In a late-afternoon posting on the "Talk To The Times" website, NYT managing Editor Jill Abramson admitted that the paper was "a beat behind" on the recent controversy over now-resigned White House environment official Van Jones.
After attributing its failure in part to a short-staffed Washington bureau over the Labor Day weekend, Abramson said that was "not an excuse" and that "we should have been paying closer attention" to the events as they unfolded.
The NYT took a beating on Twitter and from the right for its failure to properly cover the events leading up to Jones' resignation; the story was being widely covered on Fox News, but mostly ignored in the so-called MSM, or mainstream media. Abramson's admission reflects a rare mea culpa for the NYT.
In brief: Jones had become a target of attack this summer after it was reported that he had signed a "9/11 Truth Statement" in 2004, which suggested the Bush administration may have allowed the World Trade Center attack to happen, as a pretext to launch its war on terrorism. It had also been reported that Jones referred to Republicans in Congress as "assholes."
As right-wing commentators ratcheted up their calls for Jones to resign last week, the NYT failed to pick up on the story. It first covered the Jones brouhaha on its Caucus blog on Saturday. The news of Jones' resignation made it to the front page on Monday.
Abramson responded to six questions from readers raising the same question: why so late? She noted that Jones was "not a high-ranking official" as another reason the NYT was so late to the story. But in essence, her reply to readers was a clear admission that the paper missed the mark in its coverage.
Who knows, maybe Abramson has just gotten all soft inside now that she's spending so much time with her new puppy, Scout. Whatever the reason, it's fun to see the usually-boosterish managing editor admit to an actual mistake for a change.