When Bob Schieffer asked President Barack Obama about "reports" that Iran and the United States have agreed "in principle" to talks about Iran's nuclear program, the president dismissed them. "Those are reports in the newspaper," Obama said. "They are not true."
Neither Schieffer nor Obama mentioned The New York Times by name, but the reference was clearly to the Times' much-discussed Saturday report, which was met with denials by both the U.S and Iranian governments.
A few hours before Monday's presidential debate, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan looked into the Iran story and how it was tweaked following push-back from the White House.
I posed the questions to the executive editor Jill Abramson, who called the Sunday story “solid and true.” She said that the White House was “hair-splitting” when it denied that there was an agreement, and that information was added to the original article to reflect the denial while still standing by its original reporting.
“Good journalism practice sometimes involves changes between editions. We did not see these changes as significant,” Ms. Abramson said.
David Leonhardt, the Times Washington bureau chief, tweeted a link to the public editor's post after Obama's dismissal of the article. "To repeat: we stand by our Iran story," he wrote.
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