The error in itself isn’t really that suprising, however, how this forged document even got published in the New York Times is fascinating.
This letter, like most Letters to the Editor these days, arrived by email. It is Times procedure to verify the authenticity of every letter. In this case, our staff sent an edited version of the letter to the sender of the email and did not hear back. At that point, we should have contacted Mr. Delanoë’s office to verify that he had, in fact, written to us.
We did not do that. Without that verification, the letter should never have been printed.
So let me get this straight. The NYT recieves an email containing a letter supposedly written by the mayor of Paris. The current practice to verify the authenticity of this document is to email back the source of the letter? Then, if they don’t respond, to go ahead and publish the letter anyway.
Did it not occur to anyone at the Times to contact, you know, the supposed original author of the document directy? It’s not like the Mayor of Paris is a reclusive citizen tucked away in some remote corner of Manhattan. Furthermore, let’s say they did recieve an email back from the original sender of the letter. If that response had simply said “Yes, this document is authentic”, would that have been enough for the NYT to go ahead and run with it? Obviously it would have been seeing that no response at all apparently serves as authetication.
The more I think about how I would deal with the situation is just making me more and more angry. This is like asking a guy selling stereos out of his trunk if they are stolen, and taking his reply of “no man, I work for Best Buy” as a satisfactory response.
I’d like to know what the email address of the original sender was as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the NYT thought Big BeretDaddy@frenchymail.com sounded like a reliable source.