New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd apologized on Wednesday for misquoting Chirlane McCray, New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s wife, in a mistake that has begun to factor into the city’s mayoral race. The Times has since issued a lengthy correction, then a second after Dowd misidentified the coffee shop were the interview took place.
Dowd’s original column quoted McCray as making a personal attack on fellow candidate Christine Quinn, calling her “not accessible … She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.” Quinn took this to be a swipe at her lifestyle—she and her wife don’t have children—and called out the de Blasio campaign over the comment, which came up in Wednesday night’s mayoral debate.
The problem? That was a truncated and rearranged quote; Joe Coscarelli at New York called it a “Frankenstein quote.” Here’s the full graph:
“Well, I am a woman, and she is not speaking to the issues I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, workplace; she is not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that, I feel, that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things. And I suspect that other women feel the same thing I’m feeling.”
The entire quote seems to indicate that McCray was speaking about Quinn in the context of working women, as one of de Blasio’s main critiques is that Quinn will continue Michael Bloomberg’s favoritism of Gotham’s elite. “This is quite critical,” Alex Pareene wrote at Salon, “but harder to turn into an attack on childlessness.”
Dowd apologized for the quote on Wednesday, telling Politico:
“I screwed up. The coffee shop was so noisy, my tape recorder didn’t pick up everything. I thought I had that one quote from her in my notes, but I garbled the end with a bit from her previous sentence.
“The substance is the same, but the quote should be exact. We have the whole quote online now; we’ll have the whole quote again corrected in the print edition tomorrow, I’ve apologized to the DeBlasio and Quinn campaigns and I am going to buy some kind of noise-cancelling microphone for my recorder.”
The Times has since replaced the original quote with the full transcript, and issued a lengthy apology:
Maureen Dowd’s column on Wednesday misquoted the response of Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City’s public advocate, Bill de Blasio, to a question about the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, who like Mr. de Blasio is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor.
Ms. McCray said: “Well, I’m a woman, and she’s not speaking to the issues that I care about, and I think a lot of women feel the same way. I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, issues in the workplace — she’s not speaking to any of those issues. What can I say? And she’s not accessible, she’s not the kind of person that I feel that I can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing that I’m feeling.”
Ms. McCray did not say: “She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.”
Quinn maintains that the essence of the quote is the same, and still objects to it.
The Times later appended an additional correction, noting that Dowd located the interview at Good Times coffee shop, when it was in fact Good Stuff Diner.
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