Fact Checks or Checkered Facts?
In August 2010, Lawrence Wright put the finishing touches on a purported “profile” of filmmaker Paul Haggis. All that remained was The New Yorker’s fact-checking process. Customarily, fact checking is a formality meant to insure accuracy and correct any misstatements.
The fact that their “writer” got so much wrong appeared to have set off alarms with The New Yorker’s editorial staff. Indeed, Wright’s article was so flawed his draft was taken off the print schedule and it would be four long months before it went to press. But, given there were so many inaccuracies, it never should have gone to print at all. That’s what a respectable publication would have done if it had found its article filled with errors, misrepresentations, transparent agendas and lies. And to add insult to injury, the final article was riddled with errors, much like the draft that was rejected.
In the final analysis, the outcome of the fact checking tells a different story—a story of Lawrence Wright’s negligence and tabloid approach to his New Yorker story on the Church and The New Yorker’s complacency and complicity in same.
Here are some remarkable “facts,” courtesy of The New Yorker.
One article, purportedly a “profile” but actually on the Church of Scientology, that was:
In the end, the numbers tell the tale of how The Wright Stuff became The Wrong Stuff:
No number of rewrites, “Oops, my bad” or any literary device or dissembling can excuse a writer for turning in a “finished” article that upon fact checking has a full 59 percent of its “facts”—not opinions from “opinion checking”—dead wrong.