The New York Times acknowledged Tuesday that it had overstated the service record of Nathan Phillips, the American Indian protester whose confrontation with a group of Catholic-school students has become a national and press scandal.
The Times said in its correction that it had taken the word of Indian-activist groups that Mr. Phillips had fought in Vietnam.
“Correction: This previous tweet, and an earlier version of this article, using information from the Indigenous Peoples Movement, gave an incorrect description of Nathan Phillips’s military service,” the self-styled “paper of record” tweeted.
Correction: This previous tweet, and an earlier version of this article, using information from the Indigenous Peoples Movement, gave an incorrect description of Nathan Phillips’s military service. https://t.co/4VHRN0MaLw pic.twitter.com/wip6ypmXcy
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 22, 2019
“While Mr. Phillips said he served in the military during the Vietnam era, he told the Times after publication that he was not deployed in Vietnam,” the Times continued in an explanation that added that his military records had been requested from the Pentagon.
The initial framing of the Friday dispute at the Lincoln Memorial based on misleadingly edited video — more or less, that an elderly Vietnam veteran and Indian activist was being jeered and attacked by smirking white bros wearing Make America Great Again caps — played a key role in making the story go viral.
Mr. Phillips didn’t discourage such takes in the early days of the dispute and in his previous activism, calling himself a “Vietnam times veteran” and similar phrasings that are technically correct but which many news outlets rephrased as “Vietnam veteran.”
The Times had tweeted on Sunday that “They were Catholic high school students who came to Washington on a field trip to rally at the March for Life. He was a Native American veteran of the Vietnam War who was there to raise awareness at the Indigenous Peoples March.”
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