In a delicious bit of irony, The New York Times sought to be poignant and powerful , but ended up just making another spectacular error.
America’s “paper of record” — now a fully far-left newspaper after a long run of being mostly fair and balanced — ran a front page on Sunday with no photos and no stories. Instead, there was just a list of 1,000 names of those the paper said died of COVID-19.
“US deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss,” said the headline. “They were not simply names on a list. They were us,” said the sub-headline.
“As the U.S. approaches a grim milestone in the outbreak, The New York Times gathered names of the dead and memories of their lives from obituaries across the country,” said the lead.
The front page of The New York Times for May 24, 2020 pic.twitter.com/d14JhFp4CP
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 24, 2020
The long list of names included their age and a just a few words about them.
- Angeline Michalopulos, 92, “was never afraid to sing or dance.”
- Lila Fenwick, 87, was “the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law.”
- Romi Cohn, 91, “saved 56 Jewish families from the Gestapo.”
- April Dunn, 33, was an “advocate for disability rights.”
- Patricia H. Thatcher, 79, “sang in her church choir for 42 years.”
- Fred Gray, 75, “liked his bacon and hash browns crispy.”
- Harley E. Acker, 79, “discovered his true calling when he started driving a school bus.”
- Frank Gabrin, 60, was an “emergency room doctor who died in his husband’s arms.”
- Skylar Herbert, 5, was “Michigan’s youngest victim of the coronavirus pandemic.”
- Philip Kahn, 100, “World War II veteran whose twin died in the Spanish Flu epidemic a century ago.”
The list also included the name of Jordan Driver Haynes, 27, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, calling him a “generous young man with a delightful grin.”
But Haynes, whose name was listed sixth from the top, didn’t die from the virus. He was murdered, according to local reports.
“An autopsy has ruled the death of Jordan Haynes a homicide,” KWWL-TV reported. “His body was found in a vehicle in a wooded area off of I-380 on March 12. Details regarding the homicide aren’t being released.”
CNN reported that the Times will be running a correction and will remove Haynes’ name in later editions, with a rep from the paper telling a network host that the “error has been removed for later editions of the paper. A correction will be running in print.” This was added to the online story: “Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that one of the names listed on The Times’ front page was a homicide death, not a COVID-19 death.”
Some theories immediately popped up on social media.
“Took all of 5 minutes on google to realize that the ‘journalist’ literally just searched obituaries for the keyword Covid-19. Haynes obituary states that his funeral was delayed due to Covid-19. How a professional can make a mistake like this is unreal,” wrote one Twitter user.
“That’s the 6th name!! They only made it to 6 out of 100K alleged deaths before they got caught making them up! This is crazy! They only had to get 1000 out of an alleged 100K. They got 5 in a row. 5,” said another person on Twitter.
“I punched only that name into google because he was so young. And the name was so close to the top of list that I’m sure many people noticed it simultaneously,” wrote another.
I punched only that name into google because he was so young. And the name was so close to the top of list that I'm sure many people noticed it simultaneously.
— Timothy Crimmins (@timcrimmins) May 24, 2020
In a separate piece headlined, “The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names,” the chief “creative officer” of the Times, Tom Bodkin, noted that Sunday’s newspaper is “certainly a first in modern times” to run a front page with no images, no graphics, and no stories.
Marc Lacey, the paper’s national editor, said, “I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through.”
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