The NYT files: More than 13 errors in front-page piece about Issa

posted at 2:05 pm on August 19, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) apparently poses an irresistible temptation to the mainstream media. As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he’s too important in Congress to ignore. As the relentless investigator of the ATF gunrunner scandal, he has proved himself even more effective at garnering answers from difficult-to-prime sources than the average reporter (subpoena power helps!). And as a self-made millionaire, he’s a figure to inadvertently evoke the class envy President Obama and others seem so determined to perpetuate.

So, the MSM writes about him. Articles in The Washington Post. A profile in The New Yorker. A front-page story in The New York Times. But, in the last example at least, they don’t trouble to ascertain the facts — and Issa isn’t one to give inaccuracy a pass. Oversight is his specialty, after all. The congressman’s director of communications yesterday sent a letter to the NYT to request a full front-page retraction for its recent front-page piece. The letter explains that the three primary pieces of evidence to support the premise of the original article — which was that Issa uses his power as a congressman to benefit himself in appropriate ways — are flat-out wrong. The letter states:

On behalf of Rep. Darrell Issa, please accept this as a formal request for a full front page retraction, including the headline, “Helping His District, and Himself,” that ran in the Monday, August 15 edition of the New York Times. The request for a full front page retraction is based on numerous errors that invalidate the primary assertions made in the story that is a false and sensationalized account [of] Rep. Issa’s efforts to conduct congressional oversight of the Obama Administration and other matters.

This request is being sent after New York Times reporter, Eric Lichtblau, who wrote the story, refused to share the contact information of his editors for a discussion of errors in the story as requested by Rep. Issa’s congressional office.

The central claim in the New York Times story is an allegation of self-dealing on the part of Rep. Darrell Issa, as the story describes, “with at least some of the congressman’s actions helping to make a rich man richer” and “specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses.”

The New York Times story cites three central examples it believes justifies these allegations:

  • A medical complex purchased by Rep. Issa in 2008 that the Times story alleges enjoyed a 60 percent appreciation as it increased in value from $10.3 million to $16.6 million, “at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work” that Rep. Issa supported.
  • That he “went easy” on Toyota during 2010 hearings on unintended acceleration due to “his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota.”
  • An alleged 1900 percent profit Rep. Issa’s charitable foundation made on an investment of “less that $19,000” that was sold seven months later for $357,000 “months before the stock market crashed.”

All central examples, however, are wildly inaccurate, and the truth deserves to be told.

  •  The medical complex the Times story alleges enjoyed a 60 percent appreciation since it was purchased for $10.3 million and is now valued at $16.6 million is a patently false claim. According to the buyer’s final settlement statement, the property in question was not purchased for $10.3 million as the New York Times reported but for $16.6 million – the exact same figure of its current tax assessment. According to these numbers, the appreciation is not 60 percent but roughly zero. In addition, the government sponsored road work noted in the article has not even begun and Rep. Issa’s requests for the project (which were publicly announced and made on behalf of and at the request of the City of Vista, and the San Diego Association of Governments which is the regional transportation planning authority) all came before the 2009 property purchase.
  • The allegation that Rep. Issa “went easy” on Toyota during 2010 hearings because of “his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota” is again an example of a factual error in the Times story that lends no support to the story’s central premise. While the Times story tells readers that Rep. Issa’s former company, Directed Electronics, is a “major supplier of alarms to Toyota,” the story offers no evidence, and Directed Electronics is, in fact, not a supplier to Toyota. The New York Times also fails to note that Rep. Issa does not have a personal financial interest in Directed Electronics.
  • The “1,900 percent” profit allegation is, again, based on reporting errors by the New York Times. This … assertion is based on an incorrect form obtained by the Times. According to a financial transaction record, the Issa Family Foundation’s initial investment in the AIM Small Company fund was not $19,000 but $500,000. The asset was later sold for $375,000 resulting in a $125,000 loss – not a 1900 percent gain as was reported.
The letter goes on to state at least 10 additional errors contained in the piece. Over at The Heritage Foundation’s investigative journalism blog “Scribe,” Rob Bluey and Lachlan Markay have independently verified at least five of these errors, as well. A few of the mistakes might have been overlooked as poetic exaggeration — for example, NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau writes that Issa’s office in California overlooks a golf course, when, in fact, the course is miles away — but, in the context of the entire piece, the “exaggerations” begin to look like intentional errors.
Lichtblau so far has corrected only a typo in the article — but what’s most distressing is, even if the paper does issue a retraction, unless it is on the front page as Issa’s office has requested, too few Times readers will encounter the corrections to piece together the truth.
Some journalists like to say their job is to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted,” but, as I see it, the job of a journalist is to tell the truth – and, as Glenn Beck likes to say, the truth has no agenda. But an agenda is the only explanation for repeated errors that lean in one direction and tend to confirm a predetermined narrative. It’s disappointing, but, unfortunately, not surprising.

