The New York Times added an editors’ note to its review of Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa’s new book last month.
The Aug. 23 editor’s note reads:
“An earlier version of this review, in discussing Mario Vargas Llosa’s relationship with Isabel Preysler, stated that Vargas Llosa announced the relationship on a Twitter account and that he sold related photographs and an ‘exclusive’ story to Hola!, a popular Spanish magazine, for a large amount of money. After the review was published, Vargas Llosa contacted The Times to say that none of these assertions were true.
“In reviewing this complaint, editors determined that the reviewer had based his account of these matters mostly on information from an article about Vargas Llosa in The Daily Mail, but neither the reviewer nor editors independently verified those statements. Using such information is at odds with The Times’s journalistic standards, and it should not have been included in the review.”
The false claims came from the Daily Mail, but the Times didn’t attribute or credit the Mail, according to the Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple. “The piece, as originally published, never credited the Daily Mail for the details,” Wemple reported. “It merely stated them as fact.”
Book Review chief Pamela Paul told Wemple that “obviously it was a regrettable error.”
“The sneaky part of the New York Times treatment is that it didn’t see fit to name the Daily Mail until it received word that the information might be false,” Wemple added, noting that the Mail‘s spokesperson said the outlet “have not received any complaints about the accuracy of our story.”
Poynter’s Ben Mullin reported that News Diffs “shows Cohen did not cite the Daily Mail as a source” originally.
This is the Mail‘s July 5 article, “Nobel prize-winning novelist leaves his wife of 50 years for the 64-year-old mother of Enrique Iglesias dubbed the ‘Pearl of Manila.'” That story reports that “Vargas Llosa chose to reveal his new relationship, coupled with a request for privacy in Hola! – parent magazine of Britain’s Hello!,” which “reportedly paid up to £600,000 for its ‘exclusive’ piece on the ‘madly in love’ couple.”
The Times also published a correction after misspelling the name of Llosa’s reported partner.
Llosa complained via a Letter to the Editor the Times published Aug. 23. His letter accused the newspaper of publishing “information about me that is both slanderous and perfidious.”
“According to the review, a few days before the publication of my book I announced my new relationship with Miss Isabel Preysler on my ‘official Twitter account’ and sold photos as well as the ‘exclusive’ story to Hola! magazine in Spain for 850,000 euros,” Llosa wrote. However, “I have never had a Twitter account, and I have never posted and never will post anything on any Twitter account. I have never sold a photo or story to Hola! magazine or any other outlet in connection with any relationship or personal matter,” Llosa said.
He added a final insult to the Times, commenting, “I am flabbergasted to learn that this kind of gossip can work its way into a respectable publication such as the Book Review.”
Hat Tip: Guardian‘s Roy Greenslade