by the Night Writer
According to Gregg Easterbrook in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column at ESPN, the New York Times has had its hands full just in fact-checking itself.
In the past six months, the Times has, according to its own corrections page, said Arizona borders Wisconsin; confused 12.7-millimeter rifle ammunition with 12.7 caliber (the latter would be a sizeable naval cannon); said a pot of ratatouille should contain 25 cloves of garlic (two tablespoons will do nicely); on at least five occasions, confused a million with a billion (note to the reporters responsible — there are jobs waiting for you at the House Ways and Means Committee); understated the national debt by $4.2 trillion (note to the reporter responsible — there’s a job waiting for you at the Office of Management and Budget); confused $1 billion with $1 trillion (note to the reporter responsible — would you like to be CEO of AIG?); admitted numerical flaws in a story “about the ability of nonsense to sharpen the mind;” used “idiomatic deficiency” as an engineering term (correct was “adiabatic efficiency”); said Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride occurred in 1776 (it was in 1775 — by 1776, everybody knew the British were coming); “misstated the status of the United States in 1783 — it was a country, not a collection of colonies” (dear Times, please Google “Declaration of Independence”).
The Times also “misidentified the song Pink was singing while suspended on a sling-like trapeze;” confused the past 130 years with the entire 4.5 billion-year history of Earth (see appended correction here); misused statistics in the course of an article complaining that public school standards aren’t high enough (see appended correction here); said Citigroup handed its executives $11 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses, when the actual amount was $1.1 billion (in the Citigroup executive suite, being off by a mere two zeroes would be considered incredible financial acumen); said a column lauding actress Terri White “overstated her professional achievements, based on information provided by Ms. White;” identified a woman as a man (it’s so hard to tell these days); reported men landed on Mars in the 1970s (“there was in fact no Mars mission,” the Times primly corrected).
The Times also gave compass coordinates that placed Manhattan in the South Pacific Ocean near the coastline of Chile (see appended correction here); said you need eight ladies dancing to enact the famous Christmas song when nine are needed; said Iraq is majority Sunni, though the majority there is Shiite (hey, we invaded Iraq without the CIA knowing this kind of thing); got the wrong name for a dog that lives near President Obama’s house (“An article about the sale of a house next door to President Obama’s home in Chicago misstated the name of a dog that lives there. She is Rosie, not Roxy” — did Rosie’s agent complain?); elaborately apologized in an “editor’s note,” a higher-level confession than a standard correction, for printing “outdated” information about the health of a wealthy woman’s Lhasa apso; incorrectly described an intelligence report about whether the North Korean military is using Twitter; called Tandil, Argentina, home of Juan Martín del Potro, a “tiny village” (its population is 110,000); inflicted upon unsuspecting readers a web of imprecision about the Frisians, the Hapsburg Empire, the geographic extent of terps, and whether Friesland was “autonomous and proud” throughout the Middle Ages or merely until 1500; inexactly characterized a nuance of a position taken by the French Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (philosophy majors must have marched in the streets of Paris over this); confused coal with methane (don’t make that mistake in a mine shaft!); on at least three occasions, published a correction of a correction; “misstated the year of the Plymouth Barracuda on which a model dressed as a mermaid was posed;” “mischaracterized the date when New York City first hired a bicycle consultant” and “misidentified the location of a pile of slush in the Bronx.”