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Herr Lichtblau’s mentor would be proud.

meci on August 19, 2011 at 2:09 PM

May the NYTs implode professionally, to smithereens

Schadenfreude on August 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM

NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau should be fired, plain and simple.

I bet he gets promoted.

MississippiMom on August 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Shooting the messenger because they don’t like the message eh? Sorry to use uncivil violent words…

sandee on August 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Issa is lying. The NYT is the paper of record. And being the paper of record they are above reproach.

NotCoach on August 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Shooting the messenger because they don’t like the message eh? Sorry to use uncivil violent words…

sandee on August 19, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Boy that came out wrong…. The messenger being Issa sounded like I meant NYT was the messenger…

sandee on August 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

all the news that’s fit to print

puhleeze

cmsinaz on August 19, 2011 at 2:13 PM

I feel so sorry for people who rely on the NYT for news. Allegory of the Cave comes to mind . . .

SoRight on August 19, 2011 at 2:13 PM

sandee on August 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

no worries, we got your back :)

cmsinaz on August 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

cms: Much more like ‘All the news that’s print to fit… what we think’.

Scott H on August 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Layers of fact checkers. They should fire the bunch of them and hire MississippiMom.

pedestrian on August 19, 2011 at 2:15 PM

I think we ought to have a Justice dept. investigation of the NY Times. Do they have any relationship with the S&P? There is an s in their name! They use initials in their name as well!

Vince on August 19, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Just another example of why the NYT is on a rapid decline. I’d trust National Enquirer before anything appearing on the NYT.

Conservalicious on August 19, 2011 at 2:16 PM

What a pathetic rag that paper is.

Ward Cleaver on August 19, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Come on, it is the NYT. After employing several plagarists and creative writers over the years pretending to report news, reporting of rumor as fact, hiding facts when convienient, and having an official policy of assistance to the democratic party for years, nobody with sense considers them a credible source anymore.

Vashta.Nerada on August 19, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Blitz them now Hotairianites!!!

nytnews@nytimes.com
public@nytimes.com
letters@nytimes.com
NYT fax#: (212) 556-3622

MechEng5by5 on August 19, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Wow, even for the NYT. That just leaves me speechless

Ann on August 19, 2011 at 2:25 PM

The NYT has a history of “fixing” their stories. Hopefully more reporters will come forward and tell their stories.

batterup on August 19, 2011 at 2:25 PM

LOL

JournOlist strikes again.

Good Lt on August 19, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Breitbart should expose what goes inside that bldg. Those reporters sure are creators of lies, deceit and who’s getting money under the desk to invent something out of thin air just to ruin a person’s reputation (obvious example, Palin).

How long does it take to make up stuff like this? And only one person?

ProudPalinFan on August 19, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Even though Issa is a public figure and would have to prove actual malice, I’d say he’s got a pretty strong libel case here and would love to see him sue the shit out of the NYT. And, he should file it in the most conservative venue he can find.

Even though he has a fortune, I’d gladly contribute to his legal expenses in bringing such an action.

Although it is the NYT, they’ve crossed even there own lines here.

TXUS on August 19, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Only 13? Hey, they’re getting better?

/

karl9000 on August 19, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Yeah, the local paper in Issa’s district had two Letters to the Editor quoting Lichtblau’s hit piece as fact.

GarandFan on August 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM

It’s disappointing, but, unfortunately, not surprising.

Can you be disappointed in something that’s expected?

I expect the NYT’s to lie and twist the facts. When they do, I am not disappointed.

Likewise with Obama: I’m not “disappointed” with him because he’s done exactly as I expected he would.

Rod on August 19, 2011 at 2:43 PM

Again, NYT = Not Yet True.

publiuspen on August 19, 2011 at 2:43 PM

— which was that Issa uses his power as a congressman to benefit himself in inappropriate ways —

FIFY.

And is anyone surprised by this shyte anymore? This is just par for the NYT course…and evidence that Issa’s work is on target.

rcpjr on August 19, 2011 at 2:44 PM

The big lie. It’s almost as if these guys studied German media in the 30s and liked what they saw.

