NY Times issues two new corrections to Issa ‘hit piece’

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Eleven days after publishing what Rep. Darrell Issa called an “error-ridden” “hit piece” about him, The New York Times has issued two more corrections to its reporting in the story.

The Times now says the August 15 article used “erroneous information” to allege foul play on Issa’s part because he withdrew much of his family foundation’s assets from the stock market several months before it crashed. Reporter Eric Lichtblau used faulty documentation to allege that Issa’s family foundation “earned $357,000 on an initial investment of less than $19,000 – a return of nearly 1,900 percent in just seven months, the foundation reported to the Internal Revenue Service.”

Issa’s office published accurate documents demonstrating his family foundation’s initial investment was $500,000, not “less than $19,000.” The Times’ correction is an admission that Issa didn’t profit from privileged securities information. Even though it now acknowledges it incorrectly reported that information, the Times blames Issa’s family foundation for the mistake, claiming the charity filed “erroneous information” with the IRS.

The second Friday morning Times correction relates to the allegation that one of Issa’s private business interests benefited from his actions as a congressman. Lichtblau reported that a medical complex Issa purchased in 2008 appreciated in value from $10.3 million to $16.6 million “at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work.”

Issa’s team released documentation proving he actually purchased the medical complex for $16.6 million, almost exactly the same amount as its current value.

The Times now admits it used “incorrect information from the San Diego county assessor’s office” to build the basis for those allegations. “Therefore the value of the property remained essentially unchanged, and did not rise 60 percent after Mr. Issa secured federal funding to widen a road alongside the plaza,” the Times wrote in its correction.

In total, the Times has issued three corrections to the piece. Issa has demanded a front-page retraction of the entire story.

The Times made its first correction almost immediately after running the story. That error consisted of a statement that Issa “split a holding company into separate multibillion-dollar businesses.”

That correction read: “An earlier version of this article incorrectly described value of businesses that resulted from splitting a holding company owned by Representative Darrell Issa. They are multimillion-dollar businesses, not multibillion-dollar businesses.”

Issa’s office says these new corrections “rip out the heart” of the narrative the Times and Lichtblau tried to promote: a nefarious connection between Issa’s private business interests with his public service as a congressman.

The Times has yet to correct any other alleged errors. For instance, Lichtblau described Issa’s office location as “the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course,” even though local newspaper North County Times says “the building, in fact, is nondescript, overlooks Highway 78 and has no golf course view.”

Issa’s team has also released a video showing that his office’s view does not include a golf course.

On Monday, August 15, the day the story ran, Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha told The Daily Caller that the paper was sticking to its story and believed it was accurate.

“We believe the story to be an accurate and fair account,” Rhoades Ha said in an email. “Of course we will have a look at any factual issues his staff has raised.‬‪ However, there is nothing in the Congressman’s complaint that questions the heart of the story.‬ The Times has made several attempts to reach the Congressman — by phone and by email — to get his comment. And he has declined.”

Rhoades Ha has not responded to any follow up requests for comment, including the question of whether the Times will run a front-page retraction of the article as Issa has requested. Rhoades Ha also has not answered when TheDC asked if Lichtblau actually went to Issa’s office to see if it overlooks a golf course.