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The New York Times this morning posted a correction on a story that ran in yesterday’s Thursday Styles section. The story was about the newly infamous Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, with the Spitzer mess serving as the obvious news peg.
Such stories are generally 90 percent back story, 7 percent riffing/scene, and 3 percent news. As was this one.
Well, part of the 90 percent consisted of this line, about D.C.’s own world-famous politician:
“Marion. S. Barry Jr., the former mayor of Washington, was seen smoking a crack pipe in 1989 in a Mayflower room; he was later convicted for drug possession.”
That is the language that ran in the paper on Thursday, and that, obviously, is a huge mistake. They mistook the Mayflower for the Vista, where Barry’s 1990 career-making (or -killing) moment took place.
Here’s how the correction reads.
Correction: March 21, 2008
Because of an editing error, an article in the Styles section on Thursday about the Mayflower Hotel in Washington referred imprecisely to Marion S. Barry Jr., the former Washington mayor who was convicted in 1990 on a misdemeanor drug charge after being accused of using cocaine while staying at the Mayflower in 1989. Mr. Barry’s possession of drugs at the hotel was described to the authorities by an eyewitness; he was not “seen smoking a crack pipe.” (That happened in 1990 when a federal sting operation caught him on videotape smoking a crack pipe while staying at what was then the Vista Hotel in Washington.)
Washington City Paper is in talks with its legal counsel to parse that one out.