NY Times reports on Reuters retraction of "backdoor taxes" falsehood

Blog ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

The New York Times detailed Reuters' withdrawal of an article that relied on falsehoods to claim that the Obama administration's budget plan includes "backdoor tax increases that will result in a bigger tax bill for middle-class families." The New York Times' Richard Pérez-Peña wrote: "Some mistakes are about small matters and go unnoticed. Unfortunately for Reuters, reporting on the White House is not one of those things." Pérez-Peña added:

On Monday at about 4 p.m., Reuters.com, part of the giant news service, published an article about President Obama's budget, headlined "Backdoor taxes to hit middle class." It warned of a number of impending changes, focusing particularly on the expiration of the 2001 income tax cuts.

But in fact, Mr. Obama has proposed extending the 2001 cuts except for high-income taxpayers, and there were other inaccuracies in the article. The White House contacted Reuters to object to the story.

At 8:07 p.m., the news service posted an advisory saying that it had withdrawn the article, and the link on Reuters.com was disabled. On Tuesday at 1:35 p.m., Reuters posted another advisory calling the story "wrong."

"The story went out and it shouldn't have gone out," said Courtney Dolan, a Reuters spokeswoman, but she declined to say how the mistake had happened. "It definitely was not up to our standards. It had significant errors of fact."

Pérez-Peña also noted that the Drudge Report had picked up the Reuters article: "The article was not distributed on the main Reuters wire service subscribed to other media, limiting its exposure, but a headline linking to it was displayed throughout the day Tuesday at the top of The Drudge Report, the conservative news aggregation site. During the day, Drudge added a line saying 'Reuters pulls tax story,' with a link to the withdrawal, but it did not remove the original headline, though the link had long since been disabled." Pérez-Peña added that the Reuters story was picked up by "conservative bloggers, some of whom questioned the retraction" and by Rush Limbaugh, who said "Reuters has withdrawn the story because the truth is not to be tolerated in the Obama administration."

Indeed, as Media Matters senior fellow Eric Boehlert has noted, Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com and Red State's Erick Erickson attacked Reuters following the retraction.

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