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21 of the weirdest ‘New York Times’ corrections this year

Nobody's perfect.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on Dec 31, 2014   Updated on May 29, 2021, 9:05 pm CDT

Everyone makes mistakes—even the Grey Lady. And besides a stiff post-deadline cocktail, there’s hardly anything more satisfying to media wonks than spotting a New York Times correction as absurd as it is deadpan. To mark another banner year of glaring misprints, misinformation, and outright Freudian slips, we hereby present our favorites from 2014:

1) On state politics:

An earlier version of this article misidentified the state where Andrew M. Cuomo is governor. It is New York, not New Jersey.

2) On slavery:

An article on Jan. 20, 1853, recounting the story of Solomon Northup, whose memoir “12 Years a Slave” became a movie 160 years later that won the best picture Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday night, misspelled his surname as Northrop. And the headline misspelled it as Northrup. The errors came to light on Monday after a Twitter user pointed out the article in The Times archives. (The errors notwithstanding, The Times described the article as “a more complete and authentic record than has yet appeared.”)

3) On Hilaria Baldwin, wife of Alec:

An article last Sunday about Hilaria Baldwin described incorrectly the garment she wore in the bathtub handstand picture she posted on Instagram. It was a bikini, not underwear.

4) On World War II:

5) On St. Patrick:

An earlier version of this article misquoted a comment from Malachy McCourt on St. Patrick. Mr. McCourt said, “My attitude is, St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland and they all came here and they became conservatives.” He did not say St. Patrick banished the slaves from Ireland.

6) On soccer:

The article also misstated, in some copies, the year Germany last won the World Cup. It was 1990, not 1090.

7) On zombies:

An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly a television show that was referenced by Bill Clinton. It is “The Walking Dead,” not “The Living Dead.”

8) On Jewishness in fiction:

A review on May 18 about “American Innovations,” a collection of 10 stories by Rivka Galchen, misstated several of the characteristics of the central characters in some of the stories. It is not the case that the stories “are narrated with one exception by variations of a particular sort of woman: in her 30s, living in New York, nominally Jewish.” Three stories have main characters who live in New York City, while the remaining stories are specifically set elsewhere or implicitly in cities other than New York; one story has a Jewish narrator, while all but one of the others have no indications that the central characters are Jewish; five of the stories have central characters who are said to be in their 30s or might reasonably be assumed to be, but the others have main characters who are specifically younger or implied to be younger. Two of these errors were repeated in the Editors’ Choice column on May 25. It is not the case that “most” of the women in the stories are clearly in their 30s or “nominally Jewish.”

9) On author Ann Patchett and her dog, Sparky:

To the Editor:
I was grateful to see my book “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage” mentioned in Paperback Row (Oct. 19). When highlighting a few of the essays in the collection, the review mentions topics ranging from “her stabilizing second marriage to her beloved dog” without benefit of comma, thus giving the impression that Sparky and I are hitched. While my love for my dog is deep, he married a dog named Maggie at Parnassus Books last summer as part of a successful fund-raiser for the Nashville Humane Association. I am married to Karl VanDevender. We are all very happy in our respective unions.

10) On Star Wars:

11) On Star Wars (again):

The article also misspelled the name of a creature in the “Star Wars” universe. It is a Wookiee, not a Wookie.

12) On presidential figures:

An earlier version of a summary with this article misstated the former title of Dick Cheney. He was vice president, not president.

13) On the sexuality of plants:

A report in the Observatory column last Tuesday about plant reproduction referred incorrectly to the sexuality of most plants. Plants that have both male and female organs are hermaphroditic, not self-pollinating.

14) On bird poop:

An Op-Ed essay on Monday described bald eagles and ospreys incorrectly. They eat fish, and their poop is white; they do not eat berries and excrete purple feces. (Other birds, like American robins, Eurasian starlings and cedar waxwings, do.)

15) On minimum wage employees:

An article on Thursday about the latest Internet sensation of “Alex from Target,” a picture of a teenager bagging merchandise at the retailer that went viral online, described incorrectly a subsequent Internet posting of “Kel from Good Burger.” It was a frame from the 1997 film “Good Burger” starring the actor Kel Mitchell; it was not a photograph of a teenager in a job.

16) On the death of Joan Rivers:

17) On regional Thanksgiving dishes:

An article last Wednesday recommending a Thanksgiving dish from each state, with a recipe, contained numerous errors.

The recipe from Connecticut, for quince with cipollini onions and bacon, omitted directions for preparing the quince. It should be peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks. An illustration with the West Virginia recipe, for pawpaw pudding, depicted a papaya — not a pawpaw, which is correctly depicted above. The introduction to the recipe from Arizona, for cranberry sauce and chiles, misstated the origin of Hatch chiles. They are grown in New Mexico, not in Arizona.

The introduction to the Delaware recipe, for du Pont turkey with truffled zucchini stuffing, referred incorrectly to several historical points about the Winterthur estate. It was an ancestral home of the du Pont family, not the sole one; it was established in 1837, not in 1810; the house was completed in 1839, not in 1837. The introduction also misstated the relationship of Pauline Foster du Pont to Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. Pauline was the wife of Mr. du Pont’s grandson, not his daughter-in-law.

And, finally, the label for the illustration for the nation’s capital misspelled the District of Columbia as Colombia.

18) On the murder of unarmed black teenagers:

An earlier version of this article misidentified, on second reference, the person who was shot in Ferguson, Mo. It was Michael Brown, not Darren Wilson. An earlier version of this article also referred incorrectly to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. He was killed by a civilian, not by a police officer. In addition, an earlier version of this correction misspelled Trayvon Martin’s given name as Travyon.

19) On Middle East geography:

An earlier version of this obituary misstated the location of Alon Shvut, where Mr. Marks lived. It is in the West Bank, not in Israel.

20) On Kim Kardashian’s butt:

An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column.

21) On corrections:

An earlier version of these corrections misstated the date in which they appeared in print. They appeared on March 11, not March 10.

Photo via Wonderlane/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Dec 31, 2014, 3:20 pm CST