New York Times removes section from Alessandra Stanley “Today” show review

Mediabistro | The New York Times | Poynter
Alessandra Stanley’s story about Ann Curry’s farewell from the “Today” show included this poignant account:

Highlight reels are the gold watch of television news, and “Today” showed a long, affectionate one of Ms. Curry, from her first days in local news to her trip to the South Pole, where she planted the NBC flag. It included goofy moments clowning on the set, and also a tableau that seemed — under the circumstances — somewhat insensitive. Ms. Curry, ebullient as ever, leaned in to Mr. Lauer, who was wearing an arm sling. “Don’t come anywhere near me with a hug,” he said, jokingly, but perhaps not entirely so.

Trouble is: This didn’t happen on Thursday’s “Today” show. Poynter Online Director Julie Moos, who watched the show, didn’t see a highlight reel or this exchange between Curry and Matt Lauer. Mediabistro’s Chris Ariens writes that the highlight reel “never aired, not on the East Coast or in any other version of the show … A ‘Today’ spokesperson tells us there was no highlight reel, not even on standby.”

Stanley said by email, “I watched the show on TV, but didn’t tape it so I rewatched it online; the highlights reel was online, but was not shown by ‘Today.’ ”

In fact, the video that Stanley watched (embedded below) was a highlight reel from when Curry was announced as co-anchor a year ago. If Stanley thought the highlight reel was insensitive, perhaps that’s because the mood when it aired was celebratory: “It’s kind of a special morning for us as the ‘Today’ family, as we welcome Ann to the new role of co-anchor,” Lauer says in introducing the video.

The Times has posted a correction to the story; Stanley said the correction would be amended to reflect that it was an old video. The correction now reads:

The highlight video was available on the show’s Web site; it was not shown on the television show Thursday and should not have been included as part of the critique of Thursday’s show. The highlight reel was created last year, when Ms. Curry started in her role as host, not in connection with her departure.

The story already had been corrected for two other errors. One was a misidentification in a photo caption. The other: “An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Savannah Guthrie was included in Thursday’s episode of ‘Today.’ ”

As for the attempted hug that Stanley described, that too didn’t occur Thursday; it was part of the highlight reel that aired last year.

Stanley has a history of accuracy issues. Her 2009 “appraisal” of Walter Cronkite’s career had seven errors, resulting in a lengthy correction. Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt wrote that the errors occurred because “a television critic with a history of errors wrote hastily and failed to double-check her work, and editors who should have been vigilant were not.” || Earlier: Stanley’s erroneous history (CJR) || Related: NBC announced today that Savannah Guthrie would be Curry’s successor

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  • Anonymous

    This is really a black eye for the NYT brand, and a shame on Stanley. She should voluntarily resign after this blatant LIE and become a book author. This kind of “journalism” has no place in the NYT, repeat, NO PLACE. Pack your bags, Ms Stanley, you are toast now! Another nail in the coffin of NYT journalism. What was she THINKING? That she is ENTIT?ED? Many NYT people come from Harvard Yale backgrounds and feel they are ABOVE it all. Sad commentary on USA today. ANd NYT.

  • Jim Clark

    I am unsure how the differs from the Jason Blair case. A reporter was assigned to cover a story–watching the final Ann Curry appearance as cohost of Today–but didn’t show up. Instead, she picked up some old material from the internet and wrote her story as if it were fact. The key difference, of course, is that Stanley, a white, is a Times favorite, despite her record of incorrect reporting (check out her corrections–the list is staggering).  Want to bet Stanley gets to keep her job?

  • Kenneth Conway

    You are!

  • Tony Snyder

    I’m pretty positive no one from the Times does any research before writing their stories. If they did, they’d be Republicans and have a reader base!