In a New York Daily News story on the Times’ faltering self-examination, there’s this final gem:
The Times also explained why Maureen Dowd’s column on Wednesday happened to include a comment from President Bush on the same day News columnist Zev Chafets charged she had previously shortened it to distort its meaning.
“It was Ms. Dowd’s decision” to run Bush’s comment in full, a Times spokeswoman said. “Her intention was not to distort the meaning of the quote. She had received a couple of complaints and was happy to put in the entire quote to satisfy readers who felt it was too truncated.”
Readers might have been satisfied if Dowd had admitted that she’d cut the context out of the quote the first time. Slipping in the full quote with no acknowledgement of error is a sign of the arrogance that’s eroded the Times’ reputation. Dowd may be happy. Her readers are not. And what does her editor think about Dowd’s no-correction correction? Does she have an editor?
I wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column for 16 years, though I wasn’t a star like Dowd. Well, I sure wasn’t treated like a star. Now I’m glad. It’s hard to have your opinions appear in print every week — and get paid for it — without developing a superiority complex. I had a little voice in my head whispering: Don’t make yourself look like a fool. Don’t screw up in front of hundreds of thousands of people. If I did screw up, I was supposed to admit it in front of all those people. I’ve never heard of a reputable newspaper that worked any other way.
On Best of the Web, alert reader Brad Westmoreland “dowdifies” a Dowd column:
“The president was . . . found . . . to do the right thing . . . all of the time. . . . Bush . . . is . . . ideal.”
That’s a direct quote.