Editor Finds Rep. Issa's Retraction Demands 'Troubling' - But Hit Piece Has Been Corrected 3 Times
The New York Times so far has issued three corrections to reporter Eric Lichtblau's August 15 front-page hit piece on conservative California Rep. Darrell Issa of California, but the paper won't consider a retraction because, as the Washingtion bureau chief says: 'The article was carefully reported, written, and edited, and we stand by the story both in its broad thrust and, except as noted, in its particular details.'
Lichtblau, who along with James Risen is notorious for printing the sensitive details of classified terrorist surveillance programs on the front page of the Times, is not known for his fairness to conservative subjects; his 2008 book 'Bush's Law' bluntly accused the administration of lying about the 'war on terror' (quotation marks are Lichtblau's).
Stephen Clark of FoxNews.com reported on Issa's aggressive counterattack, which has resulted so far in three corrections, in print and also appended at the end of the original story online:
Correction: August 16, 2011
An article on Monday about the business empire of Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, misstated the worth of the companies involved in his splitting up of a holding company. The split entailed separate multimillion-dollar companies, not multibillion-dollar ones.
Correction: August 26, 2011
An article on Aug. 15 about Representative Darrell Issa's business dealings, using erroneous information that Mr. Issa's family foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service, referred incorrectly to his sale of an AIM mutual fund in 2008. A spokesman for the California Republican now says that the I.R.S. filing is 'an incorrect document.' The spokesman, Frederick R. Hill, said that based on Mr. Issa's private brokerage account records, which he made public with redactions, the purchase of the mutual fund resulted in a $125,000 loss, not a $357,000 gain.
And the article, using incorrect information from the San Diego county assessor's office, misstated the purchase price for a medical office plaza Mr. Issa's company bought in Vista, Calif., in 2008. It cost $16.3 million, the assessor's office now says — not $10.3 million — because the assessor mistakenly omitted in public records a $6 million loan Mr. Issa's company assumed in the acquisition. Therefore the value of the property remained essentially unchanged, and did not rise 60 percent after Mr. Issa secured federal funding to widen a road alongside the plaza.
Issa still disputes other outstanding points, claiming as 'wildly inaccurate' the suggestion he 'went easy' on Toyota during congressional hearings on unintended acceleration because of 'his electronics company's role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota."
Clark quoted Dean Baquet, the Times' Washington bureau chief, responding to Issa's demand for a retraction of the story:
'The article was carefully reported, written, and edited, and we stand by the story both in its broad thrust and, except as noted, in its particular details,' he wrote. 'We do not believe a retraction is warranted.'
Baquet concluded his letter suggesting he was feeling persecuted:
'Finally, I'd like to say that it is troubling to see your office using the letterhead and imprimatur of a powerful congressional committee to wage personal and meritless attacks on a reporter and a news organization,' he wrote.
James Taranto quipped in his Opinion Journal column Monday: "Except as noted" may be the new "fake but accurate."