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‘Fake news’ at the NYT

Posted: October 9, 2017 4:38 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.

My personal, hands-on experience is exactly opposite of Tom Reichert’s claim when writing, “Regardless, newspapers are not the ones peddling fake news” (Good journalism is real, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, pg. 2).

My frightening, personal experiences are with the New York Times that frequently “invents” its own false news. They are particularly clever orchestrating subsequent columns and editorials based on their original “false news.”

My most telling experience of the NYT “fake news” took place years ago involving the U.S. Ambassador to the UN at the time, Jean Kirkpatrick. She was the Monday luncheon speaker at a day-long seminar in New York city sponsored by an organization of which I was an officer. So I made a special point to be there for her speech, also having business in NYC for the week.

The ballroom was packed … world press, UN officials and foreign policy aficionados. Arriving just before Kirkpatrick’s presentation, I had to stand alone at the back, which was useful to sharpen my attention.

Her presentation was scholarly and instructive ... nothing “political” ... in keeping with the non-partisan focus of the five-hour program (a detailed airing of our year-long “UN Assessment Project”). The event and speech were covered Tuesday by the Times as front page news. The report continued on an inside page. 

I was particularly impressed with the reporter’s style and accuracy ... until the last two paragraphs of a long story. The content of those closing paragraphs neither took place nor were directly or indirectly part of Kirkpatrick’s remarks. Surprised and irritated, but encouraged by the otherwise well done reporting and writing, I decided to give the reporter a “pass” because the closing, non-happening content seemed harmless.

Call it “fake news” of no consequence … or so I thought.

Being all week in NYC, I scanned the Times the next day, Wednesday. Jumping out at me was a column by the NYT’s James Reston (their lead guy) based on the “fake news” of the previous day’s reporting from our seminar. Curious.

Then Thursday’s NYT lead editorial was based on the fake news a la Reston’s column ... which he based on the last two fake news paragraphs of the original ... otherwise, quite well done reporting.

Stunned and, frankly, frightened, I shared the four-day experience with a friend who’d been an editor at Time magazine.

“Fritz, an editor added the ending to the reporter’s story. They (NYT) do that all the time ... no big deal.” Apparently the NYT fake news penchant was so common to them as not to deserve even further discussion.

Stunning and frightening ... and that event took place in the mid 1980’s.”

That NYT’s penchant is common knowledge among national media editors, my guess is Reichert knows it as well.

So I’ve not picked up ... or believed ... a New York Times newspaper in over 30 years.

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