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More ‘Katrina Victim’ Lies From The NY Times

The "Paper Of Treason" is at it again.

Editor & Publisher tells the all too familiar tale:

Original New York Times caption: Donna Fenton, awaiting word on her family’s move to Brooklyn, shopped recently with Amanda McGee, left.

Another Bad Slip for ‘NY Times’: Katrina Victim Unmasked

By E&P Staff

March 23, 2006

NEW YORK For the second time in less than a week, The New York Times today admitted to a serious error in a story. On Saturday it said it had misidentified a man featured in the iconic "hooded inmate" photograph from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Today it discloses that a woman it profiled on March 8 is not, in fact, a victim of Hurricane Katrina–and was arrested for fraud and grand larceny yesterday.

As it did in the Abu Ghraib mistake, the Times ran an editors’ note on page 2 of its front section, along with a lengthy news article (this time on the front page of Section B). Again mirroring the Abu Ghraib episode, the newspaper revealed a surprising and inexplicable lapse in fact-checking on the part of a reporter and/or editor.

The original article, more than 1000 words in length, was written by Nicholas Confessore. He also wrote the news article about the error today. Without saying that he wrote the first story, he wrote today: "The Times did not verify many aspects of Ms. Fenton’s claims, never interviewed her children, and did not confirm the identity of the man she described as her husband."

The editors’ note states:

"An article in The Metro Section on March 8 profiled Donna Fenton, identifying her as a 37-year-old victim of Hurricane Katrina who had fled Biloxi, Miss., and who was frustrated in efforts to get federal aid as she and her children remained as emergency residents of a hotel in Queens.

"Yesterday, the New York police arrested Ms. Fenton, charging her with several counts of welfare fraud and grand larceny. Prosecutors in Brooklyn say she was not a Katrina victim, never lived in Biloxi and had improperly received thousands of dollars in government aid. Ms. Fenton has pleaded not guilty.

"For its profile, The Times did not conduct adequate interviews or public record checks to verify Ms. Fenton’s account, including her claim that she had lived in Biloxi. Such checks would have uncovered a fraud conviction and raised serious questions about the truthfulness of her account."

Last Saturday, the Times editors’ note disclosed that Ali Shalal Qaissi, pictured on the front page "as the hooded man forced to stand on a box, attached to wires, in a photograph from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal of 2003 and 2004," was not that man. "The Times did not adequately research Mr. Qaissi’s insistence that he was the man in the photograph," it related.

Of course there is nothing "inexplicable" about this.

It is painfully obvious that if The Times thinks the story will make the US look bad, they will run with it.

And to hell with the facts.

In case you missed it, here is the opening refrain of the heartbreaking story that originally appeared in The Times, front and center:

For Katrina Evacuee, Getting Help Is a Full-Time Job – New York Times

March 8, 2006

Donna Fenton no longer consults the scrap of paper in her pocketbook when she needs the phone number for the Red Cross, or New York City’s welfare office, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I know them all by heart," said Ms. Fenton, 37, who left Biloxi, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home there. "I call them every day. That’s my job."

She starts in the morning, calling from the rooms she and her family share at a Ramada hotel near La Guardia Airport, or from the hotel’s basement conference room. She knows what numbers will lead to someone helpful and the ones that will plunge her into a thicket of indifference or incomprehension. She keeps going for hours, sometimes until 3 o’clock the next morning.

The days and nights can blur together, a fog of dial tones, beige wallpaper and overly cheerful automated voices. "Everything they asked for, I sent in," she said. "I sent it in the second time, and then I sent it in a third time."

What she wants, she says, is enough money to move into a new apartment in New York, so she can begin anew the life that Katrina ripped apart. "It wasn’t like we had any luxuries," she said. "But we were scraping by."

About 20 families left homeless by Katrina still live at the Ramada, and, all things considered, Ms. Fenton is among the more fortunate evacuees. Because she went to high school in New York, the city is not wholly foreign to her. She has found a job that pays about as well as the one she held managing two restaurants in Biloxi. Her husband, Matt, has found part-time work at an auto body shop.

Ms. Fenton is polite, organized and determined…

And a thieving liar.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, March 24th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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