Noting that "one of the real tests of journalistic integrity is being fair to someone who might be best described by a four-letter word," Calame concludes that the Times "flunked" this particular one. Not that I feel the need to rush to the defense of Geraldo, but it is ponderous that the paper would not issue a correction, especially after reading Calame's account.
The story, written by media critic Alessandra Stanley, plainly stated that Rivera "nudged" a rescue worker. Even the paper's executive editor, Bill Keller, acknowledges that video of the act described "does not literally show" a nudge. Keller defended the decision, writing that "Ms. Stanley's point was that Mr. Rivera was show-boating – that he was being pushy, if not literally pushing – and I think an impartial viewer of the footage will see it that way."
Calame concludes, "the Times has long been a trailblazer in its commitment to correcting errors. This is no time to let those standards slip – even when well-known critics and columnists are involved."
I think it's safe to say that Geraldo Rivera is one of the more controversial journalists of his generation. It's also safe to say that the New York Times' reaction to his demand is one of the reasons an ombudsman was created at the paper – and the reason one is still needed. And it's a good example of why all news organizations benefit from someone or something to bark inside the house.