President Trump’s team got into another fight with the New York Times over the weekend.
Trump attacked the newspaper again Sunday, apparently after learning that it was running an ad during the Oscars.
For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 26. фебруар 2017.
It was the 51st occasion on which Trump has tweeted about the “failing @nytimes,” and one of the few in which he pointed to a cause for that imminent failure: the Times’ inability to report “accurately & fairly!”
The day prior, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, called out just such an egregious error by the Times. It had gotten his birthplace wrong.
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) 25. фебруар 2017.
Reporter Glenn Thrush (the “SNL” guy!) replied that he’d twice reached out to Spicer to discuss the article, without getting a response. Spicer complained that the question of his birthplace wasn’t included in that outreach — implying that had it been, he would have offered a response. (It’s fair to question if he actually would have even then.)
So the Times ran a correction.
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to Sean Spicer’s upbringing. He was New England bred, having been raised in Rhode Island; he was not “New England born.” (Mr. Spicer would not go on the record and give the correct facts pertaining to his birthplace.)
The Trump administration is very good at extrapolating outward from isolated incidents into broader patterns, often using questionable logic. It’s also good at painting the media with a broad brush, insisting that the Times and other outlets — including The Washington Post — are biased against him or presenting data unfairly.
A review of corrections run by the Times, though, reveals that the minor error pointed out by Spicer is almost exclusively the sort of thing that the Times has gotten wrong since Trump took office: a minor factual detail. There’s clearly little reluctance from the paper to offer fixes to even minor things, such as middle initials or incorrect titles.
In the 47 examples we found — articles about Trump excluding opinion pieces or wire stories — 15 were typographical, involving small corrections to titles or dates that seem likely to have been copy-editing misses. An additional 27 were minor factual corrections, such as incorrect locations or photo captions. (Among them: The paper corrected the nature of Dippin’ Dots in a story related to Spicer’s tweeted complaints about the frozen confection.) Only five involved significant corrections of fact, including an incorrect number related to Obamacare and a citation of fake tweets from Michael T. Flynn. In no case was the substance of any of the articles we reviewed rescinded. The list (with links) is below.
This again suggests that the Times’ reporting is actually broadly correct, as we’ve noted in the past. Trump and his team want to imply broad inaccuracy but have been unable to demonstrate it. The goal, of course, isn’t really to call out incorrect reporting as much as it is to get supporters to assume that the Times is incorrect in what it writes. Spicer’s complaint about the Times getting his birthplace wrong is implied to be the icing on the cake of the Times’ errors. In actuality, it’s a sprinkle — and there’s no demonstrable cake.
There is one inaccuracy that has gone uncorrected, and which we should note. The Times is not, as Trump claims, failing.