Here is the correction the NYT printed:
Correction: December 20, 2007
The subheading with a front-page headline on Wednesday for an article about discussions between four top White House lawyers and the Central Intelligence Agency over whether to destroy videotapes showing secret interrogations of members of Al Qaeda referred imprecisely to the White House’s position thus far on the matter. While Bush administration officials have acknowledged some discussions leading up to the destruction of the tapes in November 2005, as the article noted, the White House itself has not officially said anything on the subject, so its role was not “wider than it said.” (A related article appears today on Page A6.)
Read it here:http://tinyurl.com/3c2qs6
Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post comments:
The White House press office responded with uncommon hostility to the Times story this morning, demanding a correction -- while conspicuously not denying the substance of the story.
In a blistering early-morning statement, Perino wrote: "The New York Times today implies that the White House has been misleading in publicly acknowledging or discussing details related to the CIA's decision to destroy interrogation tapes.
"The sub-headline of the story inaccurately says that the 'White House Role Was Wider Than It Said', and the story states that ' . . . the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes . . . was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.'
"Under direction from the White House General Counsel while the Department of Justice and the CIA Inspector General conduct a preliminary inquiry, we have not publicly commented on facts relating to this issue, except to note President Bush's immediate reaction upon being briefed on the matter. Furthermore, we have not described -- neither to highlight, nor to minimize -- the role or deliberations of White House officials in this matter.
"The New York Times' inference that there is an effort to mislead in this matter is pernicious and troubling, and we are formally requesting that NYT correct the sub-headline of this story."
At today's mid-day briefing, Perino announced that The Times had agreed to run a correction in tomorrow's paper. But that doesn't make her argument any more sound.
Yes, nobody in the White House has said anything of substance on the record -- but that doesn't mean there wasn't a controlled and intentional leak intended to steer reporters away. In fact, on December 7, the day after the tape story broke in the New York Times, multiple administration officials spoke to multiple reporters spreading what now appears to be a misleading narrative involving Miers.
As Jonathan Karl reported then for ABC News: "Three officials told ABC News Miers urged the CIA not to destroy the tapes." And CNN reported that on that same day, "two senior administration officials told CNN that then-deputy White House counsel Harriet Miers was aware of the tapes and told the CIA not to destroy them.
"The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of potential investigations on the matter, said they believe this is 'exculpatory' for the White House because it shows a top official had told the CIA not to destroy the tapes. The officials also said the information about the tapes was not relayed to the president until this week."
Is Perino prepared to deny that any of those sources were inside the White House? I doubt it. And for her to suggest that it is taking the high road to refuse to comment on the record about a matter of great public significance is the pinnacle of chutzpah.