Have you enjoyed the latest New York Times correction?
It involves, in case you missed it, a magazine cover story on Navy veteran Amorita Randall, who claimed to have suffered a brain injury from an improvised explosive device in Iraq and to have been raped. There are, a good piece in National Review notes, some problems with the article:
“The trouble is that according to an editor’s note in this past Sunday’s Times Magazine, Navy records report that in 2004 Randall was in Guam, not Iraq. And, by the way, she was never in Iraq. Further, there are no records that back up Randall’s claims she was raped. While lots of traumatized women don’t report rapes, unfortunately her claim that she was in Iraq certainly casts doubt on everything Randall says.
“For their part, according to an article in the Navy Times, the Navy is understandably ‘annoyed,’ particularly because a Times Magazine fact-checker didn?t contact them until three days before the story went to press – not enough time to verify much of the article.”
Ms. Randall isn’t the first gal to apparently be less than totally candid with a scribbler from the paper of record:
“[The Randall story] comes on the heels of another, criminally ignored scandal at The New York Times Magazine last year. Jack Hitt’s cover story on April 9, 2006, centered on abortion restrictions in El Salvador, relaying the story of a woman named Carmen Climaco who had been sentenced to a 30-year jail term for aborting a fetus at 18 weeks, or as Hitt put it: ‘Something defined as absolutely legal in the United States. It’s just that she’d had an abortion in El Salvador.’
“After Hitt’s article, pro-life groups howled in protest. Climaco had not, in fact, been sentenced to 30 years for an abortion; she’d been convicted of strangling an infant that had already been born. It turned out that Hitt had received much of his information about Climaco’s case from a translator with close ties to an abortion-advocacy group – one which immediately used the Times Magazine piece in an online fundraising appeal. The claim that she’d had an abortion at 18 weeks came from an estimate submitted by a doctor at Climaco’s trial who hadn?t seen the infant. That report was found by the judges in the case to be flawed, and was totally at odds with the report of the doctor who performed the infant’s autopsy.”
Could these reports have possibly been affected by bias? NR’s Mark Hemingway was interested in Sara Corbett, author of the Amorita Randall piece:
“After I read the about the Times Magazine’s problem over the weekend I immediately Googled ‘Sara Corbett’ in conjunction with ‘Mother Jones.’ Sure enough, Corbett has written for the ballyhooed liberal bimonthly. As had Jack Hitt. Further, while there were no problems found with the article per se, another recent Times Magazine article on abortion rankled quite a few people; Emily Bazelon questioned whether women who’ve had abortions suffer as a result, titled “Is There a Post Abortion Syndrome?” Bazelon is, not improbably, Betty Friedan’s cousin and previously had written a skeptical article about the group Feminists for Life for — you guessed it — Mother Jones.
“Now, I’m not advocating a political-neutrality litmus test for magazine writers, nor do I even think that because you’ve written for Mother Jones you necessarily must subscribe to whatever brand of watered-down socialism the magazine is currently selling. Further, there’s plenty of good journalism to be had at Mother Jones, which is why it’s an incubator for The New York Times Magazine which, accuracy-issues aside, is usually full of good writing.
“But clearly there’s a pattern here with the Times Magazine. From the outside looking in, it seems as if the Times Magazine is fond of hiring writers normally aligned with liberal publications and foundations. They then are given a long leash to write on contentious issues and end up making major distortions of the truth that would seem to reflect a strong liberal bias.
“Not that the journalistic establishment is likely to see it that way.”