As Twitchy reported yesterday, Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones was targeted by The New York Times in a scathing article after placing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles final. Jones has been struggling with the criticism, and her supporters as well as many Times readers agreed that the article's author, Jeré Longman, went too far.
This morning, Times public editor Arthur Brisbane revealed that he, too, felt Longman's article was inappropriate and offensive. He shared his response to readers who wrote to him complaining about the hit piece:
Thanks for your message. I have received several complaints about this. The article by Jere Longman appeared under the Olympics-coverage “In the Rings” signature, which The Times uses to signify that the article is a point-of-view piece and not straight news coverage. This means, in The Times’s style, that the writer has some latitude to insert his own perspective.
I have written in the past about problems that arise with this approach, which sometimes translates into too much opinion appearing in the news columns. In this particular case, I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so.
I believe writers like Jere Longman, who does have a long and worthy track record at The Times, should have some room to express their hard-earned perspective. But this piece struck me as quite harsh and left me, along with others, wondering why the tone was so strong.
Straight-up apologies from The New York Times are extremely difficult to come by. We are talking about The New York Times, after all. But while Brisbane's response falls short of being an apology, he at least acknowledges that Longman should have toned it down. In suggesting that Lolo Jones' athletic prowess places a distant second to her obsession with her own image, Longman demonstrated himself to be short on class and full of bitterness and — dare we say it? — jealousy.