The cover story in the New York Times Magazine of April 9, 2006, was an article on the horrors of life in El Salvador, where abortion is illegal. The article was written by freelancer Jack Hitt, whose far-left perspective is obvious if you google his name.
Hitt alleged that in El Salvador, women convicted of abortion can serve long jail terms; the story’s opening paragraph said that “a few” women had been sentenced to 30 year jail terms for obtaining abortions. Hitt featured one such woman, Carmen Climaco.
The Times’ Public Edidor, Byron Calame, tells the story in the Times today. Hitt wrote that Climaco was sentenced to 30 years in prison for having an abortion after 18 weeks of pregnancy. In describing her case, he noted that she had been convicted of “aggravated homicide,” but Hitt wrote that the “truth” was different.
It turns out that Hitt made no effort to check the court’s records on the case. In fact, the claim that Ms. Climaco had “only” had an abortion was her defense. That defense was rejected by a three-judge panel which found her guilty of infanticide. The court relied on medical evidence, including evidence of the baby’s autopsy, to find that the infant had been born and then murdered by Ms. Climaco. It was for murder, not abortion, that she was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.
These facts, Calame writes, were easily available, but Mr. Hitt made no effort to discover them, but instead blithely misrepresented the case in the New York Times Magazine. Calame’s account of the incident is troubling; what is even more troubling, though, is the Times’s response when Hitt’s error was brought to its attention.
Did the Times issue a correction? No:
After being queried by the office of the publisher about a possible error, Craig Whitney, who is also the paper