THE BLOG
04/14/2008 12:58 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

When Is a Gaffe Not Newsworthy?

Apparently, when it's committed by somebody who's already in high office, as opposed to when it's committed by someone contending for high office. At least, that's the only sensible conclusion to be drawn from the non-coverage of National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley's habitual conflation of Tibet with Nepal on Sunday morning's This Week on ABC-TV.

A similar episode of serial conflation -- when John McCain kept insisting that Iranians were arming Sunni insurgents, when he (probably) meant Shiites -- at least got a bit of media oxygen. Hadley's repeated reference to Nepal as an issue tied to the question of President Bush's attendance at the Beijing Olympics rated only a final-paragraph reference in the NYT. But more egregiously, the Times duplicated the practice of the AP and Reutersand, inexplicably, Agence France Presse, in rewriting Hadley's quote in the body of the story, taking the liberty of substituting "Tibet" for his "Nepal." Once it occurs just outside the quotation marks, but the AP actually has Hadley saying "Tibet," in quotes, when a check of the video at ABCnews.com will show he said "Nepal."

Is it Times "style" -- or wire-service policy -- to clean up erroneous quotes by high government officials? If so, why? If not, what happened in the Hadley case?

N.B.: ABC News on its website correctly identifies, with a (sic) after each reference, Nepal as the country Hadley referred to.