Benjamin Wittes

The New York Times Runs a Correction on an Editorial!

I awoke this morning to a genuine marvel: An actual real-live correction to a New York Times editorial on a national security issue. It reads as follows:

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 22, 2011

An earlier version of this editorial misattributed the authors of the Senate measure. It represents a deal between Senator Carl Levin and Senator John McCain, not Senator Levin alone.

The editorial, as you may have guessed from the correction, deals with the detainee provisions of the Senate NDAA. And the Times is, while late to the party, no happier about the provisions than I am. Indeed, breathless, sky-is-falling tone aside, I’m largely in agreement with the editorial–some of which even tracks arguments that first appeared in public in posts of mine on this site.

But this laudable and sudden scrupulousness about getting facts right holds real danger for the Times editorial writers. I mean, where does it all stop? If the Times feels obliged to correct its error about the authorship of the NDAA provisions, what about the several other errors in the same editorial–some of which, at least, are glaring and not subject to dispute among reasonable people?

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