In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said that the initial version of a New York Times article on allegations against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “led to a lot of exaggerated headlines.”
This kerfuffle, discussed in a post today in this space, stems from a Friday afternoon story in the Times by reporter Kate Zernike: Port Authority executive David Wildstein, a political ally of the governor, was challenging the version of events Christie had given the media in a long Jan. 9 press conference. Specifically, Wildstein, via a letter from his lawyer, had alleged that “evidence exists” that the governor knew of the lane closures earlier than he had acknowledged in that press conference.
In its initial report Friday afternoon, the Times reported that Wildstein claimed he “had” such evidence. There’s a difference there: Actually having such evidence is a more convincing allegation than merely saying such “evidence exists.”
Though Giuliani credited the Times for changing its story, “the reality is that no evidence was presented suggesting the governor isn’t telling the truth.” In the letter from his lawyer, Wildstein “creates an offer in which he says he can point the way to evidence.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper and Ashley Killough and The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas report that Christie has produced another round of attack on the New York Times, a document that includes mention of a posting by the paper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan. “This change was more than a nuance. Acknowledging that could have taken the form of a straightforward correction. The change also could have been explained in an editor’s note or could even have been acknowledged in a sentence in the body of the article.”
Christie & Co. characterize the New York Times’s reporting as “sloppy” and “misleading.”
No question that the New York Times should have been more transparent about the change. That said, does anyone who has sampled the movement of news across the Internet suppose that the reaction to the Times story would have been all that different had the newspaper posted the “evidence exists” version from the beginning? Would there really have been fewer “exaggerated headlines”?