The Times Falls for French Prank After Mocking Palin for Similar Gaffe

The Times, which last month mocked Sarah Palin for getting taken in by a French taken in by a French prank, publishing a phony letter from the "Mayor of Paris."

The Times, which last month mocked Sarah Palin for getting taken in by a French taken in by a French prank, printing a letter Monday allegedly from Bertrand Delanoe, the Mayor of Paris, calling Caroline Kennedy's bid for a U.S. Senate seat as "appalling" and "not very democratic."

The Times explained in Tuesday's edition:

In Monday's newspaper, we published a letter over the name of the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, criticizing Caroline Kennedy. This letter was a fraud and should not have been published. Mr. Delanoë's office has since confirmed that he did not write it.

Printing the letter, which also appeared on until it was removed, violated the standards and procedures of The New York Times editorial department.

It is our practice to verify the authenticity of every letter we publish. Like most of our letters these days, this one arrived by e-mail. We sent an edited version back to the writer of the e-mail and did not receive a response.

At that point, the letter should have been set aside. It was not.

The Times has expressed its regret to Mr. Delanoë's office for the lapse in judgment that led to this error. We now express those regrets to our readers.

We will be reviewing our procedures in an attempt to ensure that an error like this is not repeated.

Back on November 6, the Times' Republican-hostile reporter Elisabeth Bumiller mocked Gov. Sarah Palin in a story relishing the post-election backbiting emanating from the John McCain campaign. Bumiller concluded by recapping a prank interview Palin conducted with who she thought was President Nicolas Sarkozy of France but was actually a French radio prankster.

One of the last straws for the McCain advisers came just days before the election when news broke that Ms. Palin had taken a call made by Marc-Antoine Audette. Mr. Audette and his fellow comedian Sebastien Trudel are notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state.

Ms. Palin appeared to believe that she was talking to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, even though the prankster had a flamboyant French accent and spoke to her in a more personal way than would be protocol in such a call. At one point, he told Ms. Palin that she would make a good president some day. "Maybe in eight years," she replied.

(Hat tip for inspiration from Ace of Spades.)