On Thursday, the New York Times responded to a demand for a retraction from Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) office regarding a major piece published two weeks ago about Issa’s many conflicts of interest between his congressional work and his vast financial holdings. In the letter, Dean Baquet, the assistant editor of the paper, debunked claims of factual inaccuracies listed by Issa spokesman Frederick Hill.
In two instances, the Times acknowledged that its reporter Eric Lichtblau made mistakes. In one case, a county assessor provided faulty information. In another, Lichtblau simply used Issa’s own family foundation disclosures; he could not verify their accuracy with Issa because his office refused to respond to three weeks worth of requests by the Times.
The letter, worth reading in its entirety, demolishes what’s left of Issa’s demand for a retraction:
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#1) Issa Claim: “Directed Electronics is, in fact, not a supplier to Toyota.”
NYT Response: Issa not only calls himself an “auto supplier” to Toyota on multiple occasions, but his Directed Electronics company has licensing agreements with Toyota for aftermarket parts including car alarms, an iPod adapter, and a remote start interface. The Times then lists Issa’s continued financial ties to the company he once led as an executive.
#2) Issa Claim: A golf course is not visible from one of Issa’s corporate office towers.
NYT Response: The office building overlooks the Shadowridge County Club only a quarter a mile away, and Issa’s realty agency for the building advertises “direct views to golf driving range.”
#3) Issa Claim: “Rep. Issa does not have investments dependent on Goldman Sachss (sic) performance.”
NYT Response: “Your interest in Goldman’s performance is borne out by, among other factors, your extensive holdings in its mutual funds, your investigation into the lawsuit brought against the firm by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008, and the concerns raised in your July 2011 letter about the impact on Goldman of capital requirements. As was noted in a follow-up column by one of our news columnists, Floyd Norris, Goldman Sachs also underwrote DEl’s initial I.P.O., another indication of the ties between you and the firm.”
#4) Issa Claim: The discussion of earmarks on West Vista Way “fails to mention that at the time he sought funding for his district he did not own this property.”
NYT Response: As the story noted, you secured two earmarks for the road, before and after you bought the property. (ThinkProgress debunked Issa’s claim about his earmark in April, but Issa continued to try to deceive the press.)
Notably, the Heritage Foundation blog, one of the few outlets still questioning the Times’ reporting, has received donations from Issa’s charity foundation.
View the New York Times response to Issa below: