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Monday, September 26, 2005

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

So does this count as a correction? I don't know whether to update the stats or not.

The TV Watch column on Sept. 5 discussed broadcast journalists' undisguised outrage at the failings of Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts. It said reporters had helped stranded victims because no police officers or rescue workers were around, and added, "Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his rivals one better: yesterday, he 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."

The editors understood the "nudge" comment as the television critic's figurative reference to Mr. Rivera's flamboyant intervention. Mr. Rivera complained, but after reviewing a tape of his broadcast, The Times declined to publish a correction.

Numerous readers, however--now including Byron Calame, the newspaper's public editor, who also scrutinized the tape--read the comment as a factual assertion. The Times acknowledges that no nudge was visible on the broadcast.
Aside from the obvious reaction that this reads precisely like the sort of thing I say to High-Pitched Tone just to end a fight that was totally her fault--"I acknowledge that if I had listened to your driving directions, we would have gotten home two hours sooner"-- I have three things to say: 1) I wonder where anyone got the idea that newspapers are arrogant, stuffy, insular institutions utterly lacking in self-awareness; 2) So... I guess Geraldo doesn't count as a "reader"?; and 3) If you people would stop insisting on reading simple declarative sentences that describe the actions of named individuals as factual assertions, that would be really great. Thanks.