This morning, the New York Times published a Letter to the Editor from Bertrand DelanoÃ«, the Mayor of Paris. Delanoe criticized Caroline Kennedy’s campaign to be appointed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat:
As mayor of Paris, I find Caroline Kennedy’s bid for the seat of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton both surprising and not very democratic, to say the least. What title has Ms. Kennedy to pretend to Hillary Clinton’s seat? …
With all the respect and admiration I have for Ms. Kennedy’s late father, I find her bid in very poor taste, and, after reading “Kennedy, Touring Upstate, Gets Less and Less Low-Key” (news article, Dec. 18), in my opinion she has no qualification whatsoever to bid for Senator Clinton’s seat.
We French have been consistently admiring of the American Constitution, but it seems that recently both Republicans and Democrats are drifting away from a truly democratic model. The Kennedy era is long gone, and I guess that New York has plenty of more qualified candidates to fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton. Can we speak of American decline?
It was a coup, no doubt, for the Paper of Record to publish a letter from an important French official, especially one that contained the phrase “American decline.” Only–oops!–it turned out that the letter was a hoax. Later in the day the Times added an Editor’s Note:
Earlier this morning, we posted a letter that carried the name of Bertrand DelanoÃ«, the mayor of Paris, sharply criticizing Caroline Kennedy.
This letter was a fake. It should not have been published.
Doing so violated both our standards and our procedures in publishing signed letters from our readers.
We have already expressed our regrets to Mr. DelanoÃ«’s office and we are now doing the same to you, our readers.
This letter, like most Letters to the Editor these days, arrived by email. It is Times procedure to verify the authenticity of every letter. In this case, our staff sent an edited version of the letter to the sender of the email and did not hear back. At that point, we should have contacted Mr. DelanoÃ«’s office to verify that he had, in fact, written to us.
We did not do that. Without that verification, the letter should never have been printed.
We are reviewing our procedures for verifying letters to avoid such an incident in the future.
Next time, they’ll be sure to get a business card from the letter-writer to make sure it isn’t a hoax.
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