Friday, September 30, 2005

The Times' new Public Editor seems to have a question.

Byron Calame asks, "Why would anybody pay $49.95 to read a bunch of OpEd writers who get their stuff from Kos and then all just repeat each other?" Or just about...

As questions about compliance with the corrections policy for The Times’ Op-Ed columnists continue to arise, Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, told me in an e-mail Tuesday that she will “address the issue in a forthcoming letter from the editor” in the paper.

Ms. Collins’ comment came in response to my Monday query about the handling of an error by columnist Frank Rich.

That mistake has turned out to be the latest of five appearances that versions of the same “college roommates” error have made in The Times this month ... a total of four times by three Op-Ed columnists attacking cronyism -- and once in a news article.

Five times the same error is made by three op-eders and a reporter. An error that might easily be taken for one of political bias. Gee, I wonder which op-eder was so careless (or so enjoys repeating a slur) as to so err twice...

In all five instances, Joe Allbaugh, President Bush’s 2000-campaign manager and a former head of FEMA, and Michael Brown, his successor at FEMA, were described variously as college roommates, college buddies or college friends.

In fact, the two men didn’t even attend the same college....

[In addition to Rich] Paul Krugman referred to Mr. Brown as “Mr. Allbaugh’s college roommate” in columns on Sept. 5 and Sept. 9. Columnist Maureen Dowd called Mr. Brown a “college buddy of Joe Allbaugh” on Sept. 10. A Sept. 13 news article mentioned a job recommendation Mr. Brown once got from Mr. Allbaugh, “an old friend from college.”...

Why it was Krugman who thought the fib so nice he repeated it twice. Surprise.

It will be interesting to see if Ms. Collins might decide to publish one correction somewhere on the Op-Ed page that would get appended to all the relevant columns... Editors in the newsroom will do what needs to be done about the Sept. 13 article, I trust.

Meanwhile, I will look forward to Ms. Collins’ letter from the editor on corrections. I hope it will deal one way or the other with the failure of Mr. Krugman to publish other recent corrections in the paper as the current policy requires...

Uh, oh, Paul again. Looks like more for the Krugmanisms file.

In the meantime, while these op-ed writers are ever so concerned with attacking cronyism, I'm still waiting to see who will be the first among them to mention how their boss Pinch got his job.

Update: Collins' full letter is available via LuskinSelect, with commentary. And EU Rota suggests some additional items to which the new policy might be applied.

Update: YIKES, I've been Instapundited! If I'd ever thought that might happen I'd have put something worth reading on this site.