News & Politics

Egg on Their Faces: New York Times Retracts False Nikki Haley Smear

Egg on Their Faces: New York Times Retracts False Nikki Haley Smear
Chemical Weapons used again in Syria (Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

On Thursday, the New York Times — America’s newspaper of record — published a disgusting false smear against U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. The original article suggested Haley was responsible for spending $52,701 on curtains for the UN ambassador’s house in New York City, when in reality the decision to purchase the curtains was made under former president Barack Obama. The Times appended a correction at the top of the article, altered the headline, and removed the photo of Nikki Haley.

“Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her New Curtains? $52,701.” the original headline screamed, complete with a featured picture of Haley at the United Nations. The original version of the article is unavailable, but a screenshot captured by the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake revealed that the Times had substantially altered the article after receiving hefty criticism.

“An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question,” a lengthy editor’s note explains. “While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials. The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.”

The original article had included the important caveat that Haley was not responsible for the curtains, but it buried that key fact in the fourth paragraph. “A spokesman for Ms. Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said,” the article admitted.

While the original version of the article is no longer available, it remains clear from various screenshots that the article attacked Haley by name before adding the vital caveat that she had no responsibility for the curtains.

The more innocent current version of the article begins, “The State Department spent $52,701 for customized and mechanized curtains for the picture windows in the new official residence of the ambassador to the United Nations.” In that version, Haley’s name does not appear until the fourth paragraph.

The false exposé received a great deal of attention before this fundamental retraction. Gardiner Harris, the original author, tweeted his story (and has not yet tweeted a retraction).

His colleague Edward Wong summarized the story in a tweet that received 15K “retweets” and 17K “likes.” “State Dept., suffering from budget cuts, paid $52,000 for curtains in Nikki Haley’s Manhattan apartment. Scoop by [Gardiner Harris],” Wong tweeted, adding, “The rent is $58,000 per month. Taxpayer funded.”

Belatedly, Wong retweeted the correction. The New York Times official Twitter account has not yet acknowledged the retraction.

The damage from Wong’s tweet had already been done. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called for a formal oversight hearing into Haley’s spending. “This is not okay. As a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I call on Chairman [Ed Royce] to hold an oversight hearing on [State Department] spending on [Nikki Haley] and her deputy,” Lieu tweeted. He has not yet deleted the tweet or issued a retraction.

Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist David Hogg called on Haley to resign — for a decision she never made. “Dear Nikki Haley, There are starving children in America everyday and you have the audacity to misappropriate thousands of tax dollars for your own lavish lifestyle. Resign immediately sincerely, America,” David Hogg tweeted.

As of Friday afternoon, David Hogg has not deleted his tweet or issued a retraction.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed the Times for its horrendous reporting. “Want an example of subtle ways media pushes their bias? See this completely false & misleading headline about [Nikki Haley],” Rubio tweeted. “They are not ‘her curtains’ & buried deep in story is the fact that this purchase was made under Obama administration.”

To his credit, CNN’s Jake Tapper busted the attack on Haley. “A word on the false meme bopping around about [Nikki Haley]’s $52,701 curtains. NYT story notes in 6th paragraph, ‘A spokesman for Ms. Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said,'” Tapper tweeted.

This is not the first time the Times has had to add an embarrassing correction to a story by Gardiner Harris. Washington Free Beacon contributor Noah Pollak noted that the name “Gardiner Harris” “rang a bell,” because “back in May he wrote a ludicrous smear job on [the Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz]. Corrections almost ran longer than the original piece. Lectures on truth and accountability from the NYT are a farce.”

Here’s a photo of the lengthy correction, shared by the New York Post‘s Seth Mandel.

It seems the New York Times needs to add a correction to their grandiose claims of being a champion for the truth.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.