Monday, August 31, 2009

I guess fact-checkers are too expensive these days

The New York Times has made pretty elementary mistakes on consecutive days in stories related to weapons sales. First, in yesterday's article about accusations of Pakistan illegally modifying American-supplied Harpoon missiles:

American military and intelligence officials say they suspect that Pakistan has modified the Harpoon antiship missiles that the United States sold the country in the 1980s, a move that would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. [emphasis mine]
Except that the Arms Control Export Act doesn't exist -- it's the Arms Export Control Act. I noticed this yesterday in the hard copy, and as of this morning they still haven't corrected the electronic version. Yes, this is a simple, stupid mistake, consisting only of the transposition of two words. But their version doesn't even make sense!

So like I said, I noticed that one yesterday and didn't think much of it, assuming that they'd probably fixed it online. And then this morning I see this article, about the Iraqis "finding" a bunch of their old helos in Serbia. What's wrong with this one, you ask?

Lt. Col. Gary Kolb, a spokesman for the Multi-National Transition and Security Command-Iraq, or M.N.T. S.C.-I., the American military’s training wing, said the discovery of the Iraqi-owned MIGs would not alter any American plans, at least not immediately. “It’s going to take a while to see what impact it has,” he said. [emphasis mine]
Wait, what's that? Mint-ski? I've never heard of that. Oh, you mean the organization colloquially referred to as Min-sticky? Which would only be said that way if, you know, the "S" were in front of the "T"? Oh, yeah, that's because it is. They're actually talking about the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, the organization through which coalition equipment and training is provided to Iraqi security forces. What's most bewildering about this one is that they actually spell out the name of the organization and the acronym, and they get both wrong! And then they repeat the mistake in a quote!
“It’s more than just getting aircraft; there’s maintenance and support structures, training. It’s not going to change what M.N.T.S.C. -I. does,” Colonel Kolb said.
How far the newspaper business has fallen! SNLII, rescue us!


  1. About 80% of journalists covering military affairs are unaware of very basic military concepts.

  2. But then there is that small percentage of superb military correspondents like C.J. Chivers, Michael Gordon, Greg Jaffe, and Linda Robinson. Don't forget about them, Anand.

  3. I don't Tintin. Some of them know what they are writing about.

    Tintin, did you want to touch base offline? If so, please e-mail Gulliver, who could connect us.

    I liked your reports at LWJ during your Iraqi embed (if you are who I think you are.)