Katie Couric Slams NY Times For Error-Filled Walter Cronkite Appraisal
Katie Couric slammed the New York Times for running an error-filled article about CBS News legend Walter Cronkite.
In her "Notebook" on CBSNews.com on Friday, Couric praised the "exuberant and heartfelt tributes" to Cronkite but sharply noted:
"But I had to smile, albeit a tad ruefully, and I think he would too, when I saw the New York Times correcting a piece that had appeared following his death. The article contained not one, not two but seven errors about [Cronkite's] life and career."
Couric went on to explain that Cronkite did not storm the beaches on D-Day and that Cronkite's famous coverage of the moon landing took place on July 20, 1969, not July 26.
"The paper issued a correction that seemed as long as the article itself. Walter Cronkite used to say 'Get it first, but get it right.' So as we say goodbye to the Dean of TV news, let's all remember as journalists when we say "That's the way it is" - it really is."
Here is the lengthy correction that ran in the Times:
Correction: July 22, 2009 An appraisal on Saturday about Walter Cronkite's career included a number of errors. In some copies, it misstated the date that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and referred incorrectly to Mr. Cronkite's coverage of D-Day. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, not April 30. Mr. Cronkite covered the D-Day landing from a warplane; he did not storm the beaches. In addition, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, not July 26. "The CBS Evening News" overtook "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" on NBC in the ratings during the 1967-68 television season, not after Chet Huntley retired in 1970. A communications satellite used to relay correspondents' reports from around the world was Telstar, not Telestar. Howard K. Smith was not one of the CBS correspondents Mr. Cronkite would turn to for reports from the field after he became anchor of "The CBS Evening News" in 1962; he left CBS before Mr. Cronkite was the anchor. Because of an editing error, the appraisal also misstated the name of the news agency for which Mr. Cronkite was Moscow bureau chief after World War II. At that time it was United Press, not United Press International.
As TVNewser noted, there may be some payback going on here: Couric and the article's writer, Alessandra Stanley, have a long history ever since Stanley penned a harsh piece on Couric when she was still at the "Today" show in 2005, noting: "At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights."
Stanley herself has a long history of making mistakes in her pieces. Most notoriously, she confused the title of long-running hit TV sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond" for "All About Raymond" - a flagrant violation considering that she's a TV critic.
The Columbia Journalism Review's Regret The Error blog noted that she has been responsible for nine corrections so far in 2009:
By my count in Nexis, she had fourteen corrections in 2008, twelve in 2007, and fifteen in 2006. Averaging just over a correction a month is not something to be proud of. But that's still better than before she attracted so much attention. Stanley had twenty-three corrections in 2005, the year everyone noticed her predilection for error, and twenty-six in 2004. Perhaps the decline in corrections between 2005 and 2006 was in part due to the attention focused on her.