Oops! The New York Times prints a fake letter

I nearly choked on my tea this morning while reading the editor’s note on the letters page of today’s (December 23rd) New York Times:

In Monday’s newspaper, we published a letter over the name of the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, criticizing Caroline Kennedy. This letter was a fraud and should not have been published. Mr. Delanoë’s office has since confirmed that he did not write it.

Printing the letter, which also appeared on nytimes.com until it was removed, violated the standards and procedures of The New York Times editorial department.

It is our practice to verify the authenticity of every letter we publish. Like more of our letters these days, this one arrived by e-mail. We sent an edited version back to the writer of the e-mail and did not receive a response.

At that point, the letter should have been set aside. It was not.

The Times has expressed its regret to Mr. Delanoë’s office for the lapse in judgment that led to this error. We now express those regrets to our readers.

We will be reviewing our procedures in an attempt to ensure that an error like this is not repeated.

Here’s the link to the The New York Times web page containing the text of the original letter and the online version of the editor’s note, which differs slightly from the printed version.

I know the newspaper industry is in serious financial trouble, but hiring a few fact-checkers might save a lot of embarrassment.

2 responses to “Oops! The New York Times prints a fake letter

  1. It sounds like they got their credibility people from Sara Palin’s campaign office…

  2. The whole media lacks any kind of decent fact checking. Pretty much every day I watch TV news I end up screaming at the TV because they’ve said something completely ludicrous, which is evidently false (because I can do a quick sum or two in my head, and they apparently cannot).

    Any quoted statistics are the worse thing, they often quote statistics without the slightest understanding of what they mean or how they are generated, often actually quoting something completely silly as a result.

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