Joel Mowbray ([email protected]) continues to follow up on his reports regarding the government-funded Al Hurra television network. Joel writes:
In a story last week on congressional hearings into Al Hurra, the New York Times got a couple key facts wrong. While both were clearly unintentional, at least one was a critical error.
In explaining the criticisms of Al Hurra, the article stated, “the network broadcast a 30-minute speech by the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, in December.” This was what Secretary of State Rice told Congress during testimony in March. But as revealed in my May 1 Wall Street Journal column, Rice was duped by Al Hurra management.
DVDs provided to Congress in April prove that Al Hurra carried the entirety of the address, an hour and eight minutes total.
On balance, the mistake is understandable since State and Al Hurra had put the word out that the network had only carried 30 minutes of the speech.
But it’s precisely because so much misinformation is out there that that it’s unfortunate for the sake of the historical record that the Times, practically speaking, codified a falsehood.
Far more significant, though, was a paragraph indicating that embattled Al Hurra news director Larry Register was hired to be the solution to the very problems for which he was responsible.
Referring to the testimony of Broadcasting Board of Governors member Joaquin Blaya, the article stated, “He said during the hearing that Al Hurra had appointed a new vice president for news, Larry Register, to make sure the mistakes did not happen again.”
Blaya never explicitly said this, but he did his best to create the impression that Register was the person who should be trusted to fix Al Hurra.
What is not in dispute, however, is that Register was already the news director when all of the broadcasts criticized by Congress happened. And as established by e-mails and internal memos, Register was directly responsible for most, and perhaps all, of them.
By all appearances, the Times’s mistakes resulted from trying to condense a large story into 900 words — all within a few hours of the hearing’s close.
And the reporter who wrote the story is Helene Cooper, a very solid and well-respected veteran journalist.
Mistakes happen. But they must be corrected.
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