Monday, August 15, 2005

The Times and Air America

Patterico reports that the NY Times has issued a correction for misquoting Al Franken but has not explained how the error happened. And an explanation is definitely required. Here is the doctored quote from the Times:
"I don’t know why he did it," Mr. Franken said, according to a transcript of the broadcast made by the Department of Investigation. "I don’t know where the money went. I don’t know if it was used for operations. I think he was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul."
And here is the actual as presented by Patterico with the changes in bold:
I don’t know why they did it, and I don’t know where the money went, I don’t know if it was used for operations, which I imagine it was. I think he was robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Every one of the changes helps Air America:
  • changing "they" to "he" makes this a bad behavior by one fall guy rather than a conspiracy that might bring down several powerful Democrat activists.

  • leaving off "which I imagine it was" removes an admission of guilt and lets the Times continue to play this as just an accusation.

  • changing "robbing" to "borrowing" removes the criminal implications and lets the Times continue to pretend that only right-wing bloggers suspect there was anything criminal going on.
  • Any of these changes alone might be excused as a mistake, but when there are three mistakes and all of them work to Air America's advantage, that's a trend.

    Finally, as Dwilkers points out in the comments, the Times has still not corrected one "mistake": the mistake where they said they got this quote from an official NY government transcript. Apparently there is no transcript.

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