Where the NYT went wrong

Patrick O’Hannigan over at The American Spectator had an excellent piece yesterday summarizing the various ways the New York Times got its reporting wrong when it published the “Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys” story. He breaks it into four categories. Here’s an excerpt outlining the first two:

Issue One: Chronology. If you want to charge a man with trying to cover up a scandal, the questions that demand answers are “What did he know and when did he know it?” But Fr. Murphy disgraced his priesthood long before Pope Benedict was in any position to notice, as even the New York Daily News observed. When Fr. Murphy’s conduct eventually came to the attention of the Vatican, then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s office approved a request for trial, and waived the statute of limitations that would otherwise have precluded trying a priest for crimes he had committed more than twenty years before.

Issue Two: Sourcing. Would you write an investigative report that relied on documents provided by a morally compromised bishop whom you had already written sympathetically about, and lawyers with a financial interest in squeezing reparations out of the institution you’re looking at? Would you also miss a chance to interview the judge who presided over the trial relevant to your story? If you answered “no” to both questions, you’re a step ahead of the New York Times.

Here’s the entire piece.



Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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