Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why does The New York Times keep getting it wrong when it comes to that video of Preppie Killer Robert Chambers pulling the head off that doll?

The New York Times was once known as "the paper of record." Its actions and embarrassments in recent years have certainly tarnished its reputation. But why can't they get the facts right on a classic New York City crime story? In the week and a half since Preppie Killer Robert Chambers was arrested for cocaine possession, they've repeatedly misstated a crucial detail of the story that the original tabloid television show made a part of cultural history.

Before Chambers was sentenced, Rafael Abramovitz of A Current Affair acquired a videotape that showed Chambers at a party, snapping the head off a small doll. "Oops, I think I killed it," Chambers cracked, the doll's head in his hand.

But in Sunday's (tomorrow) paper, The Times reports:
Shortly after the trial, a video was broadcast on the tabloid television news program “A Current Affair” that showed Mr. Chambers at a slumber party with several young women, including Ms. Kovell.

During a game of charades, Mr. Chambers pretended to choke himself. In another sequence, he could be seen twisting off a doll’s head and saying, in a falsetto, “Oops, I think I killed her.”
"I think I killed her." That's wrong. And it's at least the second time the Times has repeated the factoid, despite our mention of the original twisting of the words-- and where it took place-- on October 23rd.

Chambers actually said, "I think I killed it."


It. It. It. " I think I killed her" just sounds better.

And that's why writer-director John Herzfeld, who'd go on to direct movies like 2 Days in The Valley and 15 Minutes (the Robert De Niro-Ed Burns flick that features Tabloid Baby author Burt Kearns, along with Maury Povich and Jerry Springer, on the DVD), changed the line to "Oops, I think I killed her" in the TV movie, The Preppie Murder. Herzfeld's decision was criticized at the time.

So how why does the New York Times keep getting it wrong?

They made the same mistake on October 24th:
His image as a cold-hearted killer was magnified after the trial with a tabloid television program’s release of a video showing him twisting off a doll’s head and saying, “Oops, I think I killed her.”
We'd figure someone would have caught the error by now. What, is Alessandra Stanley doing copy editing?

But hey, we will give credit where it's due and hand it to The Times for this little nugget in tomorrow's story:

"On the August night 21 years ago when Mr. Chambers walked out of Dorrian’s Red Hand, an Upper East Side bar, with Ms. Levin and took her to Central Park, there had been a battle for his affection between her and a woman he had been dating. The other woman told Mr. Chambers she was through with him. The prosecutor said that fueled the rage that led Mr. Chambers to strangle Ms. Levin. (That girlfriend, Alex Kapp, went on to graduate from Dartmouth College and become an actress. Now Alex Kapp Horner, she appears as Lindsay in the CBS situation comedy 'The New Adventures of Old Christine,' starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.)"


Anonymous said...

Burt you don't understand. The Times is quoting the movie. It has better,sharper pictures and score than the truth. The Times is about the money.That said ,then The Times has to entertain and deliver the news!

AppalachianLady said...

If he said "I think I killed her", it can be viewed as a confession to murder. If he said "I think I killed it", it's only a statement regarding the doll.

So the answer to your question is that the NYT is more interested in sensationalism, than in truth. Does that really surprise you?

Anonymous said...

No, appalachianlady, the NYT is not interested in sensationalism. The "her" "it" issue is just another example at how the Media at Large create myths through sloppy fact-checking, and seldom take responsibility for the effect they have on our culture.

Anonymous said...

Most people are so closed minded that they just cannot see the truth . Shawn and Rob are not bad people . As many would like to believe . May the angels be with then

Anonymous said...

Why does it matter if the Times said her or it? They are getting the context of the story correct. Chambers clearly had no remorse at the time of the murder and still does not until this days exeplified by the Current Affair video.