WitchDoctor on August 19, 2011 at 2:47 PM

NYT, hastening the death of the MSM, one phony story at a time.

AZCoyote on August 19, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Can the NYt still be wondering why they are no longer taken seriously as a news organization?

The NYt is a propaganda arm of the DNC. No further discussion is needed.

Freddy on August 19, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Disgusting! I wrote ‘em.

Thanks for the links!

MechEng5by5 on August 19, 2011 at 2:22 PM

tinkerthinker on August 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Since this looks like retaliation for the Walkergate investigation:

ATF Whistleblower: Gunwalker Officials Being Shielded

Former Agent Vince Cefalu tells PJM: Those men weren’t being promoted this week, they were being protected via transfers to other positions within the department.

NMRN123 on August 19, 2011 at 2:55 PM

“Jayson Blair, please call your office…”

Akzed on August 19, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Howell Raines is still haunting the corridors of the Gray Lady.

Tuning Spork on August 19, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Ha! How bad is this story? From Bluey’s Heritage link….this bad:

And if that wasn’t enough, there are also rumblings that Lichtblau didn’t properly attribute parts of his story. Lee Fang of the liberal Center for American Progress called him out on Twitter, noting “your NYT Issa piece looks awfully familiar.” Both the liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and San Diego Beat also previously attacked Issa on some of the same points included in Lichtblau’s article.

All the plagiarism that’s fit to print…

Buy Danish on August 19, 2011 at 3:06 PM

I wouldn’t line a litter box with that rag…….

ultracon on August 19, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Well, Issa shouldn’t have done all those “things”…if he wasn’t in the public eye, he wouldn’t have to worry about it. If it’s not true, it could have been true. It’s believable, so it could have happened.
*
About the only defense they have.

right2bright on August 19, 2011 at 3:07 PM

The letter explains that the three primary pieces of evidence to support the premise of the original article — which was that Issa uses his power as a congressman to benefit himself in appropriate ways — are flat-out wrong.

Speaking of errors, I think you meant to write “in inappropriate ways.

An honest typo, I know. Unlike the Times’ smear piece.

UltimateBob on August 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM

The assumption of Eric Lichtblau being anything other than a Jayson Blair like journalistic fraud, would probably not be a good one.

MNHawk on August 19, 2011 at 3:26 PM

They lie about everything. Plain and simple.

And since there’s no watchdog on the MSM that can actually *DO* anything but complain, they will lie continuously until the world burns down around them.

The right has been WAAAAAY too polite for its own good, hopefully instead of whining about Perry the rest of the Republicans will start buying clues.

Call them out on their lies – be specific, be insistent. Make it known that they’re liars. Make *consequences* for the lies happen, whether it’s lawsuits or just bad publicity.

Because they aren’t going to stop they need to be discredited.

Merovign on August 19, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Everything we do is touched by our biases, but the final result of our efforts should not be the sum or our biases. The NYT can produce nothing else.

Extrafishy on August 19, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Other than that, the story was accurate…

cartooner on August 19, 2011 at 3:47 PM

(Plagiarized from James Taranto)

cartooner on August 19, 2011 at 3:49 PM

How on Earth can this newspaper, with paid subscriptions of a measly 500k possibly still have any clout?

Tim Zank on August 19, 2011 at 4:01 PM

NYT = New York Tass

Mallard T. Drake on August 19, 2011 at 4:06 PM

How on Earth can this newspaper, with paid subscriptions of a measly 500k possibly still have any clout?

Tim Zank on August 19, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Because of their wire service. They may have a relatively small subscription pool of readers, but their stories are picked up by papers around the country and the world. When a story is published in the NYT, it is really published in hundreds of other newspapers.

Mallard T. Drake on August 19, 2011 at 4:11 PM

The Times’ agenda is shamelessly transparent

rbj on August 19, 2011 at 4:17 PM

How on Earth can this newspaper, with paid subscriptions of a measly 500k possibly still have any clout?

Tim Zank on August 19, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Newspapers never made their money with subscription fees, that just offset the high cost of newsprint and delivery.

cartooner on August 19, 2011 at 4:30 PM

for example, NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau writes that Issa’s office in California overlooks a golf course, when, in fact, the course is miles away — but, in the context of the entire piece, the “exaggerations” begin to look like intentional errors.

