Monday, August 24, 2020

Here's why the New York Times "disappeared" a strong critical quote from a prominent Georgia Republican about Marjorie Taylor Greene, a GOP QAnon follower likely headed for Congress

Republicans willing to criticize the bizarre, delusional conspiracy theory known as QAnon are harder to find than hen's teeth.

So when this critical quote by Karen Handel -- a GOP household name in my state of Georgia who is now running for Congress in a district adjacent to mine -- showed up on the evening of August 11 in a New York Times report by veteran journalists Matthew Rosenberg, Astead W. Herndon and Nick Corasaniti -- Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon Supporter, Wins House Primary in Georgia -- it unquestionably had news value for readers and for the record:

But the next morning, here's the same part of the story:

The updated version included no explanation to readers why Ms. Handel's quote was scrubbed -- the original version's available via The Wayback Machine -- so via emails and tweets I asked the three reporters

No reply, so I emailed and left a voice message for the paper's Politics Editor Patrick Healy.


No reply, so I left a voice message and emailed Standards Editor Philip Corbett who replied later that day.

Time: Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 6:25 PM
From Phil Corbett <>
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry with editorial concern

Dear Mr. Heimlich,

Thank you for your note. I've gone over this with the editor who worked on that story, and I am confident that there were no ethical problems in how it was handled. This was simply routine editing of a live, developing story that went through multiple versions online and in print.

The story changed and grew during the evening, particularly with more material on the Ilhan Omar race in Minnesota. As often happens, some earlier material was cut as new material was added. (In print, of course, we still have finite space for a story. And even online, editors often cut material to keep a story at a manageable length for readers.)

The final version continued to make the point that some Republicans opposed Greene, and included examples beyond Handel.

To your related question, we append corrections or editors' notes when a story has been changed to fix a factual error or other journalistic lapse; we don't append notes to point out other, routine editing changes, which would do little to serve the typical reader.

Best regards,
Philip B. Corbett
Associate Managing Editor for Standards
The New York Times

In my thank-you reply, I politely expressed my disagreement with the decision and asked Mr. Corbett to verify the accuracy of the MIA quote to which he replied:

(Obviously) if we thought the quote was wrong, we would do a correction.

Therefore, even though the quote's no longer in the paper of record, in my opinion it's still in the record.

Along the way I also asked Karen Handel to verify the quote. Perhaps not surprisingly, I didn't receive a reply.

Via the Associated Press report about her victory in the GOP primary, here's Marjorie Taylor Greene:

“So the Republican establishment was against me. The D.C. swamp has been against me. And the lying fake news media hates my guts,” she said. “Yep, it’s a badge of honor.”

Based on her incendiary words, I assumed Ms. Greene would welcome the opportunity to fling some fire and brimstone at the New York Times for scrubbing a critical quote about her. After all, couldn't doing so be construed as "lying" to readers?

And the scrubbed quote came from Ms. Handel who could certainly be considered a member of the "Republican establishment." 

So I twice emailed a polite request for a comment to the outspoken Ms. Greene, assuming she'd welcome a seemingly juicy opportunity to condemn these twin targets of her opprobrium.

Based on casual observation, she appears to be a woman of few silences, so I was surprised not to receive a reply.

In any event, if one of Ms. Greene's potential constituents or someone else asks her about Ms. Handel denouncing her as unfit to be in the GOP, I'd be interested in the results.