The New York Times has long furrowed its collective brow over the constant inaccuracies in op-eds by its “star” liberal columnists, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich. The paper has long resisted, however, the obvious solution: printing corrections.
Today editorial page editor Gail Collins announced a new policy. From now on, corrections will appear at the bottom of the op-ed page, in the same “For the Record” and regular “Correction” categories now used for the rest of the paper. On line, the op-ed corrections will be at the end of the Corrections section.
The Krugman error that finally prompted the new policy originated in Krugman’s August 19 column, which we deconstructed here. Krugman falsely claimed that media-conducted “recounts” showed that Al Gore should have carried Florida in 2000. Krugman’s subsequent attempts at “correcting” this misrepresentation, which were themselves erroneous, apparently were the last straw for the Times.
We’ll see whether the new policy represents much of an improvement. It is noteworthy, I think, that the paper still hasn’t corrected a factual misstatement in the same Krugman column that is even more blatant than his mischaracterization of the convoluted post-election “recounts” done by various media groups. We pointed out this error in the post linked above:
Krugman’s second Ohio nugget relates to Miami County: “Miami County reported that voter turnout was an improbable 98.55 percent of registered voters.” Well, that would be quite a turnout, all right–impressive even by the standards of Democratic Philadelphia. I think I know where Krugman got that figure; it is on page 58 of the Conyers report authored, as noted above, by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee.
Of course, Krugman has never been one to trouble himself by actually doing research. As far as I can tell, he never does any: he simply reads a far-left book or a Democratic National Committee press release, and summarizes it in his column. (And for this the New York Times pays him?) I’m not talking about hard, obscure research here; I’m talking about going to the website of the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, where official voter turnout numbers are recorded. Miami County’s turnout in 2004? 72.2 %.
The fact that, even as of today, the Times has not corrected this obvious error, more than a month after we pointed it out, casts doubt on the seriousness of the paper’s new op-ed correction policy.
And I can’t help noting that the perspective from which the Times’ op-ed editor evaluates the accuracy of the paper’s column’s is hard-left, just like most of the columnists’. In today’s “letter from the editor,” Collins inserts the following completely irrelevant swipe at the former head of FEMA:
A “For the Record” column of errata will run under the editorials whenever it’s appropriate. The first one appears today. It corrects several misstatements about when Joe Allbaugh, the former FEMA director, met his successor, Michael Brown, now legendary as a disaster in his own right.
One might have expected a little more humility in a column devoted to explaining the Times’ longstanding inability to ensure the accuracy of its own columns, or to competently correct their many errors. When Michael Brown is shown to have committed as many errors as Paul Krugman, I’ll accept the characterization of him as a “disaster.”
SCOTT adds: Roger Kimball is the managing editor of the New Criterion magazine. In the Notes & Comments column of the magazine’s October issue, Roger begins with the observation:
Martin Heidegger once said that the fundamental metaphysical question is