The New York Times is astounding: Truly, the New York Times is astounding. The paper defies belief.
Its latest collection of howlers concern the Zimmerman trial. They appear in today's news report by Cara Buckley, who replaced Lizette Alvarez on the Zimmerman beat in yesterday’s paper.
We should have known it was curtains for Alvarez when we praised her fairness. Yesterday, Buckley flirted with error. Today, though, she goes whole hog.
BUCKLEY (7/3/13): Officer Serino’s testimony, in the second week of the trial in Seminole County Court, was the latest setback for prosecutors, whose witnesses have repeatedly helped bolster the defense’s case. Mr. Zimmerman has said he shot Mr. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in self-defense after he was attacked on a drizzly night in February 2012. Prosecutors say that Mr. Zimmerman, who identifies as Hispanic, racially profiled Mr. Martin, who was black, and followed the teenager through the town house complex where Mr. Zimmerman lived and Mr. Martin, of Miami, was visiting.Are you kidding? In a pretrial ruling, Judge Debra Nelson specifically ruled that prosecutors wouldn’t be allowed to say that Zimmerman “racially profiled” Martin.
Prosecutors wanted to say that. The judge ruled that they could not.
Granted, they have said it elsewhere, but that was quite a blunder. Soon, though, it was followed by a blatant howler:
BUCKLEY: Other pieces of testimony may also have reflected poorly on Mr. Zimmerman. Officer Serino, who took the stand again on Tuesday, said the expletives that Mr. Zimmerman used as he was pursuing Mr. Martin connoted ill will—a necessary component in a second-degree murder conviction. The police officers were also clearly disturbed that Mr. Zimmerman, a community watch volunteer, got out of his car to pursue Mr. Martin on foot, especially after a police operator had told him he need not do so.Good God.
On-line, the Times has fixed this groaner. We’re showing you the text as it appears in our hard-copy Times, which, not unlike Joe McCarthy, we hold right right here in our hands.
But good God! As everyone knows except MSNBC pundits, Zimmerman wasn’t told by the dispatcher that he should stay in his car. The exchange in question came later, after he was out of his truck, following Martin on foot.
The claim that Zimmerman was told to stay in his car is a highly visible part of this case’s propaganda. It’s a familiar, basic part of the misinformation cycle. It’s astounding that the New York Times could still be making such basic errors at such a very late date.
That particular error was so basic that someone at the Times even noticed. Quickly, though, Buckley generated further concern:
BUCKLEY (continuing directly): Last week, a young woman who had been on the phone with Mr. Martin that night testified that he told her he was being followed by a “creepy” man, and that she later heard her friend crying, “Get off, get off.”Did the young woman in question really say that? For whatever reason, Buckley chose to clean up a rather colorful statement which has been widely discussed.
On Twitter, Buckley has already responded to a complaint about the cleaned-up quote. It isn’t that her text is “wrong.” It’s just that it’s weirdly selective.
But good grief! It’s astounding that the New York Times could still be advancing the claim that Zimmerman was told to stay in his car. The (uncorrected) statement about “racial profiling” isn’t a whole lot better.
Everybody makes mistakes, but the Times is truly astounding. Last week, the paper somehow managed to report that Paula Deen “admi[tted] in a court deposition that she has used...jokes that denigrate blacks.” In fact, Deen directly denied that claim in two separate colloquies in that deposition.
How do you make mistakes like that if you’re a nation’s paper of record? Today, the paper of record repeats a claim which has been debunked a million times. And the paper is making these groaning mistakes about the highest-profile cases in our pitiful discourse.
Presumably, Times reporters made these mistakes. The newspaper’s editors didn’t notice. Where on earth do they find these people?
Don’t tell us! Out in the Hamptons?