THE BLOG

New York Times Removes Quote About Burning Down Newspaper

06/14/2013 04:00 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2013

In Friday morning dispatch, New York Times Tehran bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink reported that several people at polling stations said they voted for Mayor Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf in Iran's presidential election before recalling an interesting encounter (emphasis added):

"He is a war veteran, a good manager and a religious person," said Noushin Sobhani, 31, a gynecologist. She and her parents voted at the Imam Sadegh University, where most of Iran's cadre of bureaucrats is trained. "We hate America," her father said, smiling. "I hope The New York Times building burns down."

On Twitter, Erdbrink added that the "smiling man" said he'd like to see the Times building burned so the paper will "stop publishing lies."

It's not every day someone is quoted in the Times saying they'd like to see the paper's headquarters burned down. But in a later version of the same story, the second part of his quote was removed. (See NewsDiffs comparison here).

The election piece now reads:

"He is a war veteran, a good manager and a religious person," said Noushin Sobhani, 31, a gynecologist. She and her parents voted at Imam Sadegh University, where most of Iran's bureaucrats are trained. "We hate America," her father said, smiling.


While the Times routinely updates and revises stories throughout the day, the smiling man's quote got lots of pick-up on Twitter and therefore became a more noteworthy edit than usual.

A Times spokeswoman explained the edit in an email to The Huffington Post.

"The quote was removed in the normal course of editing because of a copy editor's view that the first part of the quote captured the strong opinions of the voter and that there was no reason to involve The New York Times, which generally attempts to stay out of the news it is covering," she wrote.

This post was updated with the Times response.