Deja vu at the NYT

After reading today’s piece by the New York Times public editor (i.e. ombudsman) entitled Weapons of Mass Destruction? Or Mass Distraction?, I was moved to reply to him by email:
Congratulations to both you and the present NYT editorial staff on the courage to confront the isssue of the Times’ coverage of the WMD issue.
And yet, and yet…. As I read your description of the dysfunctional system, the coddling of anonymous sources, and the lack of scrutiny about the motives of sources, I could not help but be reminded of Whitewater et al. From things like Jeff Gerth’s notorious front-page piece of March 8, 1992 on “Clintons Joined S&L Operator…” through the Starr inquiry and the impeachment, there is (now) substantial evidence that uncritical New York Times reporters were manipulated by “sources,” and that exculpatory or debunking material was supressed.
Is it not time for the New York Times to examine its role in this matter in the same spirit of honest self-assessment?
Geoff Arnold

I was actually a bit hasty in sending this off. On re-reading it, I should have added something like this: Even a skeptical reading of accounts such as Joe Conason’s “The Hunting of the President” would suggest that the New York Times failed to meet the standards which you and the present editorial staff now champion. (The fact that other newspapers such as the Boston Globe and the Washington Post behaved even more recklessly should be irrelevant.)