July 8, 2004

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES HAS ISSUED A CORRECTION of its egregious error regarding Paul Bremer’s farewell speech. No apology, however, for the story’s snarky language:

L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country — almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.

If you’re going to write stuff like that in a major newspaper, you’d better be, you know, right. Otherwise you just look like an idiot. And not a very nice idiot, either. . . .

Will the Washington Post — which made the same error, if a bit less snarkily, in this story — issue a correction?

And people wonder why we trust Iraqi bloggers more than Big Media. Patterico has it right:

I’m pleased that the paper has acknowledged its error. However, it is not an excuse that the speech was “not publicized to the Western news media.” Bremer’s farewell address had been common knowledge among readers of internet blogs since at least June 30, when I wrote about Tim Blair’s criticism of the Washington Post for making the same exact error. Yet the front-page L.A. Times news analysis appeared on July 4 — 4 days later.

Moral: someone at every major paper should be reading blogs. If they did, the papers might learn different points of view. They might pick up stories that are “not publicized to the Western news media.”

And they might make fewer errors on their front pages.


UPDATE: You know, I think that Tim Rutten is right: “If the American news media are lucky, 2004 will be remembered as the year of living dangerously. If not, then this election cycle may be recalled as the point at which journalism’s slide back into partisanship became a kind of free fall.” Too bad some of his LAT colleagues have already shouted “Geronimo!” (More on Rutten here: “Rutten’s column is actually quite dishonest.”)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Barry Dauphin notes that this reflects poorly on the Los Angeles Times’ newsgathering:

It also means that no one at the LA Times is watching Iraqi TV. Nonetheless the editors of the paper apparently feel smugly certain that they are doing a thorough enough job covering Iraq to allow a “news analysis” piece of such low caliber into the paper.

Indeed. Meanwhile Tim Blair observes: “Still afraid to look anybody in the eye is the Washington Post, which is yet to apologise for its own no-speech claim. ”

MORE: Ken Wheaton emails:

Two things:

1)About Bremer’s speech “not publicized to the Western news media.”

Call me crazy, but isn’t it a REPORTER’S job to publicize these things? Isn’t that what they’re there for? Or is the LA Times basically admitting that it stole the news from elsewhere (namely the Washington Post) but because the NY Times didn’t say any different, how could the LA Times have known?

2) Romenesko seems to have plenty to say about the NY Post fiasco, but still NOTHING on the LA Times bit.

Yeah, go figure.

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