That’s an understatement, so just how off is this “exaggeration”

Darrell Issa California District Office • 1800 Thibodo Road, #310 • Vista, CA 92081 …

Use Google Earth

From his Office building to see the Golf course, you would have to look “South East” Up a Hill to “Rolling Hills Road”, then look further UP HILL past “Lupine Hills Drive” then “Over a Ridge” and “Down from the ridge” and into a Valley known as the “Shadow Ridge” area of Vista to see a golf course.

Hint: there is a reason why the area is called “Shadow Ridge”, it has to do with Sun Set, Sun Rise, Hills, Valleys and Ridges and Shadows.

Epic fail for this writer. Isn’t this what that Jason guy got busted for at the NYT?

DSchoen on August 19, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Wow. Just WOW. Its one thing to spin facts and make insinuations and inferences that said facts SEEM to indicate something that do not, but to just flat out present falsehoods as fact ? On the FRONT PAGE of the NY Times ?

Pathetic.

But, look at the bright side; In truth, only the true believers of the moronic liberal cult actually read AND believe the trash they write in the NY Times. These lies will never even reach the eyes or ears of average citizens that don’t already hold a “strong approval” opinion of the worst president in modern history.

deadrody on August 19, 2011 at 5:04 PM

The NYT is the paper of record.

NotCoach on August 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

That is, the paper of record for the bird cages of New York City.

landlines on August 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Someone refresh my memory, when can we expect the NYT to go out of business?

TulsAmerican on August 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Someone refresh my memory, when can we expect the NYT to go out of business?

TulsAmerican on August 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Probably not even when it’s donated to the Salvation Army.

J.E. Dyer on August 19, 2011 at 5:43 PM

I wonder how many of us even bother to read that rag at all? The only time I read even excerpts from it is when something like this pops up in my news feed. I refuse to give them the satisfaction of my traffic even if it’s just to verify they’re still shills for the leftist agenda.

StompUDead on August 19, 2011 at 5:52 PM

cms: Much more like ‘All the news that’s print to fit… what we think’.

Scott H on August 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

I thought it was “All the news that fits [our agenda] we print”.

oldleprechaun on August 19, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Why would anyone but a blithering idiot buy an electric car when the price of electricity is about to “necessarily skyrocket” when many coal-fired power plants are forced to shut down by this rogue administration’s unconstitutional legislation by regulation.

hillbillyjim on August 19, 2011 at 7:07 PM

hillbillyjim on August 19, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Oops. Wrongthreaditis.

hillbillyjim on August 19, 2011 at 7:08 PM

So, Rep. Issa is finally getting somewhere. Thank you to the New York Slimes for providing the proof of the saying, “You know that you’re doing a good job when all the right people are angry with you”.

By the same token, when a referendum issue pops up in a CA election (referenda are, by the way, just a state’s method of allowing their cowardly elected officials to avoid difficult issues), and the language is so obfuscated that you can’t tell which side a Yes vote supports, I just find out who the CA Teacher’s Association, the Sierra Club, PETA and the Gay Mafia are supporting, and then I know which way not to vote.

Freelancer on August 19, 2011 at 7:39 PM

Isn’t this the same tool of a NYT’s ‘reporter’ that blew the cover of the terrorist banking program even after the Bush admin. pleaded with him not to, and he admitted the program didn’t break any laws?

manofaiki on August 19, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Does anyone have a link to the Issa request letter that Tina quotes above?

JM Hanes on August 19, 2011 at 8:41 PM

sorry didn’t read your request correctly.

xplodeit on August 19, 2011 at 9:04 PM

On behalf of Rep. Darrell Issa, please accept this as a formal request for a full front page retraction, including the headline, “Helping His District, and Himself,” that ran in the Monday, August 15 edition of the New York Times.

Yeah, I’m sure they’ll get right on that.

AZfederalist on August 19, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Thanks for the assist xplodeit, but I was actually looking for the Issa letter. Finally found it here.

JM Hanes on August 19, 2011 at 10:04 PM

The New York Times… all the news fit to wrap canine fecal matter.

Nothing new.

FlatFoot on August 19, 2011 at 10:41 PM

Isn’t this the same tool of a NYT’s ‘reporter’ that blew the cover of the terrorist banking program even after the Bush admin. pleaded with him not to, and he admitted the program didn’t break any laws?

manofaiki on August 19, 2011 at 7:42 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/washington/23intel.html.

Well well well, not only a journalistic fraud, but a traitor to boot.

Eric Lichtblau, congratulations for being named today’s Real Man of Genius!

MNHawk on August 20, 2011 at 6:57 AM