We commented here on the New York Times’ falling for a hoaxer who claimed to be the man in the most famous photograph taken at Abu Ghraib. His story, seemingly, was just too good to check.
Now the Times has fallen for another fraud. And, curiously enough, it ties in with another of the Times’ favorite opportunities to bash the Bush administration–Hurricane Katrina! From today’s Corrections section:
An article in The Metro Section on March 8 profiled Donna Fenton, identifying her as a 37-year-old victim of Hurricane Katrina who had fled Biloxi, Miss., and who was frustrated in efforts to get federal aid as she and her children remained as emergency residents of a hotel in Queens.
Yesterday, the New York police arrested Ms. Fenton, charging her with several counts of welfare fraud and grand larceny. Prosecutors in Brooklyn say she was not a Katrina victim, never lived in Biloxi and had improperly received thousands of dollars in government aid. Ms. Fenton has pleaded not guilty.
For its profile, The Times did not conduct adequate interviews or public record checks to verify Ms. Fenton’s account, including her claim that she had lived in Biloxi. Such checks would have uncovered a fraud conviction and raised serious questions about the truthfulness of her account.
An article about her arrest and the findings from additional reporting about her claims appears today on Page B1.
A lot of mainstream reporters seem to believe that if a story fits with their preconceived opinions, there is no need to check the facts.