NYT Defends Against Accusations of 'Lazy Re-Write'

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Julian Sanchez wrote in late December that the NYT published a "very light, very lazy re-write" of this 2008 Reason article he co-wrote. (Credit: Reason, screenshot)

Journalist Julian Sanchez accused the New York Times of publishing a “very light, very lazy rewrite” of a 2008 article he co-wrote with Dave Weigel, “Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters?”  In his Dec. 27 blogpost, Sanchez also called the Times’ article “a sloppy paraphrase” and argued that the New York Times misrepresented its story as a follow-up report.  Sanchez noted that the Times did add “a few sentences from the very end” but that part of the article was “first reported in Reason.”

According to Sanchez’s biography on his website, he “currently works as a Research Fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, and is a contributing editor for Reason magazine.”

This is the Jan. 16, 2008 article by Weigel and Sanchez about Paul’s “late 1980s and early 1990s” newsletters published with his name on them..   This is the New York Times’ Dec. 26, 2011 article by Jim Rutenberg and Serge F. Koaleski.

Sanchez also suggested that the Times’ article is presented as something new that the Times “sniffed out,” which he disagreed with.

Sanchez claimed that the Times’ article “cites exactly the same essays and materials we did, takes for granted the identity of Paul’s chief ghostwriter and newsletter editor (which our article spent a fair amount of space publicly establishing for the first time), and even interviews exactly the same sources on the same subjects.”

He added that he wasn’t trying to “get some kind of acknowledgement by name” with his blogpost critical of the New York Times, but rather just expressing that he is “annoyed” by a “mangled account” that he said is a “rewrite.”

Weigel also weighed in a December blog post for Slate.  Weigel agreed that the Times’ story is presented as a new angle or re-framing of the Paul story.  “You have no idea that the controversy about this stuff goes all the way back to 1988, with added intensity since 2008,” he wrote.  “If you read to the penultimate paragraph, well, then you learn that a conversation between Paul and Cato’s Ed Crane* about the power of extremist mailing lists ‘was first reported in the libertarian publication Reason.'”

In response, the Times’ Jim Rutenberg said, according to POLITICO, “They’re credited in our piece. I don’t know what they want me to say.”  He also commented that the Ron Paul newsletters are currently “pretty attention-grabbing and pretty odd” and that his article includes original reporting like a Ron Paul interview.

The New York Times’ article does discuss the newsletters and note that they have been reported on by others previously.  The New York Times includes interviews with Don Black, “director of the white nationalist Web site Stormfront” and Ron Paul, iMediaEthics notes.

According to POLITICO, the Times’ Eileen Murphy added that “We stand fully behind Jim and Serge and this story, which included a great deal of new reporting and which also credited other publications for previous reporting.”

We have written to Sanchez to see if he has any further comment and if there was any resolution to the incident. We will update with any response.

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Journalist Says NYT Made ‘Lazy ReWrite’ in Late December Ron Paul Story, NYT Defends

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