Thursday, October 14, 2004

Apology to New York Times reporter Michael Slackman

I messed up. I incorrectly thought I had a gotcha moment involving NYT reporter Michael Slackman, and I ran with it without checking with him first. I take responsibility and I apologize to Mr. Slackman, to the New York Times and to my readers.

In the post in question, written seven weeks ago, I wrote a satirical piece about Mr. Slackman in which I accused him of covering politics for the Times while, in violation of Times policy, donating money to the Democratic party. Turns out that Mr. Slackman's payment to the Democrats was misfiled with the FEC as a contribution when in fact it was payment in exchange for services. (The services were use of telephone lines.) Thus the premise of my story was incorrect, and had I checked with Mr. Slackman first I would have known that.

Here is a letter of apology I sent to Mr. Slackman today in reply to a note he sent me yesterday:

Mr Slackman,

I apologize for not contacting you before running the blog entry about you. I should have done so. To make my apology public, I will post this letter on my blog.

I take it from your note to me of last night that you see the update correcting the entry as insufficient. I will review the entry in question and consider making additional changes.

For another perspective on whether the update was appropriate, please consider this message I received from the NYT public editor's office:

Dear David M.,

Thanks for sending us the post and especially for updating it with the response Mr. Petrelis received from Catherine Mathis.

Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor

In your message to me you assert that I leave my correction "to the bottom, where it can easily be missed." In fact, the first words of the body of the blog entry in question, in bold print, are (and have been):

Note: Read the update at the bottom of this posting including the explanatory letter from the New York Times.

The update at the bottom of the posting includes a letter from the Times explaining the error and concludes with my statement, "I withdraw my criticism."

On a related issue, I was surprised to find that your "donation" to the NY State Dems is still listed without any correction at, despite that the NY State Dems regularly submit to the FEC updates and corrections which the FEC makes public within two business days. Have you asked the NY State Dems to correct the record with the FEC?


David M