Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Holding The New Yorker Magazine Accountable for Error in Jane Mayer Piece

In a piece published on the magazine’s website on October 20th, writer Jane Mayer falsely wrote that Koch is “vowing that Americans for Prosperity will spend some $200 million in the 2012 Presidential campaign in hopes of defeating President Obama.”  But Koch has never said, let alone vowed, any such thing.  It is mistaken at best, made up at worst.

We brought the error to the attention of the magazine yet the editors are disavowing responsibility for the falsehood.  So that readers are not further misled, we are setting the record straight here ourselves.

Editor Pamela McCarthy argued in a response to our request that Ms. Mayer had relied on a report in Politico as the basis for her assertion.  But we pointed out that the relevant passage in Politico was entirely different than what Ms. Mayer asserted.  We also advised her that Politico’s information was anonymously sourced and had no hard basis in fact.  Ms. Mayer herself, we also noted, had never contacted us to check her facts or seek input.  On those points, Ms. McCarthy has been unwilling to respond.

We have posted that full correspondence below.  The New Yorker’s practice of sloppy, distorted, and inaccurate reporting on Koch has unfortunately become a routine practice for the magazine.  Its claims to high journalism standards on accuracy and fairness are hard to take seriously when they disregard the facts that we presented to them and instead make up their own facts.

——

From: Cohlmia, Missy

Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 5:41 PM
To: ‘McCarthy, Pam’
Subject: RE: Correx Request

Pam - The Politico assertion and Ms. Mayer’s are very different.

Politico claims (without evidence or attribution) that “David and Charles Koch plan to steer more than $200 million potentially much more — to conservative groups ahead of Election Day.”

Ms. Mayer takes this figure which is based on conjecture and mischaracterizes it as, “Americans for Prosperity will spend some $200 million in the 2012 Presidential campaign.”

Ms. Mayer is taking a speculation and claiming it as fact.  She is wrong and The New Yorker owes us a correction.

Melissa Cohlmia

Director, Corporate Communication
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

——

From: McCarthy, Pam
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 4:15 PM
To: Cohlmia, Missy
Subject: Correx Request

Dear Missy,

The sentence you’re referring to in Jane Mayer’s web piece on October 20 included a link to a Politico story of October 10 that was the basis for the $200 million statement: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/65504.html.  Since Politico had not posted a correction to their story (and still has not), it was not unreasonable for us to rely on it.   Are you saying that the Politico piece is incorrect on this point? It would be helpful to know that as we evaluate your request for a correction.

Sincerely,
Pam McCarthy

Pamela Maffei McCarthy
Deputy Editor
The New Yorker

——

From: Cohlmia, Missy
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2011 16:05:41 -0500
To: The New Yorker
Subject: Correx Request

Corrections
The New Yorker

Dear Editor:

A piece by Jane Mayer that was posted on the magazine’s website October 20th contains a factual error. The article says, “The historically publicity-shy Kochs have stepped out of the shadows recently, vowing that Americans for Prosperity will spend some $200 million in the 2012 Presidential campaign in hopes of defeating President Obama.”

Koch has not made this statement, nor have we made any such vow. Also, neither Ms. Mayer nor anyone from the magazine contacted us for input prior to publication.

Given this inaccuracy, we request a formal correction by The New Yorker. Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Melissa Cohlmia
Director, Corporate Communication
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

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