The New York Times said today that it printed a letter to the editor that purported to be from Bertrand Delanoe, the mayor of Paris, but in fact was not. The letter criticized Caroline Kennedy for seeking to replace U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat tapped to work as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
“What title has Ms. Kennedy to pretend to Hillary Clinton’s seat? We French can only see a dynastic move of the vanishing Kennedy clan in the very country of the Bill of Rights. It is both surprising and appalling,” the letter said in part.
In an online editor’s note appended to the letter, the New York Times said the letter was a fake and should not have been published.
“Doing so violated both our standards and our procedures in publishing signed letters from our readers.
“We have already expressed our regrets to Mr. Delanoë’s office and we are now doing the same to you, our readers.
“This letter, like most Letters to the Editor these days, arrived by email. It is Times procedure to verify the authenticity of every letter. In this case, our staff sent an edited version of the letter to the sender of the email and did not hear back. At that point, we should have contacted Mr. Delanoë’s office to verify that he had, in fact, written to us.
“We did not do that. Without that verification, the letter should never have been printed.
“We are reviewing our procedures for verifying letters to avoid such an incident in the future.”