NYT: Yep, We Missed The Van Jones Story

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If you’re a monogamous New York Times print reader, you would have never even heard of the controversy surrounding green jobs czar Van Jones, until the paper printed its front page story on Monday announcing his resignation.

How did the Times drop the ball on a brewing controversy during a slow news week? labour day vacations! At least that’s what the paper’s Managing Editor, Jill Abramson says:

A. The Caucus, our popular politics blog, first mentioned the Van Jones controversy on Saturday, Sept. 5. It was the second item on the blog.

Mr. Jones was appointed to the White House environmental council and was one of the so-called “czars” for green jobs. Comments he made, using an unprintable word to describe Republicans, and allowing his name to be used in a letter asking for an investigation of the Bush administration for allowing the 9/11 attacks to occur as a pretext for war, called into question his suitability for a White House position.

The blog item itself referred to criticisim of the mainstream media for ignoring the story, which had been discussed on talk radio, Fox News and other venues.

The Times was, in fact, a beat behind on this story.

Why? One reason was that our Washington bureau was somewhat short-staffed during the height of the pre-labour Day vacation period. This is not an excuse. Another is that despite being a so-called “czar,” Mr. Jones was not a high-ranking official. Nevertheless, we should have been paying closer attention.

We did cover Mr. Jones’s resignation on Page One on Sept. 7.

While it looks embarassing in retrospect, we can’t really chide them too badly. After all, we wrote on Friday, “The mainstream media isn’t touching the story. Nor should they, because this is a silly issue that just reveals the petulance of right-wing haters of Obama.” Who knew it would blow up so fast?

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