Memory Holed: New York Times Reported White House Forced Pastor to Quit Inauguration
On Thursday, January 10, The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported that based upon the uproar coming from left-wingers over a sermon on homosexuality given by the Rev. Louie Giglio in the 1990s, the White House "viewed the selection [of Giglio to deliver the benediction at Obama's inauguration] as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn."
Though every other news report said that Giglio had voluntarily withdrawn, here was the NYT with a pretty important piece of reporting that said the White House had booted a pastor for the sin of being Christian -- for preaching about the Bible's views on homosexuality.
Within a few hours, however, the NYT memory-holed every trace of its reporting. According to Professor Denny Burk (who discovered the deletion), by Thursday evening, and without making any reference to the edit, or making note of a correction, the NYT did a stealth correction, deleting the entire paragraph that contained the reporting.
Here's the paragraph in question:
An official with Mr. Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee said the committee, which operates separately from the White House, vetted Mr. Giglio. People familiar with internal discussions between administration and committee officials said the White House viewed the selection as a problem for Mr. Obama, and told the panel on Wednesday night to quickly fix it. By Thursday morning, Mr. Giglio said he had withdrawn.
Earlier this morning, I reached out via email to Ms. Stolberg to ask her about the deletion.
My name is John Nolte, a media writer at Breitbart News. We're going to cover the Times removing the paragraph noted in the piece linked above, seemingly without noting the removal. Can you tell us why the paragraph was removed and done so without noting the piece?
Here's her reply, which doesn't explain the lack of noting the correction:
When White House officials read the web version, a spokesman called to object and said it wasn't true. My initial sources were familiar with the discussions, as I reported, but not a direct party to them. So I removed the paragraph out of abundance of caution, because I could not reconcile the conflicting accounts and because my initial sources were one step removed.
Maybe the original reporting was just plain wrong; it happens, and if that's the case, both she and the NYT deserve credit for immediately correcting the record. But memory-holing the correction, as opposed to being transparent about it, makes the whole episode look suspicious -- as though any hint that anything exists that might contradict the White House narrative on this matter must be exterminated as though it never existed in the first place.
Either the original NYT "sources" (plural) stand by what they say they were "familiar with," or they don't. If they don't stand by it, that should be reported. If they do, though, that is a contradiction that should be noted and -- I don't know -- investigated further?
Burk puts it best:
I think that all people of faith are rightly concerned that the White House might have initiated Giglio’s removal. It would be very significant for religious liberty in this country if a sitting President pressured/persuaded/forced the removal of a Christian pastor for his view on sexuality. If that didn’t happen, Americans need to know that. If it did happen, Americans deserve to know that as well.
Burk also notes that Rev. Giglio presents what happened in a way that doesn't exactly contradict the NYT original reporting:
Though I was invited by the President of the United States to pray at his upcoming inauguration, after conversations between our team and the White House I am no longer serving in that role.
If the White House did in any way force a widely respected Christian pastor out of a high-profile speaking role at Obama's inauguration based solely on the fact that he preached what the Bible says about homosexuality, we most certainly do deserve to know this.
While we expect our faith to be under assault by the likes of the elite media, the President of the United States in any way legitimizing those attacks is a different matter entirely, and a sign that we've come to a dark place no one thought possible just four years ago.
Instead of burying the contradicting stories and ignoring the unanswered questions, it sure would be nice if the NYT instead attempted to reconcile them. Because what it looks like now is that the NYT is attempting to save Obama from a potential headache and PR debacle.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC