Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.), seems to have had just about enough of Mr. Eric Lichtblau, the New York Times “reporter” who wrote a more than 2,000 word screed accusing Issa of just about everything but being the shadowy figure on the grassy knoll.
Lichtblau wrote a hitpiece on Issa last week, which was riddled with errors and possibly outright plagiarism. Nothing particularly unusual for the Times ’tis true, but this time they picked a fight with the wrong dog.
Issa’s office found 13 factual errors in the story, including the one in the lede which really grabbed people’s imagination. Lichtblau wrote about the “gleaming office building overlooking a golf course.”
Well the “gleaming office building was an ugly three-story, concrete and glass box, and the “golf-course” is a freeway. This has all been well and repeatedly documented but they continue to, well, pull a Lichtblau, and lie about what the story actually said and what Lichtblau actually did.
In a memo sent out by Issa’s Communications Director Frederick Hill, Hill notes several of these inconsistencies:
The byline of Eric Lichtblau’s story is listed as “VISTA, Calif.” His story’s lede clearly implies his personal presence and observations of Rep. Issa’s district office building: “Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills of San Diego, Darrell Issa …” The facts, however, are inconsistent with what he presents to readers.
- Consider what the The North County Times reported about Lichtblau’s claim: “[Issa’s] Vista district office [is] in a three-story building that the New York Times referred to as ‘gleaming’ and overlooking a golf course. The building, in fact, is nondescript, overlooks Highway 78 and has no golf course view.”
- And what The San Diego Union-Tribune reported: “The U-T visited Issa’s offices on Friday, and the Shadowridge Country Club isn’t plainly visible. It’s about a 1.5 mile drive from Issa’s parking lot to the clubhouse … The area is not characterized by rugged foothills so much as suburban living. Down the street are a Burlington Coat Factory, Target and 24 Hour Fitness.”
- And that the owner of the building where Rep. Issa’s office is located has called the New York Times report an error: “None of the offices located within the Vista Corporate Center at 1800 Thibodo Road, including the office of Congressman Darrell Issa on the third floor, have a view of any golf course whatsoever. Any reports to the contrary are in error.”
Even while not issuing a correction, Lichtblau and the New York Times have provided inconsistent explanations about their reporting:
- Eric Lichtblau e-mailed the following to Rep. Darrell Issa office on Monday, August 15 after publication of his story: “As for the office building, the leasing agents for Thibodou have advertised its views of the Shadowridge golf course. It appears that it’s certainly visible to the southwest from offices in the building.” He did not share the advertisement referencing, “views of the Shadowridge golf course.”
- Eric Lichtblau’s editor, Dean Baquet, contradicted this explanation by arguing to Politico that the story did not imply Issa’s office overlooked the golf course: “I don’t think it implied — at least to my mind — that Issa’s office overlooked the golf course,” he told Politico. “I think it is trying to give a sense that this is a building in a cool area. That’s the way I always read it. Otherwise it really would have said his office overlooked the golf course. That would have been even cooler to say.”
- Differing from these explanations, Lichtblau told Politico, “he didn’t see the golf course from any of the windows of that floor. He said he stood at Shadowridge Country Club, about a quarter mile to the southwest of the building, and could see the building from there.” When The San Diego Union-Tribune, however, tried to look at the perspective Lichtblau cited they reported, “The U-T was unable to gain access to the course, which is private.” It is also not topographically possible to see Rep. Issa’s district office from the Shadowridge Country Club as Lichtblau has since alleged.
There’s a great deal more to this of course, including even liberal bloggers who are a bit upset by what they see as Lichtblau’s outright plagiarism:
A Center for American Progress researcher has also raised ethical attribution concerns to the New York Times Public Editor via Twitter: <lhfang Lee Fang: Hey @EricLichtblau & @thepubliceditor your NYT Issa piece looks awfully familiar (see http://t.co/uZQBIsz & http://t.co/NSw0Wrc)
If I’d made this many mistakes I’d get fired, Lichtblau will probably win another Pulitzer, which, frankly I wouldn’t use for toilet paper these days.