Urban legends abound on left-wing web sites, but not only there: the New York Times, flagship mythmaker of the left, has fallen for a number of such stories as well. This is one of my all-time favorite Times corrections, which arose out of a story on the environment:
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.
But it isn’t only giant sea sparrows that lead the Times astray. The paper seems to have a broader problem with animals, as evidenced by the falling cow correction that appeared in Sunday’s paper:
An article on Jan. 16 about drilling for oil off the coast of Angola erroneously reported a story about cows falling from planes, as an example of risks in any engineering endeavor. No cows, smuggled or otherwise, ever fell from a plane into a Japanese fishing rig. The story is an urban legend, and versions of it have been reported in Scotland, Germany, Russia and other locations.
Aren’t newspapers supposed to employ editors, in part to prevent reporters from falling for urban legends? Sometimes one gets the sense that both reporters and editors at the New York Times are pathologically deficient in skepticism.