The New York Times has issued several corrections regarding an article published two weeks ago insisting Attkisson was a “coronavirus doubter.”
After the article was published, Attkisson and her lawyers sent a letter to the Times demanding they correct their story or face a defamation lawsuit. The Times article was about five people, including Jerry Falwell Jr. and Dr. Drew, who doubted the severity of the coronavirus. As Attkisson’s attorneys stated in their letter, the Times’ article included “false and defamatory” statements regarding the ex-CBS journalist’s reporting on the coronavirus.
“Through a combination of discrete statements of fact, the defamatory headline, and the juxtaposition of defamatory statements concerning a small group of individuals with whom you have lumped Ms. Attkisson, the article conveys the false and defamatory gist that my client, among other things, lied to her readers and listeners, reported as fact lies that endanger the lives of the public, and otherwise violated the litany of ethical standards by which responsible journalists conduct themselves,” wrote Attkisson’s attorney G. Taylor Wilson of Wade, Grunberg & Wilson, LLC.
As The Daily Wire reported previously, the letter included 10 examples from the Times article that defamed Attkisson:
- The false and defamatory headline, “From Jerry Falwell Jr to Dr. Drew: 5 Coronavirus Doubters.”
- “While public health experts warn people to take precautions, these popular media figures insist that the virus is overhyped.”
- “Misinformation about the coronavirus continues to circulate across swaths of the American media – on popular podcasts, in blog podcasts, in blog posts, in online videos and on prime-time cable news shows – as recently as this week.”
- “Some are conservatives who insist the virus is being hyped for political purposes.”
- “Even as President Trump and the federal government’s top public health officials warn that the virus is not something to be taken lightly – and the authorities reported more coronavirus deaths in the United States on Wednesday – these commentators make misleading comments, cherry-pick facts and go so far as to claim that the virus could be a hoax or a North Korean Plot.”
- “One of Mr. Hannity’s top sources [Ms. Attkisson] selectively picks facts.”
- “In the past, she [Ms. Attkisson] has promoted the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism.”
- “The facts she has chosen recently to highlight falsely leave the impression that the deaths are not all that significant in number and largely contained to one facility.”
- “‘Look at those 30-some-odd deaths – most of them were from Washington State,’ Ms. Attkisson said last week on her podcast, adding that most of those were in an assisted-living facility. ‘The vast majority of those who passed away were from one cluster in the United States – almost none anywhere else.’”
- “And yet visitors to Ms. Attkisson’s website this week might have come away confused about the severity of the virus, as there were several ads for high-grade protective masks.”
On April 1, the Times issued a correction to the article and changed the language surrounding Attkisson. The correction reads:
An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to statements made by Sharyl Attkisson. Ms. Attkisson accurately reported the number and location of U.S. coronavirus deaths, as of the date of her March 13 podcast. Separately, a reference to advertisements for protective masks that appeared on Ms. Attkisson’s website has been removed.
Attkisson wrote on her personal website that before her attorneys sent the letter, she contacted Times editor Carolyn Ryan about the needed changes, reporting her complaints were dismissed. Attkisson said: “Ryan defended the article by saying that because I had reported on coronavirus deaths– in a way The Times acknowledges was perfectly accurate– readers could somehow be misled into believing they were not at much risk if they were not in a high risk group.”
When Attkisson explained that the major authorities on coronavirus – including the Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC, and the Surgeon General, along with the Times itself – reported the same numbers and asked how readers could be “misled” when she reported the same facts as others. She said Ryan didn’t respond.
“Wiser heads ultimately prevailed. Lawyers at The New York Times have now forced multiple corrections in the defamatory article. Even with the revisions, false implications remain… but the corrections are a step in the right direction,” Attkisson wrote.