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The Grey Lady Goes Whoops!

4:36 PM, Sep 18, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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Good to see the Grey Lady is doing everything it can to deepen the economic crisis. Check out this amazing correction:

An article about the effect of the Wall Street crisis on Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs cited two sources who were said to have been briefed on a conversation in which John J. Mack, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, had told Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup's chief executive, that "we need a merger partner or we're not going to make it."

On Thursday, Morgan Stanley vigorously denied that Mr. Mack had made the comment, as did Citigroup, which had declined to comment on Wednesday. The Times's two sources have since clarified their comments, saying that because they were not present during the discussions, they could not confirm that Mr. Mack had in fact made the statement. The Times should have asked Morgan Stanley for comment and should not have used the quotation without doing more to verify the sources' version of events. (Emphasis added)

So the Times' sources weren't present when the alleged comment was made, and couldn't confirm it. Which begs the question - what threshold does one have to cross before the Times accredits you as a source?

While of course it's fun to poke fun at the Grey Lady, this particular item is no joke. The ridiculous rumor that the Times breathlessly peddled as fact unquestionably harmed Morgan Stanley's stock price, damaging its shareholders and other stakeholders in a financially meaningful way. Whoops!