Tuesday's Times came down hard on what seemed to be a benign little error in a story about the vacation home market in Red Lodge, Montana. One wonders what spurred it - memories of serial fabricator Jayson Blair, who for years put words in people's mouths with impunity? Or perhaps the Times is just showing more of its recent hypersensitivity to tweaked liberal sensibilities.
Here's the offending passage, which has been scrubbed from the story: "Red Lodge is a liberal island of blue in a red state, partly because of the large number of hippies who came in the 1970s, said Heather Quinn, an agent with Prudential Red Lodge Real Estate. There is little racial diversity, she added, but a growing number of gay couples are buying."
Here's the correction. Check out the harsh (almost lawyerly?) conclusion:
"The Havens column in Escapes on Jan. 19 reported on the vacation-home market in Red Lodge, Mont. It attributed to Heather Quinn of Prudential Red Lodge Real Estate the observation that Red Lodge is a liberal island of blue in a red state, partly because of the large number of hippies who came in the 1970s.
"The political description of the town was solely the personal opinion of the freelance writer - not Ms. Quinn, and should not have been attributed to her. The reference to 'an influx of hippies' was a point made by Dennis Meeker of Coal Creek Realty, not by Ms. Quinn.
"The editors would not have published the article if they had been aware of these errors."
Strangely enough, the term "influx of hippies" doesn't actually appear in the article, just "large number of hippies."