In an extensive profile of former journalist and current Facebook executive Campbell Brown, the New York Times’ Nellie Bowles wrote of her subject’s upcoming projects:
The claim has undergone scrutiny before. In a March 14 piece, Glenn Kessler of The Post’s Fact Checker examined a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Raise your hands high if you agree with me that [Palestinian] President [Mahmoud] Abbas should stop paying terrorists to murder Jews. You know how much he pays? He pays about $350 million a year to terrorists and their families. Each year. That’s about a little less than 10 percent of the total Palestinian budget.” A detailed analysis concluded that the numbers are fuzzy. However, wrote Kessler: “Yet even if one accepts Palestinian complaints about due process, there is little doubt that the system allows people to be rewarded for what many Americans would call terrorism.” The piece awarded the statement “Two Pinocchios,” which is reserved for statements with “Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily.”
Which is to say: You can quibble about the amount of the payments — but this notion is far from, let us say, Pizzagate — that all-too-clear far-right conspiracy alleging a pedophilia ring operating from the catacombs of a Washington restaurant.
So how has the New York Times fixed the problem? Have a look at the current text:
Once those shows get started, Ms. Brown wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming — to be a breaking news destination. The result would be something akin to an online competitor to cable news.
Maybe Bowles didn’t even need an example, after all.
The New York Times correction reads as follows:
Correction: April 23, 2018
An earlier version of this article erroneously included a reference to Palestinian actions as an example of the sort of far-right conspiracy stories that have plagued Facebook. In fact, Palestinian officials have acknowledged providing payments to the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis or convicted of terrorist acts and imprisoned in Israel; that is not a conspiracy theory.
For a newspaper that campaigns on its ability to tell the truth in times of chaos and misinformation, the failure to cite an actual “far-right conspiracy” amounts to an embarrassment beyond your average correction. Credit the paper, however, with a strong correction. “The truth is hard,” said the New York Times itself in an advertisement last year.