August 9, 2017

JOURNALISM: WaPo’s Erik Wemple: New York Times guilty of large screw-up on climate-change story.

Correction: August 9, 2017
An article on Tuesday about a sweeping federal climate change report referred incorrectly to the availability of the report. While it was not widely publicized, the report was uploaded by the nonprofit Internet Archive in January; it was not first made public by The New York Times.

That correction, which sits at the foot of the story, dutifully straightens out the record. Yet given the magnitude of the screw-up, it should sit atop the story, surrounded by red flashing lights and perhaps an audio track to instruct readers: Warning: This story once peddled a faulty and damaging premise.

That premise suggests that the Trump administration is stifling a damaging draft report — part of the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment — with dire warnings about climate change. . . .

As it detailed the conclusions of the draft report, the New York Times highlighted an equally scary prospect: That without the intervention of the New York Times, it might not have seen the light of day. . . .

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blasted away in a statement: “It’s very disappointing, yet entirely predictable to learn The New York Times would write off a draft report without first verifying its contents with the White House or any of the federal agencies directly involved with climate and environmental policy. As others have pointed out – and The New York Times should have noticed – drafts of this report have been published and made widely available online months ago during the public comment period. The White House will withhold comment on any draft report before its scheduled release date.”

Next up, a big New York Times expose on “endangered feces,” followed by “never mind.”