Yesterday’s Thoughts

September 25, 2005

Will Bill Keller Be Fired?

The New York Times’ Public Editor, Byron Calame, is calling Times Editor Bill Keller, and by extension the Times, to account. In his column Even Geraldo Deserves a Fair Shake he points out the Time’s TV Critic Alessandra Stanley made a factual error about an event that she observed on TV. She claimed that Geraldo Rivera “nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety.”

This is a fairly straight-forward claim. Either Rivera nudged, or he didn’t nudge. Rivera complained about the line, and provided the Times with not only the video footage that aired, but also additional unaired footage, which seems like overkill to me. Stanley only saw the on air footage, but I suppose that the additional footage could be useful in a questionable case.

Unfortunately for the Times, this isn’t a questionable case. Rivera wasn’t even near the Air Force rescue worker. The worker was at the bottom of the stairs when Rivera came down. Another person was coming down the stairs backwards carrying the chair and Rivera was at the top helping with the chair. The Air Force rescue worker went up the stairs to ask a question, but he didn’t come near to Rivera.

Since all the relevant data can be seen by anyone with a television you might think that the Times would be jumping all over itself to issue a correction. Maybe Stanley was speaking metaphorically. Maybe she made a mistake. Maybe she saw different footage of a completely separate event that shows what she claim. Who knows, but since the Times has refused to issue a retraction, correction or clarification, they just look like liars.

We can see what Stanley saw. She was wrong. Neither she nor the Times will correct the record.

This is just wrong.

And by the way, as you can see from my blogroll, I read the Times, both for news and editorial. I don’t watch Fox News.

Bill Keller should be fired. Today. Alexandra Stanley should go with him. There is really no excuse for this.

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