July 29, 2003


Mike Marshall, editor of Alabama’s Mobile Register, has been debating Maureen Dowd’s evasiveness with NYT editorial page editor Gail Collins:

Dear Ms. Collins:

Now that the Times is settling in with a new editor, I need clarification on a matter that came up during all the post-Jayson Blair newsroom tumult.

As editor of the Mobile Register, I subscribe to The New York Times Wire Service. Until earlier this summer, we printed Maureen Dowd's columns on our op-ed pages. We stopped running her column after publishing the following correction:

An opinion column by Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, published in the May 15 Mobile Register, should have quoted President Bush as saying, "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al-Qaida operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore." Dowd's column changed the president's meaning by omitting the quote's second sentence and the opening words of the third sentence: "That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated ... They're not a problem anymore."

A reply (one of two) from Gail Collins:

After Maureen received complaints about the editing of the quote she decided to reprint it in full in a later column, which ran on May 28. We're confident it was never her intention to distort the meaning.

This (rightly) wasn’t good enough for Marshall, who fired off another e-mail:

I was aware that Ms. Dowd used the president's full quote in a subsequent column, but that column makes no reference to the earlier blunder. That would not qualify as a correction or clarification in any editor's book.

And that, as Marshall writes, is where the matter stands. No correction. Hit the above link for unabbreviated exchanges.

(Via hyper-alert reader H.J. Farmer, of Dothan, Alabama.)

Posted by Tim Blair at July 29, 2003 05:15 AM

It was never her intention to distort the meaning? What else could her intention have been? Dowd's a proven liar. End of story.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at July 29, 2003 at 07:11 AM

Dowd, another Don Rickles,Marshall ends.In view of the business of reporting, as opposed to literary wit and flair, Dowd's comic bent is a sign of immaturity, a girl reporting on a grown-up's world.

Dowd should make a careerah change to stand up comedienne, if she is the comic genius Marshall asserts.Difficulty is, Wodehouse is the comic genius of the 20th century and Dowd is not that gentleman's league.

Posted by: d at July 29, 2003 at 09:41 AM

Dowd is a Cowd....

Posted by: Laura at July 29, 2003 at 10:14 AM

The 21st century is the current one, d. Now what about that shameless peddler of NYT front page bullshit, Ms. Judith Miller? (Applause!)

Posted by: Buddy Ebsen at July 29, 2003 at 11:12 AM

I got to hear Gail Collins speak before a group of other newspaper people in Texas during the run-up to the 2000 election. Her basic line was "The national media is going to come into the state (because of Bush being the governor at that time) and say some awful things about Texas, and there's really nothing you can do about it." Though her tone wasn't snide or confrontational (she came off as only a slightly less flighty version of the character Faye Cochran, the ticket counter clerk from the TV show "Wings"), the condesending nature of the speech was noted -- and commented on -- by some of the event's organizers after Ms. Collins had departed.

At the time, she was only a columnist under Howell Raines' NYT editorial page, but judging from her tone that day in Dallas, her letter to Marshall about Dowd's liberties with Bush's quotation shows me she really hasn't learned much at all after the Times' recent scandals and is satisfied that so long as the people on the Upper West Side of Manhattan are pleased, there's no reason to care about attitudes in flyover country.

Posted by: John at July 29, 2003 at 01:35 PM

The man we need back at the Times is Andrew Sullivan, a doughty Catholic fellow of backbone and integrity we can all admire.

Posted by: Buddy Ebsen at July 29, 2003 at 04:12 PM