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New York Times reporter who had dissed Delhi as unlivable gets it wrong again

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For the second time in 4 months, The New York Times has issued corrections for stories reported by Gardiner Harris.

New Delhi: It is not very often that The New York Times issues lengthy clarifications or corrections for its stories.

But in the last four months, it has done so twice, both involving stories reported by Gardiner Harris, the paper’s international diplomacy reporter.

Gardiner was NYT’s South Asia correspondent until 2015 and had courted controversy with some of his articles, including for famously writing an opinion piece that said Delhi was unliveable.

The latest clarification to a Gardiner piece came on 14 September, for his report on curtains bought for the residence of the US ambassador to the United Nation.

In the report published on 13 September, Gardiner wrote that $ 52,701 had been spent to buy curtains for US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. The report also carried a picture of Haley.

NYT, however, clarified that while Haley was the current ambassador, the purchases had been made during the previous Obama administration.

Also read: When one Indian newspaper handed over its big scoop to a rival

It added an editor’s note: “An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials.”

This, however, isn’t the first time that the paper issued a clarification to a Gardiner report.  On 16 May, NYT issued a lengthy correction to a Gardiner profile of Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of American think tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. It was published on 13 May.

In its correction, the paper said that the original piece had inaccurately mentioned that Dubowitz’s salary of $560,221 was nearly twice as much as the salaries of his counterparts. It had also inaccurately linked Israel’s Likud Party to the think tank, the correction said, adding that “while the think-tank does align with some of Likud’s positions, it is not directly involved with the party”.

Controversial tenure in Delhi  

Gardiner had a somewhat controversial posting in New Delhi with some of his reports drawing flak for pandering to yesteryear stereotypes of India. For instance, on the eve of Valentine’s Day in 2013, he wrote that Indian couples were embracing kissing in the public.  In May 2012, he wrote another controversial piece on problems created by monkeys in the national capital.

But he most famously slammed Delhi as unliveable, saying the city’s air had affected his son’s health.

Also read: Here is fresh evidence that journalists may misunderstand the public

Referring to the latest controversy S. Mitra Kalita, vice-president of programming at CNN, wrote in a Facebook post, “Weren’t there warning signs in this case? This was the second lengthy correction on his work in recent months. For years though, we knew this journalist’s writing and reporting was shoddy. Now you know too.”

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