Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not Again! NYT's Katharine Q. Seelye Falls For Phony Alvin Greene Campaign Video Posted On YouTube By Pranksters.

Last Thursday night, NYT political reporter Katharine Q. Seelye posted what she thought was an hilarious scoop: a new hip-hop campaign video from South Carolina Democratic senate candidate Alvin Greene.

With no attribution, Seelye reported on the NYT's Caucus blog that the candidate "is now out" with a campaign video, and said that Greene "credits himself as producer, director and editor, and lists 'Dad' as 'first camera' and himself as 'second camera.'"

But by Friday morning, it had become widely apparent that Seelye had fallen victim to a video prank perpetrated by some bored hip-hop producers -- not having bothered to check its authorship before attributing it to Greene on the NYT's website.

"I didn't have anything to do with it, but I'll take credit for it," Greene told ABC News on Friday. "The video looks good. The music is good. It's cool."

As the day wore on, comments piled up on the Seelye post wondering why it wasn't being updated with the truth -- that the video had been posted by someone named "Virgiltexas" on YouTube, with no previous YouTube history, and some connection to a website known as "Satellite High."

Mewnwhile, CNN interviewed one of the hip-hop producers -- Jay Friedman of San Francisco -- who claimed co-authorship of the video.

"I just like making funny music, and a friend of mine on Twitter approached me asking, 'You wanna do this'," Friedman told CNN. "It was kind of inside jokey thing."

But now, where was Seelye? How had the NYT's national political correspondent come to attribute the video to Greene in the first place -- and why had she still not corrected her post, hours after it had become clear she had misreported the story?

In an email response to questions from The NYTPicker, Seelye now admits that she completely blew it -- failing first to check properly with Greene, and then missing multiple opportunities to correct her mistake after other media outlets had corrected the record.

"Tried checking with Mr. Greene on Thursday (as you know, there is no "Greene campaign") but got no answer; no excuse for not checking further," Seelye wrote us this morning, explaining that she had first heard about the video from a NYT colleague. "Was steeped in something else on Friday and not monitoring the post."

Seelye said she wasn't aware of her mistake until a media reporter inquired about her plans to correct the Caucus blog post -- at which point she reached Greene and "Virgiltexas," and posted a correction and update.

"Should have heeded the doubts raised in my own mind about the origin of the video, but again, no excuse for the rush job," Seelye told us.

We agree.


ryan said...

This was just a failure of common sense. It was so blatantly obvious that the attributions to Alvin Greene were jokes. Greene hasn't been in the spotlight for long, but taking all his media exposure together (he seems as boring as a can of paint) he didn't see capable of that.

I saw the blog post saying it was Greene himself that released it, doubted myself for a second, and then realized that no, there's just no way.

Anonymous said...

Good work barkwhipping the astray! They've gotten habituated to invincibility. The sooner you overrun'em or step in to shutdown, the less obstacles accumulate to outlast.

Anonymous said...

So Seelye doesn't bother factchecking or confirming when "in a hurry." Super. That's just how they taught us to do it in Journalism 101: Cut corners when you have to.

Anonymous said...

Props to Seelye for answering NYTPicker's questions. She comes off better as a result, I think.

Anonymous said...

Hope Andrew Breitbard doesn't send her any videos.
Good Grief!

Kit Seeley said...

It was just one video!

Anonymous said...

Still, the correctional broom doesn't quite sweep away the travesty. Why the speed? Was the video not
wretched enough to behold?