Internet | September 22, 2017 10:23 am

New York Times Faces Backlash After Publishing an Inaccurate Book Review

Vanity Fair digs into the controversy.

The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review became embroiled in controversy last week when one author published an inaccurate review, Vanity Fair reports.

Michelle Goldberg reviewed Vanessa Grigoriadis’s new book, Blurred Lines, which examines the debate about consensual sex on college campuses. Goldberg offers a few pieces of praise, Vanity Fair writes, before giving a harsh critique of the book, even saying that “occasionally (Grigoriadis) makes baffling errors that threaten to undermine her entire book,” according to Vanity Fair. 

But Grigoriadis defended herself and her book on her Facebook page, saying that Goldberg performed “some of her own (incompetent) journalism here.”

By the time the issue went public, a large correction had been added to Goldberg’s piece, writes Vanity Fair. 

The journalism and media circles began buzzing. Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple published an account of what happened on his blog, and Vanity Fair reports that various women’s organizations chimed in as well. Goldberg took to Twitter to say that she would “give a kidney and five years of my life back” to take back the assertions, writes Vanity Fair, and expressed frustration with how the whole thing played out.

Vanity Fair says that the controversy set off “drama within the halls of the Times,” because it is a significant error. One source told Vanity Fair that it was “humiliating.” One interesting fact is that both women are part of the Times masthead. Grigoriadis is a contributing writer. Goldberg was just hired as a columnist for the Times Op-Ed desk, appointed by James Bennet, the editorial page editor who some think might someday succeed executive editor Dean Baquet. “The fact that they’re both affiliated with the Times is what makes it unusual,” a Times staffer told Vanity Fair. 

Vanity Fair also writes that now people question how this will affect Bennet, since he has faced some major issues in his short year and a half at the job — such as a defamation lawsuit filed by Sarah Palin, that was later dismissed.

One further question Vanity Fair brings up is would the mistake have happened if there was a free-standing, centralized copy desk. The copy desk was eliminated from the Times this summer. But Vanity Fair writes that some people at the Times disagreed with this thought, saying it seems unlikely “even the most assiduous copy editor” would have questioned Goldberg on some of her fundamental points.

Vanity Fair writes that at the end of the day, this is just an example of the rockiness the Times is currently going through as it makes “important and necessary changes.”