Low Concept

My Resignation From the New York Times

Following is an account of approximately one-tenth of the articles in which falsification, plagiarism, defamation of character, improper grammar, jingoistic sucking up to Donald Rumsfeld, mishandling of basic geographical facts, bad spelling, and just plain ignorance were discovered in a review of articles written by Neal Pollack, who resigned yesterday as a reporter for the New York Times. The review, conducted by a team of very tired Times reporters and researchers, came as a bit of a surprise, since no one was aware that Mr. Pollack actually worked here. According to Mr. Pollack, he was hired as the Times’ Seoul bureau chief in October 2000 and has filed important stories on every major world event since then. Spot checks of his claims reveal that he’s full of crap.

“Lawyer Says D.C.-area Snipers Had Mysterious Accomplice”
April 27, 2003

DENIED REPORTS: A lawyer for Lee Malvo, the younger of two men charged in the Washington-area sniper attacks last fall, was quoted as saying, “Neither of my clients ever touched a gun. There was a third gunman, who hid in the shadows and fired with deadly accuracy. Here, let me show you his videotaped confession.” Through a business partner, the lawyer told the Times that he was getting a “massage” all day and never spoke with Mr. Pollack.

FACTUAL ERRORS: The first sentence of the story said that Mr. Malvo requested a lawyer who was “stacked.” He did not.

“Injured Soldiers Tremble in War’s Aftermath”
April 17, 2003

WHEREABOUTS: The scenes described in the article ostensibly took place inside a ward of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., which Mr. Pollack has never visited. Hospital employees said they received a number of phone calls where the person on the other end said, “I know you are, but what am I?” Records show the calls were from Mr. Pollack’s cell phone.

DENIED REPORTS: Of the nine “wounded” soldiers described in the article, only one was actually injured, and that was from a paper cut sustained while filing papers in the hospital office. Pollack’s interview with Cpl. Max Klinger, who he described as “nothing but an armless hunk of meat who regrets everything about this war,” was also substantially falsified. Cpl. Klinger actually has both his arms and thought the war was delightful.

“Rescued Private Says She’s ‘Ready to Party’ “
April 4, 2003

PLAGIARISM: Pfc. Jessica Lynch did not say, “I loved Ashton, but I’m not sorry we broke up, because now I can have sex with whoever I want.” That quote was lifted directly from a profile of actress Brittany Murphy in US Weekly. Pfc. Lynch was also not on hand for the Hollywood premiere of the new hit comedy Just Married.

WHEREABOUTS: Hotels in Palestine, W.Va., show no record of Mr. Pollack’s alleged visit. The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, on the other hand, reports that he ran up an $800 minibar tab and made several calls to a local “friendship” club.

“Country Star Hill Criticizes President During European Tour”
March 22, 2003

DENIED REPORTS: Singer Faith Hill did not say during a concert in Dublin, Ireland, that “George W. Bush is an illegitimate president who should be impeached.” Interviews with Ms. Hill’s record label, attorney, and angry husband Tim McGraw show that she’s never been to Ireland, has never criticized the president, and is very annoyed that Clear Channel radio stations across the country are encouraging citizens to burn her in effigy. According to Mr. McGraw, Mr. Pollack sent Ms. Hill a bouquet of flowers several months ago with a note saying he’d “love her forever.” When she didn’t respond, he called their house and said, “I know you love me! Admit it!” When she didn’t reciprocate he said he wrote for the New York Times and was going to ruin her career.

“Sniper Was Priest, Church Officials Say”
Feb. 1, 2003

WHEREABOUTS: This Page A-1 story carried a Boston byline, but cell phone records indicate Mr. Pollack was in Barbados on a liquor-industry junket.

PLAGIARISM: Mr. Pollack quoted John Allen Muhammad as saying, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” which is actually from Psalms 23:1.

DENIED REPORTS: Father Patrick McDonald was quoted in the story as saying that Muhammad “was my best seminary student, even though he was Muslim.” He says he never spoke to Mr. Pollack. Also, the Vatican denies that the pope “did a little tap dance, just like Richard Gere in Chicago,” when he heard of the snipers’ arrests.

FACTUAL ERRORS: John Allen Muhammad was never a priest, duh. He also didn’t “invent the recipe for Ding Dongs” and didn’t “play on the 1989 World Champion Detroit Pistons basketball team.” Also, Lee Malvo wasn’t in the cast of Saved by the Bell: The New Class.