New York Times Public Editor Looking Into Blumenthal Coverage

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The New York Times is dealing with fallout from their coverage of Connecticut senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal (pictured), and now, their public editor/ombudsman, Clark Hoyt, is looking into it.

This comes in the wake of the revelation that their story -- regarding his service record in Vietnam -- came straight from his opponent, Linda McMahon, and her camp (who bragged about it). Since then, the Times has gotten heat for using a video to illustrate their story's point that truncated some of the context of Blumenthal's remarks (the kind of context that would've made the story less explosive), which was after it was pointed out that Blumenthal's comments before he made the offending remark were even less "explosive."

So Joe Strupp -- the watchdog behind Media Matters -- gave Hoyt a call to see what was going on with this:

"I am taking a look at it," Hoyt told me this morning, but said he did not know if it would result in a column or when. "I don't know. I am doing what you are doing." Presumably that means trying to find out what happened.

We'll see if Hoyt comes through. After all, after you get this kind of notice from your boss (in this case, NYT executive editor Bill Keller), how much incentive is there to push forward incredibly hard?

But rules are only as good as their enforcement, and it is true that our vigilance too often flags. One valuable service a public editor provides is to call us to account when our discipline is too lax. That's one reason that when Clark Hoyt's three-year tour ends in mid-June, we will be appointing a new public editor.

Then again, Keller's statement from the beginning of the month could give Hoyt even more incentive to put the Times on blast, now. Here's hoping he goes out with a bang.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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