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New York Times Public Editor Censures NYT Shale Gas Reporter

“The story painted its subject with an overly broad brush and didn’t include dissenting views from experts who aren’t entrenched on one side or another of the subject.”

The New York Times Public Editor is the equivalent of the Internal Affairs department within a police department, reviewing complaints from outsiders about insiders, with most outsiders skeptical that the insiders will police themselves.  The inescapable peer and institutional pressures on the NYT Public Editor are apparent in his piece today, but the NYT Public Editor brought in a verdict of “guilty” against the NYT Reporter on many of the serious charges of malfeasance lodged against him.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/opinion/sunday/17pubed.html?_r=1&ref=thepubliceditor.

Of the June 26 article, after stating some of the specific charges of malfeasance and then including  consistently stonewalling, militant explanations from the NYT reporter or his editor about each charge, the NYT Public Editor states:

1. “… the story painted its subject with an overly broad brush and didn’t include dissenting views from experts who aren’t entrenched on one side or another of the subject.”

2. “My view is that such a pointed article needed more convincing substantiation, more space for a reasoned explanation of the other side and more clarity about its focus.”

3. “But the article went out on a limb, lacked an in-depth dissenting view in the text and should have made clear that shale gas had boomed.”

The NYT reporter and his editor consistently shape information to serve their dominant anti-gas narrative by including sensationalistic words like “ponzi scheme” to stampede opinion, excluding key data, ignoring conflicting opinions, using anonymous, unchallenged sources, inaccurately describing sources to mislead readers, and other sleazy techniques.  TheNYT Reporter and his editor do the same thing on their gas beat that Fox News and the House of Murdoch do every day when covering President Obama.

Of course many viewers of Fox and readers of the Drilling Down series get their prejudices and biases confirmed.  But they do not get the truth from this despicable sort of journalism.

Today some justice for the cause of the truth has been rendered.  

The NYT Public Editor censures the NYT Reporter and his editor.  His piece is as tough as insiders reviewing other insiders will ever get.

In the military an equivalent letter of censure to that made by the NYT Public Editor would end the career of an officer.  The military has a culture of honor, excellence, and accountability.

I doubt the NYT institution and its senior management will meet those high standards. The NYT Reporter is a rogue within the NYT for as long as he is on its payroll, but he is now disgraced by the conclusions of one of his own. That is a measure of accountability.

Facts of the Day, 17 July 2011