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The Times Oh So Reluctantly Relents on Rivera

After getting pressure from the paper's public editor Byron Calame and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, The New York Times today published this Editors' Note about Alessandra Stanley's Sept. 5 column stating that Geraldo Rivera had "nudged" a Hurricane Katrina rescue worker out of the way in New Orleans:

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The TV Watch column on Sept. 5 discussed broadcast journalists' undisguised outrage at the failings of Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts. It said reporters had helped stranded victims because no police officers or rescue workers were around, and added, "Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his rivals one better: yesterday, he nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety."

The editors understood the "nudge" comment as the television critic's figurative reference to Mr. Rivera's flamboyant intervention. Mr. Rivera complained, but after reviewing a tape of his broadcast, The Times declined to publish a correction.

Numerous readers, however - now including Byron Calame, the newspaper's public editor, who also scrutinized the tape - read the comment as a factual assertion. The Times acknowledges that no nudge was visible on the broadcast.

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If this isn't the most reluctant correction in newspaper history, I'm not sure what is. But Calame gets credit for at least a partial victory.
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