This marks the second time in less than 24 hours that the NYT has reported new, contradictory elements of this ongoing page-one investigation of the New York State governor -- without alerting its readers to the contradictions in any way, or offering any explanation.
A previous post on The NYTPicker detailed changes made to the print version of today's blockbuster story, also without disclosure or explanation.
This time, without noting the change, the NYT altered its reporting of both Paterson's account of the call, and on the version of events offered by the woman's lawyer, Lawrence B. Saftler.
Given the crucial nature of these events to the story itself -- the NYT is reporting tonight that the governor is being pressured to resign -- the NYT's repeated changes to its account strikes us as sloppy reporting on a story of huge significance to its readers.
This afternoon's story reported:
On Wednesday, Mr. Paterson said the woman, who had accused his aide of choking and otherwise assaulting her in their Bronx apartment last fall, called him on Feb. 7 merely to reassure him that she was not the source of rumors circulating about the governor’s private life.
But the NYT's original account of Paterson's Wednesday comment -- included in the print edition this morning -- said only this:
Through a spokesman, Mr. Paterson said the call actually took place the day before the scheduled court hearing and maintained that the woman had initiated it. He declined to answer further questions about his role in the matter.
If Paterson in fact told the NYT on Wednesday that the woman had called him "merely to reassure him that she was not the source of rumors circulating about the governor’s private life," why did that not appear in the NYT account of Paterson's statement on Thursday morning? That seems as though it would have been worth reporting.
In fact, the first published reference to the discussion between Paterson and the woman about the rumors appeared not in the NYT, but on the Daily News website this morning.
So, did Paterson say this to the NYT on Wednesday, or not? It's not at all clear from the two contradictory accounts.
This afternoon's story goes on to report:
But Lawrence B. Saftler, the lawyer for the woman, contradicted both those claims Thursday. Mr. Saftler said that the woman was called, unbidden, by a female intermediary on behalf of Mr. Paterson on Feb. 7 and told that the governor wanted her to call him, which she did.
The NYT neglects to point out in this story that Saftler's account contradicts not only the Governor's claims, but also Saftler's own assertions in the NYT print edition this morning.
In this morning's paper, the NYT reported:
Then early this month, days before she was due to return to court to seek a final protective order, the woman got a phone call from the governor, according to her lawyer.