Sunday, July 31, 2011

Statement About Public Editor Slamming Again, Harder NYT Gas Reporter

The truth is gaining on the lie.  In today's Sunday New York Times, the NYT Public Editor slams the  rogue NYT gas reporter for yet another reckless false article. 

This time the NYT Public Editor reviewed the June 27th article that used a host of manipulative techniques--misleading redactions, misleading descriptors, anonymous sourcing--to mislead the good readers of the paper and to besmirch the Energy Information Administration with the serious charge that it was falsifying shale gas data and judgment. 

Serving as the ombudsman for the public, the NYT Public Editor finds the following:

1. An intern to EIA was described by the NYT gas reporter as an "official" when quoting him anonymously and never as an intern. 

2. As the Public Editor writes: "Can an intern be an 'official'?  It doesn't sound right to me."  But the manipulation is much more.

2. As the Public Editor states, the same individual who was the intern and later hired as a employee was quoted multiple times and given different descriptors such as "official," later as "energy analyst," and still later as "one federal analyst", creating the false, misleading impression that the single person was three, different people.

3. The Public Editor finds: "Without ample descriptions of the unnamed sources, readers couldn't know who was speaking and could not judge for themselves the merits of what was said.  In the case of the redacted e-mails, the descriptors tended to obscure how many E.I.A. staffers were involved and when an intern was the emailer."

4. The Public Editor writes:  "In addition to the redactions and use of confusing, multiple descriptors, in four e-mails references to interns were blacked out to protect sources."

5. The Public Editor then slams hard:  "However, redactions of an earlier 2009 e-mail from Mr. Whitmore to an NPR reporter did create uncertainities...The fact is, The Times decided to go with the redacted documents and, in doing so, placed the serious shortcomings of anonymous sourcing on display...Anonymous material says to the reader: Trust us. But if the reader ends up feeling burned - if, for example, an official proves to be an intern - the trust won't be there the next time."

The EIA has released all the emails to Congress, from interns and everyone, to let full transparency explode the reckless charge aimed at it.  The Acting Administrator in testimony to the US Senate also charged the disgraced NYT reporter used manipulative redactions to create a false sense of impropriety. See earlier posting for details on his testimony.

Now the NYT Public Editor also finds that the charge of manipulation against the NYT gas reporter is meritorious. 

The question becomes, will anyone at the NYT who has hiring and firing authority fire the NYT gas reporter?  He has now been found by the Public Ombudsman in two, separate reviews of two articles to have engaged in manipulative, disgraceful journalism. 

Is that a firing offense or how one gets ahead at the NYT?


  1. I thought this part here was just as smokingly significant:

    E.I.A. senior market analyst Charles Whitmore "told the NPR journalist in the e-mail that he believed shale gas to be 'the big energy story of the last couple of years,' a segment that was blacked out."

    On what journalistic grounds would that have been redacted -- from the posting of the source documents? The identity of which anonymous source does that act of censorship protect?

    In the end, it "protects" only the reader from learning that business is way more nuanced and complicated than it might seem when viewed through Urbina's preposterously conspiratorial lens.

    Brisbane: "The editors told me all the redactions were made to conceal sources, and that 'none of the redacted material contradicts the points made in the story.'”

    Not so! Busted! Over the line!

  2. Excellent point. The NYT Gas Reporter got on the front page twice of the Sunday NYT, a big professional accomplishment. His method is way over the line but has been rewarded, until the recent turn of events, with the Public Editor sending creating major blowback for him within his own house.