Many people regard the New York Times as humorless, but, as it slides further into ineptitude, its corrections pages can be pretty funny. The following item is reproduced in its entirety from this morning’s Times:
“An article on Nov. 10 about animal rights referred erroneously to an island in the Indian Ocean and to events there involving goats and endangered giant sea sparrows that could possibly lead to the killing of goats by environmental groups. Wrightson Island does not exist; both the island and the events are hypothetical figments from a book (also mentioned in the article), ‘Beginning Again,’ by David Ehrenfeld. No giant sea sparrow is known to be endangered by the eating habits of goats.”
Those Times reporters have to start getting a little more skeptical.
Unfortunately, the Times’ factual inaccuracies are not limited to fictitious islands and hypothetical ecological crises. The following correction is also excerpted from this morning’s Times:
“A chart on Dec. 1 with an article about President Bush’s role in reshaping the federal judiciary misstated the makeup of four appeals courts.”
The Times’ chart misstated the composition of four of the eleven appellate courts; the most wildly inaccurate were the Times’ descriptions of the Sixth and Seventh Circuits:
“In the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee) there are 16 seats, not 22; 4 judges were appointed by Republicans and 6 by Democrats, with 6 vacancies (not 10 by Republicans, 6 by Democrats).
In the Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin) there are 11 seats, not 6; 8 judges were appointed by Republicans and 3 by Democrats (not 3 by Republicans and 3 by Democrats).”
Now, federal judges are not obscure creatures like giant sea sparrows. It is really not difficult to find out how many of them there are in a given circuit. The Times’ correction says that the newspaper went to the chief judges in the various circuits to get the correct totals. Where on earth did they get the wrong information in the original article? The Times now routinely makes mistakes that would embarrass a self-respecting suburban weekly newspaper that is handed out for free in shopping malls.
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