For Lewis Libby, a Day Late, an Apology Short at the New York Times

Yesterday, Times Watch wondered when the New York Times would correct its front-page story from last Friday suggesting the White House and Lewis Libby had willfully misled reporters on an intelligence finding on Saddam Hussein’s quest for uranium, a story based on bad information released by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s office had to correct its court filing on Tuesday.

On Thursday morning, the Times files an Editors’ Note on the matter, and runs an article that refutes the thrust of its front-page story -- but on Page A17.

Here’s the correction in full, including the paper’s lame explanation for why it took the Times until today to correct, when the Washington Post, for instance, had the correction story on Wednesday.

“A front-page article in some copies on Sunday reported that a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney said he had been authorized to disclose to a reporter that one of the key judgments in a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate was that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure uranium.' The assertion about the aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr., was based on a court filing last Wednesday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor overseeing the indictment of Mr. Libby in the C.I.A. leak case.

"Yesterday, Mr. Fitzgerald filed a letter with the court correcting his original filing to say Mr. Libby had been authorized to disclose ‘some of the key judgments of the N.I.E., and that the N.I.E. stated that Iraq was vigorously trying to procure uranium.’ This revised account of his filing undercut a basis of the Times article -- that Mr. Libby testified that he had been told to overstate the significance of the intelligence about uranium.

"Although Mr. Fitzgerald formally filed his corrective yesterday, accounts of it were provided to some news organizations on Tuesday night, and were the basis for news articles yesterday. The Times did not publish one, as other organizations did, because a telephone message and an e-mail message about the court filing went unnoticed at the newspaper. An article on the filing appears today, on Page A17.”

That’s where David Johnston’s brief follow-up appears.

Apparently no one at the Times reads “The Corner” at National Review Online (big surprise there), given that reporter Byron York posted Fitzgerald’s correction there 7:00 pm Tuesday night.

For more New York Times bias, check out TimesWatch.

Iraq Valerie Plame Disclosure New York Times
Clay Waters's picture