The New York Times eats a little crow

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ACSH received a response from The New York Times Public Editor Art Brisbane regarding our request for a correction to John Collins Rudolf’s blog on Walmart’s ban of PDBE flame retardants. In it, Mr. Rudolf identified ACSH as an “industry-financed group” and implied that our own Jody Manley was a “chemical lobbyist.” Mr. Brisbane responded with:

Thanks for your message. Having read your concerns ... I think it will be difficult for you to obtain a correction in this matter. [Our] corrections policy provides that corrections are published in cases where a "correctable" error has occurred … In this case, the term "lobby" is too general, in my opinion, to make its use in your case a correctable one. The term lobby does have a legal definition, as you note, but it is also understood more broadly and used more broadly to apply to organizations that employ persuasion on behalf of a cause or a purpose. The other question, whether "industry-financed" is correctable, is likewise ambiguous. Your group is industry-financed but not solely industry-financed. So the statement is incomplete but not incorrect.

... [The Times] does not publish "clarifications," which might be a better vehicle for the question you raise.

I'm sorry not to be of greater service to you in this instance … Typically, I look for issues that carry broad implications for Times journalism and, if I conclude that the issue you raise emerges as one of those, I may be back in touch on this.

“Mr. Brisbane clearly fudged the lobbyist excuse to avoid issuing a correction,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, “so we shall issue it for him. By his standards, every not-for-profit group can be identified as a lobbying group. Would The Times dare to call the Harvard School of Public Health environmental lobbyists?”