- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 10, 2000

The New York Times, vaunted purveyor of "all the news that's fit to print," managed to allow some "news" into print the other day that was anything but fit. Multiple factual errors and "misstatements" in a lengthy front page Aug. 29 article (and follow-up editorial) about the Boy Scouts and what's happened since the Supreme Court upheld the organization's right to bar homosexual scoutmasters had to be corrected in the paper's Sept. 6 editions.

The embarrassing mea culpa that appeared on Wednesday was almost a story in its own right. The extent and nature of the errors all of them tended to make the Scouts look bad suggests a willful hatchet job. The Times clearly does not approve of the Scouts' steadfast refusal to bow to current politically correct orthodoxy and embrace the gay agenda. The alternative explanation is sheer incompetence of a magnitude that is hard to imagine possible at a newspaper that styles itself the "paper of record." A few simple phone calls and some basic fact-checking would have assured that the following "news" never made it into the paper:

n"Dozens" of United Way charitable organizations have not stopped fund-raising efforts for the Boy Scouts, as the Times article erroneously (and with seeming relish) stated. Wednesday's correction admitted that the actual number was "about a dozen." (Hey, we were in the ballpark!)

n The Aug. 29 article stated that several cities, including Chicago, responded to the Boy Scouts' refusal to allow homosexual scoutmasters by denying the youth organization free access to parks and school facilities after the Supreme Court upheld the Scouts position. Well, er, not quite. The Scouts are not, in fact, barred from using parks and schools, the correction had to admit. And such policies as are in effect in those cities were there well before the Supreme Court case, not in response to its outcome.

n The Times piece also "cited one city erroneously among those that bar Scouts from their facilities. Although one San Jose (Texas) elementary school district, Alum Rock Union, does not permit recruiting or other Scout programs during school hours, the ban is attributed to demands on instructional time, not to the Scouts' policy."

There were more errors than these but the point has been made. Either incompetence or an unkind disposition toward the Scouts because of their difference of opinion over the wisdom of endorsing the gay lifestyle resulted in the publication of tainted stories that had less truth in them than a Bill Clinton deposition.

Probably, it was a combination of the two. The attitude of the Times toward the Boy Scouts made it easy to unleash a story that painted the youth organization in an unflattering light and made it appear that the public has begun to turn away from the Scouts. In any event, it's disappointing to see such venom directed toward an organization that cannot be painted as having been anything other than a force for good during the almost 100 year history of its existence.

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