Re: New York Times Takes Another Pratfall -- Chastised By Own Public Editor -- Byron Calame
- From: "Jack Linthicum" <jacklinthicum@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 29 Sep 2005 04:04:41 -0700
James Toupin wrote:
> "D. Spencer Hines" <poguemidden@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
> > Bill Keller is the Executive Editor of the New York Times.
> > His farblondjet reasoning and pitiful excuses below are quite
> > ludicrous -- as even Byron Calame, the Public Editor of The New York
> > Times, can readily see.
> > DSH
> > -------------------
> > "The Public Editor"
> > "Even Geraldo Deserves a Fair Shake"
> > By BYRON CALAME
> > September 25, 2005
> > "ONE of the real tests of journalistic integrity is being fair to
> > someone who might be best described by a four-letter word.
> > The New York Times flunked such a test in rejecting a demand by Geraldo
> > Rivera of Fox News for correction of a sentence about him in a column by
> > the paper's chief television critic.
> > The underlying issue arose from the penultimate paragraph of Alessandra
> > Stanley's TV Watch column on Sept. 5 about the coverage of Hurricane
> > Katrina: "Some reporters helped stranded victims because no police
> > officers or rescue workers were around. (Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his
> > rivals one better: yesterday, he nudged an Air Force rescue worker out
> > of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older
> > woman in a wheelchair to safety.)"
> > Mr. Rivera denied that he had "nudged" anyone and demanded that The
> > Times publish a correction.
> > Mr. Rivera and Fox said a videotape of the segment that Ms. Stanley had
> > watched on Sept. 4 shows no nudge. The segment was then rebroadcast on
> > "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox, and a videotape has been made available to
> > The Times and other media outlets.
> > Lashing out at Ms. Stanley on the O'Reilly show, Mr. Rivera denounced
> > her as "Jayson Blair in a cocktail dress," referring to the young
> > reporter who brought scandal to The Times in 2003.
> > If her name were Alexander instead of Alessandra, the flamboyant newsman
> > said during another appearance, "I'd go to that building on 43rd Street;
> > I'd shout up to the window, 'Hey, come on down here, punk. I want you to
> > tell me that to my face.' "
> > The Times informed Fox on Sept. 7 that no correction would be published.
> > Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, personally made the
> > final decision after "multiple viewings of the videotape in question,"
> > he told me in a Sept. 8 e-mail message that defended his ruling and was
> > later provided to other journalists.
> > Several dozen readers - including some who said they aren't admirers of
> > Mr. Rivera - have questioned the fairness of The Times's decision and
> > asked the public editor to look into it. ******
> > I have been involved in scores of correction disputes over the years at
> > another newspaper, but this one is unusual in that there is very little
> > to argue about. Since Ms. Stanley based her comments on what she saw on
> > the screen Sept. 4, the videotape of that segment means everyone
> > involved is looking at exactly the same evidence.
> > My viewings of the videotape - at least a dozen times, including one
> > time frame by frame - simply doesn't show me any "nudge" of any Air
> > Force rescuer by Mr. Rivera.
> > (Ms. Stanley declined my invitation to watch the tape with me.) ******
> > I also reviewed all of the so-called outtakes shot by Mr. Rivera's
> > camera crew at the Holy Angels Apartments in New Orleans on the morning
> > of Sept. 4. Neither the video nor the audio revealed any nudge of an
> > Air Force rescuer. As for the Air Force, the matter "is not an issue,"
> > a spokesman told me last week.
> > Stripped of its speculation in defense of Ms. Stanley, Mr. Keller's
> > e-mail to me explaining his decision winds up acknowledging that the
> > "nudge" she reported seeing is not shown in the videotape. Here, with
> > my emphasis added, is that key paragraph of his e-mail:
> > "It was a semi-close call, in that the video does not literally show how
> > Mr. Rivera insinuated himself between the wheelchair-bound storm victim
> > and the Air Force rescuers who were waiting to carry her from the
> > building. Whether Mr. Rivera gently edged the airman out of the way
> > with an elbow (literally 'nudged'), or told him to step aside, or threw
> > a body block, or just barged into an opening - it's hard to tell, since
> > it happened just off-camera."
> > So if Ms. Stanley couldn't have seen the nudge, why not publish a
> > correction?
> > Mr. Keller's message unfortunately turns to a line of reasoning that
> > raises, for me, a basic question of journalistic fairness.
> > He suggests, "frankly," that in light of Mr. Rivera's reaction to the
> > review, Ms. Stanley "would have been justified in assuming" - and
> > therefore writing, apparently - that Mr. Rivera used "brute force"
> > rather than merely a "nudge" on Sept. 4. (One of the on-air threats
> > cited by Mr. Keller, however, actually was made by Bill O'Reilly.)
> > I find it disturbing that any Times editor would come so close to
> > implying - almost in a tit-for-tat sense - that Mr. Rivera's bad
> > behavior essentially entitles the paper to rely on assumptions and
> > refuse to correct an unsupported fact. ******
> > Mr. Keller's final reason for rejecting a correction was that Ms.
> > Stanley, "who is writing as a critic, with the license that title
> > brings - was within bounds in her judgment."
> > He elaborated: "Ms. Stanley's point was that Mr. Rivera was
> > show-boating - that he was being pushy, if not literally pushing - and I
> > think an impartial viewer of the footage will see it that way."
> > Based on the videotape and outtakes I saw, Ms. Stanley certainly would
> > have been entitled to opine that Mr. Rivera's actions were showboating
> > or pushy. But a "nudge" is a fact, not an opinion. And even critics
> > need to keep facts distinct from opinions. ******
> > --------------------------------
> > Meanwhile, in the opinion section of The Times, the corrections policy
> > of Gail Collins, the editor of the editorial page, is not being fully
> > enforced. As I have written on my Web journal, Paul Krugman has not
> > been required to correct, in the paper, recent acknowledged factual
> > errors in his column about the 2000 election in Florida.
> > The Times has long been a trailblazer in its commitment to correcting
> > errors. This is no time to let those standards slip - even when
> > well-known critics and columnists are involved."
> > "The public editor serves as the readers' representative. His opinions
> > and conclusions are his own. His column appears at least twice monthly
> > in this section."
> I find it disturbing that anyone would take the word "nudge" so literally
> and that there is any controversy over this issue. Do journalists, even in
> opinion pieces, have to be so literal that there is no room left for
> literature? If so, this spells the end of sports journalism as we know it:
> hard to justify "The Braves slaughtered the Red Socks 10 to 2."
> Mr. Rivera is a well-known public grandstander and practitioner of less than
> rigorous "journalism". - How soon everyone seems to forget his misstatements
> as to where he was reporting from in the most recent Gulf war. - This being
> the case, I think that "nudge" is certainly an appropriate verb to use
> especially given the following definition from Webster's Dictionary:
> Noun 1. nudge - a slight push or shake
> Synonyms: jog
> Verb 1. nudge - to push against gently; "She nudged my elbow when she
> saw her friend enter the restaurant"
> Synonyms: poke at, prod
> 2. nudge - push into action by pestering or annoying gently
> So please, a little sanity and a little less of the PC police would be
> > -------------------------------
> > DSH
I have seen the tape and agree with several disheartened TV types that
this is possibly the only time recorded that Rivera was not physically
putting himself in the picture to the detriment of others. He is on the
'uphill' or 'non-gravity' end of the process, narrating his little
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