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

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."