The New York Times acknowledged Tuesday that Geraldo Rivera didn’t nudge aside a Hurricane Katrina rescue worker on TV, and although Rivera called the statement “grudging and ungracious,” he considered the case closed.
Rivera had been angry since critic Alessandra Stanley, in a column that ran on Sept. 5, said Rivera had “nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety.”
Fox News Channel distributed a tape of the telecast where no such nudge was visible.
In a column headlined “Even Geraldo Deserves a Fair Shake” on Sunday, the Times’ public editor, Byron Calame, said the paper should set the record straight.
The Times ran an item under “Editors’ Notes” on Tuesday — not a correction — that said editors understood Stanley’s comment to be a “figurative reference to Mr. Rivera’s flamboyant intervention.”
But the Times said numerous readers, including Calame, read the comment as factual. “The Times acknowledges that no nudge was visible on the broadcast,” the note concluded.
“As far as I’m concerned, the case is closed,” Rivera said. “I want everybody to remember who made the factual error and refused to correct it.”
Rivera said the newspaper’s editors “tailor their journalism on the basis of whether it’s someone they like or respect or not, and I think it’s really scandalous.”
The Times had no further comment on the issue, a spokesman said.
Rivera wasn’t too happy with Calame’s column, either, which began with the lead: “One of the real tests of journalistic integrity is being fair to someone who might best be described by a four-letter word.”
“What four-letter word do they have in mind?” Rivera asked. “Hero?”