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The Press Recycling Urban Legends

InstaPundit points out that bloggers are often better at recording actual facts than so-called professional reporters. Specifically, he links to several articles comparing the recent photos of John Kerry windsurfing to those of George Bush the First being amazed by a supermarket bar code scanner during the ’92 campaign.

Except that the scanner incident never happened. The reporters from the New York Times and New York Daily News just didn’t bother to check before entering it into the record as fact.

New England Republican highlights another example of the arrogant hypocricy of the Times:

A reader of mine sent a letter to the New York Times Ombudsman to complain about the paper’s lack of coverage concerning Kerry’s Christmas in Cambodia stories. Here is the letter my reader sent followed by the reply he received back. I’ll comment after the letters.

Mr Okrent,

With all due respect, I must urge you and all of your colleagues at the NY Times to treat Mr Kerry in the same manner that you do Pres Bush. I am not one to routinely cry “media bias” but I really don’t understand how anyone can say, with a straight face, that Kerry is being treated differently than Mr Bush in the media.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent flap about John Kerry’s old and more recent statements, in press and on the floor of the Senate, in which he said that he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 (going so far as to say that he was 5 miles into Cambodia, that the memory of it was “seared” into his mind, that it was a sentinel event in his life where he realized that his government would lie to the world, thus shaping his views on any number of issues – the Contras, etc). Last week, the Kerry campaign had to admit that this was not true, even in a press statement.

And in the NY Times, there were ZERO stories about this. Or if there were, I must have missed it. [snip]

Here is the letter he received back (emphasis added):

Dear (name removed),

I raised your concern with senior editors at The Times who explained that the staff is working hard on this issue, and when there’s anything reliable to say, as opposed to rumors and suspicions, they intend to report it fully.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Meanwhile, the Times will continue to report the old Bush/scanner myth as fact, which a five-minute search of the Snopes website reveals is bogus.

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