Saturday, February 21, 2009

It Wasn't Fit To Print (At Least On Page One)

The supreme and all-powerful in-house arbiter of journalistic practice and ethics at the New York Times, the paper's "public editor," has issued his report on its recent story about Professor Stanley Kutler, former White House counsel John Dean, and the Watergate tapes. While copies of the full text are bouncing around the Internet, the History News Network offers this excerpt pending the article's publication in tomorrow's editions:
I think The Times blew the dispute out of proportion with front-page play, allowed an attack on a respected historian’s integrity without evidence to support it and left readers to wonder if there was anything here that would change our understanding of the scandal that ended Nixon’s presidency.
Clark Hoyt, author of the critique, believes that while Kutler's published transcripts of March 1973 Watergate conversations contained errors, there's no reason to believe they were intentional.

I raised some concerns of my own about the way Kutler edited a July 1972 conversation that I am certain are being studied carefully not only at the Times but in newsrooms around the world.

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