New York Times mixes message on call for reader help with Palin email investigation, now denies request

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The New York Times originally denied making an open call for readers to help “investigate” e-mails from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which are set to be released on Friday.

“The New York Times has not asked for readers to help with an investigation,” NYT spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in an e-mail to The Daily Caller, pointing TheDC to a specific news story about the Palin e-mails’ release.

Rhoades Ha appeared to have missed a story her own newspaper published on its website, titled, “Help Us Review the Sarah Palin E-mail Records.” The two paragraph story, published on the Times’s Caucus blog, reads:

“On Friday, the State of Alaska will release more than 24,000 of Sarah Palin’s e-mails covering much of her tenure as governor of Alaska. Times reporters will be in Juneau, the state capital, to begin the process of reviewing the e-mails, which we will be posting on nytimes.com starting on Friday afternoon E.S.T.

“We’re asking readers to help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight. Interested users can fill out a simple form to describe the nature of the e-mail, and provide a name and e-mail address so we’ll know who should get the credit. Join us here on Friday afternoon and into the weekend to participate.”

(ABC News calls Palin a ‘sideshow candidate’)

When TheDC e-mailed Rhoades Ha back with a link to the NYT’s own story appealing to readers to help the paper “investigate” the Palin e-mails, Rhoades Ha then responded saying that her earlier e-mail had been a misstatement and confirmed that the NYT had published this call to action.

“The New York Times will post the emails in a searchable database on nytimes.com and invite readers to do their own search of the documents,” Rhoades Ha said. “The Times has reporters in Alaska to process the 24,000 documents as well as reporters in New York who will review the materials. If readers draw our attention to something interesting, our reporters will review the information before publishing it on our website or the paper.”

The Washington Post has also requested readers help it “investigate” the Palin e-mails, and their ombudsman did not return TheDC’s requests for comment.