On yesterday’s confessions page, the New York Times, with due humility and a heavy heart acknowledged that it had been unwittingly complicit in the ultimate journalistic crime. On Tuesday, a front-page article dealt with the case of Abdul Razzaq Hekmati, an Afghan war hero who died recently after five years detention in Guantanamo. The article included in the byline the name of a journalist who the editors of the Times were shocked and dismayed to discover was a man with a point of view.
Andy Worthington, a freelance journalist who worked on the article under contract with The New York Times and was listed as its co-author, did some of the initial reporting but was not involved in all of it, and The Times verified the information he provided.
The Times stands by the information in the article but it doesn’t want to stand by Mr Worthington. Why? Because, “he takes the position that Guantanamo is part of what he describes as a cruel and misguided response by the Bush administration to the Sept. 11 attacks. He has also expressed strong criticism of Guantanamo in articles published elsewhere.” Had the Times been aware that Mr Worthington was guilty of having an “outspoken position” his name would not have been allowed to enter the hallowed territory reserved for opinionless truth seekers like Judith Miller.