Times Issues Long Editor's Note to Its Slanted Anti-Wal-Mart Story

Buffeted by criticism, the Times issues an "Editor's Note" to last week's anti-Wal-Mart story. But what was the point of the story in the first place?

A New York Times "Editors' Note" on last weeks' anti-conservative story on the large discount chain makes some necessary corrections but doesn't get to the big question: Why was the story necessary at all?

"An article in Business Day on Friday reported that the Walton Family Foundation had made contributions to four conservative research groups whose analysts wrote articles favorable to Wal-Mart Stores for newspapers and journals around the country. The Times article said that the groups and their employees had consistently failed to disclose the donations, and it said in the first paragraph that the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research was one of them. But a Manhattan Institute author had told The Times that he had indeed disclosed contributions from the Walton Foundation in an article he wrote, a fact that should have been included in the Times article.

"The article also reported that Tim Kane of the Heritage Foundation and Karl Zinsmeister, formerly of the American Enterprise Institute, were among those who wrote articles favorable to Wal-Mart after their foundations received a donation.

"Both those groups were called for comment for the Times article. Mr. Kane, who was not called, subsequently said that he did not know about the Walton Family Foundation contribution and that he had criticized Wal-Mart's call for a higher federal minimum wage in an article he wrote. The Times also did not ask Mr. Zinsmeister to comment, but he declined to do so when reached after the Times article was published. Both Mr. Kane and Mr. Zinsmeister should have been asked to comment before publication."

That's fine as far as it goes. But given that even the slanted article admitted (deep inside) that "liberal policy groups receive significant financing from unions and left-leaning organizations without disclosing their financing," why did the Times think some modest conservative donations merited a full story at all, including dark hints of quid pro quos? Perhaps it was just part of the paper's well-established anti-Wal-Mart strategy.

Michelle Malkin has a useful round-up of reactions to the original story.