NY Times Prods Hate U.S. Comments? - September 27, 2002

NY Times Prods Hate U.S. Comments? A story too good to be true? A New York Times reporter prodded an Arab-American store owner to say he hates America? In his Best of the Web column for OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto caught an item in this weeks New York Press in a listing of bests, as in Best Pickup Joint and Best Annoying Form of Transportation. Under the heading of Best Harassment of an Arab in the Wake of 9/11, the Press related in the unbylined Manhattan Living column: Hes a nice guy who doesnt want any trouble, so we wont name names. But well take a polygraph if anybody questions this storys truthfulness:

"Its two weeks after the World Trade Center massacre, and were visiting our favorite pita place in the former shadows of the WTC. Maybe were gullible enough to think that were showing support for a local Arab-American. We ask if hes had any kind of harassment.

'There was this one woman, he explained, 'who came in from The New York Times. She kept telling me that she understood if I hated America. I finally told her not to come back until she wanted to write about my business." Thats online at: http://www.nypress.com/15/39/news&columns/manliving.cfm Taranto suggested: The story sounds too good to be true.

Yes, but Im afraid it also sounds all too much like the attitude of a journalist trying to get an interviewee to say something quotable.