The New York Times’s detractors are holding up Ed Andrews’ decision to omit his wife’s bankruptcies from his marriage-money-mortgage memoir “Busted” as an example of the paper’s ongoing bias. This is silly: “Busted” is Andrews’ story, not an NYT story.
But the paper’s ombudsman has now responded to this charge (sort of):
On Thursday, [Andrews] came under attack from a blogger for The Atlantic for not mentioning in his book that his wife had twice filed for bankruptcy… He said he had wanted to spare his wife any more embarrassment. The blogger said the omission undercut Andrews’s story, but I think it was clear that he and his wife could not manage their finances, bankruptcies or no. Still, he should have revealed the second one, if only to head off the criticism.
As we’ve said, we agree with the “blogger” (Megan McArdle) that the omission changed the story.
Most of ombudsman Clark Hoyt’s discussion focuses on the paper’s concerns about potential conflicts of interest (mortgage reporter writing about own mortgage disaster). In this discussion, Andrews admits that his prime motivation for telling the story was money.
“I was desperate,” Andrews said. He still is. Seven months behind on his mortgage, he may lose his home unless “Busted,” which comes out this week, is a hit.
Many book advances aren’t based on actual sales, so Andrews may have already gotten as much from “Busted” as he’s going to get. At this writing, its Amazon sales rank is 4,195, which is low considering the amount of publicity it’s getting (hits often crack the top 100, especially during the launch hype). Amazon reviewers are also unhappy with the bankruptcy omission.