The New York Times has received a lot of criticism lately, and the fallout from a discredited book review could serve as a microcosm of the issues the paper faces as it attempts to adapt to a changing media landscape while employing fewer editors.
The Times has accepted buyouts from several editors over the past few months — which has reduced the number of usual steps taken to vet stories. The paper wanted to “shift the balance of editors to reporters at The Times,” according to top editors Dean Baquet and Joe Kahn.
Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News â€œThe Times is learning something a lot of news outlets have learned the hard way: cost-cutting also cuts quality,” adding that â€œjournalism is actually very difficultâ€ and â€œinvolves a lot of moving parts and a lot of people checking facts.â€Â
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg recently reviewed Vanessa Grigoriadisâ€™ new book, â€œBlurred Lines,â€ which explores the issue of consensual sex on college campuses. Goldberg accused Grigoriadis of making â€œbaffling errors that threaten to undermine her entire book.â€
The author fired back and mocked the review in a Facebook post. â€œNot one charge she makes in her review is correct,â€ Grigoriadis wrote. â€œI canâ€™t believe this person has been allowed to destroy three years of my work without consequences.â€
The Times was forced to issue a pair of corrections regarding Goldbergâ€™s review, and the embarrassing situation has made headlines in a variety of publications. Goldberg eventually took to Twitter and claimed she would â€œgive a kidneyâ€ to go back because she â€œmade a serious error.â€ The Times declined comment when asked if Goldberg was disciplined for her review.
Vanity Fair reported that the inaccurate review â€œset off a drama within the halls of theÂ Times,â€ while citing sources calling the mistake â€œsignificantâ€ and â€œhumiliating.â€
â€œTheÂ Times,Â after all, is a place where big mistakes are seldom forgotten, and the most egregious ones can quickly become epitaphs,â€ Vanity Fairâ€™s Joe Pompeo wrote.
Times editorial page editor James Bennet has also had a rough few months, getting caught up in Sarah Palinâ€™s defamation lawsuit against the paper, receiving blowback for hiring conservative columnist Bret Stephens, and hiring Goldberg as an opinion columnist.
â€œIt wouldnâ€™t be a stretch to say that the correction-laden piece wasnâ€™t a good look for either Goldberg or [Bennet],â€ Pompeo wrote. However, it appears that Bennet still has the support of Deputy PublisherÂ A.G. Sulzberger, who told Pompeo that he â€œis doing a terrific job,â€ according to Pompeo.
Citing â€œmultiple insiders,â€ Vanity Fair reported that staffers wonder if â€œGoldbergâ€™s errors would have, in fact, been caught if theÂ TimesÂ still had a free-standing, centralized copy desk, as opposed to a new system in which copy-editing and fact-checking is handled by so-called â€˜strong editorsâ€™ within each department.â€Â
â€œThere are still good journalists at the Timesâ€¦ but that’s like a baseball team having a great starting pitcher and lousy fielders,â€ Gainor said. â€œThey need people to back them up to keep facts straight.â€
Company spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha disagrees with Gainor and the anonymous staffers, telling Fox News that the paperâ€™s â€œediting standards and processes are the most robust and rigorous of any news organization.â€
Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michiko Kakutani stepped down in July after a 38-year career as a result of the paperâ€™s buyouts. The paperâ€™s spokeswoman did not immediately respond when asked if Kakutani would have reviewed â€œBlurred Lines.â€
The Times has had a number of issues in recent memory, including getting blasted by CIA Director Mike Pompeo in July for publishing the name of an undercover officer, getting rid of the public editor who was paid to hold the paper accountable and was called â€œinaccurateâ€ by the Justice Department in August.
Vice President Mike Pence even denounced the Times last month over a story that speculated he wants to run for Trumpâ€™s job in 2020. The paper has also been ripped by former FBI Director James Comey, and is referred to as â€œfailingâ€ by President Trump on a regular basis. Hillary Clinton also accused the paper of “shoddy reporting”Â regarding her email scandal.
â€œWe deeply regret when mistakes happen, but work to correct them as soon as possible. Thatâ€™s always been the case in our newsroom, and it remains so,â€ Rhoades Ha said.
Goldberg and Grigoriadis did not immediately respond to separate requests for comment.