The New York Times and their Botched Abortion Coverage

My letter to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher:
cc: Scott H. Heekin-Canedy, President, General Manager:

Re: Botched Abortion Coverage and Disdain for Fairness in News reporting


Dear Mr. Sulzberger:

It is really remarkable that The New York Times, the great bastion of champagne liberalism in America, simply refuses to correct a glaring error in its reporting. Everyone knows that when they read The Times, they will expect to read the usual leftist mantra. Par for the course in our day. However, the line is crossed when we are not arguing over opinions and perspectives any more, but are trying to find out what exactly are the facts.

One of the great things about a classic liberal democracy is that all sides are bound to report the facts as best they understand them and then debate their position based on the facts. But when you can’t even rely on a news source to report the facts fairly and accurately (or correct their assertions when they have been shown to be false by their own employees, no less!), any good will and credibility that such a news organization like The Times has built up will be seriously undermined. And, as much as you and the rest of the hierarchy at The New York Times apparently despise being accountable to report the truth to the public, credibility is still a required prerequisite in the news business.

Well, at least it is for us bloggers…which kind of explains why The New York Times and the rest of the main stream media are fading into the distance. Everyone makes mistakes, sir. There is nothing culpable in that. But foolish obstinance to correct an error is something different altogether. Such obstinance only rears itself when the party in question seeks to prop up something which would otherwise not sell. In this particular case, the obstinancy is geared to salvaging the Times’ position on abortion which is increasingly becoming a hard sell to the American public.

In all honesty, however, I cannot say that I am all that surprised at the attitude of your paper because your editorial position on abortion and other social issues is as bankrupt as your ethics in news reporting.

Before this fiasco, the public could not rely on your editorial position on social issues. Now it appears that your facts aren’t even straight.

If The Times’ opinion is bunk and your facts are bunk, why waste any more trees? Do the environmentally ethical thing and close up shop.

Yours truly,

John Pacheco
Social Conservatives United


See article below:

NEW YORK, January 4, 2007 ( – The New York Times is seriously contemplating removing its public editor (ombudsman) position which was instituted in 2003 to be an independent voice for the public within the paper in order to maintain credibility. The new move comes in the wake of current public editor Byron Calame’s confirmation that was correct in asserting the Times made a major error in reporting on criminal penalties for abortion in El Salvador.The first recorded mention of the intention to axe the position was raised at a December 15 New York Times meeting where Times’ executive editor Bill Keller raised the idea. That meeting was held about a week after Calame began asking very uncomfortable questions of senior editors at the Times, and receiving in response terse replies rejecting his warnings that the NYT magazine had been caught in a serious error which deserved correction.

With information from contacts in El Salvador, pointed out that the cover article in the NYT magazine of April 6 claimed falsely that some women in El Salvador were imprisoned for thirty years for illegal abortions. LifeSiteNews published the full court ruling in the case which showed that rather than being jailed for a clandestine abortion – as the Times magazine asserted – the case study cited actually concerned infanticide of a full-term baby. (see coverage: )

Calame describes his struggle with the editors of the Times in the pages of the paper saying, “After the English translation of the court ruling became available on Dec. 8, I asked Mr. Marzorati (NYT magazine editor) if he continued to have ‘no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts’ in the article. His e-mail response seemed to ignore the ready availability of the court document containing the findings from the trial before the three-judge panel and its sentencing decision.”

Calame also struggled with the Times’ standards editor. “I asked Mr. Whitney if he intended to suggest that the office of the publisher bring the court’s findings to the attention of those readers who received the ‘no reason to doubt’ response, or that a correction be published,” writes Calame. He notes that no decision to issue a correction had been made despite the overwhelming evidence.

Soon after these exchanges the December 15 meeting occurred where the intent to eliminate the public editor position was raised. In his December 31 publication of the article exposing the NYT magazine story errors, Calame concludes, “One thing is clear to me, at this point, about the key example of Carmen Climaco. Accuracy and fairness were not pursued with the vigor Times readers have a right to expect.”

Calame told that his personal position at the Times was not in question since his “non-renewable, two-year contract to serve as public editor ends May 8, 2007.” contacted Times spokesman Abbe Serphos for comment, but she did not respond by press time.

Speaking with the New York Observer about the Times’ contemplation of removing the position, Calame said, “I have been critical of the newsroom. I’ve also praised the newsroom, and I think that Bill Keller has been-quite obviously-unhappy with some of the things I’ve written.”

“It seems to me that the high degree of independence that has been given to the public editor at The New York Times makes it a situation that inevitably causes criticism,” continued Calame.

He concluded his remarks to the Observer stating: “So it is not a surprise to me that The New York Times-that Bill Keller, the executive editor, and Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher-would want to sit down and think about whether they want to have a public editor.”


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