Error-ridden puff-profile goes from shoddy to absolutely absurd...
By Brad Friedman on 7/4/2011, 6:35pm PT  

While we wait for the New York Times to hopefully correct last week's puff-profile on Rightwing scam-artist Andrew Breitbart, in regard to their demonstrably inaccurate statements about what occurred in his and James O'Keefe's phony "pimp" hoax videos, I just noticed that the paper, which already corrected another point in the same piece, seems to be purposefully covering for Breitbart's own original lie in their corrected text of the article.

At this point, they seem to be going out of their way to avoid calling Breitbart a liar, even if it means, impossibly, attempting to cover up for the very lie the paper states he originally told them!

As we noted last week, the Times issued a correction to Jeremy W. Peters' softball story, where he had originally reported that, in Breitbart's selective clip from a speech by then USDA official Shirley Sherrod, audience members (according to Breitbart, but inexcusably never fact-checked by the paper before publication) "applauded" when she discussed her initial reticence in helping out a white farmer decades earlier.

In fact, as Media Matters first detailed on the day Peters' NYTimes article was published --- and as easily apparent to anybody who bothered to view the selective clip that Breitbart published at his websites under the inaccurate headline "NAACP Awards Racism" --- the audience at the speech did not "applaud."

In the course of correcting the inaccurate report, however, which had previously asserted that "Breitbart said...the crowd applauded," the Times is now offering a completely different story about what Breitbart "said" --- a story that differs with their own published correction on the very same page!

Here's what the original June 26 version of the Peters' NYT report stated [emphasis added]...

Defending himself, Mr. Breitbart said that the video came to him already edited, and that the crowd applauded when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man.

In the Times' June 29 correction, as posted now at the bottom of the article, they clearly state [emphasis added]...

In a short video clip of the speech, which Mr. Breitbart released as evidence that Ms. Sherrod acknowledged not helping a white farmer, some audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval; they did not applaud, although Mr. Breitbart stated that they did.

Setting aside the complete subjectivity required to assert with any certainty that "the audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval," the corrected text of the Peters' NYT story now reads as follows [emphasis added again]...

Defending himself, Mr. Breitbart said that the video came to him already edited, and that some audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval when Ms. Sherrod said she did not help the man.

Um, isn't the "Paper of Record" trying to have it both ways here?

Either Breitbart "said" the audience "applauded" or he "said" the audience "nodded and murmured in apparent approval." He didn't say both to the paper. Or, if he did, the Times needs to explain as much since, as their own correction on the very same page confirms, "Breitbart stated that they" applauded!

This story is now going from shoddy to shoddier, even as we wait for the Times to get back to us in regard to the other errors in the same story, the ones we highlighted over a week ago concerning the phony ACORN "pimp" hoax tapes, which, as we noted in an update to our most recent story on this mess, the office of the Times Public Editor now claims to be "look[ing] into."

As Matt Gertz noted at Media Matters when he highlighted the Times' Sherrod error in the story originally, whether or not the "crowd applauded" --- as the Times initially reported Breitbart as claiming, and as they now admit was inaccurate --- "is not an opinion; it is an assertion of fact that can [be] easily verified" with a "bare minimum of fact-checking; the out-of-context clip is only 2 minutes 36 seconds long."

The Times, as evidenced by their own correction, has now done that, as they should have in the first place, and concluded that the crowd "did not applaud," even though, as they say, "Mr. Breitbart stated that they did."

But they've gone on to further cover up for the well-established partisan con-artist by amending their original inaccuracy to report, instead, that he "said...that some audience members nodded and murmured in apparent approval."

Their original error was inexcusable and, if granted the most generous benefit-of-the-doubt, extraordinarily lazy. Their subsequent reverse engineering of what "Mr. Breitbart said," however, seems to be an outright lie upon its very face, if we are to believe the paper's very own correction!

Gertz' Media Matters article was headlined, "Why Is The NY Times Helping Andrew Breitbart Lie?" It was a good question then, but it's an even better question now.

The paper's botched attempt at rewriting history is now deserving of its own correction or, more appropriately at this point, a detailed explanation for the apparent effort to seemingly allow Breitbart to have it both ways, rather than simply calling him out for what he has proven himself in the past, time and again, and once again now, to clearly be: a liar.

The top-tier, not-liberal-at-all "liberal media" bastion continues its long-established record of propping up fake conservatism and those who propagate it --- even if they have to help the liars lie by lying for them, under the still-respected imprimatur of this nation's "Paper of Record."