The Corner

Law & the Courts

The New York Times Corrects Its Editorial, but It’s Still Wrong

Over on the homepage, I took on the horrific New York Times editorial in response to yesterday’s shootings. The Times editorial board had the actual audacity to dredge up old slanders against Sarah Palin and claim that there was somehow less evidence of incitement yesterday than when Jared Lee Loughner attacked Gabby Gifford. This is, as I explain in my piece, a bald-faced lie. Loughner’s attack had nothing to do with Sarah Palin and everything to do with his documented and severe mental illness. 

Perhaps realizing it stood on the precipice of a libel lawsuit, the Times this morning issued a correction (noting that no link was established between political incitement and Loughner’s attack) and revised its editorial:

While the new language removes the actual libel, it’s still irresponsible and indefensible. Since there was absolutely no link between anyone’s political rhetoric (much less Sarah Palin’s) and Loughner’s crime, why continue to mention Palin? She was irrelevant to that terrible act. The editorial board continues to go out of its way to smear people it despises, this time through slimy guilt-by-association.

I’m the absolute last person to believe that vicious rhetoric or acts of violence are exclusive to the Left. White supremacists have been committing acts of violence and murder at an alarming rate, but the Times just can’t resist the temptation to demonize even mainstream conservative voices. Remember, this is the same paper that tried to link Omar Mateen’s jihadist attack in Orlando to Republican policies on, for example, transgender bathroom access. 

There are many, many good journalists, interesting thinkers, and conscientious editors at the Times. This editorial shouldn’t be permitted to stain their excellent work, but it can’t pass unopposed. Even after the correction, it’s still a disgrace. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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