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Special Report

Times Flunks Integrity Test?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

The ombudsman for The New York Times says the paper "flunked" a test of journalistic integrity by refusing to correct TV columnist A lessandra Stanley's accusation that Geraldo Rivera "nudged" an Air Force rescue worker out of his way in New Orleans. Byron Calame says the nudge simply doesn't appear on they videotape, adding, and “if Ms. Stanley couldn't have seen the nudge, why not publish a correction?"

What's more, Calame says executive editor Bill Keller's claim that Stanley is "justified" in assuming force in light of Rivera's reaction to the column raises "a basic question of journalistic fairness," saying, "I find it disturbing that any Times editor would come so close to implying — almost in a tit-for-tat sense — that Mr. Rivera's bad behavior essentially entitles the paper to rely on assumptions and refuse to correct an unsupported fact."

Rampant Rumors

As the floodwaters again recede from New Orleans, so do many of the lurid accounts of violence, mayhem and death heard in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Rescue workers heard reports of 200 dead bodies in the Superdome; police chief Eddie Compass said his forces were involved in multiple shootouts inside the convention center; and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of "…hundreds of armed gang members killing and raping people" — including young children.

But the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that doctors found only 6 dead bodies inside the Superdome, none of who was murdered. What's more, Chief Compass now says reports of shootouts at the convention center turned out to be false. And the only verified shooting occurred when a National Guard soldier shot himself in the leg.

Not Enough Attention?

Cindy Sheehan grumbled this weekend that cable news networks were paying more attention to Hurricane Rita than to her anti-war rally in Washington, posting a message on the liberal Web site DailyKos.com writing, "i am watching cnn and it is 100 percent rita...even though it is a little wind and a little rain...it is bad, but there are other things going on in the country today...and in the world!!!!"

That was too much even for some Daily Kos readers. One responded, "shame on you, you're jealous of media coverage of other's suffering," while another wrote, "The right-wing media has painted you as a self-centered, self-absorbed woman and you're living up to that image." Sheehan later posted an apology.

Cut out the Crosses

Two residents of a New Mexico town are suing to remove three crosses from the official town seal. The suit says "the crosses serve no governmental purpose other than to disenfranchise and discredit non-Christian citizens" and accuses the city of violating the plaintiff's constitutional right to religious freedom, invading their privacy, and violating the civil rights act of 1964. The mayor says he plans to fight the lawsuit since, he says, the crosses have a historical reason for being in the logo. After all, the town in question is Las Cruces, which is Spanish for "The Crosses."