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by
Patrick Richardson

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August 26, 2011 - 11:50 am

So it seems the NYT has decided to “correct” a couple of errors in their hit piece on Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.) the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. You will recall this is the piece where Pulitzer Prize-winning “journalist” Eric Lichtblau, who has a history of hostility toward Issa, painted the congressman as an evil capitalist out to make a buck at the expense of the American people. A corrupt pol, who uses his office to enrich himself.

None of which, except perhaps the part about being a capitalist (which I don’t consider evil) was true. In fact there were 13 factual errors in the piece starting in the lede (pronounced with a long “e”) where Lichtblau talked about Issa’s office being in a “gleaming office building overlooking a golf course.” The “gleaming office building” turns out to be an ugly three-story concrete and glass box and the “golf course” is a freeway. Ever heard of Google Maps Eric?

The NYT has now corrected a grand total of three, according to a release by Frederick Hill, Issa’s communications director:

The office of Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, today sent a letter to New York Times Assistant Managing Editor and D.C. Bureau Chief Dean Baquet.  The letter is in response to one sent to Rep. Issa last night acknowledging two additional significant factual errors in the New York Times’ August 15 front page article while refusing to correct other errors or issue a retraction.  The Times has now run corrections on three items in the story.

Hill sent a letter in return to editor Dean Baquet which stated in part:

Dear Mr. Baquet:

As Congressman Darrell Issa’s Director of Communications, The New York Times’ acknowledgement of two more critical errors in its front page article of August 15 in addition to a previous error corrected on August 16 are steps in the right direction. The new acknowledgement of these false assertions about enormous profits from the sale of a mutual fund and the appreciation of a commercial real estate property owned by Rep. Issa fully removes all examples cited in the article as evidence that the “congressman’s government actions [help] to make a rich man even richer” and that values of his holdings have “soared” due to his official actions.

Hill also pointed out allegations of misconduct (nothing new to the Times) by Lichtblau (contributor’s note, henceforth deliberate lying by the MSM will be referred to as “Doing a Lichtblau”) and even provided a helpful timeline:

Rep. Issa’s office decided not to speak with Mr. Lichtblau for his August 15 story because of concern about his inability to put his negative view and bias against Rep. Issa aside in objectively reporting this story. After reading his story, which contained multiple errors smearing Rep. Issa, we feel vindicated by our decision. Had The New York Times assigned a different reporter, our response would have almost certainly been different.

While you do not offer a clear defense of Mr. Lichtblau’s bias against Rep. Issa and his efforts to smear him with factual errors and other distortions, your letter does contain explicit descriptions explaining your views of my efforts to work with him on correcting factual errors in his story. What follows is a timeline of my interaction with him:
Monday, August 15th, 9:15 a.m., I wrote Mr. Lichtblau asking for corrections from the New York Times. I asked for three corrections: the golf course error, the multibillion rather than multimillion misstatement, and correction of the “major supplier” to Toyota assertion.
On the same day, at 10:31 a.m., Lichtblau wrote back that the multibillion error was a typo that will be corrected, but refused the other two requests. He cited an unspecified advertisement as the source for the golf course statement and an Imus clip from over a year ago as the source on the Toyota supplier confirmation.
At 11:37 a.m., I responded to Mr. Lichtblau expressing my continued disagreement on the items he refused to correct. I asked him to provide me with his editors’ contact information if he still found himself in disagreement with my requests.
At 3:13 p.m., nearly four hours later, he responded to my e-mail with a reply that, in its entirety, read: “You must not have seen the Imus interview.” He did not include any names or contacts for his editors.

All of this really tells you all you actually need to know about Eric Lichtblau, the Times and the Pulitzer, which used to be my dream. Now I think it’s worth about as much as a roll of toilet paper, and the toilet paper is more useful.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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