakes of significance are much more urgent than minor ones. They need to be corrected quickly, and in a way that guarantees the fix is seen by as many people who read the original piece as possible.
Well, talk is cheap -- as is newsprint and ink -- so I'll test Ms. Collins' committment, because, frankly, I'm skeptical.
On May 21, 2005, in an editorial entitled "On the "Nuclear' Brink," the following statement was made:
This is nothing new. In previous Congresses, Republicans blocked many Democratic judicial nominees, and Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, participated in a filibuster of a Clinton appeals court nominee.
No Clinton nominee was ever filibustered -- ever.
They repeated the error a few weeks later on June 12, 2005, in an editorial entitled "The Center Can Hold," with:
He [Frist] has promoted this so-called 'nuclear option' even though he himself once helped to filibuster a Clinton judicial nominee.
Once again, no Clinton nominee was ever filibustered.
On the second occasion I sent an e-mail to Calame suggestion that a correction would be in order. I got nothing but the canned response. So, come Monday, an e-mail will go out to Ms. Collins requesting two corrections. There is no debate -- these are factual errors -- along the lines of Ms. Collins' concerns regarding making sure that they had the year of James Madison's death correct.
We don't want a college student of 2050 to come up with the wrong year for James Madison's death because of our error - particularly not when we have the means to amend the record.
No, and we wouldn't want a college student of 2050 to think that Sen. Frist had filibustered any Clinton judges -- when he hadn't. Let's see if Ms. Collins is really interested in accuracy, or if scoring partisan points is more important.