As iMediaEthics previously wrote, California congressman Darrell Issa criticized the New York Times’ mid-August report on him. Issa’s office challenged the Times on a number of points and claimed the report included numerous errors.
Shortly after publication on Aug. 16, the Times corrected one error. Then, the Times corrected two errors in late August. And, this past week, the Times added a fourth correction.
The two Aug. 26 corrections both attribute the mistake to outside information as opposed to the Times’ or its reporter’s error.
The first correction puts the blame on Issa’s foundation, stating that the error was a result of “erroneous information that Mr. Issa’s family foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service.”
The other error is explained as a result of ” incorrect information from the San Diego County assessor’s office.”
Then, on Sept. 7, the Times added what POLITICO called a “meta-correction.” That correction corrected the wording of the third correction and replaced the third correction. According to POLITICO, the fourth correction “was requested by the San Diego’s assessor’s office, which was pretty much thrown under the bus in the Times’s third correction.”
The third correction stated the assessor’s office provided “incorrect information” about “the purchase price for a medical office plaza…because the assessor mistakenly omitted in public records a $6 million loan Mr. Issa’s company assumed in the acquisition.”
The fourth correction – a correction of a correction – repeats that the assessor’s office had “incorrect information” that “misstated the purchase price” but then stated that the Times made an “editing error” in the corrections that “also misstated the price.”
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The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple detailed the timeline of the “smackdown between” Issa and the newspaper. Wemple noted that the Times sent an Aug. 25 letter to Issa criticizing Issa, to which Issa reiterated on Aug. 26 his call for a retraction.
The Times’ Aug 25 letter from Dean Baquet to Issa’s office is published here on POLITICO’s website. Baquet copied public editor Arthur Brisbane on the letter and defended the Times report as “carefully reported, written, and edited.”
Baquet denied the call for a retraction and noted that Issa’ office didn’t “respond to, or even acknowledge three weeks’ worth or requests for comment.” Baquet argued that some of Issa’s complaints could have been avoided if he had complied with an interview.
Baquet also responded in detail to three of Issa’s “central claims” and rejected calls for corrections to “peripheral points.”
In closing, Baquet commented that “I’d like to say that it is troubling to see your office using the letterhead and imprimateur of a powerful congressional committee to wage personal and meritless attacks on a reporter and a news organization.”
Issa’s communications director Frederick Hill responded Aug. 26 and called the three total corrections so far “steps in the right direction.” The letter went on to call the article “deeply flawed” and claimed that “the factual pillars of the article are incorrect.”
The letter also alleged that Lichtblau has a “negative view and bias against Rep. Issa” and that he tried to “smear him.”