Give the New York Times more credit than Dan Rather. A full week after its own public editor Byron Calame laid bare the facts behind the misreporting in a prominent Sunday Magazine cover story, stating that a Salvadoran woman had been sent to jail for 30 years for having an abortion, the Times has finally issued a formal correction.
An article in The Times Magazine on April 9 reported on the effects of laws that make all abortions illegal in El Salvador. One case the article described was that of Carmen Climaco, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence in El Salvador.
The article said she was convicted in 2002 of aggravated homicide, and it presented the recollections of the judge who adjudicated Ms. Climaco's case during the pretrial stage. The judge, Margarita Sanabria, told The Times that she believed that Ms. Climaco had an abortion when she was 18 weeks pregnant, and that she regretted allowing the case to be tried as a homicide. The judge based her legal decision on two reports by doctors.
The first, by a doctor who examined Ms. Climaco after the incident, concluded that she had been 18 weeks pregnant and had an abortion. A second medical report, based on an examination of the body that was found under Ms. Climaco's bed, concluded that her child was carried to term, was born alive and died in its first minutes of life.
The three-judge panel that received the case from Judge Sanabria concluded that the second report was more credible than the first, and the panel convicted Ms. Climaco of aggravated homicide.
The Times should have obtained the text of the ruling of the three-judge panel before the article was published, but did not vigorously pursue the document until details of the ruling were brought to the attention of editors in late November.
A picture caption with the article also misstated the facts of the ruling. Ms. Climaco was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a case that was initially thought to be an abortion but was later ruled to be a homicide; she was not given 30 years in prison for an abortion that was ruled a homicide.
Only the editors and publisher of the Times know why an entire week was required to do the right thing. American Thinker was among several websites that covered the disgraceful stonewalling in the face of ironclad evidence that a serious misrepresentation had occurred, been discovered (in November last year) and called to the Times' attention, and then investigated by its own internal quality assurance mechanism with the results published a week ago..
Late is better than never.
Hat tip: Lucianne Goldberg